I Think My Dog Is Broken

My dog broke her leg a couple of weeks ago.

Maybe this doesn’t seem like it should be story worthy to most people, but it is my dog after all.

As anyone who has read any of my posts knows, we have a lot of steps in our yard. These steps are made of stone. Stone steps and ice don’t always mix that well.

Thanks to the “Colorado Cyclone” that occurred here a few weeks ago, the stone steps in my yard got very icy.

Now, I always make sure to keep the steps in my front yard, going to my front door salted and clear of ice.

Mostly, because I am accident prone enough without having any help from icy steps.

However, I do not take such great care with the steps to my back door. Which is where my dog goes out to do her business and chase her balls.

So, my best guess is when she tore out of the house and down the stairs after her ball, on this particular morning, as she is prone to do, she hit that ice and broke her ankle.

But I’m really just guessing, as I did not realize anything was wrong until she came back in the house and was one leg short on the ground.

She has come in in this 3 legged position before, usually when she has picked up a rock or one of the annoying little pine cones we have in our yard in her paw. So my first thought was to grab the leg and check for debris.

No debris.

Well, I’m sure she just stepped on something and it’ll be fine. She’ll walk it off.

And she did seem to over the rest of the afternoon.

But the next morning when I came down the stairs and looked at her leg, she had a golf ball growing on the inside of her ankle.

I used to be an ortho nurse, albeit a human one, so I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to find myself at the vet later that day.

Sure enough, that is where we ended up.

After x-rays and aspirations and palpitations, it was decided we needed to make an appointment to see the doggie orthopod the next day.

Sigh.

The next day we find ourselves at the doggie orthopod, where after more palpitations, a review of the x-rays and a CT scan, it is determined she did indeed break her ankle.

Which is how we find ourselves going home  in a hard splint and with strict instructions to keep her quiet and limit activity.

For any of you fortunate enough to have met my dog, you know that she was chasing squirrels the day the quiet gene was passed out, so quiet is not in her vocabulary.

I am already tired thinking about how fun this is going to be for the next several weeks.

When we get home, I also realize we have another problem.

Remember those steps in my yard?

Those all of a sudden become much more challenging with a broken ankle and arthritis in one of her front paws already.

I also realized that throwing my 80 pound dog on my back to get her up the stairs would probably lead to many more broken limbs.

We somehow make it, albeit slowly, up the stairs and to the door, but I realize we are going to need a better long term solution.

So I go to my life- hack partner, Amazon, to see what I can find.

Obviously, my dog is not the first one to have the combination of injury and steps, because I found this handy dandy “dog sling” that looks like the perfect solution, and quickly order it with Prime 2-day shipping.

I know I don’t need to remind you, my faithful readers, of all the fun I have with deliveries at my house, so I know you will not be surprised at all that this did not go as planned.

The package was scheduled to be delivered on Sunday with Amazon Prime shipping service. I get all the alerts that the package is out for delivery, the truck is in my area, and then that they are 5 stops away. Great!

And then I get the alert that my package has been delivered.

Hmm. That’s odd. I didn’t hear the truck or have anyone at the door.

Regardless, I go check outside the front door.

Nope.

I then open the tracking alert and see the delivery note “Handed to resident”

Imagine my surprise since I am the resident and I was not handed any package.

I call Amazon. They have no way to contact their drivers on the road (evidently cell phones are foreign concept to them) so they can’t ask him to come back and try again, or even tell me where he might have delivered it. The best they can do is re-order and re-ship in another 2 days.

Really?

I check with my immediate neighbors, but none of them were handed any package either, so I decide re-order and re-ship is my best option.

I mean it’s not like we really need this sling or anything.

Eventually, 3 days later ( I mean why would I expect it to be delivered on time this time??) it is delivered.

The same day that the person the first one was delivered to, finally decides they really should bring it to the person who actually ordered it.

At least now we have a back up sling. Which in my world, is not really a bad idea.

So, back to the dog, who, for as high strung and neurotic as she is, did a pretty good job of leaving her cast alone.

At first.

After about 6 days, however, I came down the stairs in the morning to find the top half of her cast shredded.

Which involved an emergent call to the vet and them squeezing us into their already packed Saturday schedule for a cast change.

The cast has rubbed at her ankle, so the on-call vet decides to forgo the hard cast and just put her in a soft wrap.

Which does not thrill her actual treating vet when we follow up with him 3 days later, since he really wanted her in a hard cast for at least 4 weeks.

Her swelling is going down and she seems to be doing okay in the soft cast, so he decides she can keep this regimen for the remaining 2 1/2 weeks and call it good.

Obviously, he is not well acquainted with our family.

Fast forward about 4 days later, to the next Saturday.

(Yes, just like with kids, these things always happen on a Saturday when your regular doctor is not available.)

Again, I come down the stairs in the morning (yes, I’m starting to get PTSD about that journey) and start to put on the nylon boot she has to wear over her cast before going outside, and stop.

What is that smell????

Yup, sure enough, on closer inspection, her soft cast is emitting a not very pleasant odor.

You have got to be kidding me.

Queue another call to the vet on a Saturday morning to be squeezed into their schedule.

It is about 8:45 and they want to know if I can be there before 9:30 when the vet goes into surgery for the day.

I am still in my pjs, haven’t finished my coffee, and it’s about a 20 minute drive. Not to mention the additional time it takes to get down the steps and in the car with the doggie sling now.

Sure, no problem. I’ll be there.

So, off we go again. I am considering asking them if we can just take up residence in one of the kennels for the next couple weeks.

This time, after taking the princess to the back for the bandage change, she and the vet come trotting back, this time with no bandage whatsoever on her leg.

I’m sure this is not in line with the treatment plan.

“So, it appears that she peed on her cast, and now has a “pee burn” on her ankle,(sure enough, there’s a good size sore on the front of her ankle)  so I can’t replace her cast”

Only my dog found a way to pee on her cast. Better yet, she found a way to pee on her cast while it was in the nylon boot that was always on when she was outside.

Gotta give her points for style.

We head home again with strict instructions that she needs to stay quiet since she is now without a cast, walking on an ankle that is still broken.

I decide not to review the fact that she missed the quiet gene, but do consider asking if they’ll just send her home and keep me in the kennel at least.

Or can they send me home with enough sedative to last the next 2 weeks? Whether that will go to the dog or me I can figure out later.

Today we were back for the follow up with our regular guy again. I was prepared for his eye rolling. And he literally threw his treatment plan in the trash while we were there.

At least he’s learning that the best laid plans rarely go as planned in our house.

And we are still without a cast until the custom made brace he had ordered to help her transition back to activity  (2 weeks from now when the cast was supposed to have come off) comes in.

Maybe we’ll have better luck with that.

 

 

Things Seem a Bit Foggy…

This week was a quick trip to Salt Lake City for dinner with a client.

At first I was excited, because I can actually get a quick direct flight from right here in COS without having to drive all the way to Denver!

Alas, when I looked at my two daily options, one put me into SLC way too early for my 6pm dinner, and one put me in too late.

But I wasn’t really in favor of spending 1/4 of my exactly 24 hour round trip on the road back and forth to Denver.

So instead I booked connecting flights with my dear friends on United out of COS. I did make sure the connections were in Denver, however, just in case my United friends continued their near perfect streak of travel issues. At least I would be within driving distance of home.

My trip to SLC was relatively uneventful. My super long 17 minute flight from Colorado Springs to Denver was a little bumpy, but who had time to really care.

I had just enough time on my 50 min layover to get some water and be ready for boarding.

My actual time in SLC, while with very few hours actually awake, was pretty nice. It was a beautiful evening in the bowl, and a pleasant dinner with good company.

I set my alarm before drifting off for 6am to make sure I had time to get to the airport and get the ever important coffee, before my 8:25am flight.

Except.

Having got my coffee, and starting to become pleasantly awake, I walk up to my gate just in time to hear them announce that we are on a “ground hold” from Denver flight control, due to “freezing fog” in Denver.

Wait. What?

Freezing fog? Is that really a thing?

I have traveled a lot for a lot of years. How have I never heard of frozen fog at any other time, on any other trip? Not to mention my slightly more than a few years on this planet. I’m quite sure I have never heard of freezing fog at any point during this time.

I make a note to consult with my super smart 3rd grade friend, Christopher, who I happen to know, through his mom, is studying weather.

They continue to say that at that point, the delay is only set for 30 min, and everyone should be good on their connections, so I decide to finish enjoying my coffee.

As the coffee continues to clear the un-frozen fog in my brain, however, I realize I am hearing the ongoing boarding announcements for the Delta flight to Denver, that is also scheduled to leave at 8:25.

Something is wrong with this picture. Both flights are heading to Denver?

Check.

Both are scheduled to leave at 8:25?

Check.

But somehow, the Delta flight is actually boarding and not delayed, while us lucky United passengers are sitting here at the gate and at least 30 min delayed.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I decide not to get too worked up yet. Maybe the Delta crew just haven’t gotten the message, and all those people will actually just sit on the plane during their ground hold, instead of in the slightly more comfortable terminal.

But I just continue to watch as the Delta plane is loaded, the doors closed, and it pushes off the gate.

Sure enough, it takes off merrily on it’s way to Denver as planned.

What kind of weather is this that only affects one airline and not another?!?

I bite my tongue, and take a deep breath, and decide as long as we leave at 9 and my connection is intact, all will be well in the end.

But of course we don’t.

At 9, instead of coming on to announce we will be starting the boarding process, they come on to announce that we are now on another delay for at least another hour, because instead of the Denver fog un-freezing, it is actually getting more frozen. And now I will definitely miss my connection

Now I can’t help myself. I must inquire.

So I walk up to my United agents and ask if they can explain what I obviously missed in 3rd grade weather, about this frozen fog that can affect one airline and not another.

Of course they missed that day in 3rd grade too, and have no answer for me, except that since United has the largest fleet, they are often the most affected by weather issues.

But not to worry! They have already rebooked my connection to the 3:45pm flight to COS.

I literally can not form a response to this, despite being fully loaded with coffee, except to  give them my tilted head, scrunched up eye look.

I take another deep breath and decide continuing the conversation is going to be pointless, so instead I head back to my seat, while I pull up the Delta app on my phone. Sure enough, their 8:25 flight is en route to Denver and still on track to touch down in about 20 minutes time. I also see that they have another flight heading to Denver at 9:59, that is also, miraculously, showing on time.

So I make my way over to the Delta desk directly across the terminal from my United desk.

“I was just curious, if this was accurate, and if your 8:25 flight actually took off to Denver with no issues?”

“Yes”

“And your 9:59 flight is still on time and not delayed?”

“Um, yes I think so. Let me check. Yes. It’s on time”

“Hmmm. I’m just a little confused, because I’m on that United flight right there, that was also supposed to take off at 8:25 to Denver, but was delayed due to weather. So, I’m not really sure how the weather isn’t affecting your planes”

“Yeah, I heard those announcements, and I was wondering what that was about.” Then she looks at me. “But, um, sometimes, it’s the type of aircraft that is affected or not”

I just give her my “I don’t really know what to say to that” look and move on.

“Ok, so are there any seats still left on your 9:59 flight?”

She consults her computer. “It looks like there are 4 seats left”

“Great, thanks! I’ll be right back”

I turn and walk back across the hall to my United friends, wait for them to finish finding solutions for the other un-connected passengers, and when it is finally my turn, I ask them to push my ticket to Delta, so I can travel with an airline that appears impervious to weather.

“But that will only get you to Denver. You won’t have your connection to Colorado Springs”

“I’m pretty sure I can manage” is all I say. I don’t say that even if the United flight did manage to take off at 10, I wasn’t exactly planning on sitting around DIA until 4pm waiting for a 17 min flight.

To the agents credit, he pushed the ticket to Delta without much more to-do, except to say that he has never really been able to figure out the way they manage weather delays either. I just give him a smile, thank him for my Delta voucher, and head to my Delta gate to check in.

5 min later, I have a boarding pass, and another 5 min after, we are actually boarding the plane. While the United crew is still sitting at their gate.

Besides being a bit more bumpy than normal upon approach to DIA, our hour long flight flew by, and I land to what appears to be a sunny, 45 degree day in Denver.

I hop on the train to the main terminal, call an Uber as I ride up the escalator, and walk out to Arie waiting for me at the curb.

Arie is a tiny Asian grandpa, who seems genuinely excited when he sees he has to drive me to Colorado Springs. I assume it’s the triple digit fare that helps with this.

As soon as we leave the airport, Arie literally drives his Prius like there are monsters chasing us, and we make it from DIA to COS airport in an hour and 30 min flat. That might actually be a record, even for me, who has had a speeding ticket or two.  I could take driving lessons from Arie, I think.

And at 3:45 I had had my lunch, unpacked and was sitting comfortably in my house.

Cats aren’t the Only Ones with 9 lives

I almost died this week.

You’re probably wondering how I can be emotionally recovered enough to be writing about that, just a day or two later. But the truth is, this is not my first near death experience.

I seem to have regular, periodic episodes that allow me to evaluate my life as it flashes before my eyes and see how I’m doing so far.

Some of these episodes may, admittedly,  be of my own doing. I seem to have this occasional cerebral hiccup that  allows me to believe my skills and abilities are far above where they are in reality. Some are due to the choices of others or the Fates. Either way, they do manage to keep life exciting.

Like the time I was trampled by a horse.

Or the time I was hit by a car.

Or that time I almost rolled backwards over the edge of Pikes Peak. Good times!

Or that one time I tried CrossFit. (Seriously people. Who invented that torture??)

I also know that my frequent traveling increases my potential for danger. While I understand that flying is stastically safer than driving in my car, let’s face it. When you’re hurtling through the air at hundreds of miles per hour, thousands of feet off the ground, it doesn’t take much to throw things off.

Even with that delicate balance, in all the hundreds of flights I have taken in the past few years, I have never been in danger, and have escaped with nary a scratch (if we don’t count the head injuries from the monstrous backpacks people carry).

I’m afraid I can’t say the same about the airports, however.

Like the time that the escalator handrail decided to eat my sweater, that I happened to be wearing at the time. The handrail tried to pull my sweater back down, as the rest of me continued to follow the step under my feet up.

That could have ended badly.

Or the time that I nearly got crushed by the automatic train door. I barely escaped, but my bag wasn’t so lucky,

The airport was the scene for this week’s near death encounter too.

For any of you unfamiliar with the Denver airport, to get from any of the terminals to the main terminal, you have to take a train. And to get to this train you have to go down a set of escalators.

There is one escalator that takes you halfway down, then you make a U-turn to get on the second escalator that will take you to the bottom.

This means the second escalator is slightly offset and below the top one. This will be important in a second.

I had successfully made it down the first escalator, made my U- turn, and was about halfway down the second, when the incident occurred.

Someone who was still on the top escalator- and who evidently skipped or slept through the day momentum and gravity and falling objects was explained in physics class- either failed to see the need to secure their metal water bottle to their bag or their person, or decided that was a good time to juggle this metal water bottle and missed the grab.

The water bottle took a swan dive over the side of the top escalator and arced through the air to miss my head by inches, and land on the step right behind me on the bottom escalator.

Did I mention this water bottle was metal?

So when it failed to give me a much more serious head injury than any I’ve received from gargantuan backbacks, it nearly succeeded in taking me out with a heart attack at the sound of metal hitting metal right behind me.

At least, had it succeeded in ending my life, I would have been glad I hadn’t seen it coming.

I retrieved the water bottle, and had a very educational lesson on physics ready to deliver to the owner when they retrieved it at the bottom. However, the owner decided they weren’t interested in either the lecture or the water bottle, and never came forward.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to try to make sure I get all I can out of the few lives I have remaining.

 

 

 

 

 

Escape Room: Bathroom Edition

Thanks to my last trip of the year delivering on the story front, here’s an early Christmas gift for all of you.

Last night I was in Sioux Falls to close out one part of the projects we have been working on there. To celebrate we went out for a team dinner and a little pre-holiday cheer.

One of our team mates found a super cool, rehabbed warehouse with a craft fair/market type decor for us to patron.
Since we were a larger group, they sat us in their basement area with one other larger group.

Shortly after we sat down, I decided to visit the lady’s room before we got too far into the wine drinking and noshing. I scoped out the downstairs dining room, and in the back corner I spied a heavy-duty metal door, that looked like an outdoor exit door, but that clearly had a “restroom” sign over it.

So off to the far back corner I headed.

I pushed open the door and found myself in another industrial type area that was like a cross of a church basement and outside alleyway on the inside.

Interesting.

I immediately found the men’s room just to the right, but didn’t see a women’s room anywhere in the vicinity. There was an open area just past the men’s room, and several hallways going in multiple directions. I walked around the open area, peeked down the closest hallways, and tried a couple of doors, but didn’t find anything that appeared to be a women’s room.

Since there didn’t seem to be any other human being in sight, and the men’s room was a single-seater, I decided that bathroom had just become unisex, and would do just fine for what I needed.

So I locked myself in, completed my to-do’s, and prepared to head back to join my group.

Except when I pulled on the door I came through, it didn’t move.

Huh.

I did a quick look around to make sure this was the door I came through, and there wasn’t another twin somewhere nearby.

Nope. This was the door.

I pulled again, thinking maybe I just needed to apply a little more muscle.

Nothing. This door was clearly locked.

Did this fun, funky, warehouse/market restaurant throw in a free escape room experience to the first lucky guest who decided to use the restroom?

I mean, I guess that could be cool, but having not been prepared for this, I wasn’t sure that was how I wanted to spend my evening.

I quickly considered calling my crew and asking someone to rescue me. But contrary to current culture of having your phone permanently affixed to one of your appendages, I actually don’t bring my phone to the bathroom with me on a regular basis. One, because I don’t think any restroom activity needs to be recorded for posterity or social media sharing. And two, I don’t feel the need to discuss holiday plans, dinner recipes or any other vital life matters in the echoing confines of a bathroom stall.

So I had no way to contact anyone on the other side of that door.

Then I spent a few minutes wondering how long it would take for my group to realize I was gone and come looking for me. As much as I like to think I am an essential component of any party or good time, and that my incredible wit and captivating conversational skills are key to any get together, I quickly realized that the entire meal could be completed and it may not be until everyone was looking to depart back to the hotel that they realized their driver was missing.

Well. I guess it was up to me to find a way out of this unexpected situation.

Luckily, I had just watched the new Lara Croft, Tomb Raider on the plane the week before, so I felt well prepared to tackle this challenge!

First, I gave the door one more good shake, jiggling it on its hinges as much as possible. You know, just in case the industrial lock on it was defective and I could pop it by sheer force.

I know you are as shocked as I was that that didn’t work.

So I turned to survey my surroundings.

I know this building used to be some sort of warehouse, and we are in the basement, so I decide, logically, that there may at least be some sort of outside exit down here somewhere. If I could at least get outside, I was sure I could find my way back to the front entrance.

I also know that the staircase we came down, and the front entrance, were to the right of where I was standing now.

So I decide to start with the hallway furthest to the right.

At the very least I’m hoping I’ll find a fire alarm I can pull and invite lots of people to my little escape adventure.

I walk past the men’s room, into that open, rec room type area, and head towards the hall on the right.

Just a couple of steps down the hall, there is a door labeled “Public Staircase” on the left. I pause in front of the door to consider this option. At the very least it looks like it could lead outside. Provided it isn’t locked.

I am just about to test it, when I clearly hear the sounds of people dining and restaurant white noise coming from further down the hall.

I decide to go a little further, on the off-chance there is access back to the restaurant.

I walk literally about 5 more steps, where the hall takes another little jog to the right, and sure enough, a pair of swinging double doors appear in front of me.

The door on the right is propped open, through which I can clearly see wait staff trekking back and forth and further in the distance, a table full of diners.

Wait. What?

How did I miss the part where I got to use my shirt as a makeshift tourniquet? Or use my hair pin to secure a jungle vine so I could swing across the big ravine? Or where I cling by my fingernails to a sheer cliff while the ground beneath me tilts and disintegrates?

Did I really watch the Lara Croft training video for nothing??

Because here I was at an exit, less than 50 feet and one right turn from where I started.

I let the restaurant know in my Yelp review that their escape room experience could use some work. But the food got rave reviews.

 

 

 

Flight of the Bumble-Hornet

I know I have been remiss in writing in a while. I could offer you up a bunch of excuses, but I hope this story will be enough for you to forgive me.

Most of you know that I live in an area where up close encounters with our wildlife  can happen often. I’m sure we will all remember what happened when a bat decided to come and pay a visit.

This story involves yet another winged critter.

A few weeks ago, I decided to enjoy one of our few and last beautiful fall days, and spend some time reading on my deck.

(What happened to fall BTW?? Did it forget it is supposed to make an appearance between summer and winter??)

Anyway, back to the deck.

I am an avid reader. And like any avid reader of the 21st century, especially one who travels frequently, my library is conveniently stored on my easily packable iPad.

So I am sitting on my deck, reading my book, on my iPad.

When a hornet decides it really likes something about my hair in this particular moment, and takes up doing laps around my ears.

I absent-mindedly try to flick him away a few times, but he is having none of it, and quickly resumes his laps.

We have a special name in our house for hornets, thanks to my dog, who loves gobbling them up in mid-air, like they are the tastiest snacks ever offered.

So we call them Scooby Snacks.

However, on this particular day, my trusty canine companion is more interested in working on her tan, then feasting on Scooby Snacks. Despite my cries for help, she refuses to come to my rescue, so I am left to fight on my own.

I make a few more vigorous attempts to encourage this pesky winged bugger to find another arena to continue his workout, but he refuses to leave.

So I put my iPad on the arm of my chair, and jump up to confront my foe face to face.

And give my iPad just enough of nudge with my thigh as I get up to knock it off the chair to the floor.

Where it slides under the deck rail. And falls the 10 feet to the walk below.

I had been considerate enough to leave my case open, and it was considerate enough to fall face up, so I could watch my screen shatter on impact from my perch 10 ft above.

Sigh.

I go down and rescue my iPad- which is miraculously still working- not that it matters much, since I can’t see anything through the millions of fine lines criss-crossing my screen.

Immediately my thoughts go to the fact that I am leaving the next day for a 2 day work trip, followed immediately by a trip to California to meet a friend for the weekend. Which meant a lot of plane time. And a lot of reading time. Which was going to be hard to do with my shattered library.

Luckily, I had purchased the protection plan when I bought this iPad a mere 5 months prior, because I have lived with myself long enough to know this protection would come in handy, with or without the help of hornets.

So I head out to the big box store that supposedly offers the Best place to Buy electronics and the like, and where I had purchased my iPad and this protection plan.

After waiting in line to talk to one of the Geeks behind the counter, I am informed that even though they sell iPads and the protection plans, they actually do not honor or provide any service when this protection is actually needed. They don’t even offer replacement on these insured products.

To take advantage of this protection, I would actually have to go to our local Apple store.

Now, I don’t know what it is like at your local Apple store, but I have been to ours enough times to know that this is never an “in and out” excursion. In fact you can pretty much plan on sacrificing hours and hours of your life that you will never get back, waiting for assistance at the big store of the Fruit.

I am not happy about this change to my afternoon plans.

I log onto my handy-dandy Apple app, in the hopes of making an appointment and minimizing my wasted time.

Only to find that the next available appointment is Friday afternoon.

It is currently Saturday afternoon. I will be in California by Friday.

This is less than ideal.

I call the Apple store, in the hopes they will take pity on me with my sad tale and find a way to work me in.

Not only does the phone ring endlessly, until I am finally punted over to the national Apple hotline, when this agent attempts to call the local store for me, even she has to wait approximately 30 minutes to get through.
And the manager she speaks with basically laughs at her when she asks about the possibility of getting me in that day.

It is about 4:30 in the afternoon. The store is open until 9. Yet the manager tells us they are basically sending people away because they are on a 5 hour wait for a service appointment.

I guess I’m glad I called before I drove all the way up there.

I am told my “best” option is to show up 30 min prior to store opening the following day, wait in line until they open, and hope that I am one of the first ones there so I can be first on their walk in list.

All for them to literally take my busted iPad and hand me a new one.

What happened to the good old days when you could walk in, grab the product off the shelves and walk up to the counter to complete the transaction??

While I begged to disagree about this being any sort of “best” option, I realized my options were greatly limited if I wanted my mobile library to accompany me on my trip.

So guess where I found myself at 10:30 the next morning?

That’s right.

Standing in line outside the Fruit store.

Luckily, I was the second one in line. The guy in front of me had longer legs and walked from his car one step faster than I walked from mine. He may not have known we were racing, but I did.

I was amazed that in that 30 minutes, the line grew to 50+ people behind me.

I guess I’m not the only one who needs to purchase those protection plans.

I will say that the Fruit vendors were very efficient and I was in the door and with a tech at 11 sharp and out the door with my new iPad at 11:30.

So when I headed out later that day, I did so with my library on my back. Despite the Scooby Snacks best efforts.

Lost In Paradise

We just got back from an amazing week on the beaches in Belize. One of those vacations that you don’t want to end. Sun, sand and sea. Can’t think of a much better combo.

But of course, even Paradise has stories.

On our first full day, after spending the morning soaking up as many sun rays as possible, we decided to take the paddle boards out for a spin. We get the paddle boards in the water, get on our feet and start slowly paddling out to sea. We had just cleared the end of the pier, enjoying the starfish the size of dinner plates hanging out on the bottom of the ocean, when yours truly tries to adjust her footing…. and promptly loses her balance and finds herself swimming with the starfish.

I break the surface, flailing like a fish out of water, recover my paddle board, finish hacking half the Pacific out of lungs and start towing my board back in so I can get back on top of it, since the view was better than from underneath.

I go a couple feet when I realize my sunglasses, that I had just pushed up on my head prior to deciding to take a swim, are no longer there.

Of course.

I do a quick look around to see if any of those starfish are sporting a new pair of shades, but no luck.

J-man, who was still comfortably on his board starts paddling around in circles close to where I tumbled to see if he can locate them. Even with the crystal clear water he wasn’t having much luck, so I towed my board back to shore,  grabbed a snorkel mask instead and decided to extend my swim and see if I could enjoy some tropical fish who hopefully had found my glasses.

Finally, after about 10 minutes, of J-man scouting from his perch, and me swimming around with my face in the water, he finally located them.

And patiently paddled in place until I decided to come up from below and could actually hear him trying to tell me that I was heading in the wrong direction and the sunglasses were right in front of him.

The important thing is the sunglasses were rescued.

Fast forward to our last evening on the island. We walked back to our cabana after dinner, which was the very last one on the end of the island.

Believe me when I tell you that it gets dark on the island at night. Which is great for watching the stars from the hammock. But not so great for what was coming next.

The wind had been picking up through dinner and we were watching lightening over the water on our walk back, so I decided I would collect all our various swim gear and towels we had hanging out on the deck to dry.

I collect everything hanging in various places, and realize half of one of my bathing suits was missing.

Luckily, using the flashlight on my phone, I quickly find it. Bobbing in place in the water, about 10 feet from our cabana.

We have an overwater cabana, with a ladder directly into the water.

Except the bathing suit is bobbing on the “bad side” of the cabana. Remember I said we were on the end? One side was clearer and swimmable.

The other side was seaweed laden and not so clear.

And it is dark.

But the suit is bobbing not too far from shore, and J-man is like “you can totally just wade out and get it.”

But I can’t see without my flashlight.

So I decide to wade out with my phone in my hand and try to reach it.

I make my way down to the edge of the water, where there is a water break I have to climb over with lots of seaweed jammed up against it.

I take one step over the water break and into the water,

And sink up to my knees in muck.

It literally sucked one of my flip flops off my foot (thank goodness I hadn’t taken those off) and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to extract the other from the salty quicksand.

As I’m trying to extract my one foot without putting my other back in the muck and not losing my balance and dropping my phone in, my child is laughing from the deck.

Very helpful.

I finally get free of the sink hole and safely back on shore.

Justin says “Just go around the other side and wade under the cabana to it”

Except it’s dark. And I’m definitely not doing that with my phone in hand. I’m not real keen on going for a night swim and  running into one of the stingrays, nurse sharks or barracuda’s  we’ve been sharing the water with, when I can’t see a thing.

I didn’t like that bathing suit that much anyway.

And now I am covered from toe to hip in nasty, black muck.

So much for bed, I need a decontaminator.

I finally go to bed, assuming my bathing suit bottom with peacefully float out to sea over night to it’s forever resting place.

Except it doesn’t.

It’s still bobbing there in the morning.

I can’t just leave it there to be the welcoming sight to the next guest walking up the ramp to their cabana.

And if I don’t retrieve it, that means one of the workers is going to have to.

And although they are probably much better equipped with long poles and the such, my conscience gets the better of me and I find myself ready to wade back in.

The good news is, Justin was right. It was relatively easy going in from the other side and wading under the cabana.

Especially in the daylight, when I could watch for predators.

The good news is the bathing suit bottom was rescued.

And I leave the island with everything I arrived with.

And a great tan.

 

Shrimp on the Barbie?

Is there a better summer tradition than cooking outside on a beautiful summer day and enjoying your dinner in the open air?

This lovely summer tradition becomes even more lovely when it’s 90+ degrees outside, and turning on your oven turns your kitchen into a sauna.

My tank of a grill started dying at the end of last year, after many years of loyal service, and a couple of weekends ago, it became evident that it was time to trade up to that shiny new model.

However, for those of you who know where I live, I had two strict requirements in buying this new model:

  1. It must be delivered. I live on a hill and have 28 steps and probably 100 ft up from the street to my front door.
  2. It needed to include assembly. Ok, that one is really just because I’m lazy and would rather be drinking wine then spending 4+ hours putting a grill together.

So after shopping around, I found a grill that met both criteria. They would ship it to my house, and were running a special that included FREE assembly.

SCORE!

The order was placed, the grill was en route and the assembly crew were standing by to get to work.

Time for me to kick back with that wine.

Except. Of course it can’t be that easy.

It starts with the assembly crew texting and asking if there is anyway they can come a day earlier because they are already here, and don’t want to drive back down from Denver again the next day.

Fair enough.

But I don’t actually have the grill yet. It is due to be delivered that day. And I am usually on the end of the delivery route (probably because of those 28 steps) and often don’t see the delivery guys until 8pm or later.

The assembly crew says they’ll “kill some time” until about 7:30 in the hopes that it will show up prior to that.

Ok. I’m not going to complain about having my grill assembled 12 hours early.

7:15, and the crew are texting again. Any sign of the grill?  They are going to run out of daylight.

Nope. Nada.

7:28 and the big brown truck rounds the corner and starts up the hill.

How’s that for timing?! I text the crew and let them know we came in just under the deadline, and they are on the road, heading my way, before the text has time to finish loading.

Now. I have lived on my hill for over a year now. And I do a lot of online shopping. So I have had lots of experience with these delivery guys getting very creative in finding any excuse to not carry even a 5 pound package up to my front door.

And this grill is slightly more than 5 pounds.

So I venture out to my deck, just in case my fill in delivery guy decides he really would rather not get his workout in for the day.

Sure enough, he’s backing his truck right up to my garage. Clearly with the idea of dumping the box there and hightailing it home to his couch and his (I’m sure) well deserved beer.

He throws open the back door and looks up to see me watching from the deck.

Let me just segue for a second here, to say that I MAY  have had a conversation or two with the Boys in Brown and their supervisors about the need to actually deliver my packages to my front door.

So I am fairly well known around the Big Brown House.

I am quite sure they have a large picture of my smiling face in their break room .

Whether or not it has a dart or several hanging from it, is still up to debate.

Regardless, this particular driver was ready with his excuse as soon as he saw me.

“This is a big box! There’s no way I’m going to be able to get that up to you!”

Smile. “I thought that might be the case, so I came out to see if you needed help getting up here”

He blinks up at me. He obviously wasn’t prepared for that.

“Do you have someone up there that can help me carry it up?”

Now it’s my turn to blink at him, while I decide how best to respond to that one.

I decide to stick with the “catch more flies with honey” approach:

Smile. “Yeah.can help you.”

The blinking lasts several more seconds this time. Obviously this option had never occurred to him.

“Um. This thing weighs 130 pounds. That’s as much as I weigh. I’m not sure we’ll be able to manage that,” as he glances back and forth from the box to me.

That honey is getting thicker by the minute and the smile is frozen on my face.

“Let me get my shoes on. I think we can handle it. I’ll be right down”

I meet him at the back of the truck where he seems slightly less than excited to see me.

And on top of that, the box literally looks like it has survived a game of Russian Roulette. Barely.  The top is literally flapping open, one whole corner is missing, and the rest of it is barely holding together.

“What on earth happened to the box?”

“Yeah, I’m not sure. I didn’t load it on the truck this morning. It has been riding around in the back all day… ” He fades off in trying to find an explanation as he tries to worry the start to a roll of packing tape. Obviously in the hopes of binding it up enough to survive the trek up the hill .

In hind sight, that would probably have been the time to inspect the innards of the box.

But I was still stuck in his lack of confidence, so I overlooked that obvious option.

He gets it bound up, pushes it to the edge of truck, where I balance it while he jumps out.

He gives it one last try; “Are you sure about this?”

“Yup. We’ve got this. I’m tougher than I look”  (who knew I’d have a career in cheerleading after all?)

We grab the box between us and head toward the stairs.

Guess who gets stuck going backwards, up the stairs?

Yup. Your’s truly. Balancing my half of the 130 pounds, while I am looking down and behind me to make sure I hit all 28 of the steps. Which, by the way, aren’t all just up in a straight line.

But we make it.

Piece of cake.

At least he had the decency to be a little impressed.

“You’re stronger than I thought”

Smile. “Well why else go to the gym but for moments like these…”

So we drop the box at the front door, and 10 minutes later, the assembly crew join it there. Smooth sailing from here on out…

If only.

They  tell me it should take them about 30 min, and start unpacking the box.

2 minutes later they are knocking on the door.

I go out to have them holding up the base of the grill with one very large dent along the back edge.

“We can go ahead and put it together if you want, and you can call the company to send you a replacement part, then we can came back and swap it out at no charge. Up to you”

I just had my weeks workout in 10 min. Wine is calling my name.

“Sure. Just go ahead. I’ll call them.”

Great.

No sooner had I closed the door, than they were knocking again.

This time they had several bent and dented pieces to show me. Along with a completely broken off hinge on the lid.

“We can’t even put this together like this”

I mean. I only have myself to blame. What did I expect from a box like that?

So there sits my grill. In front of my front door. In it’s broken and taped up box.

Waiting for the Boys in Brown to return and make the trek back down the hill. With me balancing my half of the 130 pounds, I’m sure…

 

 

 

 

 

Email 101

I was glad to discover, this past week, that story collection seems to run in the family! The following story was courtesy of my kiddo, who was nice enough to illustrate the importance of passing Email 101 early in your college career….

I had been out running a few errands over my lunch, and was just climbing the steps back to the house, when my child comes rushing out the front door and down the steps to his car.

“Hi! Bye! Wish me luck!” he yells back over his shoulder as he runs past me.

“Are we running a little late?” (Hey, I’m a mom. It’s what we do)

“Just want to have 10 minutes to look over my notes again when I get there.” Last minute cramming is such a beautiful thing.

“Good luck!”

Less than an hour later, I am at my desk doing some work, when the front door opens and my child walks back in. Since it’s 20 min to school and back, the math isn’t really adding up to have squeezed a whole test in there too.

“That was an awful quick test!” I say.

“Easiest test I ever took!” with a laugh.

I give him my puzzled, “what’s up?” face.

“Picture the scene” he says, with a swoop of his arms, in true dramatic fashion. (He’s my kid, what can I say?)

“So, I show up about 10 min early, and open the door to the classroom. It’s dead quiet, so I think,

oh good! He must have let everyone start early.’

I turn the corner, and see the room is empty. Not a single person there. So now I’m panicked!

oh crap, oh crap, oh crap! He changed the room!’

I pull out my phone and quickly check my email for where they moved the test.

And see this email from my instructor:

TEST MOVED TO TUESDAY AFTER SPRING BREAK

I look at him and hold back my laugh to say,

“Huh. And when did he send that email?”

“Yesterday afternoon”

“Guess it might be helpful to check your email more often, huh?”

“I check it like twice a week” Like, duh.

I just smile at him.

“And now I just wasted the whole morning studying!”

I do laugh this time.

But deep down inside, my heart is warm with the knowledge that I have passed on the important trait of collecting stories, and he is well on his way to carrying the torch of keeping the stories alive, long after I am gone!

 

When Murphy’s Law kicks your butt….

It all started with static cling.

I should have known when my dress was clinging to my tights before I even left the hotel room- despite a vigorous application of Static Guard- what kind of day this was going to be .

I probably should have just curled back up in the hotel bed and  decided to skip the day.

But I didn’t.

I foolishly ignored the signs and ventured out into the world.

And Murphy laughed and said “Game on!”

I got as far as the parking lot before he fired his first shot.

I popped the trunk on my rental car, threw my bags in, and closed the trunk.

Only to hear those 3 little horn honks that say “you just did something really dumb”

As soon as I heard them, I knew exactly what that dumb thing was. I had just shut my car key in the trunk. I tried the trunk release button over the license plate, only to hear the same 3 honks letting me know that wasn’t going to work with the key inside.

No big deal. At least I had been smart enough to unlock the car before I did that. So I just had to go inside and pop the trunk with the release button.

But here’s a fun fact!  The new Chevy Malibu does not have a trunk release button on the interior of it’s vehicle. For some unknown reason, the designers of the new Malibu-quite likely in the hopes of being perceived as innovative and cutting edge- decided there was no need for an interior trunk release button.

I know this because after I spent many minutes searching for one ( and fearing that I may not be as smart as I thought), I actually googled “where to find the trunk release in a Chevy Malibu”.  Only to have Google tell me there isn’t one.

Huh.

Well, that’s fine. I’ll just climb in the back and pull down one of the seats, or at the very least, the cup holder arm rest in the center. There is always at least a hole to the trunk there, and I can just reach in and grab my bag and rescue my key.

I know you can see where this is going.

Evidently, the Malibu engineers felt there was absolutely no reason anyone would ever need access to the trunk from inside the vehicle. And Google confirmed, that indeed, the only access to the trunk was through the key fob.

Which can’t be accessed if it is in the trunk.

Google does have some stories of other unfortunate souls, who obviously had also challenged good old Murphy to a duel, and they had been successful in retrieving their keys by contacting OnStar.

So I climbed back into the car and pushed the handy OnStar button.

But of course I do not own the vehicle I am sitting in, so my friendly OnStar tech had no way of knowing that I was actually the owner of the bag I say I am trying to access in the trunk and not some nefarious character trying to purloin someone else’s wallet.

So they have to contact the car rental agency, which takes a very long time to accomplish.

We finally have three people on the phone trying to work this out, and the car rental person is telling me that the only option we have is for them to send a tow truck, since the keys are locked in the car and we can’t get in: I am explaining that key is actually locked in the trunk, and that I am actually in the car at that moment: and then she is saying there is no way to pop the trunk: when all of a sudden I hear the trunk pop.

I think the OnStar tech took pity on me.

I quickly thank the rental car rep, tell her I’m good to go, and jump out and rescue my key.

The day can go on!! Take that Murphy!

I’m only a few minutes late for my meeting, the meeting goes off without a hitch as does my two hour drive back to the airport.

I’m thinking Murphy was so impressed with my ingenuity that he has moved on.

Then I get to the airport.

I go up to the desk to check in and inquire if there is any way to get on the earlier connecting flight out of Chicago. The ticket agent actually laughs and says everything is completely sold out due to fog in Chicago earlier that morning that has wreaked havoc on the flight schedules.

No big deal. I check in for my original flight, check my bag and head to security.

I make it through security and head into the gift shop to get a water and a snack. I’m just checking out, when my phone dings with an alert.

My flight to Chicago has just been cancelled.

Since I already know that all the other flights are already sold out, I jump on the phone with our company travel agents and they scour every airline for any available seats.

They find only one seat that will get me home before Sunday. And it costs roughly as much as a semester of college.

But I have no choice, as I HAVE to be home the next morning to continue my fight with the insurance company from having been hit by a car on my bike nearly two years ago.

(Oh, have I not told you that story yet??)

They book the seat, and I go back out to check in to have them retrieve my bag (because of course this is one of those times I had checked a bag). There are lines a mile long at every customer service counter, the baggage claim office and the check in counter, and as I join this line I am seriously concerned that by the time my bag is radioed for and retrieved, I will miss my other flight.

After nearly 30 min, I get within one person of the front and take a chance. I tell the guy in front of me, that I have already been re-booked on another flight, and I promised not to steal his seat, but that I just needed them to get my bag back so I could make my new flight.

Luckily he was a kind individual and let me go first.

They radio for my bag, and unbelievably my bag appears at baggage claim in a record 10 min.

I am rechecked in, back through security and at my new gate with time to spare.

I never thought I would say United saved the day.

I make it to Houston, change terminals and board my plane to Denver without further incident.

I land in Denver 3 hours later than planned, but it looks like I’ll make it home without further incident.

Until I look at my phone.

I have a little weather alert that notifies me there are currently “light snow showers” in Denver.

Huh. I had been looking at the weather and it was 60 degrees earlier in the day without even the slightest hint of snow mentioned in the forecast.

Like any good Coloradan, however, I know we can go from summer to winter in 3 hours or less without any warning, and I am not too worried about “snow showers”, so I think nothing of it.

I collect my bag (which despite the bright orange “Star Priority” tag on it, and the small fortune I paid for my seat, which should have ensured it was one of the first bags off the plane, is nearly the last- of course!), get to my car and head out on the long drive home.

It may, indeed, have been snow showers for the first few minutes, but those “showers” quickly turned into a full on blizzard which is making it very challenging to see 3 feet in front of you.

Murphy is having himself a good laugh by now I am sure.

The weather and the roads only get worse the further I drive, until you can no longer tell where the lanes on the road are because we are driving through at least 4 inches of snow on the highway.

Let me just take a minute to say, we have not had any winter in Colorado until the past two weeks, so I would assume the snow plow drivers would be happy for some work and working overtime to keep our roads clear. However, the only plow I saw in the entire drive from Denver, was one that was plowing the frontage road that runs beside the highway ( and where there were no cars driving) , but not the highway itself. I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this in some alternate universe.

Thankfully, I make it home safely, despite passing several accidents, cars off the road, and one that is up on it’s side and blocking the lanes of traffic.

I crawl into bed just before midnight, and hope that I have survived my Murphy’s Law day and he will move on to more worthy opponents tomorrow.

Ticket to Ride

I just returned from a visit to our Nations capital and a visit with all my colleagues. I was very grateful that they ordered in some warmer temps prior to my arrival than they had been experiencing recently.

On Wednesday night we were lucky enough to attend a team building event at the Capital One Arena and watch, what I was told, was an exciting game of basketball between the Jazz and the Wizards.  I will admit that I may have spent more time eating and socializing than actually watching the game, but since the scoreboard read 74-74 the one time I did look at it, I’ll take their word for it.

Standing in front of the arena waiting for an Uber after the game, I couldn’t help remember the other wonderful Uber adventures I’ve had in our fair capital. (Remember my driver who drove in circles and confused the airport with Arlington National Cemetery? Good times).

While this Uber ride turned out to be relatively uneventful, I wasn’t so lucky on my previous trip to DC a  couple months ago.

We had gone to see a Nationals game as a team on that particular trip, and, as you can imagine, there were quite a number of people pouring out of the stadium and requesting Ubers after the game.

There are also multiple gates leading out of the stadium and onto many, very different streets around the stadium.

And if you are from out of town, you may or may not be aware that there is an Uber “pick up spot” outside one of these gates.

The group I was with fell into the may not camp.

So we filed out of the gate nearest our seats, divided into two groups, and took off to the nearest corner, to request an Uber using the cross streets over our head.  One group went one way, and myself and my new boss went the opposite.

We requested our Uber and proceeded to watch it’s progress on it’s way to find us. I think the original ETA was about 5 min. However, as we continue to watch the progress, we begin to notice that the Uber seemed to be moving in the opposite direction and the ETA is getting longer, not shorter.

After the estimated 5 min and a few more has passed, and we seem to only be further from having our Uber arrive, I decide to give our driver a call.

I get her on the phone, and immediately it is clear there is much confusion as to where we might be.

I spend several minutes telling her where we are based on the streets (which in my mind should be the easiest landmarks, especially for someone whose business it is to drive on said streets) and when that fails to help her locate us, I start naming every landmark I can spy with my little eye.

Meanwhile, obviously not cluing into any of my landmarks, she is trying to tell me where the Uber pick up spot is using landmarks of her own, which may have been effective, if I was from the area, and had ever been to that specific part of town before.

But neither was true.

Then she proceeded to tell me we would need to walk to her, because all the streets around the stadium were closed and she wouldn’t be able to get to us, even though I gently informed her that I was watching numerous cars drive on those streets as we spoke.

I finally decided that this may be a fruitless venture, and told her I would cancel my request so she could just find someone who knew where the pick-up spot was.

My boss and I decided to walk down a few blocks, further from the stadium, before requesting another ride, in the hopes that we would have either better luck or an Uber driver who actually believed in GPS.

Of course the other group had somehow found one of DC’s best drivers and had already been picked up and were halfway back to the hotel.

We get to our new “pick up spot” and request another car.

This one is about 8 min away, but at least seems to be moving in the right direction in the first few minutes, so we are hopeful. About 5 min in, my phone rings. IRead More »