How Pintrest Almost Killed My Father

I think we all have to admit Pintrest is a genius invention. I don’t know who had the brilliant idea to translate the cork boards every kid in the 80s and 90s had on their bedroom walls, filled with completely random and quickly forgotten items that could easily be punctured with a push pin, to a digital experience, but I wish it had been me.

Admittedly, my Pintrest account closely resembles those jumbled cork boards, and honestly, I use it more as a Google alternative now, to see what others may have pinned, but my Mom is a Pintrest guru.

I really don’t know how many cork boards she has, or how well organized her Pintrest is, but I do know she is Pintrest level Master when she actually sends me pins that she thinks will fill that empty spot on my cork board perfectly. I don’t even know how to do that.

And when I happen to mention something like “ you know I was thinking I need to pull together my alien invasion survival kit”, my Mom will be quick to respond with “oh, you should check out Pintrest! They have lots of great ideas on there”

And they do, btw. My personal favorite is the “6 tips to survive Alien invasion- A Dame’s Handbook”

One board I’m pretty sure my Mom has though, is “Essential Life Hacks You Can’t Live without”.

She always has a new time saver/make life easier trick she is trying out- one of the most recent ones involving a toilet brush.

During a Pintrest session, my Mom came across a pin containing the nifty life hack of sticking the toilet brush under the toilet seat to let it dry over the toilet after using it. So of course she decided to try this out the next time she scrubbed the toilets, and left the toilet brush safely secured under the seat in my parent’s master bath.

She however, neglected to let my Dad know about this hack, or about the toilet brush drying itself over the toilet.

My Dad, waking up sometime in the middle of the night, and doing what we all do, stumbled to the bathroom in the dark, most likely with eyes only partially open to prevent waking up too much during the journey.

And he barely survived the heart attack he nearly suffered when he found himself being attacked by a porcupine in his own bathroom in the dark in the middle of the night.

Luckily, “death by Pintrest” will not be on my father’s tombstone- this time.

And I’m pretty sure he has set up auto alerts anytime something is added to my Mom’s Life Hacks cork board.

The Rare Land Shoe Shark

This week has been a tough week. Not a horrible news, events that change your life kind of tough. But the nothing goes as planned, little fire drills everywhere, super busy but feeling like nothing got accomplished kind of tough.

So it seemed like a good Friday evening to spend at the beach.

The pups and I had been chasing sticks, splashing in the water and having a generally fabulous time for about 5 minutes or so, when we were joined by an older gentleman and his pup. I had met this guy a few times on our beach trips and always exchanged a few words, and then we both continued on our way, so I was hoping that’s what would happen this time. Not because I was especially anti social, but I had done enough talking to people for the week and really just wanted to throw sticks.

But he had other plans for the evening.

We started out just chit chatting about this and that, but soon he was sharing about all the time he had spent in the South Pacific, India and Asia back in the 80s. Ok, kind of a cool story and great adventure, so I was engaged. Pavi was slightly perturbed that my stick throwing was lagging somewhat with this interruption of conversation, but Ember was perfectly happy romping around with the new pup friend and annoying her brother.

And then suddenly the conversation shifted to aliens and UFOs and I found myself listening to his account of his up close and personal encounter with these beings while in Thailand.

I have to admit I was having a little trouble following the whole story, but I do know it entailed several people telling him he needed to put clothes back on, that he couldn’t be naked on he beach, him getting arrested while naked, aliens visiting him in jail and a gigantic white creature glowing with blue light appearing at the end of the pier

Apparently he made no connection between those events and the bag of whacky tobacky he had purchased from some random guy on the side of the road or the magic pills he apparently kept finding in his pocket and taking throughout this ordeal, but one has to wonder….

During this fascinating story, a group of 6, who I assumed was a family with older teen/ young adult children, had wandered down to the beach and were clustered just next to us. After a slight invitation from the daughter, my social Ember decided to act as the beach welcoming committee and pranced over to say hello to her new friends. They were delighted to meet her, and she ate up the attention. She even came back to grab a stick and returned to show them the quality of stick specimens our beach has to offer. Then it was back to romping with her brother and her new four legged friend.

My companion had wrapped up his alien story, but suddenly, as I just finish throwing a stick, he says “can I see your hand?” as he simultaneously grabs said hand.

Which is how I find myself getting my palm read on the beach.

While this is rather awkward, he seems harmless enough, if maybe a little lonely and maybe more than a little affected by the long term effects of whacky tobacky, so I decide to just let him stare at my palm lines for a minute or two and let him come up with whatever he thinks he sees.

Meanwhile, the family has decided to shed their footwear and go wading in the ocean.

If there is one thing my sweet little Ember cannot resist, it’s an abandoned shoe. More times than I can count, I have had to go in chase of a shoe, often into the yard with no shoes on. Even the split second they are left unattended while putting them on or taking them off, is too much for her to bear, and she feels the need to rescue the poor shoe from a life of abandonment.

And now there is a whole pile of unattended shoes just lying on the beach calling her name.

Just as I am about to find out about the 2 real loves of my life reflected in my palm, I see Ember streak past us straight into the pile of shoes.

Luckily, we’ve had lots of practice with “drop it!” and “bring it!”, so I was able to disengage my hand, while yelling these to her, and she dropped the shoe right on the water line before plunging into the ocean.

I returned the shoe to the pile while offering my apologies, but the family found the whole thing quite hilarious and were quite entertained by the whole ordeal. Just to be sure, Ember ran over to the dad, whose shoe I’m guessing it was, and offered a wet nose in his palm as an apology.

And now that family has a good story to write in their vacation blog.

And I will have to find another opportunity for a random beach palm reading to find out how long my lifeline is.

The Big Bad Wolf and the Scary Woods

I have two big dogs. And while I didn’t get them for protection, and they are both friendly to dogs and man, I always figured they’d be good to have on my side if ever we were to run into Big Scary Monsters.

Today I learned how true that is.

It’s been cold here this weekend, so we haven’t been venturing out for as many daily miles as normal. In fact, it was a balmy 2 degrees when we woke up this morning, so we decided to postpone our morning walk a little and hope for a little more red to appear on the thermometer.

By the time we ventured out around 10, it had warmed up 6 times over to a much more reasonable 12 degrees. And since it was also nice and sunny, it felt like at least 13.

We had done a nice vigorous hike through the woods to get our body temp up, and Pavi had rearranged the forest by moving a few trees from here to there to keep his blood pumping, and were heading back to the car.

We had come out of the woods and were crossing the field to the parking lot, when Pavi, my big, intimidating, 95 pound black Shepherd, suddenly stops dead and stares intently into the woods.

Then the hackles all the way down his back go up and he starts barking at whatever he is staring at.

I walk up next to him and prepare myself for an enormous porcupine, or coyote, or wooly mammoth or BigFoot himself to charge out at us.

But nothing happens.

After a few more seconds pass with no monster emerging from the woods, I start to relax.

But my furry 4 footed companion has not.

And now he’s added a little lunge forward/ leap back move to his armor.

This helps me pinpoint the Big Scary Monster.

Someone had rolled a big ball of snow, like the bottom of a snowman, through the field and left it beside the trail.

And this Monster Snowball had set off all the alarms and sent my ultra tough protector into DefCon 5 mode.

It wasn’t until I went and sat on the snowball and finally lured my watchdog in with treats, so he could neutralize the threat, that we could finally continue down the trail and back to our car.

I don’t know what will happen if we ever do encounter Big Foot, but at least I know I am safe from snowballs.

Protect the Family Jewels

This weekend my niece turned 5. And you can’t turn 5 without all the presents.

You just can’t!

So the pups and I headed out for a road trip yesterday morning for the 2.5 hour drive to my parents house.

I have a nice big car for my little monsters, and one of those cargo gates in my car, to keep those monsters in their area, and we have taken many a road trip (including one all the way cross country) with this set up without any issues.

Everything with this road trip started out in much the same way. But about an hour into our trip, things started to go in a different direction.

All of a sudden, my boy Pavi, starts pacing around in the back, whining and basically freaking out.

Strange. He sometimes gets a little antsy on a long ride, but not like this.

I try to talk to him from behind the wheel and get him to calm down, but he doesn’t, and now he’s trying to climb over the grate barrier into the back seat. Meanwhile, I’m trying to talk, then coax, then adamantly insist that he knock it off and stay in the back, all while hurtling down the highway at 75 mph.

Needless to say, none of that works, and within a few minutes, Pavi is halfway over the barrier, but since he is literally a monster, he can’t get the rest of the way over and is now stuck half in the back and half in the backseat, and now is truly frustrated.

I decide I have no choice but to get off the highway at the next exit, find a place to park and get him unstuck.

I pull into the back of a motel parking lot, get out of the drivers seat and open the back door to figure out how best to unstick my dog.

I decide the best route is to try to get him fully into the back seat -which is full of presents, dog gear and all our stuff, btw, and is making it even harder for him to find solid footing to squeeze through the small gap between the ceiling and the cargo barrier. I put his leash on him and proceed to try to assist him up and over.

I just start gently tugging and trying to coax him over, when something odd catches my eye.

Why does Pavi suddenly seem to have an extra appendage trying to make the trip over the barrier?

It takes me only a couple of seconds to realize that, indeed, my buddy’s “wee Willy winkey” is in fact tangled in the barrier grate.

Precisely at the same moment that he starts to howl in discomfort.

Now I have no idea how this appendage came to be tangled in the gate, or why the pen was even out of the case at this moment, but I don’t have much time to consider that, because full blown panic is starting to set in for Mr. Magoo, and he is wriggling something fierce to get himself out of this situation which is only going to end very, very badly.

So I do the only thing I can do.

I reach in and untangle the family jewels just before Pavi makes the final push into the back seat and out the door.

We spend a few minutes walking around outside, mainly to lower both of our blood pressure’s, but also because I still don’t know what set this all off in the first place, so I’m expecting expulsion of some sort of bodily fluids on top of all that fun, but nope. He seems fine now.

So we head to the back of the car to load up and get back on the road.

As soon as I open the back, it is evident what set off this series of events.

One of my two monsters has vomited all over the blanket I have covering the cargo space, and Pavi is adamant he is not going to spend the rest of the road trip riding in those conditions.

I decide, after all this drama, him riding shotgun for the rest of the trip is not the worst that can happen, so I open the passenger door and he happily climbs in.

I climb back in behind the wheel, and look over to set some ground rules about where his turf stops and my starts, only to notice that poor “Little Pavi” is now resembling our famous east coast red hot dogs, swollen to the size of a kielbasa.

That can’t be good.

I’m neither male, nor a veterinarian, but I know enough that this could be bad enough to warrant medical attention if it stays this way or gets worse.

And it’s Saturday, when all normal vets are closed, and I’m an hour from home and an hour and a half from my parents, and no idea where there might be any emergency vets on that route.

I make a call to my dad and my sister, they do some quick Google work and send me the info for a couple emergency vets along the way, and I decide since the big guy doesn’t seem to be in any obvious distress at the moment, we’d keep going and hopefully make it to one of the emergency vets before we had a full blown emergency.

Luckily, after several minutes, Little Pavi returned to normal size and returned himself to his shell, Big Pavi had calmed down and didn’t seem to be in pain, and a larger crisis seemed to have been avoided.

And lucky for Pavi, there were no plans to put those Family Jewels to use at any time in the future, so all’s well that ends well, as they say.

Do the Thing & You Will Have the Power*

Anyone who knows me, knows that winter is not my favorite time of year. Many of you may wonder why I would choose to move back to Maine, or even more, how I grew up in Maine and then lived in Colorado for 20 years, and not like winter, but the fact remains winter is my least favorite season. I have been told living on the coast of Maine results in us having less snowfall than the rest of the state, which I will admit was a huge plus in my book.

What I was not told, however, was that thanks to our lovely coastal breezes, we do experience coastal gales that seem to wreak more havoc than snow.

When I first moved here and spent some time wandering the neighborhood and exploring with my faithful four legged companions, I started to notice that a large majority of my neighbors up and down the street had generators attached to their houses. I decided some investigative research might be in order, and decided to start polling my neighbors.

Sure enough, the resounding results of this survey was that Yes!! a generator was a must living here. Not only did the coastal gales knock out power on a regular enough basis, but evidently when power did go out, we were also low on the priority list for getting that power restored, living way down here on our peninsula and all.

I have never had (or needed) a generator before, but I decided to embrace coastal living and call in the experts. I connected with an electrician, scoped out the perfect generator to meet all my electricity needs, and put in my order.

Back in June.

I was told the generator would be delivered by mid August and installed by the end of that month, in plenty of time for gale season.

But this is 2020. So of course that didn’t happen.

When I still hadn’t heard anything from my electrician by the last week of August, I decided to reach out. He replied that he was going to be off the following week for Labor Day, but they could come out to get the work done the week following. Great!

The Monday after Labor Day I reach out again to find out when I might be on their schedule for that week. I am told Wednesday at 9am.

Wednesday at 9am arrives, but my electrician and my generator do not. Nor have they arrived by 11am. So I take to text again, with a patient inquiry about when they might be popping by. I am told by 1pm.

I know you know that if I am writing this, this is not what happened.

1pm comes and goes, and after yet another text to try to figure out what is going on, I am told that “Oops! I thought you were another customer, and we are now at their house doing their work, and so sorry, but we won’t make it to you today after all.”

Let’s just say the next few texts weren’t exactly patient inquiries, but we finally come around to the idea that they will be at my house the following Monday afternoon at 1:30.

This time, wonders of wonders, 1:30 actually brings electricians to my door. I also had some work they were going to do in my barn at the same time, so he says they’ll start with that, to which I reply “Great, and then we can talk about where you want to put the generator.”

“Oh, we don’t have your generator” is what I get in response.

I give him my signature blink, and say “I thought that was why you came out today”

“We have no idea when we are going to get the generator. The factories are completely backed up due to COVID and just can’t make them fast enough, so they have no idea when they are going to have any to ship out”

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like there might be a small lack of communication occurring here?

He goes on to say, “We are telling all our customers they can cancel their orders and get their money back, but you aren’t going to be able to find any anywhere else either. Or you can continue to wait. Right now they are saying hopefully mid October”

I decide I don’t have much choice but to wait, but you can believe I jumped on the phone trying to find anyplace that might have a generator hidden in their back room or a better time line to report, but of course I didn’t .

Fast forward to mid October, when I am again told, nope, no generator. Now maybe end of December, but who knows. This time he throws in the extra caveat that they are offering free hook ups on portable generators to all their customers if they choose to go that route. But I might want to get on that ASAP if I wanted one, because the first big storm that knocked out power and those would all be gone too.

So now I find myself shopping for yet another generator.

I find one that gets great reviews, is big enough to handle all my devices and gets a thumbs up from the electrician, so I order it.

It ships the next day and is supposed to arrive the following Wednesday. My electrician is on standby to install it on Thursday, and I will be ready for all the gales the coast wants to send my way!

On Tuesday I get the tracking notice that my generator has arrived in Portland, and is on track to be delivered the following day.

Again, Wednesday comes, but does not bring my generator with it. Nor does Thursday.

You all know by now, that I did not just take this lying down.

By Friday I had talked to at least 5 different people at each of the freight delivery company that got it to Portland, the “Last Mile” delivery company that was supposed to get it from Portland to my house, and HomeDepot corporate offices. I had reached high level managers at each company, had their direct cell numbers, and had all of them calling each other to figure out what was going on with my generator.

Home Depot had a local store associate who was going to pick it up and drive it to me. The “last mile” delivery manager physically drove to the freight dock, saw my generator, tried to pick it up to ensure it was put on their truck the next day.

And still, my generator sat on a loading dock 45 min away from my house for a week.

The freight company finally guarantees the last mile company they’ll have it to them “first thing in the morning” on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, and the last mile company guarantees me they’ll have it to me by end of day.

The generator arrives at the Last Mile at 2pm- (Can I just pause to say the reason the freight company is so backed up might be because they consider 2pm “first thing in the morning”??) – but they come through and still get it to me by end of day. Whew!

Now to get the thing installed.

Through all this, I’ve been talking with my electrician and he has assured me they would have me up and running by Thanksgiving if it arrives by the end of the week. I let him know I have it, and he says they’ll be there Monday or Tuesday.

Again, I know I don’t need to spell it out for you…. Thanksgiving comes and my generator is still sitting in it’s box outside my front door.

And we lose power the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

I have now purchased 2 generators, and still spend 17 hours without power or water or heat.

My less and less patient texts finally secure an appointment for the install the following Monday.

I really wish I could say that was the end of the story.

They do show up to do the install, but as soon as he takes the generator out of the box, he turns to me and says “Do you have the cord?”

Because of course. Why would the generator actually come with the cord?

I make a flying run to town to buy literally the last generator cord in stock anywhere in town, get back just as they are finishing the install, get my tutorial on what breaker to throw and button to push when and in what order, and finally have a working generator.

Just in time to lose power again 7 hours later.

I am out in the pouring rain, gusting winds and pitch dark with two flashlights that I can’t get to work, trying to hold my iPhone in my mouth so I can see to get the “cord sold separately” plugged in so I can start the thing, but of course this isn’t a typical cord, and I’m a generator newbie, and I cannot figure out how to plug it in. I am stuck at step one.

After an “I don’t think the cord fits” text to my electrician and a desperate FaceTime call with my dad, I finally get it plugged in, get it started and survive the remainder of the 27 hour outage with all the modern comforts.

And thanks to another 24 hours without power 3 days later, I am now a seasoned generator owner and operator.

Maybe someday I’ll actually get my original generator too…

*Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Death of Muskrat

I know being stuck at home with quarantine and social distancing can start to feel old and mundane. But I am here to share a story that shows even home can be an exciting place to be.

It started Thursday night when I happened to notice some animal had been hit by a car across the street from the end of my driveway. I did a double take, hoping it wasn’t someone’s cat or small dog, and once I determined it was only a muskrat, I didn’t give it much thought, assuming the road crew, or whomever was in charge of disposing of road kill would be along eventually to do their thing.

Last evening, the dogs and I went out in the yard for our nightly game of ball, when Ember suddenly perked up and took off toward the end of the driveway. I turned to see a crow take off at the same time, and caught up to Ember just as both she and I realized the birds had picked up the muskrat and decided to use the end of my yard as their dining table for their dinner.

I grabbed Ember just as she grabbed hold of a piece of Muskrat’s innards that apparently seemed too appealing to leave.

And I was left with no choice but to yank them out of her mouth and throw them back to the birds.

Needless to say, the rest of the evening was spent with her visiting every window, trying to convince me to let her out to finish her dessert, and me trying to recover from the forced, and way too up close encounter with dead things, and trying to decide if I could make do without that contaminated hand for the rest of my life.

That would have been bad enough, but of course the story doesn’t end there.

This morning, I get up, hopeful that the crows and turkey vultures, have finished their dinner, and cleaned the remains from the dining table that is my lawn.

But of course they haven’t, and Muskrat lay right where he was left.

And now it’s Saturday, so even if I wanted to call the town office and ask how to get in touch with the roadkill crew, there is no way to do this until Monday.

So I am forced to take matters into my own hands, and find myself out on my lawn with a shovel and a Hefty bag, cleaning up Muskrat’s remains. I decide I have little choice but to make my first trip to the dump in my new home town.

Not only is this my first trip to the dump, but also my first experience dealing with road kill, so I really have no idea what proper protocol is, and as I pull in, I stop at the attendant station to explain the situation and figure out where I’m supposed to take poor Muskrat.

“I don’t think we take road kill here” is the response I get.

“Well, what am I supposed to do with it then?”

” You can talk to the boss. That’s him right over there”

I walk over to The Boss, and again explain the situation.

And again get “We don’t take roadkill here” as the response.

And again I ask “What am I supposed to do with it then?”

“You can bury it”


“Just in your yard”

Planning a Muskrat funeral was not exactly top of my to-do list for the day. And starting an animal graveyard in my yard is not a very appealing option. I’m tempted to ask why, if my yard is an acceptable burial site, the dump is not, but I refrain.

” I can’t bury it in my yard. I have dogs”

“Yeah, if you have dogs, they’ll dig it up.”

I blink at him.

“You could just throw it across to the other side of the road” he replies with a shrug.

I give him the head tilt and more blinks, because I’m truly at a loss as how to reply to that.

I turn to walk back to my car to figure out a plan B, and as I pass the attendant shack, the lady I first spoke to, asked what The Boss had said to do. I told her he was not very helpful, and I was still unsure how I was supposed to dispose of Muskrat.

“Just take it to the woods and dump it. That’s what the cops would do if you called them. I hit a baby deer once and that’s all they did. Let the other animals take care of it”

I don’t know what else to say but to thank her and get back in my car.

I’ve watched enough mob movies to know that a car driving into the woods and tossing a Hefty bag out of the back, or digging a grave to bury a bundle is never viewed as suspicious activity. But that seems to be the only option I am left with.

Had I known how quickly my life would devolve into the seedy underbelly today, I would have had more coffee this morning.

And this is how I find myself driving deep into the woods and disposing of Muskrat in an unmarked grave, wondering again how I landed in the role of clean-up in the death of Muskrat, and if “the dump people made me do it” will hold up under future questioning.

RIP poor Muskrat. RIP.

Is There a Mr. Fix-It In the House?

I thought I had been lucking out the past few months. Not only did a get a bit of a break from traveling so much, the trips I did have to take were relatively smooth and story free.

I should have known the odds would need to right themselves eventually.

I just didn’t expect it all to happen in one trip.

I had a “quick” trip planned to North Carolina this week. Out on Wednesday afternoon, and back Thursday evening. Since there aren’t a lot of direct options for me into Raleigh/Durham, NC, my out flight was a connection in Baltimore.

The flight from Denver to Baltimore was smooth, and even arrived a little early, giving me those few extra minutes to grab some food before boarding leg 2. If I had seen the future, I may have grabbed a little more to eat.

We boarded the Raleigh bound flight on time, but were quickly informed once boarding was complete, that there was a maintenance issue with one of the plane’s navigation systems. Not to worry though. Maintenance was already here addressing the issue, and we hoped to be cleared to leave shortly.

No big deal.

Sure enough, they were back on about 15 minutes later saying maintenance had fixed the issue and we would be pushing back.

They finished up the paperwork, closed the main cabin door, and we pushed back from the gate.

Only to have them immediately put it back in drive and pull us right back up to the gate.

“Sorry, folks. While maintenance did fix the problem with the first navigation system, now the second system is throwing an alert, so we need to have them back to look at that one.”

I can already see where this is headed.

About 10 minutes later the captain is back, this time with a less optimistic message.

They are pulling the plane from service for the night, so we all have to deplane. Please see the agent at the top of the bridge for information on a new plane.

I’ll give them credit. We were off the plane less than 5 minutes before they were sending us to a new gate, with a new plane, and less than 30 minutes later we were all loaded on the new plane.

The problem was, the bags were not so lucky.

We were sitting on the plane for an hour, before the little carts with all the checked bags finally pulled up beside the plane.

At exactly the same moment that the flight attendant  came over the intercom to call for help with a medical emergency for a passenger in the back of the plane.

Which meant the bags had to wait to be loaded on the plane until the Emergency Medical Response team could board the plane and get the passenger back off.

Another 45 minutes later, the medical emergency has been taken off for care, the bags have been loaded and they announce they have closed the front door and we will be leaving soon.

Which was evidently just what the man in row 2 was waiting for as his cue. He decides to choose that moment to throw a fit and demand to be let off the plane.

Despite the fact that the flight attendant explained in order to do that they have to get clearance to re-open the door, get ground crew to do so and re-do all the paperwork which will only delay things even further, the man continues to demand to be let off the plane

I’m actually surprised he made off the plane in one piece. I thought the entire plane was going to riot .

Another 30 minutes later, we are FINALLY ready to go. For real this time.

I finally get to my hotel and in bed a little after 12:30AM, and had to be up at 5:30AM for a 7AM meeting. That set my Thursday up to be a great day!

I come out of my early morning meeting to a message that my flight for that afternoon had already  been delayed for 3 hours.

You have got to be kidding me!

This time my plane, which was starting it’s day in Burbank, was scheduled to make a pit stop in Denver, on it’s way to pick us up in Raleigh to take us back to Denver.

Evidently, before it could leave Burbank, however, it was pulled due to a flat tire and left Burbank 3 hours late.

Even I can change a tire in less than 3 hours.

So, this is how I find myself landing in Denver, 3 hours later than planned, and then still have to make the drive home when it’s already past my bed time.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I had done a remarkable job of staying cool and letting all these irritations roll off my back to this point, if I do say so myself. Even though I was beyond tired,  I figured the irritations were at least behind me, and all I had to do was make it home.

I should have known better.

I get to my car in the garage, and pull up behind one car in line to pay my for my parking and put the airport behind me.

And I watch as the guy in this car tries 3 times to insert his parking ticket. Then watch as he tries 3 different credit cards to pay his fee. And then continue to sit there, and sit there, and sit there, as he does who knows what. Finally, after about 10 minutes, the arm goes up and I breathe out my irritation as I assume the guy will finally leave.

Except he doesn’t.

I’ve already admitted I was beyond tired, so I assume maybe this guy is too, and possibly he fell asleep behind his wheel and failed to see the arm go up releasing him from parking planet. So I decide to play a gentle alarm on my horn to wake him up and urge him into freedom.

Except he still doesn’t move.

So I toot again.

This elicits him popping his head out of his window and yelling, “Stop that!”

Stop that?? Ummm, what??

Maybe he doesn’t speak horn? He wasn’t able to figure out the message I was trying to send?

So I decide to help him out and translate to plain English for him. I pop my head out of my window and say

“You need to go!”

To which I get,

“I’m not going! They have my license on camera showing I didn’t pay!”

I am beyond confused as to what this guy is missing, but he must be more tired than I am. The arm doesn’t pop up to let you out unless you pay. The arm is clearly up! So, I decide to translate for this guy again.

“The arm is up, so you obviously paid. Now you need to go!”

To which the guy decides to pull his head back in his car, put it in reverse and back it quickly up half the distance to my front bumper.

This seems an interesting move for a guy who was just expressing concern about them having his license plate on camera for not paying, but doesn’t seem concerned about being on camera backing his little car into my SUV.

I get it. Drive and Reverse can be confusing. And this guy is obviously having a difficult time figuring things out at the moment. So I decide to try to help one more time.

I pop my head out the window and say,

“Ummm, you need to go forward…”

Which got him backing another several inches towards my car in response.

Then his head is back out the window and he yells, “I’m not going! If you don’t like it, you can move!”

“Ummm, I’d love to! Except you are in my way, and I can’t!”

Now the parking attendant two booths down starts yelling at the guy that he needs to go, but the guy continues to just sit there.

I try one more time and offer “He’s telling you you can go!” out the window, as the attendant continues to yell at the guy, and the guy continues to sit there.

Finally, another attendant comes out of the main booth and starts to walk towards the guys car. The guy finally decides to move.

After reversing one more time to come as close as he can possibly come to hitting my car, without actually hitting it, he finally puts his car in drive and takes off.

I sure hope he managed to find his way home and to bed a lot easier than he found his way out of DIA parking.

At least I found my way home and to my bed without anymore delays.

The Key is Persistence…

I can’t believe another year is almost over. Time really does fly! And sometimes so do I. Multiple times in a week.
My last trip of the year was one of those. I decided to tack a trip to Maine for an early Christmas into the middle of my two trips to North Carolina for work, which led to 8 days on the road.
Due to these extra days and combination of workwear and casual wear (as well as a Christmas gift or two) I found myself packing in a larger than normal suitcase. Which means I had to check a bag.
My initial connecting flights to North Carolina and my flights to Maine all went off without a hitch.
On my trip back to NC, however, I wasn’t so lucky.
My flight from Maine to Newark was delayed about an hour, but honestly, that’s pretty much the norm, so I wasn’t even that annoyed. I would still make my connection, so what difference did it make which airport I was killing time in?

I made it to Newark, grabbed some water and found my gate. Just in time to hear literally every single phone in the C concourse go off with a weather alert at exactly the same time.
I look at the alert on my phone to see Newark is under a “snow squall” alert.
I’m very confused as I look from my phone to the window, where it is bright and sunny, without a cloud in the sky. Despite having heard the same alert coming from hundreds of other phones, I almost convince myself that the National Weather Service sent an alert for the wrong location.
My flight was still on time, so I wasn’t too concerned about imaginary snow squalls.
About 30 min later, while we are boarding the flight to NC, I look out the window again, this time to see a wall of grey literally erasing the sunny skies inch by inch. Sure enough, by the time the front door is closed, we are in the middle of a full on snow squall. We spend an extra hour on the runway, being de-iced and waiting for the squall to pass.
At least I was able to make good use of the first class seat I had been upgraded to.
We land in NC without further incident, but later than planned, so now I’m starving! I decide to grab food to go on my way to the hotel and just settle in for the night. I happily check in, get to my room, and gobble down my dinner before I decide to open my bag and unpack the few things I’d need for my overnight stay.

Like most suitcases nowadays, my suitcase has TSA approved security locks on it. I, however, have never felt the need to actually use these locks, nor set a personal combination, at any point in the several years I’ve had this bag. Or so I thought.
This time, though, when I try to push the little button to release the zippers and open my bag, nothing happens.
I look at the little combination lock next to the zippers and see a set of random numbers. Well, somehow they must have got changed since I dropped my bag off at check in.

I’m sure it was the snow squall.

Not to worry. I’m sure the combination is just the standard factory set combo. So I set the digits to 000, and push the button.
Still nothing.


I try several other generic combos- 123, 999, 888- all with no success.

Well this is going to be an interesting 24 hours in NC if I can’t get into my suitcase.

I have been known to pick a lock or two in my time- when I’ve locked myself out of my house or car once or twice. I might not know the combo, but if TSA can open my bag with a key, I’m sure I can pop it open too. The only tool I can find to aid in my lock picking efforts, however, is a ball point pen. I’m sure I can adapt.

Roughly 5 min later, not only have I not managed to pick the lock, but I have broken the tip of the pen off into the lock.

If you were the betting type, now would be the time you’d be placing large bets on the odds against me ever getting my bag open again.

I’ll admit I may have been a little frustrated and maybe slightly more worried I’d never get to my favorite pair of jeans locked inside my bag again.

But I’m nothing if not resourceful.

I find myself at the front desk asking if they might have a pair of pliers. Which of course they don’t. They were very sympathetic to my plight, however, and a few minutes later, I am on the elevator, equipped with 2 screwdrivers, a pair of nail clippers and a staple remover. I’m sure this is a lock picking kit any pro would be jealous of.

I try muscling the zippers out of their locks with the screwdrivers with no success.  So I decide my best plan of attack is to get the pen nib out of the lock, and try to focus my attention back on the combo.

I try the staple remover to no avail. Did any of you betting types bet on the nail clippers saving the day? They have the perfect pinch to grab the end of the pen tip and ease it out of the lock.

Score one for nail clippers!

I finally decide the only way I’m getting into my suitcase is to figure out the combo that I must have known at some point but have absolutely no idea what it might be now. I pull up a chair, make myself comfy, and start working my way through every one of the 720 possible combinations, 1 digit at a time.

Luckily, the combo I had set at some point in the past, started with a low number, so I had only worked my way through 60 or so of the 720 options, when I hit the button and heard the pop of the zippers releasing.

Success! My favorite jeans were liberated and I was able to show up to work in appropriate work attire the next da!

And I can now add suitcases to my list of lock picking accomplishments. I’m sure this skill will help keep me in the survival group a little longer when the zombies finally invade.



Goldilocks & Papa Bear

While things have been a little quiet on the travel front this summer, tonight I have a story for you, thanks again to my dog Auni.

As any of my followers know, Auni suffered from a broken leg this past winter, and already has arthritis in her front leg. So as part of her “therapy” to keep her as active as possible, we go on almost daily walks.

Tonight, we headed out for our constitutional after dinner, and after the thunderstorms decided to clear out, around 7pm.

We were having a nice leisurely walk, stopping to sniff anything that might be suspicious, and exploring everything that might have changed since our walk two days ago, when I happened to catch a glimpse of something moving out of the corner of my eye.

We have a creek that runs parallel to the road in our neighborhood, and most of the driveways have little bridges going over the creek to get up to their houses.

Taking his evening constitutional and heading across one of these little bridges in our direction was our neighborhood Black Bear.

When I saw him, we were about 10 feet from running smack dab into him at the end of the driveway.

Luckily, since he was looking in the other direction, and ambling even slower than my canine companion, we were able to quickly back up about another 10 feet and come to a stop before he got to the end of the driveway and the road we were on.

And it gave me a few seconds to get my camera.



I actually never carry my phone with me on our walks, but I happened to be waiting for a return call (on a package delivery issue, of course) and so had brought it with me tonight. However, my photography skills were a little lacking after this one picture when I realized he was looking right at us. I figured I should maybe pay more attention to what he was going to do, then take pictures.

And what did my faithful companion do? The same companion who literally turned into a wild woman 3 nights ago, when this guy was clearly outside our house around 10pm? That night she was pacing back and forth across the house, barking at every door and trying desperately to make me let her out to face her foe head on. (There were a few moments when I wondered why I wasn’t doing just that). But tonight, when she actually did confront her foe head on?

She sat calmly by my feet and watched him with me from our spot on the side of the road.

Which is probably a good thing in hindsight.

Our fellow ambler spent a few seconds in the above pose checking us out, and then turned and loped off across the street and into the yard on the other side, and we turned and continued our walk back to our house.

It’s always nice to make new friends in the neighborhood.


This is why We Can’t Have Nice Things…

As most of you know, we just got back from a few weeks overseas. Evidently, while we were gone, we got a lot of rain, and the weeds, which seem to be the only things that grow easily in my yard, had taken that as their cue to grow thick and tall.

Basically my yard was overrun. And the fake grass, that seems to be the only grass that really wants to grow on my “lawn” was knee high.

So, I decided that this past weekend would be a great weekend to whip my yard into shape for the summer.

I decided that not only would I attack the weeds into submission, I would also plant flowers and shrubs to replace the ones that didn’t bounce back from last year’s hail storm, and give my yard a whole new face lift.

So off I went to HomeDepot after my coffee Saturday morning, to get supplies and plot out a landscaping strategy.

I added so much top soil, bark mulch, flowers, shrubs and vegetables to my cart, I actually had to make two trips to my car with it all. Every square inch of my car was full of my future garden.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and I was actually enjoying working up a sweat pulling weeds and digging holes.

And let me just say, I pulled SO. MANY. WEEDS. Enough to fill 3 extra large hefty bags.

My yard, as you my faithful readers know, is all on a hill, so I have many tiered beds, formed by the retaining walls, on all different levels up my hill.

I didn’t even mind hauling all the bags of mulch and dirt up my 28 steps.

Probably about 3 hours later, I had finished weeding, planting and mulching all the beds in the front of my house, when the afternoon showers forced a rain delay.

I wasn’t even upset by the call of the game, as it gave me time to run back to Home Depot for more bags of mulch and plan for the next day’s planting.

Bright and early, right after my coffee on Sunday, Auni (my faithful canine helper, who, by the way, is a great gardening assistant) and I were back at work, tackling the beds by my front door.

Another 3-4 hours later, my masterpiece was complete. I had planted beds of flowers, pots of flowers,  a bed of tomatoes and fresh basil (Hello, Caprese salads!), planted some shrubs around the fence line, and even strewn some wildflower seeds, hoping they might be more hardy for our Colorado climate. I had watered all the new plants, added root boost to give them the best start in their new homes, and done everything possible to help their transition.

I’m just going to say it. My yard was lovely!

And I was already looking forward to the coming months, when the plants and shrubs really started to flourish and I was eating fresh veggies from my “garden”

I took some pictures for posterity (and maybe a little bragging rites) and then poured some ice water to sit on my deck and enjoy my landscape for the remainder of the afternoon.

This was about 1 o’clock in the afternoon.

Around 4 o’clock I got ready to head to my hair appointment.

As I walked down the steps to my car, I smiled at how pretty my yard was, and what a reward those hours of work turned out to be, and took more mental pictures of the results.

If only I had known this was to be the last time I was to see that lovely yard.

On the way to my hair appointment, about a 10 min drive away, it started to rain. I’ll admit my first thought, was Good! This will be great for all my new little flowers!

By the time I pulled up to the hair salon, it was a torrential downpour. So much so, I sat in my car, literally right outside their front door, for 10 min, waiting for it to let up enough that I could make that 5 foot or so run, and not be completely drenched.

While it did let up long enough for me to reach the door, the torrents continued for a solid hour. The roads had trenches 3 inches deep along both sides as the drains struggled to keep up with the deluge.

People’s phones kept going off in the salon with weather alerts and flash flood warnings.

I’ll admit, I was a little concerned about what was going on at my house, partly because I had left all the windows open, and a little bit about the yard.

But I checked the radar and the weather alerts, and it appeared that the storm was just missing my area. Maybe we just got a lot of rain too.

If only that were the case.

As I drove home a couple of hours later, the closer I got to my house, the worse the roads and yards around people’s houses got. In fact, about a mile from my house, there was such a pile up of slushy hail, it looked like there was about 3-4 inches of slushy snow in the road. The rest of the road was covered in inches of thick mud and sand the rushing river that had run down it during the storm had left behind.

When I pulled onto my road and rounded the corner to head up my hill, I already knew I was not going to like what I saw.

Apparently the storm not only brought torrential rain to our area, but very gusty wind, and lots of hail. While the hail was not big enough to do any damage to the cars or houses, there was so much of it, it piled up literally inches thick.

My whole yard looked like it was covered in 4 inches of snow.

And not only were all my flowers gone, and plants completely crushed or literally razed away, but the leaves and debris from the surrounding trees and that the rushing water left in my yard, made the weeds that had been having a hay day just a couple days before, look inviting.

I couldn’t even really assess the damage until this morning, when the hail all “melted”. But it was basically as bad as I assumed.

So, I am very glad that my 6+ hours of work, allowed me to enjoy my pretty summer yard for exactly 2 hours. And the good news is, I have lots more projects to fill my weekend’s for the rest of the summer now!

I also have a feeling I will be putting that “unconditional plant guarantee” to the test in the near future, so stay tuned! You know there will be a story or two to accompany that!