Monday, December 31, 2012

Double Dog Surgery Week

Franklin and Dolly - this summer at a winery in PA
Over the weekend I mentioned that Dolly (the Weimaraner) and Franklin  (the Dachshund), both now 8 years old, cracked teeth on their dinosaur dental nylabones. Apparently, that's because like humans, their teeth get more brittle as they age. 
  They've been enjoying the dental dinosaurs since they were puppies and loved them. In fact, the vet said during the consultation appt. this weekend, that the dinosaurs likely kept their gums in great condition, and kept the tartar off their teeth. Dolly has never needed a dental cleaning in her entire 8 years!
  Well, now, aging has caught up, and they both need a molar removed, and both on the same side.  Dolly also has a couple of fatty lumps that dogs get, so she's going to have three of those removed, too. 
  SURGERY DAY is Thursday, January 3rd for both Dolly and Franklin, so please keep them in your thoughts. 
  NOTE:  If you have an older dog, don't give them dental dinosaurs- although I recommend them for younger dogs- they really have saved a lot of dental probs during our kids' younger years. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Video blog:Great new book by Dolly Parton: "Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You"

There's a great new inspirational book to offer you guidance to achieve your dreams, and it was written by my (Rob) favorite singer/entertainer, Dolly Parton. I just finished reading it and really enjoyed it.  Of course, I highly recommend it!!
    The book is called  "Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You." ABC News says "Parton reveals how she achieved such success and how others can too, advising people to "Dream More," "Learn More," "Care More" and "Do More." Parton's book is based on a 2009 commencement address she gave at the University of Tennessee that became a YouTube sensation."
  Here she sings a short song based on the book called "Celebrate the Dreamer in You" - LOVE IT!  (of course, I'm biased).


Here are some Questions and Answers Dolly answered recently in an interview with The Hartford Courant newspaper: 
Q: Did writing the book do more for you or for others?
A: I enjoyed writing it but I wanted to write it for others. It was something I knew about. I thought it might be helpful to other people to know my philosophy, how I do my work, how I try to live. It was a way to generate money for my Imagination Library while I take a break from touring. I thought it would be a good thing to dig down and gather up some things I could share.

Q: In your book you write almost happily about being part of a poor family. Was there a positive side to wanting?
A: The good thing about being needy is you don't really realize it until you are older. Coming from a poor family, it made me always appreciate the value of a dollar no matter how much money I make. I remember how my daddy would scrape by to raise us. I never squander money. I don't spend thousands on a piece of clothing and while I have some good jewelry, I like my costume jewelry the best.

Q: How did you approach writing the book? How long did it take?
A: It didn't take me long, maybe about three months. I was asked to give the commencement speech at University of Tennessee and that kind of started it. I talked about my dreams and my life. After I gave the speech, people said 'you should put that in a book.' I am a writer. I do write songs. But writing songs is much easier than writing speeches or books. I'm sure I'll write another someday but not right now.

Q: Reports are that you smell really good these days? What perfume are you wearing? A: I am working on a line of perfume of my own and still testing combinations so I guess that is what everyone is smelling. There's a lot of musk in the trials but we are getting close. It is going to be called "Dolly" and I've been working on it for a few years. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

How did I Spend 3 Days Off?

I (Rob) had the entire week off, but Christmas eve and Christmas day were planned and busy, so I don't consider those days off. So, as Tom went to work Wed. through Fri. what did I do? 
Book Revisions; Dog Care; Puppy training (for the foster dog)  Christmas clean-up, Doc's appts., answered old emails and wrote hurricane updates for work!

BOOK REVISIONS: The main thing I did was revise my first book 'Ghosts and Spirits: Insights from a Medium" because I'm bringing it to another publisher.  The contract with the original publisher expired, and the new publisher, CreateSpace, is the same one where I published my second book "Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead."  
- I learned some things from the publishing experience. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) (a unique numeric commercial book identifier based upon the 9-digit Standard Book Numbering) code is not something that transfers from publisher to publisher, so I had to pay for new ISBN numbers. 
- I had to basically re-read my entire book and make edits, reference this has been revised, and correct any errors. I also added some notes about joining Inspired Ghost Tracking, and referenced medium Barb Mallon and Ruth Larkin. 
- Submitting the book with the new publisher means that it had to be exactly formatted to meet the 6x9 page format, and I have to re-insert the photos used in high resolution. 
   It's now Saturday, and I'm STILL working on re-reading and re-editing and formatting the book for the new publisher. It's time consuming, but I do enjoy it.

DOG STUFF: Our foster dog, Tyler, has required a lot of attention. At 2 years old he had no training from his former North Carolina owners, which I find unfathomable and cruel to the little dog. So, I've been training him.  Also, because he can't run outside, when we get up at 4:45 a.m. I need to quickly get dressed and run outside with him and the other three dogs. It's not fun in the wintertime to do this, but it must be done. He's getting used to being here, and loves chomping on his dental dinosaur. He's only had 4 accidents in the house, but those were early on, when we didn't know he had to go out 10 minutes after eating.Now we know. 

TWO DOG DENTAL WOES- Just learned that Franklin, our 8 year old Dachshund has another chipped molar and Dolly the Weimaraner, just chipped a tooth, as I heard it crack last night when she was chomping a nylabone. VET APPTS today for both!

DOC'S APPTS: Since Dec. 1st, I've been having a lot of pain in my right jaw from TMJ. It's a result of stress and it started the day Tom and I went to a local shelter and saw a 5 year old Dachshund that was so ill he had to be put down. That tore me apart. The same week, we were contacted about two other dogs that were also abused or ill, and also had to be put out of their misery. Too much stress. Every morning I wake up with jaw pain.
- I also have trigger thumb, where the tendons in my thumb have constricted, causing my thumb to "stick."  **Two doc's that have relieved some of the pain and discomfort are Dr. Colette McKie, a great acupuncturist in Bowie, and Dr. Bill Cox, Chiropractor in Gambrills. 
- MORNING RITUAL - Each morning when Tom gets up for work, so do the dogs, to I've had to get up  and  make Tom's breakfast, pack his lunch, take the dogs out, and feed 'em. At least I've been able to go back to bed for an hour, though!

SO, I ask, when does the vacation really start?!? :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tyler's Heartworm Treatment - a Long Road

Our new foster dog, Tyler, the 2-year old mini-dachshund has heartworm. It was doubly confirmed by our vet.
Tyler posing
  Here's the catch. The treatment to cure him and rid him of the heartworm takes 6 months! Yup, half a year. That's a long time to keep a puppy immobile. SO, PLEASE give your dogs heartworm preventative. It's not only the time, and the challenge of keeping a dog from exercising, but it's also costly (the rescue is covering expenses for Tyler, although we're willing to assist).

NOTE: I didn't show a picture of what the heartworms look like because it GROSSED ME OUT. *Please put your dog on heartworm preventative**

  Here's how Tyler's treatment will work: 
  It's 1 month of pre-treatment with antibiotics (and Tyler doesn't take pills easily and hates peanut butter and cheese - a weird little Doxie).
After a month then a series of 3 shots are administered over 5 months with pain killers, because the shots hurt a lot afterward. That entire time it's: short leash bathroom breaks, no playing, etc.
   It's a challenge to say the least. He's so young that he's worth saving. He's got a long life ahead, and he's so adorable.
  During the short time we've had him, Rob has been training him to sit, stop, walk, stay and come. He's had virtually no training from his first home in North Carolina, which btw, really ticks us off.
  Why do people in the south (in general, not everyone.. and I lived there, too) not give heartworm preventative, and not train their dogs?  That's just cruel to the dog. Rescues also find that southern folk also abandon their dogs on the side of the road to fend for themselves - How cruel!
Southern residents are also famous for not spaying or neutering their dogs and then turning the puppies out in the cold. I only know this because of the rescues we work with that encounter it daily.

Canine Heartworm Disease:

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?  In most dogs, the heart and lungs are the major organs affected by heartworms with varying degrees of clinical signs. SIGNS; coughing,   exercise intolerance, abnormal lung sounds, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), abnormal lung sounds, hepatomegaly (enlargement of the liver), syncope (temporary loss of consciousness due to poor blood flow to the brain), ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity), abnormal heart sounds, death
WHAT IS IT?  Dogs are considered the definitive host for heartworms. However, heartworms may infect more than 30 species of animals (e.g., coyotes, foxes, wolves and other wild canids, domestic cats and wild felids, ferrets, sea lions, etc.) and humans as well. When a mosquito carrying infective heartworm larvae bites a dog and transmits the infection, the larvae grow, develop and migrate in the body over a period of several months to become sexually mature male and female worms. These reside in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels. As mature adults, the worms mate and offspring go into the blood stream. Offspring can be detected in the blood about 6 months after the infective larvae from the mosquito enter the dog. 
SOME SIGNS A DOG SHOWS:  A heartworm infected dog with mild disease may appear to be perfectly normal upon physical examination. Severely affected dogs, however, may show signs of right-sided heart failure. Labored breathing or crackles may be heard in the lungs due to vascular clots and elevated pressure. A history of coughing and inability to exercise are among the earliest detectable abnormalities.

TREATMENT: Adult heartworms in dogs are killed using a drug called an adulticide that is injected into the muscle through a series of treatments. Treatment may be administered on an outpatient basis, but hospitalization is usually recommended. When the dog is sent home, exercise should be limited to leash walking for the duration of the recovery period, which can last from one to two months. This decreases the risk of partial or complete blockage of blood flow through the lungs by dead worms.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Idiots in the News

We read about three IDIOTS in the news today.

1) The headline today on Yahoo is that Tim Tebow is a big baby.  Because he wasn't starting quarterback, he refused to play in this past Sunday's game.  Whaa.  Whaa.  Oh, and he professes to be a virgin. Why would he or anyone say that to the press? What a fool. 

2) Harry Reid called for the Senate go in to work today on the fiscal cliff negotiations, but John Bonehead (Boehner) hasn't called in the House!   Bonehead said that he would give people in the House 2 days notice, so they wouldn't even come in until SATURDAY, 3 days before the end of the year. What an idiot - He wants this to happen. I'm so disgusted.  Boenher also wasted an entire week on his "plan B" that he couldn't get his own party to approve last week:

3) Fox News: TOTAL IDIOTS - At Fox Nation, the Fox News owned-and-operated website maintained by conservatives  now called the Westboro Baptist Church a "left-wing cult."  (They are SO right-wing they can't even stand up straight).

Saw Les Miserables at the Movies

On Christmas Day, after a nice lunch, we went to see Les Miserables at the movies with Tom's folks. All of them had seen the show live on stage, and knew the story and the parts being played. I knew nothing about it. I missed an important part, that the main character escaped during his parole, so the pursuit of the character by a prison guard/police officer never made sense to me. Now YOU know so that the story will be more enjoyable.
-  Almost everyone in the theater cried at the end (I got choked up, but was still struggling with some of the plot), and people applauded at the end. The sets were amazing, and the underlying story was very touching. I found out watching this 4 minute behind-the-scenes interview/look that the songs were all sung "LIVE" as the action happened, and were not pre-recorded. That's amazing.
  Tom and his folks would give this an "A," so if you're familiar with it, you need to see the movie.- If you're not familiar with it, keep in mind the main point I mentioned, and you'll enjoy it, too.
  WHAT'S IT ABOUT? - from Wikipedia: Les Misérables is a French historical novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, that is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. Translated it means The Miserable or Wretched Ones. Beginning in 1815 and culminating in the 1832 June Rebellion, the novel follows the lives and interactions of several characters, focusing on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Some Holiday Pics and Notes/Today's Wintry Mix Pics

Today is the day after Christmas and Tom is working while I (Rob) have the day off to catch up on things and work on re-publishing my first book (I'm going with a different publisher).  This morning brought a wintry mix and I  went out in it 4 times by 9am with the dogs, so we all got a good taste of it.
  Meanwhile, it's a good day to reflect on Christmastime fun.
We are so thankful for great friends and family who know how to make the holidays special. Hope you and your family and friends made yours just as wonderful. Here are some pictures from our Christmastime.

Dolly and Tyler enjoy Toys from Tracey, Rob, Jordan and Peppers
  We had a nice Christmas eve dinner with our friends Susan, Cary and Ed, followed by dessert and a funny movie called "The Ref" @ Susan and Cary's house. Great way to spend Christmas eve.

 TOO MUCH HOLIDAY CHEER?  Driving home, a car coming toward us veered in front of us (going the wrong way) and onto the sidewalk. Fortunately, we were a good 200 feet from the driver, who was obviously intoxicated ... and the car stopped on the sidewalk.

A NIGHT RELAXING WITH 2 GREAT TV SHOWS - After going to the movies and returning home for dinner, we settled in and watched Christmas episodes of Murder She Wrote "A Christmas Secret": A secret darkens Christmas for a Gulf War veteran (Sean O'Bryan) returning to his fiancée (Eileen Seeley) in Cabot Cove.  AND enjoyed Early Edition simply called "Christmas" - where Gary gets a newspaper that warns of a skating rink bomb that will kill many, while Chuck plots to break out of jail with Santa.

Dolly loves toys!

Sprite, Franklin and Dolly in new raincoats from cousins Brian and Scotty

Tracey, Rob and Jordan know we're dog-lovers!

Tyler the foster dog waiting for Santa

Tyler, Tom, Franklin & Dolly on a Christmas ride (Sprite was snoozing in back)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Our House to Yours

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!  This picture was our Christmas card this year. Left: Sprite; Santa. Right (top): Dolly the Weimaraner, and Franklin

RIGHT: OUT-TAKE: Dolly looks like she's screaming while Santa is trying to hold her! (She was just yawning, but it looks like a scream). 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas pictures!

Rob and Tom at a Disney Xmas Tree

A Disney Christmas Tree

Outdoor Disney Christmas Tree

A Weimaraner Rescue banner we liked

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Short Video: Dolly Parton Christmas Memory

My (Rob) favorite singer is Dolly Parton, so I wanted to share this new video from Dollywood. (I love her positive, upbeat attitude, too).  Christmastime means spending time with family and friends, sharing fond memories and making new ones. Dolly reflects on her Smoky Mountain memories and special times in this exclusive video.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

In the News: Coffee May Lower Risk of Dying From Oral Cancers

 This is my (Rob) kind of news. I drink between 4 and 10 cups o' coffee a day and have been for decades. I can tell you that the study holds true with me. :) Coffee also helps prevent Alzheimer's disease, colon cancer, and other ailments. SO, run to Dunkin' Donuts and get an extra large coffee (you can leave out the cream, that just adds fat). - Thanks to Jacquie in Mass. for sending this- of course, she, too, loves Dunkin' coffee. :)  Rob
Coffee May Lower Risk of Dying From Oral Cancers
WebMD Health News By ; Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
 Dec. 12, 2012 -- Heavy coffee drinkers -- those who drink more than four cups a day -- may cut their risk of dying from cancers of the mouth and throat by nearly half, according to new research.
Drink up!!
"We examined coffee drinking habits in nearly 1 million men and women," says Janet Hildebrand, MPH, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society.
"Those who reported drinking at least four cups per day of caffeinated coffee incurred about half the risk of dying from mouth and throat cancers compared to people who did not drink caffeinated coffee daily or only drank it occasionally."
That link held even when the researchers took into account smoking habits and alcohol use.
Smoking and alcohol use are among the strongest risk factors for oral cancers.
About 35,000 new cases of oral cancers are expected in the U.S. this year, with 6,800 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. The new study is published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Previous research by others has linked drinking more than four cups of coffee a day to about the same risk reduction in getting a diagnosis of oral cancer. FULL ARTICLE ON THE STUDY:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Talk with Mike Ricksecker/Remembering Ed

Rob's 2nd Book
On Wed. night, I (Rob) had the opportunity to give a 10 minute talk about my two books "Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead," and "Ghosts and Spirits," at the Maryland Writers Association meeting in Annapolis. I asked my friend, author, and "Ghostorian" Mike Ricksecker to join me and give readings from a couple of his 4 books. Mike wrote "Ghosts of Maryland," "Ghosts and Legends of Oklahoma," and two mysteries: "Deadly Heirs," and "System of the Dead." 
  Our friend Ed C. joined us to show support and see what 11 other local authors were reading. There were some interesting stories: one short science fiction story, one Christmas story,  a murder mystery of a woman trying to off her horrible husband, and a certain poet stand out.
Ed G inspired me to share his messages

  Instead of reading from either of my books, I talked about them in general - I wrote them to give people hope who lost loved ones. I explained some of the science behind ghosts and spirits, and told two short personal stories: How my dad helped me prove he was still around during his funeral, and how Tom's former, late partner Ed G. (pictured) gave me disconnected signs that helped prove he was still here, and that he was with every member of his family the week before we visited his dad in Virginia last year. I was inspired (by his spirit) to talk about him because Wed. the 19th marked the 16th year of his passing. People listened and seemed to appreciate and understand, and at the end of the event, three people came up to me and talked with me or asked about the books.
   One gentleman surprised me and gave me a poem he wrote. He said one night when he was in bed, a ghost stood at the end of his bed and recited the words of the poem. He wrote them down. The ghost gave him a full name- first, middle and last name. The poem was about the Civil War and how he died in it. He had someone research the name who determined the man was from Virginia, died in the war, and his body was never found to bury. Apparently he wanted closure so he could cross over, and did so by telling this man about his death through a poem. Amazing.
     Mike followed me and read from his "Ghosts of Maryland" and the book I just finished reading called "Deadly Heirs." That's the first in his series of "Chase DeBarlo Mysteries," and it was GREAT! I'm not just saying this because I've recently befriended Mike. I read a lot of mysteries and enjoy J.A. Jance, Donald Bain, Laura Lippman, A. Conan Doyle and many others. Mike's P.I. (Private investigator) character was likeable and personable, and Mike's writing very visual. You feel like you're walking with the P.I. and get very visual images of where he is, and who he's talking with. "Deadly Heirs" also had a surprise twist ending that I didn't expect that made the book really enjoyable. I HIGHLY recommend "Deadly Heirs" and look forward to reading Mike's next in the series.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Photo of the Week: Franklin's Monkey Trouble

Franklin is our 8 year old Dachshund and is lovable like a monkey, and trouble because he gets into everything from trash cans to insect nests. He's cute and stubborn, just like a dachshund. We gave him the name "Monkey" and always say that Franklin's middle name is "Trouble" so when we were out shopping, we came across the perfect shirt for him in the children's section of Kohls, and had to buy it. Here's Franklin wearing his "Monkey Trouble" tee shirt! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Washington Post Blog: How often does Washington, D.C. have a White Christmas?

Washington Post Blog: How often does Washington, D.C. have a White Christmas?

It’s that time again, when children and adults alike dream for an iconic White Christmas. When it comes to history, we’re certainly fighting an uphill battle across the Washington, D.C. region. The I-95 corridor more or less marks the 10% chance area, with odds increasing to about 25% of the time for our far northwest suburbs.

Not until you get well into elevation, well to the north and west, does a White Christmas become more of a regular occurrence.

What constitutes a White Christmas? By the standard definition, it is having 1” or more of snow on the ground at 12z (7 a.m. locally) the morning of Christmas. Yes, this can mean a snowstorm that starts after 7 a.m. doesn’t “officially” make it.

Thirteen years have had 1” or more snow on the ground Christmas morning. Dates with * markers saw accumulating snow on Christmas Eve, Christmas, or both. (KDCA daily climate data parsed by author) In Washington, D.C. itself, there have been 13 official White Christmas’s that started the day with snow cover greater than 1” since the late 1800s. This is a long-term simple average of 10.5% through 2011.

Related: Washington, D.C. Christmas weather history

The 7” of snow on the ground (remnants of Snowpocalypse) in 2009 ties for the high on that account, though the day was not a good one for snow lovers. The day started chilled, but temperatures warmed as a rain event arrived and washed the snow away heading through the night.

The 1960s were particularly kind for those wanting snow on the ground while opening presents, with 5 instances of a White Christmas. Another plentiful period occurred from 1908 through 1914.

Giant snowstorms can happen around Christmas. This one on December 19, 2009 set the stage for an official, if melty, White Christmas in D.C. Photo by author. See image larger.

When it comes to historical odds of snow falling in D.C. on or around Christmas, CWG’s Winter Weather Expert Wes Junker summarized them last year as the following:
-About a 46% chance of getting a dusting Christmas week
-About a 20% chance of getting 1” or more Christmas week
-About a 3% chance getting 1” of snow on Christmas, and
-A 1 in 50 shot of 4” or more on Christmas

We’ve had 10 instances of measurable snow falling in D.C. on Christmas itself. This comes to a long-term average of roughly 8% through 2011. The highest of the daily totals occurred in 1962, when 5.4” fell. In two other instances, 1909 and 1969, storms dropped over 4” in the city on the 25th. The rest of the Christmas accumulating snowfall days were meager (1 inch or less), and sometimes mixed with rain.  18 Christmas’s featured non-accumulating snow, or a trace (at least some snow in the air).

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day snow accumulation for D.C. since 1884. The * marker indicates a year with data, but one not included in the modern record. (KDCA daily climate data parsed by author)

Since Christmas Eve snow can help set the mood and also prompt a White Christmas, it’s worth at least noting that both 1912 and 1966 saw significant Christmas Eve snows of 6.5” each.

As recently as 2002, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day saw accumulating snow. However, in the city, that storm is mostly remembered as a cold rainy one, particularly on Christmas itself.

Related: Christmas snow statistics for the D.C. and Baltimore area

Of course, we don’t assume that the data here is wholly representative of the entire area, and in general would point back to the U.S. climatological map when it comes to other spots.
As noted above, the further north and west you are -- particularly with elevation -- the better your odds, particularly on the snow cover stats. Similarly, those chances drop to the southeast.
However, it’s not hard to imagine a year like this one where the whole area really faces a similar same chance (at least until potential storminess ahead comes into focus). Big snows before and near Christmas can happen, but they aren’t necessarily an expectation so early in the winter season.

How does D.C.’s White Christmas history differ from your perceptions, if at all?
By  |  10:13 AM ET, 12/12/2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Photos from Bowie's Belair Mansion Xmas Event

Stefanie and Jeff in the mansion
Every year the city of Bowie, Maryland has a Christmas event, where the historic Belair Mansion opens its doors for a "candlelight" self-guided tour. Within the mansion a small musical group plays Christmas songs as people explore the inside, nicely decorated for Christmas.  We were joined for the event by our friends and neighbors Jeff and Stefanie.
Rob and Tom in the mansion
   Outside the mansion a small choir of children sang a couple of Christmas carols (as it rained lightly) and a small tree was lit. Then Santa came riding up in a firetruck and said hello to all. 
     Some history: Belair Mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offers a look at Bowie’s earliest history. Built circa 1745 for Provincial Governor Samuel Ogle and his wife, Anne Tasker Ogle, the Mansion later became one of the homes of William Woodward, noted American horseman of the 20th century. Enlarged by Woodward in 1914, the Mansion today reflects its 250-year use as a residence.
The Belair Mansion
   BTW- As has happened every time I visit, the ghost of the little 3 year old girl named Anna, who lingers in the house (and whom is buried in the cemetery in the backyard) visited me while we were walking around.

Monday, December 17, 2012

First Night with Tyler the Foster

Our new foster dog, two year old Tyler had an okay first night. We learned that he wants to be with people, so he whined and barked from his crate in the kitchen. We put our elder dog, Sprite in the kitchen with him (outside of his crate) and Sprite was so bothered from the barking that he walked back in our room and cowered. Poor Sprite.
   We made the crate as comfy as possible, with toys, treats and blankets, but Tyler wasn't content. So after 40 minutes of barking, whining, etc. we moved him on the other side of the house into the den, next to a night light and he stopped immediately. We all slept through the night.
  Today, I (Rob) am making a vet appt. for a full exam and to get his heartworm treated. It's a challenge keeping a puppy subdued (he has to be with heartworm). Fortunately, he's housetrained! Yay!

Short video: England's Blenheim Palace Christmas Decorations

When we went to England this past May, one of the sites we toured was Blenheim Palace. Here is a short video tour of the palace, which has been all decked out for the holidays. Happy Christmas!  A little history: Blenheim Palace is a monumental country house on a grand scale situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England.  The palace is the ancestral residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of "palace."  The palace, one of England's largest houses, was built between 1705 and 1724, and later became the home of the Churchill family where for the next 300 years various members of that family made alterations to the building's interior, and changes to the estate's park and gardens. The structure is so enormous that it served as the offices for the British secret intelligence service (MI6) during World War II.  At the end of the 19th century, the palace and the Churchills were saved from ruin by an American marriage. Thus, the exterior of the palace remains in good repair and exactly as completed.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Newest Foster Dog: 2 Year Old Tyler

We now have another foster dog through Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue. Our friend Robert generously drove him up from Burlington, N.C. to Maryland today. Tom made the pickup from Robert and brought home the little 2 year old Dachshund. We renamed him "Tyler" because "Repo" is a ridiculous name. 

My name is Tyler. I'm a black and tan dachshund that was rescued in Burlington, North Carolina and brought to
Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue!  I'm about 2 years old and have puppy energy, and I'm so lovable. 
 - Right now, I'm getting rid of pesky heartworms, but I'll be ready for adoption soon. I'm full of love and will climb up on
your lap if you're watching television. I love cuddling.
 I know how to sit, walk, and stop, and my new foster family is reinforcing them. I still don't know what they mean by "lay down" but I'm trying to learn what I need to do to get a treat and do it!  My favorite treat is Milo's Kitchen chicken meatballs, so my dad  breaks them up in little pieces as training treats. I don't like Pupperoni (which my foser brothers crave, they can have it- give me meatballs!).

 - I haven't had any accidents in the house and have gone to the door to let my foster dads know when I need to go out. They're reinforcing the housebreaking by giving me treats when I go outside. I know what "pee-pee time" or "poo-poo" means out in the grass. right now I'm being walked outside on a leash outside so I'm not overly active until those pesky heartworms are history.
- Right now I have a nice comfy crate with my bed and toys which I call my "house." I go into my house at night and snooze. I would also sleep on the bed with you.
- I also don't mind getting cleaned up. My dad cleaned my ears, cut my nails and gave me a bath, and i didn't struggle. I like the attention and getting cleaned up and I'm really patient when it comes to that. Who wouldn't love that kind of attention?
-   I love toys, nylabones, dinosaur nylabones and stuffed animals!!  I'm a puppy, so I love to play!
So, once I'm back to 100% Full puppy health, I'll be waiting for you.
Love, Tyler

Some Recent Fun Photos

Tom and Walt Disney
 When we went to Disney in November to celebrate Tom's birthday we took a couple of pictures and we love to goof around (after all, we were around "Goofy!"). Here are a couple of those that will make you smile. :) 
My Fav. funny pic of Tom.

Happy to be in Disney in November!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Winter Safety Tips for Pets / Donate to a Rescue for Christmas

 Winter Safety Tips for Pets from Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue

It's that time of year again! The seasons are changing and there's a chill in the air. Here are some safety tips to ensure your pet enjoys the season with you:

1. Proper hydration- Please make sure your pet has enough water by keeping an extra supply of water in case of power outages. If your pet spends a large amount of time outdoors make sure that all water sources are free of ice. Heated bowls are a good idea if you don't have time to keep the ice broken up. They are avail­able in plastic or stainless steel at most pet stores.

2. Proper warmth- Pets still need daily exercise even during the cold months. Keeping your pet warm during those outdoor treks is a must. Increasing their food intake can help them have enough calories to regulate their body tempera­ture while outdoors. Also for smaller breed pets or pets with thinner coats a good sweater or blanket coat will help provide extra warmth while enjoying their daily walk.

3. Paw safety- During the winter months extra care and attention should be shown to paws. During snowy or icy conditions, ice build up in paws can lead to sore, cracked paws. Also, icy conditions lead to the use of salt or chemical de-icers on sidewalks. Be sure to rinse paws after walking to avoid dry, cracked paws or possible poisoning due to ingestion of these de-icers when your pet licks its paws. A good idea are winter booties for pets that will tolerate them, available in most pet stores.


4. Possible dangers- There are some things to be on the look out for as we pre­pare ourselves for the cold that could actually be a danger to our pets. As we pre­pare our cars for winter possible toxic ingestion of chemicals are increased, espe­cially for those with extra curious pets! Be sure to cap all chemicals tightly, espe­cially antifreeze, as pets are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of the anti­freeze. Be sure to clean up any spills quickly and thoroughly. Also, bedding can be a possible danger as we provide extra bedding to keep our pets warm. For those pets that are chewers, blanket material that is ingested could be harmful. Also cedar bedding can be irritating to skin. Heating lamps should never be used as this could result in fire.


5. Be prepared- Just as we prepare ourselves for storms and possible power out­ages, we need to prepare for our pets as well. Keeping enough extra food and wa­ter on hand for 3 days is a good idea. Also an extra supply of any medications your pet uses on a daily basis should be kept on hand in the event of road clo­sures due to weather. Another good idea is to keep special toys close at hand in order to comfort those pets that are agitated by blinking lights on or beeping of appliances as power is returned.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Man of Steel - Official Movie Trailer #2

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow!!! I just saw this movie trailer of the upcoming Superman movie called "Man of Steel" and it's incredible. The movie will open in the Summer of 2014 and stars Henry Cavill (of Tudors fame) as Superman/Clark Kent- and he's built like a Superman. The film is a much more serious take on Superman, and the trailer is amazing. I cannot wait for this movie, especially being the HUGE Superman fan I am. - Rob 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dolly & Kenny" Winter Wonderland Music Video

I (Rob) love Dolly Parton and have always loved her music and her optimistic attitude. One of my favorite Christmas albums and TV specials is the Dolly and Kenny Christmas to Remember and this video is from that program. Enjoy Winter Wonderland

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Amazing Amazing Race

    W e're huge fans of the Amazing Race, and have been cheering on teams for many years. This season, there were three teams that we wanted to win: James and Jaymes (the Chippendales); Brent and Josh (the goat farmers) and Natalie and Nadyia (the funny SriLankan twins). All of them never showed hostility to each other as they raced around the world and faced challenges.
     In a final test of recollection, the team of Josh and Brent, who had never won any leg of the race, brilliantly completed the memory test of indicating "Hello" and "Goodbye" and many of the languages from places they visited. Josh figured the answers using mathematics while other teams struggled to remember.  They were physically not the strongest team by any means, but these two guys who have been together over 14 years, worked together to win a million dollars.
Trey&Lexi,, the Twins, Chippendales, Josh&Brent
    At the end of the race when they realized they actually won, they gave each other a kiss and thanked all their team members.
   They have a blog and a website for their business, and they wrote the following thank you notes to all their competitors, and made them personalized gingerbread cookies. I've never seen ANYONE on the Amazing Race reach out to all of their competitors. These guys are a great example of how to live, and how to respect others.
   Below is their BLOG.
      To see the video of the Finale: "The Amazing Race" finale: And the winners are...

Beekman Boys Blog:   7 Billion “Thank You” Notes

By: Josh and Brent

 Our Moms taught us to always write “thank you” notes after receiving a gift. We met a lot of people traveling over 25,000 miles through 9 countries before winning The Amazing Race. And every single person who cheered us along, helped with directions, hugged us, gave us water, shared their food, sold us a plane ticket, drove us to the middle-of-nowhere, yelled at their TV set on Sunday nights, traded their plane seat so we could deplane quicker, pointed in the right direction, or just plain got out of our way to let us pass has earned our deepest gratitude.
As longtime fans of the show, we know there are as many different strategies for winning as there are people who watch the show. Before we embarked we reviewed many past seasons to try to find the “secret formula” for winning. We didn’t uncover one. So we fell back on the same three strategies we use in our everyday lives:
1.            Do the best you can at every task in front of you.
2.            Help your neighbor whenever you can.
3.            Don’t give up no matter how bad things look.
We have no idea if this is why we won. But we do know that this was how we raced.
What are we going to do with the winnings? Well, first, we’re going to pay off the mortgage on our farm so that we can live together full-time again after 5 years apart. Next, we’re going to invest in a building on Sharon Springs Main Street that will become the new home of Beekman 1802. And finally we’ll be launching a new line of food products named after a 1929 Heirloom Tomato – “The Mortgage Lifter.” 25% of its profits will help other small American farmers pay off their debts.
Looking back after this exhausting and exhilarating journey, it seems appropriate that it culminated in that very difficult final Amazing Race challenge. “Hello” and “Goodbye” are perhaps the most important words we need to learn as human beings, and we should all try to learn them in as many languages as possible. But along the Race, we also learned nine equally valuable ones:
Xie xie, Terima kasih, Dhanyabad, Sagolun, Spasibo, Dank je, Gracias, Merci & Thank you.
And here’s who we would like to say them to most:
CBS & The Amazing Race Production Team. Thank you for giving us this opportunity. As longtime fans, we knew how beloved this show is in America. But we had no idea how beloved it is around the globe until we raced with you. You’ve had a larger impact on this world over the past 21 seasons than most diplomats. You’ve taught Americans about hidden corners of the world, and you’ve taught hidden corners of the world about Americans.
We’ll always remember something one of the producers said right before the race began. She explained that we’d be racing through some very remote places in this world, and for some of the people we meet along the way, simply having a big TV production include them in their show might be one of the most memorable moments of their lives. She reminded us that while we might be focused simply on making it to Phil as fast as we could, that we were representing America every (hurried) step of the way. We hope that we represented you, and America well. Thank you for giving us that chance.
And because here in Sharon Springs we’ve learned that the best way to thank your neighbor is with baked goods, this past weekend we baked gingerbread men for each of our closest neighbors on the race – our fellow Racers:

1. Rob (CEO Lumberjack & groom) & Shelia (CMO & bride): Perhaps our first “fun” experience on the race was joking with Rob and Shelia about catching the “slow plane to China.” There shared sense of fun and perspective is exactly why they are so successful in their lives and also why they’re such a perfect couple together. Congratulations on your wedding this past summer, you are a beautitul team. Check out their company.

2. Amy (self-described “Fembot”) and Daniel (Executive Director of Adaptive Action Sports Organization)  There hasn’t been a more inspirational team in the history of The Amazing Race than this couple. After all the life challenges and successes these two have shared, it’s easy to wonder why they would have chosen to take time out of their busy schedules to take on this particular challenge. And the answer is: because every challenge they overcome inspires millions more to attempt their own. And the world becomes a better place. Please check out their organization and donate.

3.Caitlin & Brittany (The Blondes)  It’s always unfair that strong and smart female teams always seem to have their description reduced to “the blondes.” It’s especially unfair in the case of these two. Watching them sprint past the best male athletes on our race struck fear in our hearts on Day One.  Don’t let the snorting fool you…beauty can be deceiving, and these two proved it many times over.

4. Will & Gary (Jack & the Beanstalk) – These two great guys will have a greater impact on the world than all of the other Racers combined. For years, they’ve used the Amazing Race as teachers to help students learn more about the world they live in. And this year, they were able to use their first hand experience to inspire kids to become better and more knowledgeable global citizens. That makes us all winners. Please donate on their behalf to Make-A-Wish Michigan, Wish A Mile to help them continue their good works.

5. Rob & Kelley – (Monster Mohawk, Mega Smile) Rob & Kelley are two of the most accomplished Racing couples on this season. You’d never know it to look at her, but Kelley is a champion rodeo rider, and Rob is a world famous Monster Truck competitor. These two are tough…but, as Rob said: “all heart.” One of the most rewarding things about the race was that we got to spend a lot of time with folks with whom our paths would’ve likely never crossed…and we’re so very fortunate that ours did. We both learned a lot from each other. An incredibly kind couple.

6. Abba & James – (The Rockers) These guys had perhaps the best perspective on the race. And maybe life. Whether way out in front, or stymied by bad luck, James and Abba kept going with great humor and humility.  We learned a lot from how these two accomplished men approach the world, and will always remember their attitude, fortitude, and style.

7. Ryan & Abbie – (Ultra-alpha couple) These two were probably least likely couple that we expected to bond with – especially to the extent that we did.  It’s hard enough to exhibit humility and grace when you’re winning. And near impossible to do so when you’re 14 ½ hours behind everyone else. But Abbie’s silly eye rolls, and big heart kept us going. As did Ryan’s confidence and strategies. People may not understand why we worked together as closely as we did, but we’ll always understand that we only had two choices under our circumstances:
1.            Be ruthless, be miserable, and one of us lose.
2.            Be helpful, have a good time, and one of us lose.
Little did we know that there was a third option…that we’d would both wind up winning just by meeting each other. Please donate to a cause they work closely with.

8. Natalie & Nadia – (Twinnies!) Clearly, we wouldn’t have won without these two lighting our fires.  But who would’ve thought that we had so much to learn from these two young twinnies? They are truly the ultimate sportswomen. Their “trash talk” and “winner-take-all” gamesmanship might have offended some, but it never did us. We knew they were just being competitive and funny. Plus, what didn’t come across on camera is how impressively polite and intuitive they were during non-race moments. They woke up our spirit at just the right moment. That’s what great competitors do.

9. Trey & Lexi – (Team Longhorns) Seriously…step back in time to the moment before you’d taken your first trip overseas. Now imagine that version of you going on “The Amazing Race.” We don’t care how intelligent, athletic, or competitive you are…going on the Race without any travel experience is the ultimate underdog position. And they didn’t just do well…they made the final three! It’s incredible. And bodes well for how insanely successful these two will be at everything they try in their lives. We’re so proud to know them, and proud of all the pair have accomplished in life already, including the business Lexi helps run with her mom.

10 Jaymes & James – (Chips) We know what it’s like to be underestimated. Even with their incredible physicality, J & J knew that many folks would write them off immediately as mere eye candy. But this candy didn’t only look good…it was good for you. For everyone watching, in fact. We don’t know how they did it, but they were in good humor every single moment of the Race. Jaymes and James are models of positivity in the face of competitive and personal adversities. Please donate and pray to help Jaymes father in his fight with cancer.
And finally…thank you. And you. And you and you and you.
You know why.
We heard you cheering all the way around the world.
And we really needed it.
And it worked.

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