Thursday, May 31, 2007

Part 2 of My Weekend Peak Experiences

I got this in feedback....

jonxblaze has left a new comment on your post "My Weekend Peak Experiences!":

Those are great pictures, how was the weather? Wasn't it too hot for hiking?

- Jon @ Houston Website Design

And I just have to answer him here...

If you look at my picture you'll see I was dressed for Halloween as the female version of the Michelin man! Because it was sooooo cold on Mt. Rushmore the night before and the weather wizards said it would be in the 30's the day of our hike, we dressed warmly. I had on underpants, silk long john bottoms, a cotton plus pair of long john bottoms and my spanky new wind proof pants with tons of cool pockets! On top I had a sports bra, the matching cotton plus top, and a borrowed fleece shirt. Topping it all off was The Jacket that I'd bought to go to Alaska many years ago and it used to fit me! I also packed gloves and a muffler! I wore my Harris County Citizen Police Academy Alum. hat too. I wore mostly wool blend socks and my hiking boots would of withstood Arctic winds! I was ready for action!

I was overdressed! Gals in SHORTS passed me on the trail! I thought to myself 'ha! they'll freeze their little buns off when they get to the top and the wind hits them'...rong! Really rong! So rong it deserves a "w"! Make that WRONG, WRONG nearly had heat stroke wrong!

The later pictures had me slumped on a rock sans jacket and displaying the top set of long johns for all the world to see with nary a concern that I was showing what is in effect UNDERWEAR! By then it was who gives a hairy rat's ass what I look like, just get me home alive and I'll deal with the shame of it all later! The fleece shirt got tossed within the 1st mile up the 'hill'.

Being an old Girl Scout, (and I do mean OLD!), I like to be prepared for anything and the theory being you can always shuck the excess, but if you don't have the necessary you are up the creek without an oar!

NOW let me tell you about the plane ride home!

While waiting to board the plane I observed these little kids pretty much running amok among the other passengers. I KNEW they'd be near me on the plane. Call it a gift, call it a curse, I just KNEW. It's considered Goodwin's Law of Averages. I attract irritating little kids like a fireplace attracts soot!

Sure enough, they are in the row right ahead of me. On the left is Grandma, little boy of perhaps 3, aunt, probably sister to mom, then across the isle and right in front of me is mom, little girl of 2 or so and good old dad. Up the way a bit is another little girl who started screaming before we even taxied. Now I raised three critters of my own. I did a fair job of it too, but I apologize to them at least every 6 months for being too hard and too strict and bordering on abusive. It is to my everlasting shame that I hit first and sorted it out later.

But these new fangled parents are well meaning spineless idiots who are, I fear, raising herds of serial killers in training! WTF, who asks a 3 year old if they want to ride on the airplane? Well, we can't very well WALK, dear, so think real hard, don't you want to ride on the airplane? You do, good, now would you like to put on the seatbelt or just run up and down the isle? We don't need to use our outside voice in the plane. Use your nice hands when you touch your sister, please, remember we talked about that. EVERY time the kid(s) emitted a high pitched objection in the scream octave they got their way. EVERY TIME. I considered screaming and crying to see if it'd work for me!

Now the best part (I'm being so factitious here I'm ready to hurl!) was the presentation of The Presents. Auntie, in an effort to quiet the melee climbed up on the armrest of the seat her sister was sitting in, threw open the overhead and proceeded to dig around like a gerbil making a nest for its young until she unearthed two wrapped presents sans bows. That's smart I thought. These new fangled folks aren't as dumb as they look. Well she carefully helped the boy-tot open one end and he tore into the rest of it and pulled out the prize! It was a box of Phonetic flashcards!! I'm not kidding! For a toddler, on a plane, who's not a happy camper and spoiled rotten to boot! The flight attendant nearly tripped over my jaw that was resting somewhere near where they claim to keep the flotation devices!

Auntie had toted her Apple laptop on board and she tried vainly to access some pictures files and take her mind off the din. As a last resort she whipped out a DVD, slammed it into the Apple innards and handed the whole ball of wax over to Sis-Mom. I thought again 'cool, now that's the ticket'! Rong. The DVD was something like 'kids tour egypt' not spongeman or even dora does dixie! What's with all the educational crap? When did kids stop being entertained just for the joy of it? What's wrong with cartoons? Disney, anyone? By then I was resigned to our collective fates.

Thank God for earphones and wine! When the kids dialed it up a notch I'd do the same on my on board radio set to Country! I tried Classical, but it didn't drown them out like Big and Rich!

I guess I'm just getting old and cranky, but I'm not going to apologize to any that happen upon this bit-o-vent and take offense. Take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and ask who is the parent? Kids need structure and boundaries. They need the security of knowing they have parent(s) that are smarter than them and capable of making decisions affecting their ultimate choices. Okay, big deal, ask a kid if he wants milk or water to drink, but don't allow him/her to decide on the big ticket items like ARE WE GETTING ON THE PLANE or DO YOU WANT TO PUT A SEATBELT ON NOW... geeusHchrist...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Weekend Peak Experiences!

The Memorial Day weekend was fated to be just another holiday weekend, but then a friend stepped in and invited me to join the group hiking up Harney's Peak in South Dakota. I laughed and said something like "yeah, right", but he kept at me telling me it was easy, a hike rated "moderate" so that even little kids did it. The more I thought about it the more attractive it sounded. My possibly last chance to see areas of the country that I'd otherwise never get to see. We'd fly to Denver and then drive through Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota.

I said I wasn't in any kind of shape for trekking through the wilderness, but he kept saying the trail to Harney's Peak was "easy", a moderate climb, even little kids, blah, blah, blah. I finally said "okay", but don't expect much of me in the way of stamina. He sent me to to read all about the climb. I was truly hooked when I saw the photos!

Sure enough, little kids were scampering around like mountain goats.

So I started accumulating gear. First I went to Sun and Ski Sports and got a good pair of hiking boots. Then I bought some stuff online like hiking poles - one for each hand! Ultimately I wandered into REI and fell in love with their clothes! Who wouldn't love pants with more pockets than you could ever fill up? I spent a couple of hundred bucks in there without breaking a sweat. I forced myself to get on my recumbent bike and peddle during Astro's ballgames. I used the "mountains" setting and never did climb one of those for very long, but I was feeling like I was doing something to make life easier on the trek.

Thursday, May 24th finally arrived. D-Day. Departure into the great unknown. Ready or not, here I come! The plane ride to Colorado was delayed an hour due to bad weather elsewhere so we arrived an hour later than planned. By the time we got the rental Jeep and started out for Cheyenne it was dark. I didn't get to see anything of Denver except the inside of this really cool diner. I don't recall the name of it, but it was straight out of Happy Days. It took awhile to get everyone fed, but there was so much to see on the walls that it was fun waiting.

We spent the first night at The Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a town I fell in love with at first light. The hotel was comfortable enough except that the curtains didn't cover the windows, they just looked nice! I did the best I could, but the street light shined in all night long. Next crack of the whip the sun came crashing in at, I swear, 5-something! WTF! I'm positive I didn't sleep a wink. Not even one of those nights where you think you didn't but you actually caught the odd hour or so and woke up 90 times. Luckily a shower and coffee and the excitement of impending adventure kept me awake and kicking all through the very long day.

I've put my photos of the trip up at SmugMug so go and see them if you like.

The round trip up the mountain usually takes fit folk about 3 hours. "Ranger" Rick, the Pied Piper of Hikers, ran circles around me. He'd gallop off down the trail, next thing I'd know he was on top of some big outcropping wishing he was free to climb like the monkey he is! He urged me, but never nagged. He was bored with all the rest stops I HAD to take in order to catch my breath and regain some kind of normal heartbeat, but he never said....much. The rest of the group was not as patient, they were there to have fun, not nursemaid an old lady who's idea of exercise is right clicking on a mouse's back! I almost never saw them again!

Sure enough there were kids on the trail! But someone neglected to say that a LOT of those kids were being toted by their parental units! The ones that were Free To Be were hyper little turkeys that probably had sweetened cereal for breakfast and chocolate along the way. The kind of kid that never walks when he can hop. We were passed by folks who later passed us again on their way back down! They were all nice and must belong to the secret society that says "not much farther, just a little bit more" when they were lying like sumbitches!

At the first mile I thought I'm not dead, but I'm not enjoying this either. At the second mile I thought just kill me now and get it over with. By the time the view of the last remaining stairs before you get to the last possible stairs before you get to the killer stairs to the orgasmic culmination of the Peak experience became visible I thought they'll find my body on the stairs and bury me here. I told one couple that my services would be at 2 the next afternoon!

To add insult to injury people were riding HORSES up the trail. I offered one guy 100 bucks for a ride and he just laughed. I guess he thought I was joking. On the down side, bad enough was walking over the uneven ground and rocks, but add to that joy avoiding horse droppings that perfumed the air with their very freshness! We were picking up the odd bits of litter along the way but there was no way I was doing parade patrol behind the Calvary! Peeeuuuu.

I made it. 7 miles total. 8 hours and 20 minutes. Only one pee in the morning before I left my motel room! I am woman, hear my labored breathing! But you knew that or I wouldn't of been writing this long post! If you've stuck with it this long, God love you! Your name must be Betty because I can count on her to wade through my prattle! I'll probably write something on the rest of the trip as this is my online diary and it's good to record things like this so that once you're completely recovered you can look back and say "it wasn't so bad after all. I did it! I'm good! I might consider something like that again, but only after I get in better shape".....

I think maybe the bottom line is that if you want something badly enough you should die trying to attain it. No, oops, that's not right. Hmmm...where there's life there's always a chance? Move it or lose it? Just do it? Haste makes waste? Never invite old ladies on the trail? Oh, hell, I'm not sure what the bottom line is, but I'm so honored to have been along for the ride and I just hope they all know I didn't mean a thing I said in the heat of the ordeal. I have to run my mouth in order for my feet to's hereditary!

Stay tuned for more "peaks" and a few valleys!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Learning to break bad news in the best way

I was reading this article, Learning to break bad news in the best way, and it got me to thinking yet again of the day my husband died.

After I called 911 the first deputy to arrive was "our" neighborhood patrol deputy and he made all the difference in the world to me. I knew him, he knew me. I didn't know police procedure. I didn't know crime scene tape would be applied. I didn't know he'd station himself outside to make sure no one came on the property without his consent. I knew about the paperwork and the questions, but I didn't know until later that neighbors said he wiped his own eyes often. He sat at the table with me and another deputy while I cried and answered their questions. The other deputy was "in charge" and the thing that has stuck in my mind for these 10 years and 5 months is when he referred to the man I love as "the body". He meant no harm by that, he was just doing the job he'd been trained for using the language that applied. It was a body, a dead one, but it was so much more to me and my kids. If you don't know his name, then call him "your husband" or anything but "the body", please.

But I digress yet again. Mainly because the article pointed out how what you hear under such extreme duress stays with you forever. You also remember every kindness. I still see our deputy's patrol car backed into a dead-end street that he knew we'd drive by on the way to the funeral home the day of the funeral and he knew that I'd know he was showing respect to John and me and the girls. I remember how he offered to stay at my house the night of the viewing so it'd be protected. He showed up off the clock, in his jeans. He went above and beyond any duty...he was our friend and will remain so forever.

My Friend Jim In Washington, DC

My friend Jim is in Washington, DC this week for National Police Week and the solemn events honoring our fallen heroes at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. He gave me permission to blog these photos.

President Bush's motorcade arrives. Impressive.

Jim is a Harris County Deputy Sheriff and a big shot with the FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE HARRIS COUNTY LODGE #39 and he won't like me saying that he's a "big shot", but he is because they don't let just anyone go to DC and hang with the Prez!

There are 17,917 names now listed on the NLEOM's wall. 1326 were from Texas. 33 of those were Harris County Sheriff's Deputies. May they rest in peace and never be forgotten.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

Harris County Sheriff's Office Memorials

Concerns Of Police Survivors, Inc.

Greater Houston Concerns Of Police Survivors

The 100 Club, Houston Texas

Hurry home, Jim and thanks for the photos and your service. Take safe...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Our Garage Sale

We had our annual garage sale this past weekend and did okay. I took some pictures so that next year I can look and see where we put the tables and such. Every time it seems as if we have to plot and plan to make it all work. We actually get compliments on how organized our sales are. One lady said she just hates going to them and having to go through boxes and bend over a lot because they don't put the stuff on tables. The tables pictured are mine, Paula's and my oldest daughter's.

We are lucky enough to know someone who has the tent and lets us borrow it every year. Usually he has something in the sale too, but this year he didn't. Another friend brought it over and put it up for us - that's true friendship! Thanks, Dwayne for the use of the tent and Mark and Larry for all their help and muscles! Thanks Paula and Elaine and Laura for working hard and especially Mike for redoing the signs after the rain washed them all away!

I'm always glad when its over for another year too. I guess I should also thank all my neighbors for the blocked driveways and mailboxes and people trampling through their yards. I swear I've never seen as many people coming up my driveway as I did Saturday. The whole sale made over a grand and the highest priced item was 25 bucks. Saturday is always half price day and that's when we get the real bargain hunters. As far as we could tell only two items were stolen this time. It takes a special kind of jerk to steal from a garage sale! I took five or six boxes to Goodwill and now my garage is so clean and neat as a pin. I love that part as much as making the money!

My WLS Surgeon Is Retiring! Yikes!

I was so lucky to have found one of the best, but alas he has taken down his shingle and no longer doing ANY surgery. I was stunned when I heard that news. I'm not sure why he closing his practice, but I heard he had some hand surgery back in January and I'm thinking maybe it didn't go as well as he'd like, but that's just conjecture on my part certainly not confirmable information.

The part where I might need him for further procedures is not my concern. I'm thrilled with my total lack of complications of any sort and convinced that he helped me to save my life.

The sad part is that when someone asks me who did it and how to reach them I can't refer! It's my limited experience that the visible success of this life altering surgery makes some morbidly obese people want to copy the results.

My daughter's success opened my eyes to the possibilities and hers was the first surgeon I asked about my desired to go under the knife. I never talked to him in person or had any testing done for him....I was "interviewed" by his nurse and the word came down that he'd only do the Lapband on me given my medical history, etc. I was going with that plan until my cardiologist discouraged me from the Lapband procedure and then recommended Dr. Wongsa.

My daughter's surgeon was Carlos A. Ferrari M.D. and I've heard that another good one is Dr. Matthew St. Laurent. (It probably doesn't hurt a bit to note that he's a hottie! Check out his photo!) I can't stress the importance of having a surgeon that knows what he's doing! There are horror stories of surgery complications and even though every surgery has risk, it's smart to investigate before you leap right up on the table!

6 months out of surgery and I'd do it again today. THAT'S how good I feel. God bless my surgeon and all who helped make my story a successful one.

And for the record: the only thing I miss is pizza. And I hear I'll be able to eat that again someday, just not as much as I used to! That's a good thing 'cause I could really pack it away!

19th Annual Candlelight Vigil Honors 382 Officers

19th Annual Candlelight Vigil honors 382 officers, including 145 from 2006

Washington, DC - As thousands of people held lit candles in their honor, the names of 145 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty during 2006 were dedicated on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Sunday night in Washington, DC. The names of an additional 237 officers who died in previous years dating back to 1827 were also dedicated during the 19th Annual Candlelight Vigil.

Thirty-seven states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all lost officers during 2006. California, with 16, had the most officers killed in the line of duty last year, followed by Virginia (10), Florida and Texas (9 each), and Illinois (8). Five law enforcement officers from federal agencies and two from the military also died last year. There are now 17,917 fallen law enforcement officers whose names are engraved on the Memorial.

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales delivered the keynote address and led the reading of the names of the 382 officers being dedicated on the Memorial. During the ceremony, Craig W. Floyd, Chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, introduced Tyler Minicozzi, a boy from Reading, PA, as an example of how Americans can honor their law enforcement officers. When Reading Police Officer Scott Wertz was shot and killed in the parking lot of a convenience store last August while pursuing a suspect, 9-year-old Tyler set up a lemonade stand with the goal of raising $1,000 for the officer's wife and two children. Reaching that goal in two days, Tyler went on to raise $5,283.16 in the first week.

"Tyler's story provides tremendous hope and inspiration to all of the survivors here tonight," said Mr. Floyd. "I hope Tyler will inspire many others to follow his lead and to ensure that the service and sacrifice of our law enforcement heroes are never forgotten."

Dedicated in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial permanently records and commemorates the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. The Candlelight Vigil serves to kick off National Police Week — a time to remember all law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty and to salute the 800,000 officers still serving in federal, state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide.

The number of officers killed in the line of duty last year declined nearly 8 percent from 2005, when there were 157 officer deaths. The 2006 figure was the lowest annual total since 1999, when 143 officers were lost.

For the ninth year in a row, traffic-related incidents claimed the lives of more officers last year (73) than shootings (52) or any other cause of death. This is a reversal of historical trends, in which most officers killed in the line of duty were shot. The number of officers killed in traffic incidents rose 16 percent last year.

Of the 237 historical cases added to the Memorial this year, 39 date from the 19th Century. The oldest case is Watchman Gerrard Arnold of the Alexandria (VA) Police Department, who was beaten to death in September 1827.

For the list of officers added this year to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, click here.


On Tuesday, May 15 - Peace Officers Memorial Day - flags across the United States are to be flown at half-staff in remembrance of the nearly 18,000 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in our nation's history.

All give something, some give all.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Fair Tax Crusade

I promised a good friend that I'd climb on the bandwagon for Fair Tax. Personally I think NO TAX is better because the more they get the more they want to spend and then they never give anything back. They haha lower taxes in one area and turn right around and raise them even higher somewhere else. Kinda reminds me of when my husband would get a raise and then the cost of our health insurance would go up and suck that raise right down. I always tried to bear in mind that having health insurance was the key.

Anyway, I digress as I am wont to do.

Click on the banner and go and read it all for yourself. They've got a petition too. If it's a terrible idea let me know why.

And I wonder if the Boston Tea Party was to fly again these days would they dump Gatorade or Starbucks or just plain green tea?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Free IAMS 4 Pound Dog or Cat Food Offer

Cody has been eating it all along, but it's still nice of them to send out this offer...

Iams Promise and Free Food Offer

Hurry, bet this won't take long to exhaust itself!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Roger, McAfee, WL and me

Did it come as a surprise to anyone that Roger wasn't coming back to Houston this year? The Astros didn't perform up to his expectations....end of story. He'd rather go with a contender and everyone knows the Yankees have won the World Series for the past 20 years, give or take a decade or so. No bigee, we can do it without him, or not. It's not the end of the world either way. Roger was fun to watch and probably the only player I'll ever see who has the fans convinced they are seeing his last game every time he pitches. Damn I saw TWO of his last games just last year! I was glad to see the tease act come to a end too. As with all hookers, the big boy had to either put up or shut up sooner or later. Good luck to him.

McAfee Security
I hate McAfee. I thought I hated Norton, but not the with unrelenting passion that I hate McAfee! Why are you even running it if you hate it you ask? Well, because I just bought myself a new computer and it was included for THREE years. I figure after putzing around with it for a couple of weeks now trying to get it to work like *I* want it and not like *it* wants to that in 3 years I'll be an even worse basket case than I am now! Hasta la vista, Mac! I'm going back to my tried and true that does what I want when I want. You can't even easily turn off Mc when you need to during an's a big deal to do anything and then it constantly nags you.

There's probably ways around all that. I probably haven't read enough or asked enough sources for help. God knows I haven't contacted the tech folks there and I won't. I'm not a total boob when it comes to these things and if I can't make it work, then I don't want it around. I've got a perfectly good AG program just languishing on my hard drive and it's fixing to get called into service. McAfee is not for me!

WLS Update
As of today I've lost 92 pounds. My surgery was 6 months ago. I've got 21 pounds more to go. I don't ever remember being this weight. The size 14 pants I'm wearing are getting loose. I still don't care for most tops that are "rated" for my size....I prefer the more comfortable looser styles if for no other reason than it hides the loose skin on my belly. A topic which I won't go into if I can help it. (Good Lord, I just used "loose" three times in one paragraph! That's a first for me too!)

So, bottom line.

We LOST Roger.

I'm LOSING McAfee.

And I've LOST a lot of weight in 11 months.

All's well in my world, I hope the same for you in yours!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

25 Cents A Roach?

No I don't mean a joint either. I mean cockroaches! Euuuu.....

Check this out.......


Houstonians may contribute cockroaches by coming to the entrance of the Cockrell Butterfly Center on the following Saturdays and Tuesdays, and asking for a museum entomologist:

When to go

• Noon-3 p.m. Saturday, May 12 and May 19

• 4-7 p.m. May 8 and May 15

What you'll get

Reward: $0.25 per cockroach for the first 1,000 received; after that, donors will be given passes to return and visit their friends when the redesigned Cockrell Butterfly Center opens May 25.

The good part is they limit it to 1000 TOTAL. When I first read it I thought it was saying 1000 per person, limited to 1000 people. I wouldn't of been surprised with that either.

I think they ought to have a contest for the largest one. They say they max out at 2 inches, but I KNOW I've had some that wore army boots and marched across the cadence!!

Only in Texas would you find people paying for bugs!

Out Gout!

You know, it's always something.

Just about the time you think everything is swell, SOMETHING rears its ofttimes ugly head.

Case in point...... GOUT! Notice there's a "OUT" smack dab in the middle of gout. Begone gout, give me a break! I've been in pain for 3 days. Hobbling around like Tim Conway on the old Carol Burnett Show! Painful! Can't sleep - thankfully cat naps are better than nothing. Can't really take anything for the pain...liquid Tylenol is a joke. The only good thing I can say about it is that it's tasty. I'm using my husband's cane just to try and get around. I can't put any pressure on the right big toe area so I must resort to walking on my heel and/or side of my foot. It'd be better if I didn't walk at all, but I'm going crazy being held down this much, don't think I could do the whole 'take to my bed' scenario.

I begged my best friend to cart my buns to the doctor yesterday because I couldn't take the pain and I can't drive since putting pressure on the gas pedal is out. He gave me a drug that's supposed to help, but so far no luck. It also can cause diarrhea so that ought to be fun hobbling hurriedly to the pot wielding a cane no less.

After it finally lets go of my big toe and leaves me alone I'm getting on a drug that I'll have to take for the rest of my life. Swell. It's supposed to reduce the production of uric acid. That's what gout is, an accumulation of PISS in the joint(s). Now you won't find THAT interpretation in the medical books, but that's by golly what it means!

This too shall pass. I feel like such a whiny ass when there are people suffering with worse things than a throbbing great phalanges. But pain is just not my thing. If this too shall pass could it please pass FAST!