5-17-15 Sunday (Aloha?)

Saturday (5/2/15) in Augusta was about shopping, lunch out, dinner with friends at the campground and picking up Dasher’s ashes.  We went into Banfield, said one of those sad toned “Hi.  I’m here to pick up Dasher’s ashes.”  “Ashes” is definitely the keyword.  If I hadn’t said that she would have paged something like “Dasher is ready to go home.” or started searching the computer for him.  Either one would be a very uncomfortable situation.  Anyway, I was totally fine until I placed his remains in the trunk and then it started.  I balled, and Jim stood strong for me.  I know he was hurting and he kept it together. 

Sunday we attended Erik’s service at Riverwalk Park which is where Robert and Erik were married in November.  It was a nice service with one of Erik’s close friends delivering his eulogy. 

It was a sad weekend…  We’ll skip to the next week.

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On Friday (5/8/15), we took off a half a day so that we could go to the county office in Augusta to get a permit for a roof over.  Of course, they wanted engineered plans which they neglected to tell Jim about the 1400 times he spoke with one of the inspectors.  So we wasted some PTO time and accomplished nothing.  This delays our install dates.

Saturday, the campground celebrated Cinco De Mayo with a potluck.  We brought ground turkey, onion and cheese sauce.  All of the food was delicious.  We had a great time!

Sunday was dinner with Jamie and Ruby.

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So, that brings me to this current week.  I’m writing this on Saturday, May 16th.  Toward the end of last week, Jim started looking into vacations to use up so air miles with.  These are miles we got from opening credit cards.  We started researching Hawaii.  Cruises and hotel vacations.  We researched.  We talked to our AAA travel agent and friend Ruby (see above) about pros and cons of different types of Hawaiian vacations. Since we love cruising and it’s the most economical, we settled on an 11 night cruise.  11 nights?  Yep, but a good portion of it is at sea days. 

Itinerary

So let me explain about all the “at sea” days.  First off, probably 99.9% of the large cruise lines are internationally registered to avoid US labor laws and probably tax/fee advantages. So the big cruise line leaders register elsewhere in countries such as Bahamas, Panama, and Liberia.  Norwegian cruise lines has 1 ship, Pride of America, that is registered in the US.  US law is that an internationally registered ship must have at least 1 international port of call.  The Pride of America cruises can start in Hawaii and end in Hawaii with no international stops make them a 7 night. 

POA

Meanwhile, the other ships sail to Vancouver, BC or Ensenada, Mexico.  We really prefer to stick with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity (they’re related) where possible so that we maintain and also grow our points.  Points give lots of perks.  We’re also willing to try a cruise that keeps us on the go for several days in a row and then just turns into 5 days of nothing but poolside, nap-tastic, hot tubbing, eating everything in sight, relaxation.  The 11 night cruise and the 7 night are virtually the same price too.

OK, so the point?  We booked a cruise for April 2016.  Yay!

BUT, then we realized Jim only gets 18 PTO days next year.  Using 10 for a cruise, leaving only 8 for the remainder of the year wouldn’t be a good idea so we’re going to book for another year out.  Hawaii 2017. Smile  In 2017, Jim will get 23 PTO days.

We’ve set up a partial payroll transfer into an extra account just to save for the trip!  We have plenty of time.

5-1-15 Friday (Erik And Stars)

DasherWeek of the 20th.  It’s been a rather rough week.  As I last blogged, Dasher died on Sunday.  We stayed home from work Monday.  That brings me to Tuesday.  I had intentions of going to work but when Jim and I woke up, he said he didn’t want to go in.  I stayed home too.  I worked on laundry and some other stuff that’s pretty much a haze for me now.  Jim and I had our tear jerker moments through out the day.  Jim worked from home on his work laptop.  I think we just didn’t want to be at work for fear of public cry outbursts.  On Wednesday, it was a little easier to deal with the emotions.  I still didn’t want to talk about it so I even messaged my work wife, Jessica, not to bring anything up and just act like nothing happened.

HoardingJim wants to hold on to all of the pet stuff in case we get a new family member.  We’re both in agreement that we’d prefer not to get anew but Jim’s “just in case” personality forbids him to part with all of those leashes, pet beds, bowls and other investments.  Fine.  We’ll label a box, and get rid of it in 6-12 months.  Even before Dasher died, I said I didn’t want another pet.  We like to travel and do so at least twice a year.  It’s tough to find a sitter.  We only kenneled him once.  Then there’s the issue of housebreaking a new dog.  Then there’s the awful kennel experience.  I understand the need for it but can’t bear to think of an animal caged for 9-10 hours a day, free to roam for a few hours in the evening and then either caged again at bedtime, or sleeping with us but either way not really interacting with anyone.  I just can’t do it.  What if our new pet is once of those yappers?  Or perhaps a chewer?  Ugh.  Maybe a cat?  Nah.  I think I’d like to spend our future years pet-free.  We’ll enjoy our friend’s pets.

My mother-in-law gave me a Hummingbird feeder for Christmas and we’ve had a lot of activity.  Jim put it up on the kitchen window.  Many times while at the sink, I look up and see one at the feeder only inches from my face.  I try to remain still and watch as long as its there.

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We made it to Augusta this weekend.  I immediately cleared out Dasher’s stuff here to take home.  Once again, we had a few moments, but nothing too severe.  As suggested by so many people, I’m focusing on the good times, the great memories and not so much about his absence. 

Week of the 27th.  Wednesday (4/29) was my follow-up appointment to last month's diabetes diagnosis.  This time I saw the doctor rather than the PA. 

Animal scale

The time line:

  • 3/16/15 A1C = 6.7.  Told I had type 2 Diabetes. 
  • 3/18/15 I started Weight Watchers
  • 3/24/15 I started Metformin. 
  • 4/29/15 A1C = 6.0.  I've lost 15 pounds.  I've been taken off Metformin. My doctor says he'll consider it that I'm in remission. Huh? Either way, woot woot. Go me! I'm still going to continue Weight Watchers.  I’m extremely proud of myself, hence the gloating.

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10849828_10152501847406643_103615710[1]On Thursday night, 4/30, we received horrible news.  Our campground friend, Erik, died.  He was a funny and nice guy.  I’m not at liberty to share the details but he’ll be so missed.  I knew it would be a somber weekend here at the campground but we came anyway to share our support for Erik’s husband, Robert.  They were together for over 10 years (I’m not sure of the exact number) and were recently married but just a few months ago.  Just as we pulled in on Friday evening, we spotted Robert, jumped out of the car and gave him big hugs.  I could see the pain in his eyes.  It may have been the first time I’ve even seen such pain honestly.  What a crappy month. 

Obituary for Mr. Erik R. Moen

Mr. Erik R. Moen, 47, beloved husband of Mr. Robert L. Turner, entered into rest on Thursday, April 30, 2015.

Born in Evanston, IL, he was a son of Betsy Dereby Moen, Kennesaw, GA and the late Clifford Moen, Sr. He was Lead Teller with Wells-Fargo, Daniel Village, Augusta, GA. He had been a resident of Savannah, GA, where he was a Personal Banker at Ameris Bank, prior to relocating to the CSRA. Erik loved music.

In addition to his husband and parents, family members include siblings, Frank Moen, Cocoa Beach, FL, Jennifer Marsden and her husband, Bob, Napersville, IL and Clifford Moen, Jr., and his wife, Jackie, Kennesaw, GA; a niece, several nephews, as well as many beloved friends.

In accordance with his wishes, Erik will be cremated and a private memorial service will be held.

If so desired, please make memorial contributions to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (www.afsp.org)

I was told Erik loved stars so hence the borders above and below.

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On Friday, I received a voice mail from the District Attorney’s office asking me to appear in Superior Court for a case I witnessed.  I kind of remember it and had to search the blog for info (see why I like my blog/diary)?  Here’s the entry:

After all that excitement for the day, we went food shopping. First stop, BJs.  We passed a Mercedes Benz SUV parked in a handicap spot (it had a placard) with a screaming infant.  There was no one in the front seats.  We took a closer look, like real closer, like when you have to cup your hands to see in because of the glare, and saw a 5 year old with an infant.  The kid rolled down the window with one of them fancy switches, and I asked where his mom was.  He replied, “in the store”.  I asked what his mom’s name was to which he replied “Ebony”.  I tracked down a BJ’s employee who radioed a manager and agreed to page this woman.  In the meantime I called 911.  The first of 2 cops arrived.  He asked for my name, address, phone, DOB.  He talked to the kid who turned out to be 6 and agreed that was too young to be left alone.  I went inside but noticed a woman running toward the exit.  I had to follow.  It was the mother.  Glad she could run with that handicap placard and all…  Anyway, that was it.  Just another thing to make my day fabulous.

That was 2 years ago!  3/12/2013.  I’m not sure how much I really remember although the post itself reminded me of some details.  Anyway, the voice mail said that she’d want me for this week.  Short notice.  I’ll call her back on Monday to get the details.

I’m just wondering if May is going to suck too?

4-20-15 Monday (Dasher 9-17-00 to 4-19-15)

Hi.  It’s me again.  Here’s a photo from last month that’s been waiting patiently to be posted.

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I felt like asking for the $2 off Christmas special.

This week we didn’t go to Carowinds.  The weekday hours (open due to Spring Break) have ceased until Memorial Day.  Wednesday we went to Studio Movie Grill to see a movie and have dinner.  Jim and I both fell of the diet train with huge tasty burgers.  We love the order from your chair convenience but we always seem to have service issues here.  Always.  The straws have finally gotten longer and now exceed the liquid line (here’s the story on the straws).  So, I ask for an unsweet tea with yellow packets.  The guy reads back as unsweet tea with a sugar caddy.  OK, sounds like it would have more than just sugar.  Some other guy brings me my tea with ONE packet for this huge tea.  I’m thinking, this is the sugar caddy?  I said I’ll need more.  I had to give him a number of how many.  Are they rationing them?  Eventually our food comes out, along with the side of mayo for the burgers.  No silverware.  We tell the guy who comes back with one set.  Uhhhhhhhh, we need another.  Dain bramage.

It was a busy week at work.  We were introduced to our mentees who sat with us for 2 hours.  The woman looked terrified at what I showed her.  She was thinking she had to learn it all in 2 hours or something.  I reassured her that this wasn’t training and that everything would be taught, step by step. 

How’s Dasher?  So glad you asked.  He’s doing pretty good for 14 years old.  Prednisone made him go from 17 to 22 pounds.  He can’t jump as high anymore.  He can’t make it up to the bed while we’re in it.  He just can’t clear the bed and our legs so many times he starts the night off with us, jumps down and stays in a bed on the floor.  We bought him stairs.  He won’t use them.  I have to try to get him to get over that.  I need to spend more time with him. 

He’s had a huge cyst on his back for quite a while now.  It’s gotten bigger.  He’s got a lot of moles which we used to have removed but the vet doesn’t think he’d survive anesthesia of any kind.  We call him Dashimodo (as in Quasimodo).  This week we brought him in to have it checked again.  It’s firm and no fluid came out of it.  It’s well past his hips and his spine so other than looking like a freak, he’s OK I guess.

We’re in Augusta this weekend.  It’s a rainy weekend but that’s OK, we weren’t planning on hanging outside much.  On Friday night, we went out to the bar and when we returned home at 2am, the bed had a large wet spot that went through the comforter, top sheet, bottom sheet and mattress pad.  The mattress itself was spared.  It was right under the a/c unit which we had on to help with the humidity.  Was the a/c leaking water or the hole the a/c sits in leaking water?  Jim took some of the casing apart to get at the screws.  With as much as Jim tightened those screws, it seemed like that unit could have been lifted off the damn roof.  It’s always something.  Luckily it happened before we changed the sheets in general and put on our brand new quilt.  But still, it wasn’t something I wanted to do when I was hung over.  The new quilt brightens up the room.  From a dark brown to a cream.  I’m happy to say that Jim’s fix took care of the leak.  Yay.

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Jim and I are planning a trip to Niagara Falls in June.  Well, he’s doing the planning.  That’s his thing.  My thing is just to look pretty.   He’s booked us a falls view on the Canadian side at the Four Points by Sheraton. We’re thinking of doing a helicopter tour and probably some other things.  Does anyone have input? 

I typed most of this entry on Saturday.  Here I am Monday with the rest of the entry…

On Saturday night, it was about 2am-ish when we walked Dasher for the last time for the night.  He seemed a bit sluggish as he walked up the stairs into the RV.  Once inside he sort of collapsed.  It seemed like he was having a seizure.  I yelled for Jim, got some honey, rubbed in on his gums and then he kinda recovered.  We brought him to the emergency vet.  He had some black and blue areas on his underside.  It was suspected as internal bleeding.  The x-ray showed no but since the blue was minor it was thought that it would get worse.  There were several other possibilities of what could be going on, but none of them good.  At 4:30am, we brought him back to the RV and we knew in our hearts that it was the last night with our dog. 

The next morning, he wouldn’t even go outside.  The most activity was him drinking.  We picked him up and put him outside.  He peed.  We made a 1:30 appointment with Banfield for a final evaluation.  Jim noticed his underside was almost black.  We laid with him on the floor.  He appeared alert but lethargic.  It was time to go.  I sat on the back seat with him.  He threw up, the food was chunks from the day before.  It’s like his body never digested it.  Further up the road, he shit.  It was all over my shorts (luckily we had our “dirty clothes with us).  We made it to the vet, Jim carried him in as I cleaned up and such.  We spent a lot of time hugging and loving on him before it was time.  The doctor came in, confirmed the inevitable and we consented.  We wanted to pay our vet bill so that we could leave immediately after the procedure.  Done.

The procedure was simple.  They put an IV line in while I paid the bill (I didn’t want to see that).  Once I returned, we pet him and kissed him and hugged him and loved him and cried, the doctor administered the anesthesia.  He fell asleep.  Next was the medicine to make his heart stop.  I felt like mine had stopped too.  We left rather quickly and tearfully.  I could barely see my way out of there.   I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much. 

The ride back to Charlotte was somber… as you can imagine.  We got home and it started all over.   Pet beds all over the place, his meds on the counter, etc.  We broke down again.  Jim unloaded the car while I started gathering Dasher’s things.  I felt like I needed to do this immediately.  His food bowls.  His beds.  His blankets.  Jim removed all of the pet gates and pet stairs.  I still have more to do.

We both took Monday off.  Jim worked from home for some of the day.  I washed all the pet beds and blankets.  We have like 12 pet beds!  We’ll donate most of his stuff to the local shelter.

Here’s some of my favorite photos of Dasher:

2011-06-19 0072012-05-28 0022012-07-14 0042013-06-03 0092008-09-13 Dasher wants Blog2008-09-16 CO Pike's Peak 162008-09-30 CO Jim & Dasher 12008-10-10 Four Corners 162008-11-01 UT Dasher & Clea2008-11-14 UT Bored Dasher2009-04-04 CA 362009-04-04 CA 462009-04-29 AZ 012009-06-03 NM 07 Roswell2009-09-28 012009-12-28 082010-07-29 0072011-03-12 0022011-03-13 001

We love you Dasher.

4-12-15 Sunday (Intensities)

carowindsI’m a little behind.  Not like a little ass.  I mean, behind with blogging.  I’ve been busy.  So I’m going to have to just sum up the past couple of weeks.  Carowinds has been a big part of it.  A few days after our craptastic first visit to Carowinds, I received a call from the Food and Beverage Manager.  He went on to say that he was sorry about my visit and wanted to know what he could offer me to make it right.  I was a little put off with that at first since I wasn’t complaining to get something out of it.  I also was expecting to get feedback from him.  Maybe a what happened or what they’re doing to ensure things like this don’t happen again.  So I replied that I didn’t need/want anything.  Tangent: too many people expect compensation when something doesn’t go right.  Bad meal should equal a free meal, definitely.  But there’s some things that just warrant a warm, sincere apology.  I wasn’t feeling that from this guy. End tangent.  As we spoke about some of the issues, the conversation went really well.  He said that they were working on clarifying the meal plan and that they added the funnel cake (which I can’t eat) from the Funnel Cake place and the Philly cheesesteak from Chickie’s and Pete’s (the 2 places we had issues with).  I mentioned I was disappointed with the lack of healthy choices on the meal plan.  I asked why salads couldn’t be part of the deal.  He said other’s had mentioned that so they added 4 salads and some wraps as well.  This was the type of reply/info I was looking for.  Action.  And so, a happy ending.

turkey burgerIn the meantime, since it was Spring break, the park was open until 8pm each night.  So, when we got home from work, we’d drive the 45 minutes to the park, go on a ride or 2 and then have dinner.  We did this about 4 or 5 times (I’ve lost count).  Unfortunately, 3 times in a row they were out of turkey burgers.  On visit 4 and 5 or so I didn’t even ask for them. 

The park has 11 roller coasters.  I think we have one left to do.  The lines have been short and fast.  It’s all been a much better experience there.  The new roller coaster, Fury 325 was… intense.  I think I kept saying “oh shit” a million times.  It was off the chain.  The park’s similar coaster is Dale Earnhardt’s Intimidator which wasn’t as fast or as tall but definitely was an “oh shit” ride.  Intense.  Intense.  On Fury 325 I did buy one of those magnet photos of us.  I scanned it but the quality isn’t that great.

Fury325Above: Unknown, Garret, Jim, freak with his arms up.

Yes, thank you, I am aware that I have the pinching a loaf face.  It was intense.  Have I mentioned that?

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mentorOther news.  Work = I’ve been selected to be a mentor for a new hire class that starts this Monday.  I was honored to be selected. I’m an nerd, what can I say?   There’s several mentors.  The new hires will learn in class and then practice or observe with us for a few hours a week.  I’m not sure about their experience level.  Will I be helping someone with systems more so than underwriting itself?  Will it be mostly about our underwriting guidelines?  A mixture of all?  I’m not sure.  I will say that they have a particular curriculum and even have a calendar with structured learning subjects and events.  I’ll start the process at the end of the week.  It looks well thought out.  It will look nice on my résumé!  

Easter was great.  We went over to Beth’s house. 

I didn’t take many photos but here’s what I got:

2015-04-05 007Above: Beth’s Mom, sister Angie and Beth

2015-04-05 005Above: Ann made a beautifully plated salad.

2015-04-05 006Above: Bunny bread from the Great Harvest Bread place.

Well, I didn’t get this posted last week so I guess I should do that and start another one.

3-28-15 Saturday (They Don’t Know)

Monday was my first weigh in day.  Now remember, I started mid week on Wednesday…  I lost 4.6 pounds!  Yeah yeah, maybe it was a first week water weight loss thingy or something like that but don’t be so negative and steal my thunder.  I was still excited.   My only cheat for the partial week was a Red Robin bacon American cheeseburger…  But…  I did get bottomless broccoli instead of fries. AND, I used only 3 of my weekly point allowance.  I’m going to try not to use any of them.  I’m also going to try not to blog about Weight Watchers so much.  I don’t want to obsess about it.  I’ll probably just put my weigh in info is all.  I will also share that my beginning weight was 231!  The heaviest I’ve ever been. 

Moving on. 

During my last post I told you we picked up season passes from Carowinds.   This weekend is their opening weekend.  Friday night they were open 5pm – 10pm as a special sneak peek for season pass holders.  It was their 1st day open.  Before a start Bitchfest 2015, I want you to know that we both left work a little early to come here (Carowinds, not the blog, sheesh).  We both enjoyed the rides.  This was also the opening weekend for their new world’s tallest, fastest, greenest, prettiest, smoothest, lightest, or whatever rollercoaster (I may or may not have added extra adjectives in there.), Fury 325

fury_layout_zoom(Click to bigger-ize)

We love roller coasters although as we’ve gotten older, we need more time to recover from each ride’s queasiness.  Anyway, I now present to you, The Rant.

Rant Cloud Animated - Slow

I made these notes on my phone throughout our visit.  I cleaned them up a little to make more sense but they’re a lot of short simple sentences:

We purchased a refillable drink cup online.  We printed the barcoded email with the instructions to present to pickup the prepaid cup.  1st drink place at the entrance having issues. Referred us to Cinnabon.  Went to Cinnabon.  People don't know about the drink cup email we had that shows we prepurchased a refillable drink cup.  Manager shows her.  Problem with certificate.  To customer service.  Was told, sorry, they just fixed all of the certificates in the computer.  Free drink voucher for the trouble.  Back to Cinnabon.  Ask for indoor dining (it’s cold and raining and we haven’t had dinner yet).  She only knew about one at the main entrance (Harmony Hall).  Not sure about the other places.  Went on rides.  Hurler got stuck. When it started working again I asked a maintenance guy if it was working.  Was told they're learning the controls.   2 more rides conquered.  To Chickie Petes which is an indoor dining place we stumbled on. Asked if there was another indoor place with healthier options like salads or grilled chicken.  She said not sure but Harmony Hall was indoors.  (That was too far at this point)   She said meal plan not good here.  Showed her map with the dining plan key. (purple stars):

food map

She got manager.  Manager says they take it. Meanwhile a couple next to us had the same issues.  Asked if fries came with meal. Yes.  Couldn't get order to zero. Another manager comes.  She starts over.  Pickup window.  No fries. No water.  Manager helps.  Ask woman sweeping where bathrooms are. She says she thinks they've over there but not sure. I asked you aren't sure. She says she doesn't know.  Ride afterburner.  Exit. Looking for our photo on the screens along with others.  People are pointing and saying “I don’t see us”.  Finally clerk says photos are down.  Victory Lane - asked how much to get Fast Lane upgrades since we have season passes. She said she didn't know. They hadn't released the prices yet.  World Funnel Cake place. Didn't think they were on the dining plan. Showed them map that said they were on it. They said their register wasn't set up for that.  Asked for a manager.  Got a funnel cake. </end rant>

I had 3 bites, don’t judge.  I did stop in at the customer service building on our way out of the park.  I spoke with a manager and read her my list of events.  She apologized and gave me the number for the corporate office.

I later found out, Saturday morning during blog post research mode, that the participating restaurants aren’t on the map.  They’re on the website only.  ARGH!  So no one knew that?  I also found out that all the places I listed above that I more or less forced to take our meal plan didn’t know either.  At one place, even the manager said they take it.  I have now printed to a PDF the list of participating restaurants and their locations and have put it into my phone for future visits.  I shake my head.

Saturday night was awesome.  We had 5 friends over for dinner.  Here’s what Anne created:

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Aside from the Charcuterie board above, Anne also made her famous and delicious stuffed mushrooms.

Here’s another photo. Beth, Angie and Jim.

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What a great time!  Unfortunately, I only took a couple of photos.  That’s what happens when I’m busy cooking. 

I made a marinated Polynesian inspired flank steak on the grill.  Some roasted rosemary red potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts.   Angie brought a German chocolate cake.  I had 3 bites.