Animal Allergies

A week ago yesterday, I went with my husband to a new client’s home. It was a pleasant spring day, perfect for a drive, and I was glad to get out of the house and away from paperwork and other duties. They lived in the middle of nowhere, about forty minutes from New Braunfels, on 70 or so acres. A recent rain had maintained the greening and flowering all along the highways and back roads.

After traveling about a mile down a bumpy, unpaved driveway, we pulled up at a fence surrounding a brick home and an opened detached garage. Intending to stay in the van, as usual, I’d brought along my suduko book and Kindle Fire. As Danny got out, I noticed three dogs in the yard coming to greet him at the gate. The young couple for whom he would be building a 1900 sq.ft. addition trailed behind their pets. They didn’t look over at me, so I resumed my number puzzling. Occasionally, I glanced up to see the three of them traversing the property, pointing out this and that. When they eventually went inside to discuss everything, the dogs went with them. I would not be joining them…

I’m allergic to animals – dogs, cats, horses, bunnies, and everything else with fur and dander. I cannot help it; it’s the way God made me. Depending on the animal, sneezing ensues. With cats it is instant asthma. If I do not remove myself from close contact or take medication, then my airways constrict and I cannot breathe. Over the years I learned to take antihistamines whenever I knew I would be going near animals. I’m fine outside, as long as I don’t get too close to them. Of course, dogs love to surround me. :-)

However, indoors is a totally different happenstance. I stay away from curtains and upholstered furniture, where hair and dander attach. When wood or leather seating isn’t available, I’ll just stand. Wood/tile/cement flooring is a relief, while carpeting or rugs don’t help. Even having pre-medicated, an enclosed space with one or more shedding animals will limit my time indoors. Sometimes it is very annoying; sometimes it keeps me from making friends.

When I was twenty, I came home for Christmas. I hadn’t seen my family or been around animals for fifteen months. I wasn’t there for fifteen minutes before I had an asthma attack. I spent the remaining four days out on the screened porch. Luckily, south Texas winters aren’t too cold…

About twenty minutes passed when I heard a vehicle approaching from behind. In the rearview mirror I saw a truck parking about fifty feet away. From there the parents of one of the young people walked towards the gate carrying grocery bags. The woman stopped by my open window and asked if I’d like to wait inside. I smiled, said thank you but I’m allergic to dogs, to which she said she was sorry. Then she commented on my suduko before going inside.

For some unfathomable reason, informing animal lovers that I have allergies to their pets usually offend them or make them think less of me. This older woman seemed more understanding, which I appreciated.

Danny came out fifteen minutes later and told me they actually had five dogs, as well as  two cats inside. That would have been a double whammy for me and I hadn’t brought my inhaler, which I surely would have needed. Unfortunately, I also missed seeing their ten-month-old daughter. I love babies!

catdog

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SPRINGGGGG

I love spring! It’s the best season of the year…

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One day it’s gloomy outside and the next thing you know neon green is popping out all over and blooms abound. The ducks of Landa Park don’t care if it rains or shines.

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And the rainy days sometimes turn into spectacular sunsets.

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There are more bluebonnets along the roadways than last year, but they appear to thrive in places where it can be rather dangerous or impossible to pull over for photo taking.

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Mountain laurel with its unique grapey scent has burst out all over the city, including our front and back yards:

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Though red bud trees come in several varieties, none are RED:

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Computer Messes

On December 23rd, my 2010 HP Pavilion quit working. The monitor went black and nothing I did could start Windows. Being so close to Christmas, it didn’t seem so important and I let it slide. After the holidays, since our tech guy was unavailable until mid-January, I coped with sharing Danny’s PC. To add to the frustration, however, was the back-up issue. I had only backed up documents and photos/videos through the end of October, so I had to stumble along with a flash drive and remake some of his New Millennium Builders construction invoices and proposals.

When the computer man finally came, I had such high expectations. Unfortunately, after two days of fiddling with it – which did not sit well with Danny – he determined the motherboard was busted. We could either buy a used motherboard or new computer. We opted for the latter. HP has served us well, yet their big corporate attitude of thank-you-for-buying/now-you’re-on-your-own has not endeared us. Windows being Windows, I didn’t think it mattered if we tried a different brand.

On January 22nd, we bought a Dell computer at Office Depot and paid them to transfer all documents and pictures from the old hard drive to the new one. It was supposed to be ready in 24-48 hours. HAH! I couldn’t pick it up until February 3rd. I started it up on the 4th and, after downloading my Office 2007 software and having AVAST security put in place, all seemed fine…On Feb. 5th it quit working. After another vain attempt by the computer guy, I took it back to Office Depot for them to figure out. “It’ll be tomorrow, ” I was told by a different techy, but that did not happen. A week later, after several phone calls about the status, I went by to check on it and was informed it was unrepairable.

I requested an immediate refund but, since we had paid by check, I was told Office Depot would mail a refund to us in 1-3 business days. I could only acquiesce; however, when they had the audacity to ask if I wanted to buy another computer from them, I replied, “Absolutely not! Just transfer my data from the hard drive to some flash drives.” I was so pissed I didn’t say “please.”

Today is February 28th and we have not received their check. Although Danny has called them about this issue several times, we have had zero satisfaction. OD used to be so dependable that we bought several of computers and all-in-one printers from them over the years. No longer. Last week, we bought an HP Slimline Pavilion from Best Buy.

I wish I could report that all is well with this device, but alas that is not possible. These friggin’ automatic updates and restartings could very well land me in the psycho ward.

pavilion slimline

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Hello Again

It has been nigh on 18 months since my last post. Life has not become less hectic or the family more healthy, but my mind has eased and I’m waking to creative thoughts again. With this need and desire to express myself, having come out of hibernation, I have decided to resume blogging. Though posts may not occur frequently or consistently, the new year seems to be the right time to restart…

Rex Anthony Parker was born in October, making my sister Diane a first time  grandma. (I apologize for no cute pictures, but my motherboard busted a few weeks ago and I’m using hubby’s computer.)

Danny recovered from his quadruple bypass quite well, though the long scar above his sternum and the three tube-holes beneath it will remain with him forever. His left carotid needs scraping out to avoid another stroke, but more worrisome is the large mass growing in his upper colon. It was found last month during his first colonoscopy and Thursday a most competent surgeon, Dr. Mario Rossbach, will talk with us about removing it, hopefully soon. In order to do so, the ascending colon and part of the transverse colon will be removed as well; malignancy will be determined before the end of the surgery, I imagine. The good news is that no colostomy bag will be required afterwards.

My younger sister Lisa will be having a heart valve replacement tomorrow. Her 17-year-old daughter Kristina has myriad health issues and will be on many prayer lists as well.

Dad died on June 18, 2014. It was sudden and shocked the family to the core; we had all assumed that Mom’s poor health would take her from us first. For me, the most difficult part to swallow has been that life and time won’t friggin’ stop long enough for us to catch our breath. Everything just keeps going and going and going, forcing us to speed grieve! Since his passing, my sister Lynne and I have been caring for Mom most of the time. We have developed a routine and our other siblings fill in when they can.

Christmas was always Dad’s favorite holiday. So the closer 2014’s came, the less confident I felt about getting through it. None of our grandchildren would be in town, which added to my distress. However, something wonderful happened: Dad made himself felt in a so-Dad way! Lynne’s husband, Ron, as administrator of the estate, gathered Mom and the five of us (sister Leslie being in Virginia) around the dining room table. Our spouses and children filled the periphery behind us, while Ron explained that Dad knew he would not be here for Christmas, had dictated a love letter to Mom, and had given instructions for a numbers game for the six of us. After giving the letter to Mom, Ron told us Dad wanted us kids to draw numbers from a dish and choose, accordingly, one of his Christmas toys (he had quite a collection) and one of the six identically wrapped square boxes at the end of the table. By the time the sweet letter had been passed around and we had taken our turns at choosing (one of the nieces chose for Leslie), we were all smiling and heart-warmed. What a guy! What a dad! I drew number 6, so I went last. Inside the boxes were various old coins he saved over the years, including some silver dollars from his grandparents.  After that, Christmas was a piece of cake! Thanks, Dad. And thank you, God, for giving him to us.

Happy New Year to All!

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No More

My blogging days are over…Last Friday morning, AT&T screwed up our phone and Internet, before I could publish the weekly recipe and thought post. Thinking it would just be late, and service would be restored by evening, I wasn’t too concerned. However, it was not a moderate screw up – it was a major screw up – and Danny and I, as well as our elderly neighbors, found ourselves back in the dark ages without wireless communication.

Although we were on cell phones to AT&T all day Saturday and were assured rehooking would be in the next few hours, that never happened. The next day was Sunday, then holiday Monday. So the four of us did not see any AT&T technician until Tuesday evening. Even then, the linesman told us he had only an order for the neighbors and not us. Despite the fact that our original order for UVerse was what started all the mess and despite the fact that Danny’s business depends on the Internet, the truth was that all of our calls appeared to have been in vain due to some paperwork mixup. AT&T’s plethora of offices and wiring stations do not communicate with each other in any way. It’s too big to be efficient.

Obviously, the phone representatives you talk to are in different parts of the country, if they are in this country at all. So how would they know that we were actually out of range for UVerse? Since we moved from our total UVerse house a couple miles away to this out-of-range UVerse house in 2010, we have been told to keep checking back with them for the faster service. So I did, every six months.

Then on May 20th, a nice AT&T representative in Kansas told me that we were definitely within range at this time. So the wheels were set in motion, an order was placed for the change, and in a few days we would have faster Internet again. But on Friday, the linesman who came out was mystified by our entire exterior wiring; it was old, disrepaired, and completely unsuitable for phone/Internet combo. Plus, at 13,000-feet distance, we were NOT within the 10,000-feet maximum range for UVerse.

However, somebody at the station house flipped a switch and disconnected our regular connection and could not, would not reconnect it because he had left for the long weekend. Our soaked, empathetic linesman was out in the rain talking with his manager and supervisor to no avail until 8:00 p.m. We did not know until the next day that our neighbors were without phone and Internet, as well.

Those four days without the WWW was a real pisser. We could not access our Roku and Netflix viewing either and there was absolutely nothing on regular television. I worked on genealogy…(the phone is ringing…)

(It’s hours later now. The phone call summoned me – like the one at 1:00 a.m. this morning from my dad – for help. I needed to pick up my son and granddaughters and drive them home, while his wife Amy continued on to San Antonio. They were on their way back from Austin, where a vet had diagnosed their older dog Jackson with diabetes and cataracts. The animal hospital in  San Antonio would be better suited to deal with those issues and whatever else they found...This is my life. This is why I cannot continue blogging/posting. It is too frustrating. always starting and stopping or being unable to start.)

Our days off the Internet also solidified how much we automatically depend on it for news, information, and communication. But worse than not being able to find what movies were playing or to clarify an interesting radio article, was when on Tuesday morning, Amy’s father had a massive stroke in Houston, and I could not send out a comprehensive email to friends and family to get prayer lines going…

I’m afraid that blogging can no longer be one of my priorities. Thanks to everyone who has supported me on WordPress over the past two years. Best wishes!

Posted in Miscellaneous Thoughts | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

“Star Trek Into Darkness”

WOW! Great action, spectacular visual effects, and good acting – “Star Trek Into Darkness” has everything! Sure, it’s a little bit over the top here and there, but that’s what sci-fi is all about. Director J.J. Abrams has done a bang-up job, as usual…

Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) have goofed up and are in trouble, being demoted, separated, and reassigned. They are about to begin their new positions when a very bad guy, Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), changes everything. Captainless Kirk pleads his case to Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) for reinstatement to seek out and destroy the ruthless enemy.

And so, Kirk and Spock reunite with Uhura (Zoe Saldena), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) on their starship Enterprise and set off for dangerous Klingon territory, where Khan is hiding…

Thank you, Hollywood, for this entertaining, family movie with only mild cussing and no gore. Paramount Pictures, Skydance Productions, Bad Robot, et al, please don’t make us wait four years for the next adventure. We’re more than ready to explore new worlds!

star trek

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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Fresh Cherry Galette

Okay, we’ve been good for several months. I’m not even ordering half-n-half tea (in south Texas that means iced tea that is half sweetened and half unsweetened) anymore; it’s too sweet. Weird. Even weirder, I passed the grocery store’s doughnut section yesterday without any cravings. There may be something to eating healthy food. :-) If you don’t read nutrition labels, you really should – it would probably shock you to see how much sugar, sodium, fat, and cholesterol you are buying and ingesting. However, with a little modification, this dessert from Family Circle magazine might be too good to pass up…

Recipe of the Week: Cherry Galette

Dough:
1-1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 stick (1/2 c.) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 tbs. truvia
1/8 tsp. salt (or salt substitute)
2 tbs. ice water

Filling:
1-1/2 lbs. sweet cherries, stemmed, pitted and halved
1/4 c. truvia
1 tbs. cornstarch
1 tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. natural almond extract
fat-free organic half-and-half for brushing
2 tbs. raw sugar/turbinado

sweet cherries

Directions for dough:
1. In a food processor, combine flour, butter, truvia, and salt. Pulse until butter looks like coarse crumbs. Run it some more while streaming in ice water, until the dough comes together. If it seems too dry, add another tbs. of ice water while running the processor, until it’s just right.
2. Place some plastic wrap on a flat working surface and work the dough into a disk. Cover it completely with the wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour.

Other directions: Turn on oven to 375F.
1. In medium bowl, combine cherries, truvia, cornstarch, lemon juice, almond extract. Put aside.
2. Lightly flour flat surface and roll out chilled dough until it’s about a 13″ circle. Transfer this to a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet.
3. Pour filling into middle of circle, leaving a 2″ border from the edge. Fold entire outer edge over the filling until the galette becomes a 9″ circle.
4. Brush the border with cream and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Crust should be golden brown. Cool on wire rack before serving.

Note: If you would like to make this without my modifications, check out page 174 of the June 2013 issue of Family Circle. Also, you might want to serve this with a scoop of frozen yogurt.

P.S. This dough will work the same magic with any fresh fruit or veggies.

(courtesy of seductionmeals.com)

(courtesy of seductionmeals.com)

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Thought of the Week: Due to my lack of movie and book reviews in the past few months, it may seem that I have been homebound or too busy for either. However, that is not totally the case. Although we did not go to the movies for over a month due to Danny’s heart attack and bypass surgery, we have seen “The Croods,” “Oblivion,” “Mud,” and “Iron Man 3.” The first was cute, but not exceptionally so. The second was just okay and too long. The third was unimpressive and unredeeming for McConaughey. As for the last one, I am soooo sick of unnecessary 3-D. Save it for IMAX and only IMAX viewing; that’s where it belongs…Bookwise, I am not finishing books in a timely manner anymore. I am thoroughly exhausted when I get to bed and no longer read for an hour or two. The books I have finished in the past four months are so unremarkable that I can’t remember them, which is sad.

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mudiron man

Actually, there’s something internal going on with me. I think, it’s a new phase of my life, because what used to amuse, satisfy, inspire, or intrigue me no longer does. What’s up with that? It could be a sense of hopelessness from all the cruelty, greed, injustice, and stupidity that continues to occur in this world. There are so many issues and problems that need to be addressed and remedied, but time won’t stand still long enough for goodness to prevail and purge out the badness. Though technology is disrupting archaic cultures for the better, it cannot stop assholes from hurting women and children. My soul is stressed and very, very tired…

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