Monday, January 18, 2021

Happy New Year (a bit late)!

Happy 2021!  
Holy Crap.  What happened to 2020?  What happened to January that it's over halfway over??
It was like a whirlwind of a dumpster fire!  
Christmas Eve
We ate snacky finger foods, enjoyed some adult beverages and exchanged gifts.  Thankfully we started with the youngest opening their gift first, since Spawn had drawn my Mom's name and decided to mess with her!  Mom loves the dollar store (don't ask - I don't know why!!) so she got a dollar tree gift card, put it in a fancy gift card box.  Put that inside another box, and then another box.  Then a gift bag and another box. then a bunch of grocery bags and then one last box!  Each box was wrapped in different paper and stuffed with different things - we had a good laugh about the whole thing.  So yeah - glad Mom was last! 
Spawn & BabyBoy!
None of the Timmy's around us had ornaments this year, but the Spouse was able to find one probably on ebay and bought it for me - hooray!
Oooooooo!  Stuff he was finally allowed to get into!
We woke up Christmas Day to about 4 inches of snow, so the Spouse spent most of the afternoon clearing the driveway, which meant he didn't get packed for his trip to Arkansas.  So he left on the 27th.  
FYI - if you're motivated, you can make it (driving) from Metro Detroit to Hot Springs in about 14 hours. 
I thought I'd get to sleep in that weekend the Spouse left, but apparently this squirrel felt the need to tell me the bird feeder was empty!  This was right above my head and woke me up out of a nice nap!

So I offered to babysit so Spawn could go out on New Year's Eve.  Since I couldn't tell if I was hearing fireworks or gunshots, I opted not to put BabyBoy in his crib in the front corner of the house.   So I made a nice little nest in bed with me and Rusty snuggled in, too. 
January 2 was BabyBoy's 1st birthday!  
He clearly enjoyed his cake. 
It's been a long time since I sat down and did some arts & crafts!  I wanted to do something and then remembered that I'd gotten these 6 plain wooden nutcrackers from a secret Santa a couple years ago - so I got them out and painted them as zombies!  

Last week, we got a message from "Sgt Sarah" who is now in charge of the search & rescue team, asking who was available to go to Alpena County in northern Michigan to assist in a search for a person who had been missing since New Year's Day.  
I was going to leave Chuck in my car, but the lady I rode with saw him and asked if he was coming!

We met Friday night and several of us carpooled, since it was a 3 hour drive from the sheriff's department.   The motel we stayed at had several other teams there, too.   
This was a multi-agency search.  The stats said 10 K9s (and handlers), 13 horses (and riders), 40 ground pounders and 8 people doing operations.  
Multiple local sheriff & FDs were there, the DNR and people from 9 different SAR teams.  
Because a dog trained to search out human remains should look like a werewolf!
We called this our party bus - taking us out to the 12 acre sector we were assigned to search. 
That's me waving.

It was tough searching, since there was 3-4 inches of snow on the ground, sitting on top of pockets of long grass.  So honestly, we could have easily walked right over a person and think it was just a log. 

I don't know what kind of adventures the other ground teams had, but 2 of us in my unit found water.   One girl tripped and landed in a large puddle.  I went down on my knees and while they stayed dry - water soaked into my boots.  Luckily we were almost done with our sector so we just toughed it out until we got back to staging to change.  

We were expecting to stay out until 8pm searching, but at 3:30, the Alpena County Sheriff called it off.  We didn't find the person, but the local teams will continue searching areas of interest.   There's a 99.9998% chance it won't be good news when they do find him, but it'll help the family with closure. 

Random cuteness....
He's still not walking, but can stand up from the floor and wave a toy around, so it'll be any day.  And his 6th tooth is ready to pop thru, if it hasn't already!   Thanks to the 'Rona, he's a couple weeks behind on his checkups, so we'll find out how tall he is in 2 weeks. 
I almost died laughing at work when I saw this on some paperwork!  
AKA "Mr." Asshole!

So I recently had a mild health scare.  I've been having regular "spells" since July where my heart will start pounding erratically and I'm out of breath just walking from one room to another.  They average about every 2 weeks and last a couple hours.  I've been keeping track of what I ate the day before and other little oddities.  I had a bad one right before Christmas where I got light headed and almost blacked out!  The Spouse has a little portable blood pressure machine, so he took it for me a couple times over a several hours and it was fluctuating wildly.  Then I woke up during the night on January 4 having one, so I decided to call my doctor when the office opened.  Of course when I went in, 2 days later...everything was fine!  They did an ekg and drew blood.  Nothing.  So he referred me to a cardiologist for a stress test and an echocardiogram.  And wouldn't you know... the day I was scheduled to go in for my testing I had a spell??  

Kinda perfect, actually - since they got to see what was happening.  The little tech girl had hooked me up to the ekg, getting ready to do my stress test when she looked at the machine and said "hmm.  I don't think we're going to do this test today - I'm going to step out and grab a nurse!"   The nurse came in and asked a bunch of questions and said she was going to talk to the cardiologist on call and if he couldn't see me that same day, they would send me to the ER!  My heart was going 160 bpm while at rest.  Luckily, he had a cancellation and I was able to see him right away.   And that nurse never left my side until he came in the room! 

So yeah.  I have AFib or "atrial fibrillation",  Basically the upper chambers of my heart beat different than the lower chambers, causing palpitations (yup, I could feel them), shortness of breath (yup) and fatigue (yup - but I thought that was just from not sleeping well on our lumpy old mattress)  so the cardiologist started me on a baby aspirin regimen and beta blockers - which are supposed to slow the heart beat and reduce blood pressure, easing the workload on my heart.  

So I'm feeling some kind of way about this.  I've never been a dainty, helpless little flower, and because I'm not small or delicate in any way - I have always felt like I had to be strong and capable and sort of unfeminine.  Which is funny, since I know big girls who are very feminine!  When I went in for my hysterectomy a few years ago - I had no issues with my parts being removed (in fact I was happy about that!), but I kept thinking the Spouse is sitting there while I'm recovering and thinking I'm a weakling and a burden.  And now he's a 1000 miles away and he doesn't have to deal with me for a couple more weeks.  

So there are a lot of mixed emotions churning around inside right now.  I'm glad I found out what was going on and am taking steps to help.  But the fact that there's no heart disease in my family....?  and the fact that this won't go away?  I'm only 47 and will be on meds the rest of my life??  
I'm sure I'll come to terms with this eventually.  I've told Sis 1 since I saw her this past weekend, but haven't told anyone else in the family yet.  I'm not sure how to bring it up! 
I forget what FaceBook page I saw this on, but I think I need to order some!
Especially now.     

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Sunday, December 20, 2020

I'm (kinda) on vacation!

OK, so I'm ~supposed~ to have been on vacation anyway!  

(I clearly don't decorate outside for Christmas as much as I do for Halloween!)
But I like it.   After Christmas, the Santa blowmolds will be put away and the snowmen will stay out until February sometime.  January is so dark & gloomy that it's nice to see some light!

I put in for the last 2 weeks of the year way back in February, before all the 'Rona stuff started with the thought that we'd be going to Arkansas like we always do.  

Welp.  The MIL is considered high-risk since it's only been a couple years since she went thru chemo so we opted not to all pile in the car (including the Spawn & BabyBoy) and expose her to whatever we might pick up along the way.  So the Spouse had a covid test done last week when he went in for his annual physical and if it comes back negative (which it likely will) he's going to drive down the day after Christmas and stay with his Mom all thru January.   

He's been working from home since his furlough ended in July and all of his volunteer events & radio stuff that he does every year have been cancelled, so he really needed something to look forward to, even if it means sitting in his Mom's kitchen to work, instead of his own!  And he thinks that he's doing me a favor because I won't be woken up at all hours by support calls coming in.  

It's gonna be a   L - O - N - G   January!

Anyhoooo.  Since I knew I wasn't going to Arkansas (sniff - no trip to the bath house this year!) I almost forgot about having those 2 weeks off and didn't get myself all caught up & ahead of the game at work.  So I figured I'll just go in to work on Monday & Tuesday each week, and I still get nice long weekends.
Our partially-decorated tree with its stylish baby protection. 
Speaking of....  He'll be a year old in less than 2 weeks!  
Rusty is seriously the best cat ever!  Other than putting himself in reach of little baby grabby hands, he's usually pretty chill about being man-handled.  But once he's done, he's done!  BabyBoy has sported the occasional tiny scratch on his face from being told NO in feline-ese.
Mmmmmm - pasghetti. 
Last week I went to Bronner's with Mom & the sisters. 
This is an annual trip for us.  It's a lot of fun, even if I end up spending WAY too much $$.
I wish Mom would have taken her mask OFF!  
Yes - Chuck went along with us.  I made a post on my other blog about his shenanigans!
Oh - I almost forgot!  
4 generations at Thanksgiving!
I have (no exaggeration) over 100 nutcrackers and ROBERT! is the only one who made it into the house this year.   The Halloween nutcrackers are still hanging out in the living room!
OMG - how funny is this??  It's the front page of the podunk newspaper in the town I grew up in from dated December 1, 1990 - how can it be 30 years?????  A couple of us from my senior art class got to paint the window in the local post office.  That's me on the right, with my fabulous grown out perm & highlights (ala mullet), tight rolled acid washed jeans and Def Leppard t-shirt.  Doesn't that scream 1990 to you??

So in my last post, I wrote about Sis1 having to help one of her horses cross the Rainbow Bridge.  Well - I don't think she planned on getting a new horse so soon, but fate brought her Ghost! 
Poor Kisses (right) lost her buddy, then was uprooted to a boarding stable - a whole lotta change!  She did fine at first, with plenty of company, etc.  Then they moved her to a different place within the stable and she was pulled away from her newly-made pals.  That, along with different food & water - she was sad & depressed.  My poor baby!  

Meanwhile - Sis got word of an "ottb" - an off the track thoroughbred, aka former race horse, who was at a rescue.  She went to check him out and really liked him.  So right now, he's spending a 30 day trial at her house, but I doubt he'll be going anywhere. 

It's hard to tell from these pics, but both horses are super tall!  I'm 5'8" and can just barely see over Kisses' back and Ghost is taller!  Sis was joking around about how far down to the ground it is from his back.  
Their first ride at her house last weekend.
He needs work with manners and standing still, but he did fine under saddle.  Even out on the trail when we were behind a factory and a semi's air brakes released - all the horses jumped (a friend was with us) but he didn't try to take off or anything.  
Kisses is so much happier being back at home! 

I'll be going back out tomorrow (OK, I guess today since it's after midnight) for another ride.  
37* is cold for us, but the horses don't mind much.  A nice leisurely ride on a rail trail does us all good! 

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Sunday, November 15, 2020

I'm still around!

Woot - grab a cuppa and let's get caught up!

This has been such a crazy fall! Well, the whole year has been, but the last couple months have made me feel like I need a clone!  Between work and babysitting and just being able to do what * I * want to do.... I feel guilty for doing one thing and not another, etc, etc, etc. 
Fall means a lot of shenanigans with Chuck - so you'll see him a few times in this post. 
Here he's all about embracing his inner "basic white girl" with a pumpkin spice donut and iced coffee. 
I got rid of all my old cheap foam headstones from my Halloween cemetery and made 13 new ones out of plywood, then repainted the rest to match them.   Above is the look BabyBoy gave me when I was shaking the spray paint can. 

When my mom's neighbor gave her that pack & play for us, I never thought we'd use it.  But we've used it A LOT!  It has been so convenient to toss him in it while doing stuff out in the yard. 
There was a fair food truck rally in town one night!  Note to self - go early so they haven't had a chance to run out of deep fried Oreos or funnel cakes! 
We went to the orchard with the family again.  BabyBoy just stared since his little world basically consists of just me, Spawn & the Spouse (aka Pupa) and seeing my Mom & sisters & a variety of others was overwhelming to him!  
He helped me set up the cemetery.  By stealing the zipties and crawling away as quickly as he could!

OMG - BabyBoy is 10 1/2 months old now.... he's been cruising along the couch, but as of yesterday, he's letting go and standing on his own!
And he's got 4 teeth!
This was the only pumpkin we got to carve this year.  Spawn is working 5 evenings a week (4 during the week until close - at 10pm!! - and one weekend day) I told her she needed at least Sunday off so * I * could have a day off!   It just shot down anything I wanted to do!  This is one of the lamest Halloweens I've had since I didn't get to do hardly anything that brings me joy.  No Tillson Street.  No Northville Skeletons.  Hardly any cemeteries explored - and I find that really relaxing.  No shopping. I didn't even get any blogging done!  That kind of ticks me off since I was signed up for the Countdown to Halloween linkup and failed miserably.  I did make it to part of the local 'haunt crawl' on the 30th, only because the Spouse felt sorry for me, being all mopey.  
BabyBoy's not impressed with raw pumpkin. 
Both of Sis1's horses were pretty much out of commission this summer. so I borrowed one of LT's for the Polly Ann Trail Ride that I've gone on the past few years.  We stood around for a bit, doing PR for the team, then went out on the trail for a while.  It was fun.  
Yes - that back horse really is BIG!  She's a mix of 2 different types of draft horse and is as gentle as a puppy.  Chris riding her has 3 young kids and I see lots of pics of them out playing in her pasture. 
These photos were taken by the photographer for the little local newspaper. 
Speaking of being out of commission - Sis 1's newest horse (she had him 3 years) crossed the Rainbow Bridge not long after I went on the trail ride.  He started losing weight last winter and her vet kept suggesting all these expensive supplements & nothing helped to put weight back on him.  So she found a different vet this summer and this one figured out he had the early stages of Cushing's Disease which affects the pituitary glands.  He responded well to the meds, until one day he was having a hard time staying up on his feet and she called the vet back out.  She did an exam and took an ultrasound of his belly and found the biggest tumor she'd ever seen - they don't know what it was attached to, but it was over 15 inches long and bigger around than a football.  He wasn't responding to pain meds, so there was only one humane thing to do.   He was only 16 years old.   Poor Kisses (the other horse) this is the 3rd pasture mate she's lost!  So she's currently at a boarding stable for the winter, so she can have company and Sis not worry about her for a while.
Bear Bones!
We went to Downtown Detroit in the rain for Spawn's birthday.  She wanted to have dinner down there and walk on the Riverwalk.  
I couldn't resist making a comment or 2 about how I didn't get anything special done for my birthday.  Yes - I was still bitter about that. 
Chewing on bones is normal, right?
Saw this cool truck sitting in a parking lot one evening.  On the fender over the front tire, it says US Navy Veteran.   They appropriately drive for USA Truck!

The weekend before Halloween, we had a girl's weekend in Nashville.  There was me, Spawn (and BabyBoy), Mom, Sis 1, Sis 2, niece Lulu & niece C.   We flew down and rented a van and an Air BnB for the weekend.   We clearly didn't plan any activities out, since we didn't go to the Grand Ol Opry or anything music related.  But we did go on a Jack Daniels Distillery Tour and none of us drink whiskey!  We took a trolley tour around downtown and saw Music Row that way.  And we did a ghost tour on the coldest, rainest night.  Started out with 11 people and ended up with me, Sis 1 and niece C since we felt sorry for the guide.  He wasn't a very good guide, anyway.
We found out as we were sitting in a little roadside BBQ joint that the president was going to be in town for a debate!  We were so afraid all the roads would be closed everywhere!  But other than a lot of police Downtown, he stayed out of our way - LOL!  And we drove by the Tennessee National Guard located at the airport and saw Air Force One - which was really cool!
Spawn held BabyBoy on her lap, so Chuck got to use the empty seat between us.  The flight attendant thought he was funny, so she took a pic and then showed the Captain (and a bunch of other passengers)!  He came back with a set of wings for both Chuck and BabyBoy and also took a pic!  

The first day there was ~very~ eventful and once we got back to the house & settled in with a beverage....I told my sisters I was NOT having a good time.  First, Spawn didn't comprehend we needed to be AT Sis 2's house at 6am.  We didn't leave ours until 6:15, and then had to stop for coffee.  Which she proceeded to dump all over her lap and the dashboard of my car.  So my car still smells like vanilla because it was mine that spilled.  We got checked in at the airline where they told us the plane was boarding in 4 minutes and then thru the TSA checkpoint pretty quickly.  As we were 1/4 of the way to the gate - at the far end, of course - I asked her where the car seat was....she left it at TSA!  So I had to go back and get it!  I had never stopped to tie my shoes after TSA, so I clumped back as fast as I could, carrying my carry-on with all my clothes & stuff, the bag I was using as a purse and the carseat.  And I hadn't eaten so I was weak from low blood sugar and had serious doubts I was even going to make it to the gate!  Thankfully I'd sent Spawn on ahead with the baby in the stroller to meet with everyone else and tell them I was on my way.  I don't think they actually held the plane for me, but they were in no hurry to close the doors.  Whew! 

Sis 2 and I left everyone at the airport in Nashville and Ubered to the van rental place.   They rent their vans to bands that are going on tour, so the 12 passenger van + tons of cargo space was a beast!     
I was nervous about driving it downtown since I wasn't sure where I could park it.  Well, I found out where NOT to park it, and got an $85 parking ticket in the process.  Then on the way back to the house after the trolley tour, I was watching this shady looking guy on the side of the road while sitting at a red light.  When the light turned green and I started up, he ran out in front of me!  I beeped the horn at him and he turned and threw something at the van and shattered the side window, right next to where Mom was sitting!  We were all shook up but OK otherwise!  I went around the block to where I'd seen a big bunch of police staged and talked to one of them, and he took my info and had dispatch call me to get my accident report.  Then I called the rental place, who replaced it first thing the next morning. 
So yeah - my first day in Tennessee was not fun at all. 

Oh, and apparently full coverage insurance doesn't cover any window except the windshield???  I'm still fighting with them about that.  Why should I pay another $600+ on top of the $70 per day I already paid??    Grr.  And the rental guy went on & on apologizing for the incident, saying Tennesseeans were actually really nice people, etc, etc. 

BabyBoy was so good on the plane!  He sat on Spawn's lap and looked out the window as we took off in Detroit, then fell asleep for most of the flight.  On the way back, I was holding him and he was out as soon as they pushed us out from the gate and slept until we touched down in Detroit!  It was a busy trip for him. 

On Halloween, we didn't take BabyBoy trick-or-treating, but we did take him around to family so they could see his little devil costume.  We thought it was funny, since last year at her baby shower, Spawn dressed like an angel with horns sticking out of her belly - so this was perfect!

We weren't sure what kind of turn out we'd get for trick or treating with the 'Rona going on.  We got about 25 kids.  Usually we get 35-45 so it wasn't too bad.  We just set a table up in the driveway, spread the candy out and the Spouse & I sat out there to watch the kids and enjoy the night.  It was cold, but it was the first time in a while we haven't had rain, snow or wind!   
The requisite daylight savings time meme....
Halloween was also my boss's last day of work.  I've worked under her for 20 years so this was a sad day.  3 of us pitched in and got her a silver semi truck charm for her Pandora bracelet.  
Gratuitious sunrise pic
I had to video him and take screen shots since he's never still!

Whew - almost up to date!

Last weekend I attended the Halloween Camp put on by a local search & rescue group that my team has worked & trained with many times. 
OMG - it was so much fun!  I'll totally do this again.
The scenario was that we were recruits for the Academy seen here on the banner - and our training was being accelerated due to Covid and an increase of violent & repetitive crimes.  We did a bunch of team-building and networking activities that were both educational and hilarious.  There were supposed to be 3 teams, but enough people couldn't make it at the last minute that we combined into 2 teams.  For each activity we won "creature cash" and there were also random cash everywhere all over the camp!  So whoever had the most cash at the end of the weekend, won.  

We did a fear-factor type food challenge relay race, we sat at the table in front of a covered plate and drew colored skeletons to find out what order we went in - and couldn't peek under the plate until the person before us was done and our skeleton color was drawn.  There was a giant garlic pickle, a mountain of gummy worms (glad I didn't get those!!), 6 smoked oysters & finally a caramel apple (I got that!)  

We had to race on boards....
we're holding ropes attached to the left and right boards....

There was an obstacle course for humans and one for the dogs & handlers - especially hilarious was the girl who had the biggest bloodhound ever & she had to put a shirt and socks on him!  But the baby socks wouldn't fit on his huge paws, so she tucked his ears into them!   I learned that a lot of the rules were very flexible.  Nobody said the socks had to be on his feet, only that he was wearing them!  And the board race above?  The other team had 4 people.  Nobody said ALL of us had to be on the boards at one time.   Noted. 

We had some down time after lunch and I hid for several of the area search dogs to find me.  I climbed about 8 feet up on top of a rack where canoes are stored (to encourage the dogs to look up while searching) and another time in a cabin on the top bunk. 

We played capture the flag, using water balloons filled with paint.  Then we played Jeopardy with topics related to maps, knots and incident command.  We had a land navigation course we had to do after dark, and at each point we found, we had to do an activity like start a fire, splint a teammate's arm, figure out how to put a dog in a sling, and create an improvised harness and "repel" between two trees. 

Then we got word of a missing girl and she was last seen at the maintenance man's workshop, so we had to go look for clues.  It was a relay race - the workshop was lit by strobe lights, and we had to use a red flashlight to find one of 8 items on the list. But we couldn't take the list in and could only grab one item, but if we saw another, we could tell the next person what & where it was. 

By then it was midnight and we had the option to take the dogs out on a night search, but the handlers all said no!
Dawson Chucky!

Sunday we had to be up & out of the camp by 8am and not return until 10am, so we all went out to breakfast.  When we were finally allowed back in the camp, there were a total of 3 missing people.  2 real people and 1 deceased.  One was the missing girl from Saturday night, another completely unrelated boy and the maintenance man.  So the dogs were all sent out in different sectors to search and we had to use proper radio protocol and techniques for a K9 search.   I went out as support for "Team Scarlett" and it's just fascinating watching an area search dog work.   They just run.  They're wearing a collar with a GPS unit on it and a cowbell so you can hear them out in the woods.  We were looking for the missing boy, so we thought.  So when we heard he was found, we called in and was told to head back to staging.   We ran into 2 of the people in charge and they gave us a ride, but instead of going to staging, they took us to another sector so Scarlett could give that a try.  
We had some mis-communication.  We had a scent article for Scarlett that we were told was the missing boy.  It ended up being the deceased maintenance man's.  And Scarlett found him!  If you look close, about halfway up the climbing structure, you'll see a dummy hanging, slightly left of center.  They planted real HR (human remains) in it.  It was creepy as hell looking up there and seeing that dummy, since they had a mask on it so he looked real! 

Then by the time all the sectors were covered, debriefing (my team won!!) & we helped clean up, it was well after 5pm.    
There was a cabin decorating contest, too.  So I grabbed some of my skeletons and threw together a skeletal K9 team!   I had the skeletons all buckled in the back seat of my car - too bad the windows are tinted so nobody else could see them!
I didn't think it was much, but it was more than anyone else did and I ended up winning $100 in creature cash for my team! 

So the cabins were pretty big - they were U shaped and had a total of 7 sets of bunk beds on each side and 2 more in the back.  There were only 3 of us in cabin 7/8.  I was one one side, Julie in the back and Melissa on the other side.  Melissa & Julie both had their dogs in there, Scarlett that I worked with and her almost identical brother Crash (I worked with him at a real call-out last spring).  
They both kept coming over to visit me.  
I'm not sure which this was - one had a collar on, one didn't!
Obviously both were adorable!

For being November in Michigan, we couldn't have asked for more perfect weather!  Sunshine and low 70s during the day, and 50s at night.  Considering on Monday the 2nd I went out to my car to leave for work and there was snow on it!
This is BabyBoy yesterday - Pupa was out blowing the leaves into the ditch before the rain & wind started last night.  He was only out there a few minutes, because it was cold, but he had a good time!  I put him down and he'd take off crawling like he was on a mission to get somewhere else!
I just love that little face!

Well, after some fighting with Blogger, I've finally got a post written!  I had saved my post and switched over to it on my phone to add a couple pictures in from there and saved again.  And do you think the last couple paragraphs I'd written had actually saved????   
Cussing did happen.  TWICE! 

I promise I won't be so long between posts again!