Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saw "007's Quantum of Solace"

Today was a rainy, cold, miserable weather day here in Maryland, with a high of only 41F, so we decided to do some Christmas shopping and go to the movies! We saw Daniel Craig in "007's Quantum of Solace." It was a good movie, about a B+. Of course, we just like looking at Daniel Craig. :)
James Bond is on the trail of the same bad guys that he left off fighting in Italy in the last movie (Casino Royale) and it picks up right after Casino left off. Despite that, we didn't think that the previous movie needed to be re-hashed. This movie pretty much stood on its own, even if you don't remember the last movie (like we didn't!) Anyway, Bond continues seeking the bad guys, even against his service's request. He goes from Italy to Haiti and Bolivia. You'll see boat, car, and plane chases and lots of outrageous fight scenes and chases. Regardless, this one is much easier to follow than "Casino Royale" and I think more memorable and entertaining. Of course, we think he could've had more time to show off his great physique.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Birthday Stuff/Black Friday Shopping

(PICTURE: Dolly chomping her new birthday dinosaur chew bone on their bed in the kitchen, while Franklin vigilantly watches for squirrels out in the backyard).
On Black Friday, Jeff drove up to Md. and went shopping with Rob, while Tom and his sister's other half, Steve put up crown molding in the house. Tom loves home projects and Rob prefers shopping for Christmas, so it worked out perfectly!
-The stores really weren't crowded. There were many people out, but the lines to buy stuff in Sears, Walmart, Kohls, Barnes and Noble, Lowes and other places we went didn't take longer than 10 minutes. Maybe the cashiers are getting faster? This was a total turnaround from even a couple of years ago, when I waited over an hour in line in one store. Anyway, armed with coffee, Jeff and I got a lot done and got great bargains.
Tom and Steve finished the crown molding, but it took longer than expected, so Steve left and joined Lisa, and Tom's folks for dinner, while I made leftovers and Tom finished the trim.

(PICTURE: I'm Franklin, and just where is my treat? He got 'em along with Dolly for her birthday)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dolly Says: Today is My Birthday! I'm 4 Years Old!

(PICTURE: me!)
Today, November 29, 2008 is my fourth birthday. In dog years, that makes me 24. Yes, for the first 2 years of a dog's life it's 7 human years each, then all the rest are 5 human years for each doggy year. :) See how smart weimaraners are?
I'm Dolly Loretta Gutro-Williams. I'm 4 today, and have 2 great daddies, Tom and Rob, and a great brother, Franklin, although he ocassionally steals food from my bowl when I'm not looking! We eat, sleep, go on walks, and to doggy daycare and play together. Life wasn't always this good, though.
I was born out of a litter of 6 pups, 5 girls and 1 boy. My parents were owned by "breeders" in Atlanta, Georgia. When I was a week old, my momma apparently stepped on a rusty nail and got tetanus, and couldn't feed us pups, so the nasty people dumped us off at a dog shelter in Atlanta. They contacted "Wolf Creek Weimaraner Rescue" in Knoxville, Tennesee, managed by Amber Keirn. What an angel! She and Laura drove to Atlanta and got all of us pups, took us back to Tennessee, bottle fed us and raised us until we were 3 months old, and ready to go to forever homes. That's when Daddy Rob found me on the "Internet." We met March 11th, 2005 when daddy Rob and uncle Jeff drove down so Daddy Rob could adopt me.

{PICTURE: Daddy Rob and I meet for the first time on March 11, 2005)
(March 11th is exactly one week before Franklin's birthday... although Franklin and I wouldn't meet until January 2006 when our daddies introduced us.)
We're celebrating my 4th birthday with a trip to Petsmart and treats, and new toys, walks, and food and fun! Just the way I like it! Happy Birthday to me!
(PICTURE: Our daddies took us to Fort McHenry in Baltimore this summer. We love that place!)

A Nice Thanksgiving at Home

AROUND THE TABLE LEFT TO RIGHT: Tom, Dolly, Richard, Steve (hiding), Lisa, Jack, Mom Ruth (hiding); Dad Bob (peeking over Hil); Amy (on the floor); Hil.
Thanksgiving was very nice, and we had it right here at home. I started baking a couple of days in advance - corn bread, pumpkin pie, and birthday cake! We were joined my Tom's parents (Ruth and Bob); Tom's sister Lisa and boyfriend Steve; our friends Hil and Richard; and our friend Jack! There were 9 people and 4 canines!
DOG TIMES: - Hil and Richard brought their sweet little white mixed-breed furball, "Amy," who loved Dolly and Franklin. - Lisa and Steve have a little Yorkie, "Joey" that doesn't play well with other dogs and proved it by biting our Weimaraner Dolly on her nose and drawing blood. (Dolly is very passive and just tried to be friendly). Kids will always do something during a holiday, won't they?
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS: The end of November marks a couple of celebrations. Tom's birthday was Nov. 23, Dolly's birthday is Nov. 29th (her 4th) and Hil's birthday is Nov. 30th. So, I made a birthday cake and Tom and Hil blew out the candles for Dolly.
AROUND THE TABLE LEFT TO RIGHT: Hil blowing out his candles, Richard, Steve, Mom Ruth, and Tom blowing out his candles. Yes, the cake had orange icing for Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Mom - Always an Adventure

My dad used to say to my mother, "Norma, you don't even have to leave the house to get into trouble." How right he was...and still is! Even though Dad passed away some 3 months ago, his words will always ring true.
My mom decided to go on an errand yesterday and backed her car out of the driveway, right into a police car that was parked directly behindd her driveway. She broke the tail-light and the officer who was actually in the car at the time jumped out and went over to mom. He told her what she had done.
She said that she got out of the car and cussed him out for "parking illegally behind a driveway." She said he was 100% at fault and shouldn't have been there. - I do agree that people should NEVER park behind someone's driveway. That's just asking for trouble. Well, my mother let the officer know it. The officer somehow called the Chief of Police (likely mom asked him to) and the Chief was apparently around the neighborhood. He arrived quickly and asked Mom's name. She told him. The Chief said "Is your son the City Councillor." Mom said she gave attitude and told him "of course." (While I listened to mom (over the phone) tell me how mouthy she was I cringed in embarrassment for my younger brother the councilor). She then said "my other son is in insurance and will straighten everything out." So she marched both of them into her house and called my older brother. She told him how dumb the officer was for parking behind her driveway, then handed the phone to the officer. She said the officer and my brother laughed on the phone for awhile. (I assume my older brother was saying mom is a handfull!)... Anyway, mom is going to pay for the tail light and I bet that officer will never park his car behind her driveway again!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from us to You!

Happy Thanksgiving! - This is a picture of an arrangement that Tom made on our kitchen table, with a picture of our dogs, Dolly and Franklin- whom we're extremely thankful for. We're also thankful for our families and friends. We don't get to see all of you as often as we'd like, but that doesn't mean you're not in our thoughts and in our hearts. So, on Thanksgiving, it's you we'll be giving thanks for. We're also thankful for the love we share and every day we have with each other.
As you know from reading this blog, my dad passed away this August, and I'm thankful for the time we had with him. Tom and I got a lot of funny little sayings from my dad (in the three years Tom knew him), and memories that last a lifetime. This morning on the way to work (it's Wednesday) while driving the dogs to daycare, I played my favorite Christmas CD, Kenny and Dolly's "A Christmas to Remember." The song "(I'll be home) With Bells On" came on and I teared up through it- because about 10 years ago, I sat alone with mom and dad on Christmas afternoon, singing the songs from this CD for fun, and that was my dad's favorite. We were all out of key, and it sounded horrible, but it's a memory I'll always treasure and be thankful for. We hope that you can make memories this holiday that you'll be thankful for later in life. Happy Thanksgiving, Love, Rob, Tom, Dolly and Franklin

2 TV Shows Stupidly Kill Off Supporting Characters

Recently, two tv shows we watched killed off supporting characters.
GHOST WHISPERER - Melinda (the ghost whisperer) lost her husband, who has been a supporting character for years. The producers have "kept" him in the show by making his ghost enter the body of a newly-almost-deceased man. The man's spirit left his body and went into the light, and Melinda's husband's ghost entered the body right after the other left. I can sense ghosts, and believe me, this is pretty unusual... anyway, we think they ruined the show. We don't care to watch it anymore.
NCIS- This cop drama had an asian agent in it over the last 2 seasons that was killing people (other agents) because her daughter was being held by a psychotic killer. Last night's episode ended with the rescue of her daughter, and the agent's murder.
What do producers have against happy endings?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lesson of the Day: Treat your dog right... or Else!

This is a story that appears in today's Seattle Times newspaper. I love it! Obviously, this dog was either left outside way too long, not given fresh water several times a day, given treats, or taken on walks. Good for the dog! Nothing says "treat me better" than being shot in the ass by your dog! :) Happy Thanksgiving!

Oregon man shot by dog recovers
PORTLAND -- A man from the Tillamook-area who was accidentally shot over the weekend when his dog jumped into a boat and set off his gun is recovering.
Matthew Marcum was shot with his 12-gauge shotgun Saturday on the Tillamook Bay. His legs and buttocks were injured in the incident and he was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center in Portland.
His father, Henry Marcum, says the 23-year-old Marcum was about to tie up an 11-foot open aluminum boat, when his 3-year-old Labrador, Drake, jumped into the boat.
Matthew Marcum says his dog, Drake, is a good dog and he isn't upset with him.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Car Trouble!

(This was a picture from the's not a young Tom in his first car!) Wintertime usually brings car trouble. Yes, even though it's meteorologically not winter until Dec. 21st, it's felt like January with an Arctic airmass over Maryland. Temperatures have been averaging 15F below normal for about 2 weeks now. So, with the cold comes car problems, and this weekend was no exception for Tom's car.
We think the starter on his car went, so it has been sitting in the driveway since last Thursday. We've found a couple of garages with good reputations, so Tom is calling them today, and we'll use our AAA card to get a tow truck to take it to the shop. I really recommend AAA. I've used them whenever I needed them, and they always come through.
Tom's parents lent us their extra vehicle, so I don't have to drive Tom to the metro at 4:30am anymore (I drove him Thursday and Friday with the doggies to keep me company). So, hopefully, by Thanksgiving, he'll have his car up and running again.

Winter Outlook Announced by NOAA!

In announcing the 2008-2009 U.S. Winter Outlook for meteorological winter from December through February, forecasters at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center are calling for warmer-than-normal temperatures for much of the central part of the nation, and a continuation of drier-than-normal conditions across the Southeast.


Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic:
Equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation.
Southeast: Increased chance of above normal temperatures in the central and western parts, along with below-normal precipitation.
Central Region: Increased chance of warmer-than-normal temperatures, with above-normal precipitation anticipated in parts of the central Plains.
Western Region: Equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures, and an enhanced likelihood of below-normal precipitation across parts of the Southwest.
Hawaii: Above-normal temperatures for eastern Hawaii and below-normal temperatures for western Hawaii. There are equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal precipitation throughout the state.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Tom!

(Tom blowing out birthday candles as Brooke and Pat look on)
Today is a wonderful day. The love of my life was born on this date (I won't tell you what year), and we're celebrating! Tom and I have been together almost 3 years, and look forward to every day together. We laugh, sing, shop, work in the yard and on the house, play with and walk the dogs, plan things together, and are 100% in love with each other. So, being his birthday - it's a day to celebrate. Tom's really shy and quiet- he's not into parties and big crowds, so pulling a small gathering together (in 2 days) and keeping it quiet, took a lot of effort, but I did it. I had called several friends yesterday that couldn't make it on a moment's notice, but it was hard to find time to make the calls...
Our friend Jeff came up from VA yesterday and helped pull it off. We went shopping, and Jeff treated us to a birthday dinner at Famous Dave's BBQ. We got back to our house with 15 minutes to spare before some friends would arrive. I bought a sheet cake and had it hidden in the garage, and brought out tablecloth, plates, napkins, etc. while Tom was upstairs moments before everyone arrived. Needless to say he was shocked! It was a lot of fun, though. Below are some pictures of the friends that made it, and most were taken from our friend Craig, a master photographer in his own right!
(Dolly and I)

(Jim- a pic from this summer)

(LEFT Jeff and Douglas)

(RIGHT- Craig, our great photog!)

(Tom, with Franklin, Brooke and Pat)

(Erica and Todd - photo from our ghost walk in Oct.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

14 Degrees Below Normal..

It's cold here in Maryland. In fact, very cold for this time of year. Our highs over the last week have been in the upper 30s, which are January/February temperatures. They're 14 degrees Below normal, and like everyone we're feeling it!
This morning, when Tom set out for work at 4:30am his car wouldn't turn over, so the dogs and I got dressed (yes, they put on t-shirts in extreme cold like this morning's 28F) and drove Tom to the metro (subway) in our truck. We'll have to tend to the dead car this weekend.
I walked the dogs this morning for about 20 minutes. They were wearing their "Spiderman" and "FBI" Tee shirts, and I was wrapped in my winter jacket, with scarf, gloves, hat and lots of kleenex. Dry cracked skin on my hands has already reared its ugly head, a month or two ahead of time, so I'm chock full of moisturizer.
As I think about all this, I wonder, how in the world do my friends in Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota do it for a longer winter period? Maybe I'm just getting old! Oh yeah, did I mention another day of snow showers here in Maryland today? Christmas music is now on the radio, and I'm okay with that- given the weather.

Superhero Movie Update: SHAZAM! / The Spirit

Captain Marvel Moves to Warner Bros. Source:Variety November 20, 2008
Variety reports that Get Smart director Peter Segal and his Callahan Filmworks partner Michael Ewing have signed a three-year first-look deal with Warner Bros. Pictures.
As part of the deal, Warner Bros. has also acquired the John August-scripted Captain Marvel; Segal will direct the DC Comics adaptation. He and Ewing began working on the film two years ago at New Line, but the property has moved over to Warner Bros. The film tells the story of teenaged Billy Batson, who transforms into the superhero when he says the word "Shazam!" (I can't wait!)
The Spirit Coming to Theaters on Christmas Day! Will Eisner's superhero from the 1940s finally comes to life in this action-packed movie. I'm not really familiar with him, (read only one comic from the 1940s), but he looks interesting. In appearance, he looks like the Green Hornet with overcoat, hat and mask. Set in the 1940s (I think) this trailer looks great!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Click on "Animal Rescue Site" to help give free dog food

Thanks to my friends in MD and FL who sent this: The Animal Rescue Site is having troublegetting enough people to click on it daily to meet their quota ofgetting free food donated every day to abused and neglected animals. It takes less than a minute (How about 20 seconds) to go to their site and click on the purple box 'fund food for animals' for free. This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising. Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know. (Photo: Hil and Richard's new dog, Amy!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ANY Help Appreciated for MD Family Who Lost House in Fire

Some friends of my friend Lynn lost EVERYTHING in a fire yesterday. See email below. ynn's son Jeffrey has been in school with their middle child, Kaitlyn, since nursery school. If you want to help, please either send your monetary contributions to me, and make any checks payable to: Brian and Laurie Whiting
You can send a check:
c/o Lynn Chandler
3928 Calawasse Road
Edgewater, Md 21037
IF you have any clothes, (and live between Annapolis and Washington, DC) Lynn will come pick them up. Anything you can do would be so appreciated. This entire family is involved in everything in the community and always have been. They are so generous of their time and now is the time for us to give back to them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baltimore/Washington's First Snow of the Season!

It's Tuesday, November 18th, and we're receiving our first snow (at least pretty good on-and-off flurries)! - Thanks to an arctic air mass that's settled over the region, we've got high temps in the upper 30s, with gusty, cold winds!
At 2:20pm EST,it was only 36 Fahrenheit, with a gusty NW wind to 28 mph, and the WIND CHILL is NEAR 25F!!

From the National Weather Service: 1235 PM EST TUE NOV 18 2008 .NOW...

GIFT CARDS: Choose Wisely this Holiday Season!

There are a number of stores that have filed for bankruptcy this year because of the poor economy, and if you have a gift card - Good luck! - Be VERY careful which gift cards you buy over the holidays. I have a SOLUTION: Only Buy Dunkin Donuts Gift Cards! - Rob
Here's the news on some others:
Circuit City said it will continue to honor outstanding gift cards, and will continue to sell them. But Circuit City also announced that it's closing 155 stores, which means some card holders will have a harder time finding a place to redeem them. And if the company's efforts to reorganize fail, the cards could become worthless.
Linens 'n Things filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. Consumers who still have gift cards for the retailer will have a hard time redeeming them: After failing to find a buyer, Linens 'n Things announced that it's liquidating its merchandise and closing its stores.
Bombay Co., which filed for bankruptcy protection last year, didn't fare much better. In August, the retailer won approval from the bankruptcy court to pay off gift card holders 25 cents on the dollar.
Tweeter, a consumer electronics chain that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early November, originally planned to stop accepting gift cards on Nov. 15. After several state attorney generals intervened, the company agreed to accept gift cards through Dec. 31, or until its stores close.
S ome consumers have already been burned. When Sharper Image filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, gift card holders were informed they could no longer use their cards. The company later asked the court to allow it to accept gift cards if holders spent twice the value of the gift card on a single purchase. Consumers Union estimates that unused Sharper Image gift cards totaled $20 million.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Technology Brings Elvis and Martina Together on "Blue Christmas"

I think this is kind of cool - a new CD of musical collaborations with Elvis- but what's most interesting is the VIDEO below. What incredible video editing!!!- rob
A 'Blue Christmas' with Elvis and Martina McBride
By Brian Mansfield, Special for USA TODAY
Elvis and Martina McBride spend a Blue Christmas together.
Martina McBride was just shy of 2 when Elvis Presley filmed his 1968 "comeback" TV special. This year, the country singer steps back in time 40 years to join the King of Rock 'n' Roll in a video for Blue Christmas.
"They took Elvis out of the '68 special and put him on the Idol stage," he says. "We were taking Martina to the '68 special." The posthumous collaboration also appears on Elvis Presley Christmas Duets, a new album that pairs Presley with singers such as Carrie Underwood, Amy Grant and Olivia Newton-John. WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:

Sad State of the Economy: Homeless won't leave pets to get off streets

This is an article from today's Nashville Tennessean newspaper (which I read on-line daily, because I love Nashville). It's outrageous that so many people are homeless in this country. Thankfully, we'll be getting new leadership that doesn't cater to the rich anymore. Regardless, people NEED their pets even in extreme hard times. Our pets ARE our children. This will really make you think, and make you thankful for what you do have.
Laurie Green, founder of the Southern Alliance for Animal Welfare, checks out Mike and Rebecca's elderly spaniel, Sheba, at Tent City, a homeless encampment in Nashville.

November 17, 2008
Homeless won't leave pets to get off streets
By Jennifer Brooks
The leaves are falling, the nights are cold and Carolyn Garton would like nothing better than to move out of her makeshift shelter in Tent City and into a nice, warm house. But not without her Sunshine.
"She's my baby. God brought her to me," said Garton, pulling Sunshine into a hug. The black and tan shepherd mix thumped her tail and wriggled closer to lick her owner's chin. Garton, who's known around Tent City as Mama Bear, has been homeless for two years. Sunshine's been by her side for most of it.
"She was brought to me at a hard time in my life," said Garton, who took in the abandoned puppy on a bleak, rainy day a year and a half ago. A look around their camp shows the lengths she's gone to provide for her pet. Sunshine has her own pillow and a nest of blankets in the tent they share. Volunteers have donated kibble, veterinary care and flea drops — enough to ensure that the homeless pet is living at least as comfortably as her homeless person.

Sunday- Fun Day

Sunday was a nice day, although extremely brisk, due to a gusty NW wind to 35mph under clouds and sun, with highs in the upper 40s.
After a nice 7am breakfast at Panera Bread (as usual), we went home and walked Dolly and Franklin (clad in tee-shirts because they have short fur). It was BRISK!
- I talked with Beverlee and learned she was safe in PA with her neice and her husband, so I was able to relax. She also managed to get someone in her apt. complex to take care of her cat (yes, a retirement apt in Baltimore does allow elderly folks to keep a cat or small dog- which I think is a good thing).
- Tom and I decided to go shopping as a local store was closing, and had discounts. Not much there. We also got my younger brother a birthday present at Barnes and Noble. We really think he should run for Congress. He's incredible.
- We ended the day by attending a funny production put on at the retirement community where Tom's parents live in Annapolis. It was a mix of humor and music. Some of the skits and costumes were outrageous, especially because it was performed by all residents! Tom's stepdad Bob, was in several skits, and really made me laugh. He's such a funny guy and has a talent on stage. Some of the people who sang, though, could've shattered glass and made cats and dogs wail! Tom's mom sat with us (she wasn't in the production but was the lead of the cleanup crew for the room/stage area in the community's lodge where it was held).
Afterward, we all had a nice dinner/breakfast at Denny's and Tom and came home to the dogs, and watched "The Amazing Race"- which we love! A nice Sunday overall!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Aging and Difficulties- Part 2

It's Saturday, two days after I took my 86-year old friend Beverlee home from the ICU at a Baltimore hospital (she's on oxygen and in failing health). I called to check on her, and she's not well. She's totally disoriented in her studio apartment, and panicking. She hasn't been able to eat, and doesn't want to call the folks in her complex to assist her -
Fortunately, Beverlee was able to give me the phone number of her neice in PA, and I called her. She and her husband are coming down immediately to get Bev and bring her back home with them. At least Bev will be safe and watched.
Since I picked her up from the hospital on Thursday night, Bev has been going back and forth with her timelines in her conversation. She's not been totally coherent-which has me very concerned. Bev also mentioned what she wants for funeral arrangements, etc. which tells me she's preparing to "go home" to her husband that passed some 46 years ago. I stayed on the phone with her for quite awhile today, helping keep her company until her neice arrives.
The tough thing is that I have no power of attorney to assist her in the ways she needs it- that's where family is so important. As we grow old, we really need to make sure we have someone to look after us. - I'll update this over the weekend.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Sadness in Getting Old - last night

Last night gave me a lot to think about. My 86 year old friend, Beverlee called me during the day and asked if I could pick her up from the VA Hospital ICU in Baltimore City and drive her home after I got out of work. Of course, I did.
Bev had lung cancer and recovered successfully years ago. She's also had other lung-related ailments, although never a smoker. Over the last year, she's lost about 20 pounds and stands around 4'7" and weighs around 80 pounds. She's extremely frail, has severe breathing difficulties and has used a walker for the last two years. She's also been on oxygen 24/7 since about 6 months ago. I've watched the physical abilities fade from her over the last two years, mostly the last 6 months.
Bev's husband passed away some 40 years ago when he was around my age. She's never forgotten him. He was and always will be the love of her life. His pictures adorn her apartment.
Beverlee has one son who lives in another state with his family. She doesn't like speaking with him, because he's apparently very selfish. She wonders often how he turned out that way. She tells me that she can only turn to a niece and her husband for help, who live in Pennsylvania (a 90 minute drive), so she called me.
Up until last night, Beverlee has had all of her faculties. However, pulling out of the VA Hospital parking garage last night, she kept asking me "where did you park?" I told her we were driving in my truck. She asked again. Finally I asked who she was talking to, and she said "Darlene." I told her Darlene wasn't in my truck, then she realized where she was.
She also kept talking about a nasty young woman that she was currently "working with in an office" - so it sounded like she was remembering something from the 1950s or 1960s. Then it got mixed in with being at the hospital. I couldn't follow it. She became paranoid that that nasty woman would follow her and I back to her apt. or call her and harrass her. I told her there was no one.
When I got to the apt. bldg where she lives (a retirement building, but NOT assisted living, which she so desperately needs), I parked outside (on Charles Street, a main street in Baltimore) and ran and got a wheelchair to bring her inside.
Once inside her apt. she collapsed on her bed, while I helped organize things a little. She looked very frail, and I wondered how long it would be before she wanted to join her husband in Heaven.
Her oxygen machine wasn't working either, so I called an emergency technician who arrived 1 1/2 hours later with a replacement. While we were waiting, she lay on her bed talking occasionally about the hospital, and how she needs to immediately move to assisted living. (I gave her a bunch of places to contact, several months back). Once rested, she seemed more coherent, and the technician arrived and left. So I headed back home. I call and check on her almost every day, as I do with my own mom (300 miles away).
I think the big fear is growing old and not having anyone to help us. Tom and I talk about that, as we won't have children. However, at least we can be there for others. That's what life is about. Please keep Bev in your thoughts and prayers.

Dog Risks Life to Be With Owner in Fire

Here's a story from the Chicago Sun Times today. There is NOTHING like the unconditional love of a dog. If you don't have a dog, you're missing one of life's greatest gifts. Here's the story:DOG ON MEND FROM FATAL FIRE
November 14, 2008 BY DAN ROZEK Chicago Sun Times Staff Reporter (Photo: Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times)
Regis is on the road to recovery, but he's not there yet, said the veterinarian treating the 13-year-old mixed-breed dog that survived a Cicero house fire after his owner refused to flee the burning home without him.
Regis' owner, 68-year-old John Petrik died of heart disease and smoke inhalation after being removed from his home early Wednesday by firefighters.
Regis is being treated for injuries at the A American Veterinary Hospital in Oak Park. Petrik initially refused to leave without his beloved dog, which was rescued later by firefighters -- though the 55-pound German shepherd mix suffered smoke inhalation and a burned tail.
On Thursday, Regis showed signs of improvement -- including resuming eating -- but he was still having difficulty walking, possibly because of the smoke he inhaled, said Cesar Agustin, the Oak Park veterinarian treating him for his injuries. "He's much better, but he's not 100 percent yet," said Agustin, who added he was "highly optimistic" the dog would recover.
The dog was given oxygen treatment and antibiotics, along with a salve for his burned tail, though Agustin is still awaiting the results of blood tests to see if he suffered internal injuries. Regis also was treated for fleas.

Captain America Movie Coming!

I love superhero movies, more than any other kind of movie. The Dark Knight and Iron Man were the movie highlights of 2008 for me. There are a number of other superhero movies in the making, but I'm looking forward to the one about Captain America. He was a hero from the 1940s who fought in WWII, was cryogenically frozen, and awakened in the modern age.
According to Joe Johnston has signed on to direct Marvel Studios' First Avenger: Captain America, based on characters developed by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. The film will be produced by Marvel Studios' President Kevin Feige. Executive Producers on the project are Louis D'Esposito, Stan Lee and Marvel Studios' Chairman David Maisel. Paramount Pictures will distribute First Avenger: Captain America worldwide. The film will come to theaters domestically on May 6, 2011.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Doc Visit for Numbness...

I went to the doctor today for numbness and tingling in my feet and hands... and, yes, I know I've been "numb from the neck up" for quite some time. :)
Anyway, I was concerned that it happened starting around Monday morning in both hands and feet. Although it could be a circulation issue (I'm being tested for low Vitamin B-12, which promotes healthy circulation), I realized (thanks to the savvy doctor asking) that I've changed my workout regime in the last 2 weeks, to include more running and push ups.
We concluded that the feet tingling may be due to bad sneakers (yes, I need a new pair) and arch support... so that's on the buy list this weekend. Meanwhile, the wrist/hand thing is a return of carpal tunnel syndrome, which I've had for years. It just took the pressure of pushups to bring it back. So much for trying to get healthy!

Can you help a Baltimore School Teacher Get Supplies?

My friend Fran is a 1st grade teacher in Baltimore City, and has put together proposals to obtain needed supplies to teach her first graders in this very poor section of Baltimore City. She spends a lot of her own money to provide kids with clothing, toys, and even food.
She put together a proposal to get basics to operate a camera and printer (that she got through a previous successful proposal). Can you provide a donation (maybe in memory of someone you know?). Digital Dilemma" which can be examined here:
This and all other proposals at have been submitted by public school teachers who seek resources that will help their students learn. The New York Times has profiled as "the future of philanthropy." Please help students in need by clicking on the link above.

An Architectural "Eyesore of the Week"

Tom follows a number of blogs, from Economic to Architectural blogs (because he's an architect). Whenever we're out driving, he'll notice homes with poorly designed additions, and says "That's someone who should've hired an architect." Anyway, Tom says that each month the architectural blogger he follows posts a commentary on architectural eyesores and writes a critique on each one. Sometimes these critiques really are priceless and his comments are often scathing reviews of people’s lack of taste and examples of why “you should have hired an architect.” Here's the "EYESORE OF THE WEEK": The Blogger's Comments (who is also an architect): This monstrosity stirred up a lot of shock and consternation as it rose up on a middling-quality block on the north side of Saratoga Springs. The general complaint was that the building was "too tall," but this was actually the least of its errors. The problems stem not from the structure’s height but from poor proportioning and design. Basically, what you have here is a crab shack stuck on top of a three story packing crate. Note that they have used a heavier darker color for the upper floors rather than on the base; this makes the building look top-heavy. Notice that the volumes are simply stacked, like pallets in a frozen food warehouse. Notice the change-of-materials gambit on only one side at the ground level; it was supposed to give the base "weight" but actually looks incongruous and dumb. Notice the poor quality of the materials used for the screened-in porch and flimsy appearance of the columns. The windows are mere holes in the walls. There is absolutely no meaningful or graceful ornamentation. The neighbors are right about this being an ugly monstrosity that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives. Our knowledge and skill in building has been reduced almost to zero in this culture.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tom's Rant for today: Bailouts and Executive Bonuses

Tom's rant for the day: I read in the paper that Nancy Pelosi wants Congress to appropriate money from the $700B bail out (TARP) to rescue the auto industry. Absolutely a bad decision. So I sent her and our two Senators scathing letters.
This will get your ire up as well. Here’s an article on the Yahoo! business page this morning. Companies are using the bailout money to pay top executive bonuses. I don’t know why Americans aren’t hopping up and down mad at this.
Many Americans are understandably outraged by the bailout fever that has gripped Washington this year. But even those who believe the bailouts are a "necessary evil" would have a hard time defending some of the bailout-related items that have come to light in recent days, including:
Financial institutions using TARP bailout money to pay executive bonuses. The firms, of course, say it's "different" money and bonuses are key to retaining top employees. But if you need to come to the government for a handout, shouldn't your executives forgo a bonus? Or shouldn't the government make canceling bonuses a condition of getting aid, as is the case in Europe?
The Fed refusing to reveal who received almost $2 trillion in non-TARP loans, or what collateral it has accepted from "emergency" loans made to struggling firms, as Bloomberg reports.
The Treasury Department providing a tax break to banks involved in acquisitions that could amount to $140 billion. The Washington Post reveals the change to the tax code was issued on Sept. 30, while Congress was debating the $700 billion TARP bill.
The bailouts are bad enough. But this kind of chicanery and lack of transparency makes me recall a line from another time when fear and deceit dominated Washington: Have they no shame, at long last?

This whole thing is really disgusting. Washington really needs to be cleaned up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanks, Veterans!

We know a number of Veterans (as does everyone) and we salute and thank all of you for your service to our country. Our friends Mike R. in Columbia, Md. and Sherri P. in SC, Darold in Fl. and Beverlee in Baltimore are just a few of the many we know who served. I'm going to visit Beverlee today, the holiday, to help recognize her. She's 86 and in a retirement complex in Baltimore. I usually get to see her every couple of weeks, and she's always got great stories. She was in the Navy when she was in the service.
Veterans Day is an annual American holiday honoring military veterans. Both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states, it is usually observed on November 11. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fun Weekend: Open House; Shopping; Museum; Leaf Raking; Dog Walking!

This weekend was a busy, but fun one.
One of the things that hit me was that it was my dad's birthday on Saturday, November 8th... or it would have been his 80th birthday. It's difficult to believe Dad passed away over 3 months now. To honor him, we went to a bookstore and bought a couple of books- one of his favorite things to do. I noticed EIGHT of his favorite authors all just came out with paperbacks this month. Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you and miss you so much. I'm reading a book in your honor.
It rained on Saturday on and off, so Tom and I went shopping, and were joined by our friend Jeff F.(his partner is visiting family out of state). We even went grocery shopping. We managed to walk the dogs twice between showers, too. At night, we went to a friend's house for an open house.
Sunday was sunny and cool! After breakfast and a dog walk, we headed to the National Gallery of Art (Smithsonian) and met our friend Jeff F, and Fitz and Will for the Pompeii and the Roman Villa exhibit. It was interesting. It contained "some 150 works of sculpture, painting, mosaic, and luxury arts, including recent discoveries on view in the U.S. for the first time and celebrated finds from earlier excavations," per the website. "Exquisite objects from the richly decorated villas reveal the breadth and richness of cultural and artistic life, as well as the influence of classical Greece on Roman art and culture in this region." We also saw a small exhibit on Abraham Lincoln at another gallery, but it was very crowded and disappointing. Neither I nor Fitz could stand in the cramped room for more than 5 minutes. Tom and others did, though and told both Fitz and I about it. Afterward, we had a nice lunch and called it an afternoon. It was great to see everyone.
We came home to "power raking" the thousands of leaves in the backyard - while the dogs ran through the piles of leaves. It was fun to watch them enjoy the leaves. 9 trash bags later, we were finished!

Friday, November 7, 2008

A New Bed! Great Customer Service at Sleepys

We bought a "Kingstown" bed at a Sleepys store last week, and it was a great experience. We needed it because Tom has lower back problems, and they're getting worse.
The saleswoman that waited on us knew we were a couple and she was so accommodating and understanding. She put us through a computer test where we each lay on a bed and the computerized bed measured our posture, pain points, etc. to determine what bed would be best for us. It was fascinating stuff. They also tested the type of pillows we preferred. I preferred plush and flexible, while Tom preferred firm pillows. It's been comfy sleeping since we got the bed delievered this past Tuesday. All I can say is that buying a mattress is like buying a new car, complete with financing!

Okay, now I'm really done with them

This article was on CNN today, about how the Catholic and Mormon Churches poured tons of money and campaigning into removing the marriage rights of the gay people in California. Hatred is NOT what Christ taught. So, I'm officially saying in print that I am totally DONE with the Catholic Church. Hateful, hateful, hateful. There is NO excuse for this horrendous behavior. I'm furious at the Church that I grew up in and gave so much time, effort and money to support. They've let me down.
As for this quote: "Proposition 8 is not against any group in our society. (BULL@#&$!!!) Its sole focus is on preserving God's plan for people living upon this earth throughout time," Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles said. He's simply an ass. He, like the other hateful, bigoted, nasty, selfish people need to go. Can you tell that I'm really ticked over this?

The Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
insisted Thursday that their support for a proposition to ban same-sex
marriage in California did not target any group.

California voters on Tuesday appear to have approved Proposition 8, a measure
banning same-sex marriage in the state.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lunchtime when Working at Home: The Poo-Picking Challenge

I work at home a couple of days a week, thankfully, and it really saves commute time, money and mileage. A lot of people are also a lot less hesitant to bother you at home, so I get much more work done! - Anyway, here's what I did on my lunch hour today- yeah, it's not all fun:
1) Made a quick lunch of leftovers and ate in about 10 minutes
2) Took in the recycle bin (it was collected today)
3) Walked the dogs about a mile (took 25 minutes)
4) Put clothes in the dryer (I put them in the wash before I started this morning)
5) Give the dogs snacks /changed their water
6) Pooper Scooped the Backyard for about 20 minutes!

Let me just say, that I understand why some people pay for this. Regardless, I don't mind doing it, it's just that 1) With LOTS OF FALLEN LEAVES- there's a 90% chance you'll step in something before you see it to pick up (okay, I did. Twice in fact).
2) When you are Color-blind with Greens, Greys, Browns and Reds, like I am- it's very, very difficult to tell the difference between doggie poo, a leaf, dirt, or a pine cone. It's like being in a contest in the "Amazing Race"! :)

The Worldwide Celebration About the Election Gave me Chills

I was thrilled with the election of Barack Obama to the White House this week. For 8 years, I feel we've been living under the specter of fear, hatred, false religion, and a lot of deception. I've watched the U.S. become alienated from the rest of the world. On Wednesday, Nov. 5, when the world learned of Obama's election, there were celebrations everywhere. In all my 46 years, I have NEVER seen this kind of celebration for electing a U.S. President (Four years ago I recall that it was just the opposite with Europeans protesting).
For all the Republicans who voted for John McCain, I have faith that this much younger man (than McCain) really does want to bring people an parties together and cast aside the divisive politics of the GOP.
Here are snippets from an article about the worldwide celebrations. This really is historic. If historians out there can tell me when the world celebrated another U.S. President-Elect, I'd be interested to hear who the celebration was for.
Celebrations cross planet
Historic moment in United States prompts parties in countries around the globe
By Shelley Emling
Cox International Correspondent
Thursday, November 06, 2008
London —- People around the world celebrated the election of Barack Obama as if he were their own and held exceedingly high expectations for his presidency.
Obama’s election as America’s first black president and his promise to build collaborative international relations immediately boosted the U.S. image abroad. “The American dream has been restored in the eyes of the world,” said Adam Smith, an expert on foreign affairs at University College London.
Spontaneous celebrations erupted in Europe, Asia and Africa, including in Indonesia, where Obama lived as a child, and Kenya, home to Obama’s late father.
Jubilation swept the Caribbean, which viewed the election of a black president as historic.
In Latin America, Venezuela’s bombastic President Hugo Chavez was conciliatory in remarks before Obama’s victory. “I am willing to sit down and converse on an equal footing and with respect,” he said.
Obama’s victory also was greeted with cheers in Mexico. Former foreign minister Jorge Castaneda wrote in the Reforma newspaper that “Obama’s win … opens to Mexico an extraordinary opportunity to re-position itself in the world because it will be infinitely easier to be a neighbor, ally and friend of the United States with Obama.”
Chinese President Hu Jintao congratulated Obama and said in a statement that he looked forward to working with him to “continuously strengthen dialogue and exchanges between our two countries and enhance our mutual trust and cooperation.”
Americans living abroad, too, basked in the glow of a victory hoped for by most of the world.

Water: Will help keep the holiday pounds off...

According to Men's Health Magazine - the best secret weight-loss tip of all: Drink more water, and make sure you fill the glass with ice. Ice water is scientifically proven to burn more calories than room-temperature water alone. The science behind this phenomena? The body burns calories when it has to raise the temperature of ice water to your body temperature. If you drink the recommended eight, 8-ounce glasses of water, you should burn an extra 70 calories a day. Not only does ice water burn more calories, but it makes you feel more full. Many times when you think you’re hungry, you’re just thirsty.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another Stupid Defeat for Equal Rights in Calif.

Well, Election day did bring stupidity in California. Seems like the SLIM majority of people just don't want everyone to be equal, as the gay marriage law was shot down. What that does to all the legally married gay couples, I don't know- but I'd be pretty pissed.
Have you noticed that the straight people can't wait to get divorced, and the gay people can't wait to get married?
If a slim majority of hateful, bigoted people don't want gay people to have marriage, we'll have to settle for civil unions for now. I'm tired of all the crap and hatred from the right-wing idiots that think they deserve everything and "no one else deserves God's grace." I think that if we're patient, over time once all the hateful people die off (basically, looking at the vote it's people in the 40s and older that voted it down) the Supreme court will take it up in a couple of years -and all that crap will change. It will happen and people will have to deal with it, just like they did when inter-racial marriages finally became legal. It'll happen. P
After all, gay marriage been legal in Massachusetts, and straight marriages haven't seen a higher divorce rate and the state hasn't gone to hell.
Everyone deserves equal rights. The selfish people that don't believe that need to go find a dictatorship to live in. "God created all men (and women) equal."
FROM TODAY'S NEWS: LOS ANGELES – In an election otherwise full of liberal triumphs, the gay rights movement suffered a stunning defeat as California voters approved a ban on same-sex marriages that overrides a recent court decision legalizing them.
The constitutional amendment — widely seen as the most momentous of the nation's 153 ballot measures — will limit marriage to heterosexual couples, the first time such a vote has taken place in a state where gay unions are legal.
Gay-rights activists had a rough election elsewhere as well. Ban-gay-marriage amendments were approved in Arizona and Florida, and Arkansas voters approved a measure banning unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents. Supporters made clear that gays and lesbians were their main target.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 Comes Through With Great Customer Service

After buying an expensive Crypton fabric dog bed, - with a design on the heavy canvas-like material (it was a William Wegman design with weimaraners, which is why we wanted it), the dogs weren't comfortable on it. I contacted, and was told that the cover was non-returnable. However, the customer service representative went above and beyond and allowed us to exchange it for a cover the dogs would actually sit/sleep on. We're grateful for the fine example of customer service at My letter to them is below.
Nov. 4, 2008
Hi Heather - I just wanted to write and confirm that I did receive the other dog bed cover in Suede Marsh Fabric, yesterday, Nov. 3rd. The dogs do like the fabric, and have been laying on the bed without issue. I greatly appreciate your exchanging the cover, and providing one that is usable, and very asthetically pleasing as well.
I will recommend Dogbedworks to friends, and tell them to get the Suede Marsh Fabric. I am grateful for the great customer service you provided.
Thank you again, Sincerely, Rob Gutro

Interesting Graph on States Switching Parties Over Time

Craig B. sent me this fascinating look at how states voted in Presidential elections over time. Look at how the states changed from Dem to Rep and back and forth over the years. And NOTE how many electoral votes the candidates got over the years, Kind of interesting. Slide the little lever under the map.
BTW- See Craig's Great Photos of inner-city Baltimore at his blog:

Voting Lines Today in Maryland and Virginia

It's Election Day, 2008! I heard from two friends this morning about voting lines today! Jeff F. in Alexandria, Virginia called me at 5:15am EST (yes, we're up then and well before) and said there were about 100 people ahead of him, waiting for the polls to open. It took him about 1 hr 15 mins. to vote. Meanwhile, Craig B. in Pasadena, Maryland sent this photo of the voting line at 7:00 a.m. in his town. No matter what the wait, Bring a BOOK and vote. :)
HISTORY: Election Day in the United States is the day set by law for the selection of public officials by popular ballot. For federal offices, it occurs on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November (so the earliest possible date is November 2 and the latest November 8). Presidential elections are held every four years. Elections to the House of Representatives and the Senate are held every two years. Many state and local government offices are also elected on Election Day as a matter of convenience and cost saving. However, a handful of states hold elections for state offices during odd numbered, off years; this varies according to state and local laws.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why It's Important to Microchip your Dog- a 1,000 Mile Rescue!

(A Maltese dog)
Dog found 1,000 miles from home is back in Fla.
Associated Press 8:43 AM CST, November 2, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. - A Maltese dog named Max is back home in Florida after he was found in Chicago -- 1,000 miles from where he disappeared.
Max is to be reunited with his owner Richard Gonzalez on Sunday. On Saturday, Joanne Couture, who runs Li'l Lap Dog Rescue, picked up Max from Delta's cargo office at Orlando International Airport. She took him home for the night.
Max disappeared from the west Florida city of Brandon almost six months ago. An animal-control shelter in Chicago had picked up Max, and the microchip implanted in the pooch's body linked him to Gonzalez.

Get Ready to Vote Tomorrow!

A friend and co-worker sent this to me today- I thought it was funny.

Churches need to Stay Out of Politics - Conn. Catholic Church

Okay - the fun of Halloween is over- and I saw an article today in the Boston Globe that got my ire up...
Last month I emailed the IRS to ask them if a church keeps openly promoting one candidate if that would disqualify them from their tax status as a non-profit (there are a lot of churches doing this). The IRS never responded. Apparently, they're overwhelmed by the large number promoting one candidate of the other.
Churches REALLY need to stay out of politics. I'm FURIOUS with the Catholic Church. After having supported the church for 45 years, I'm so angry and disgusted with the church for promoting hate, division, inequality, and platforming for conservative candidates.
In the Boston Globe today, Nov. 3, an article explains that Connecticut Catholic bishops are dead-set against gay-marriage and trying to get the newly appointed rights taken away. Who in the Hell are they to take people's rights away? If gay people want to marry and commit themselves, what's wrong with that? It seems that men and women have a HUGE divorce rate, and increasing annually. So, if a gay couple wants to commit and stay committed I think they're a much better example of family.
Love between two consenting adults is love. Period.
The Catholic Church has totally infuriated me beyond belief. I will NEVER return. I really want the IRS to remove their tax-exempt status. I'm sick and tired of churches putting their faces in politics. It was churches that created the whole political mess we've been in for the last 8 years.

Call or Write the Archdiocese of Connecticut and tell them to lay off!
Telephone: 860-541-6491

ARTICLE: Conn. ballot masks a battle
Convention vote could lead to ban on gay marriage

HARTFORD - The jubilation that gay couples felt just three weeks ago when Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage has been replaced by Election Day jitters.
Their worries are focused on a ballot question asking voters if they want to authorize Connecticut's first convention in more than 40 years to revise the state constitution.
Opponents of same-sex marriage, including the state's Catholic bishops, are pushing hard for a convention because they believe it could lead to a direct ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in Connecticut.
A new poll by the University of Connecticut and the Hartford Courant found that 50 percent of voters surveyed supported the convention and 39 percent opposed it. But the same poll indicated 55 percent opposed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Full Story:

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next