Friday, September 21, 2018

Homecoming

Happy Homecoming Day, Walter!

On this date 4 years ago we brought Walter home to join our family.  While some refer to this as an adoption day or 'gotcha' day, I prefer the term homecoming day.  Indeed, Walter is home forever.
Walter's 1st day at home, age 2 months. Shortly after this photo was taken he peed on my shirt.
Walter learns where to go pee pee from his big brother Marvin.


Walter giving Joe P some kisses, Halloween 2014, 3 months old.







Sleeping on Daddy's shoulder.
Enjoying the back porch, about 1 year old.
One ear up, one ear down, waiting for a treat.


Sleeping in the crook of my leg.
Selfie with Daddy.
Bath time.
Nap time.
Walter & Marvin on Papa's lap.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Binge-worthy

While flipping around looking for something to watch recently, I stumbled upon an episode of 'Shameless'.  Two guys were passionately hugging and kissing each other, so I was like "Whoa... what's THIS show about?"  

I kept watching for a few minutes and in the next scene I recognized actor William H Macy.  I seemed to remember him being nominated (and possibly winning) some award for his role in 'Shameless'.  Since there's very little to watch these days I decided I'd watch the show starting from the beginning.  I figured I'd binge-watch a handful of episodes, little did I know the show has 8 seasons, starting back in 2011.  We didn't have Showtime until a little over a year ago so I had no knowledge of it back when it started.

In a nutshell William H Macy plays a raging alcoholic and drug user whose life consists of drinking himself unconcious and scheming to get money.  He has 6 children ranging in age from 21 years to 21 months old, who basically take care of paying the bills, feeding each other, and keeping the home together with lots of odd jobs, some legal, some not-so-much.  Their mother ran away shortly after the 21 month old was born.  Having little-to-no parental direction or discipline, the 6 kids are no strangers to drinking beer and smoking cigarettes and joints.  But despite their unconventional childhood, their family bond is strong.

While my synopsis may sound depressing, the show is full of twists and turns and unexpected intersections.  Not the least of which is a neighbor named Sheila, played by the genius actress Joan Cusack, who has agoraphobia and hasn't left the house in 5 years.  Also, in the 1st episode 17 year old Lip (short for Philip) discovers his 15 year old brother Ian is gay and has been having sex with his married boss who owns/runs the convenience store where Ian works.

The 1st night I binge-watched 4 episodes.  The 2nd night I binge-watched 6 episodes.  The 3rd night I gave Spouse a quick review of the characters and he watched the last 2 episodes of season 1 with me. We're currently nearing the end of season 2.

Its a really interesting show, and I enjoy how the writers make the characters good enough that you route for them and want them to succeed, but keep them 'human' by also showing their faults and mistakes.  And as a bonus, there's a fair amount of shirtless, good-looking men in the series, including a couple full-frontal nudity scenes.

If you're looking for a long, enduring series to watch, I recommend 'Shameless'.  If you don't have Showtime, at least some (maybe all) of it is available on Netflix too.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Remembering

Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a day that changed America and the world forever.  Since that time we've come to learn that terrorists can strike from outside the country as they did in 2001, but also from inside the country.  Native-born Americans have terrorized our country too many times to count.  Sadly its something we're becoming used to hearing in the news.

Since Spouse & I lived 6 miles from the Pentagon, our experiences on 9/11/01 are etched in our brains.  We'll never forget what happened nor those who assisted others that day.  Below is a re-posting of that day from my perspective.

Spouse & I lived in Arlington VA, the same town where the Pentagon is located.  Our home was exactly 6 miles from it, and we passed it every time we got on the highway.  I had been laid off for about 2 weeks and Spouse decided to take the day off "because it was so pretty outside" and spend a few hours with this sister.  Indeed, it was a beautiful September day: sunny, warm but not hot, and low humidity.  Spouse left in my BMW 325i convertible with the top down and I sat down in front of the computer to do my daily job search.

Probably a 1/2 hour later Spouse returned and yelled up the stairs to me "A plane crashed into the World Trade Center and another one crashed into the Pentagon!"  Of course I thought this was some incredible story he'd concocted to explain why he'd returned to the house, when in reality he'd probably just forgotten his wallet or something.

"What did you forget - your wallet?" I replied, sarcastically.

"No, I'm serious!  Come here!" he said with real urgency.  I immediately came downstairs and joined him in the TV room where he'd turned on the local news.  It wasn't some fantastical story he'd fabricated.  It was real.  We sat on the sofa for what seemed like days, trying to figure out what had happened.  It didn't take that long before it was clear the plane crashes weren't "accidents".  By then news of the 2nd tower being hit and the plane crash in PA was filtering in.

"I can't believe this is happening" I said, truly frightened for the 1st time in my life.  "What's next?  How will we know when its over?  Maybe we should get in the car and drive as far away (to the West) as we can" I offered.  But it was too late for that.  News reports were already showing road closures and gridlocked traffic.

Many people who work in the metro DC area ride the metro system to and from work, like my Aunt Mary, Spouse's brother, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law.  But while the metro system was still operational, most people were afraid to use it, wondering if it might be the next target.  No one liked the idea of possibly being trapped or crushed in one of the many underground tunnels.

Cell phone service was spotty with the cell towers being overloaded with attempted calls.  But we eventually received calls from my Aunt Mary, Spouse's brother and sister-in-law.  They were going to walk from their offices to a landmark in Arlington where I would pick them up.  We were unable to coordinate this with Spouse's brother-in-law who'd already begun walking.

As I drove out of our neighborhood I began hearing sirens and seeing the flashing lights of police cars.  Officers were setting up roadblocks on the main roads that would take me to the agreed upon pick-up location.  Several times I had to make an unscheduled turn, drive through a residential neighborhood, cut through a business parking lot, and even drive across a lawn and off a curb when I got trapped.  I was literally trying to beat the officers from closing me out of the area I needed to get to.  A trip that would normally take 10 minutes took me nearly an hour, but I eventually got to the rendezvous point and picked up our family.  Spouse's brother-n-law actually walked all the way to our house (more than 6 miles) where his wife (Spouse's sister) was waiting for him.

We remained glued to the TV for several days, hoping to hear answers.  All commercial air traffic was suspended for 5 days (I believe) so it was rather eerie for us to hear fighter jets occasionally pass over our home.  Spouse's mother was in Italy and due to return home that day.  Her vacation was extended not by desire, but by necessity.

In the days and weeks following the horrible tragedy there was a strengthening of America.  For a while there were no Democrats or Republicans; just Americans.  There were no rich or poor; just people grieving losses.

Each year on this date I'm always a little worried another terror attack will occur on the anniversary.  Fortunately its not happened, although many other terror attacks have occurred since then on other, seemingly unrelated dates.  Its become clear to me that terror will never end unless there's a worldwide commitment to peace and understanding.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Tour

Yesterday I had the pleasure of touring a new animal rescue/rehab center in our county.  It was open to the public.

The facility used to be a no-kill shelter that went bankrupt nearly 5 years ago and was abandoned since then.  The Brandywine Valley SPCA which operates our local animal shelter purchased the facility at auction a few months ago and plans to open it as a rescue/rehab facility.

Dogs and cats picked up as strays, surrendered by owners, or rescued from natural disasters and hoarding environments usually end up at shelters for adoption. But some of these animals need medical attention, nutrition therapy, and behavioral modification to become adoptable.  This process can takes several weeks to several months.  So that's what this new rescue/rehab center will be used for; to bring these animals back to healthy, adoptable pets which will then be adopted from the regular shelter.  It will not be an adoption center nor will it be open to the public, so this was pretty much the only opportunity to get a look at it in person.

Here's a photo of the facility as well as an aerial shot.
Its quite a distinctive-looking building.  But since it was designed to be a shelter, the tour guide said they really don't need to do any retrofitting of the building to accommodate their use of it.

There's even a central courtyard which will likely become a play or training area.

The interior is kind of industrial looking, with exposed HVAC ducts and concrete floors.

These siblings were present for the tour, although the facility is not yet operating.  They were so cute and friendly I wanted to take all 3 home with me.

Then there was this adorable Chihuahua mix named Johnny Pickles.  He'd recently been adopted from the main shelter.  I wanted to take him home too.

This rescue/rehab facility plans to partner with other shelters to accept animals from outside the local area (other states, etc) when there is a special need like hurricanes, floods, and extreme hoarding environments to help get them healthy and adoptable.  This facility should be able to do what many regular shelters can't, so I am really excited its located near me, and plan to donate to its success.

The Brandywine Valley SPCA still needs to raise more funds to bring the formerly abandoned building back to operational condition and support their other activities related to this, so if you feel inclined to donate CLICK HERE.  For larger donations you can even name areas of the facility after a beloved pet or person!

Friday, September 07, 2018

Dishwasher

So Wed night I went to run the dishwasher and it wouldn't turn on.

It has a touch pad that usually lights up when you make wash/rinse/dry selections and press the start button.  But Wed night nothing lit up and the dishwasher wouldn't work.  This dishwasher is about 13 years old but its a high-end brand so I was definitely interested in getting it repaired rather than replaced.

1st thing yesterday morning I called the appliance repair company.  Unfortunately, the receptionist said the 1st available appointment was next Tues.  If I wanted an "emergency" call they could guarantee me an appointment the same day.  The regular service visit fee is $85; the "emergency" service visit fee is $185.  

I thought about it quickly.  If it were the fridge or the stove, I'd go with the "emergency" call since we
can't go 5 days without either of those.  I can hand wash a few dishes to save $100, so I accepted the Tues service call.  The receptionist then said if there was a cancellation she'd call me.  Then I emptied the dishwasher and washed its contents by hand.

About 4 hours later I got a call from the actual repairman saying he was going to a call close to my house, and if I was going to be home, he'd stop there afterward.  I readily agreed to be home (it was my day off and I was almost done running errands) and waited for him to arrive.  I joked to myself that I'd hand washed all those dishes when I could have just procrastinated and washed them in the dishwasher later that day.  However, the repairman discovered the main computer board had gone out, and that's not something he had in stock. He'd have to order one which would come in some time next week.  So the hand washing of the dishes wasn't in vain after all.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

Labor Day weekend

This coming weekend is Labor Day weekend.  Its still 90 degrees outside but people are already filling Facebook with 'end of summer' posts and pumpkin spice everything.

I predict this will be a very low-key Labor Day weekend for us.  We don't have any weekend guests staying with us and we've not been invited to any pool parties or cookouts.  I suggested to Spouse that we fire up the grill and invite just a few friends over but he didn't want to.

I have to work on Sat and have a couple of showings on Sun morning, but am off the rest of Sun and Mon.  Of course the weather on Sun is calling for intermittent thunderstorms, so it won't be a good beach day.  Mon looks fine though.

There will likely be a lot of folks here in town for their 'last beach weekend of the summer'.  Insert me rolling my eyes.  Trust me, there will be a lot more beach weekends before summer weather is gone.  We often enjoy an Indian Summer, and I can remember 1 year where we were still sitting on the beach the 1st weekend in Nov.

Labor Day weekend does mark the end of the tourist season here, so starting next week it'll be easier for us locals to get into restaurants.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Friday, August 24, 2018

The heat is on

We've been having unusually hot weather here recently.

I mean, I realize its summer, but this is coastal DE.  Our weather is tempered by coolness of the ocean water.  Its pretty rare that it gets above 90 degrees here.

But recently the temperature reached 94 degrees!  

And then a couple days later it was 96 degrees!

Add to that the heavy humidity and the 'real feel' temperature was like 107 degrees.  

Fortunately the forecast is for a bit of a break in the heat (but not the humidity) next week when it will be in the 80s again.

I realize this doesn't sound so strange to those in climates that are routinely this hot, be we are definitely NOT used to it here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Life lesson


This really IS true.  Nothing stays the same forever, be it good or bad.  We can always try to do things to improve our situation, but sometimes its just a matter of patience.

This is a life lesson I wish I'd learned a lot earlier in life.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Family visit

We had a fun time with our family's visit.

Spouse's sister, son, daughter and her husband and their daughter arrived Thurs evening.  We ordered subs for dinner with chips and soda, and hung out until bedtime.

Spouse took off work on Fri so he went with them to the beach.  I had to work.  That evening we went out for Thai food, and later that night Spouse's sister's husband and other son arrived.

They all went to the beach on Sat, while I worked.  Sat evening some went to the tax-free outlet stores while the rest of us relaxed and talked.  Then we ordered in dinner again and hung out.
Our niece's daughter Gabby and Marvin

Sun morning we had coffee, juice, bagels, and fruit salad, hung out some more, and by 12 noon the family was on their way back home.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Queen

Ladies and gentlemen, the Queen has left the building.

Sadly, Aretha Franklin (also known as The Queen of Soul) passed away yesterday at the age of 76.  The prolific singer, songwriter and actress was known for her unmistakable soulful sound.

But while her sound was unmistakable, apparently her image was not, at least to Fox News who posted a tribute graphic that included a photo of Patti LaBelle!

This sadly suggests at least someone at Fox News couldn't distinguish one African American diva from another.

Oh, but what fodder for Facebook!  Almost immediately memes starting showing up that frankly had me laughing out loud!


At least the laughter from these memes helped ease the pain of such a great loss to American music.  Aretha will be imitated but never duplicated.

R.I.P. our Queen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Family visit

We're expecting some of our family to visit later this week.

Spouse's sister, son, daughter, and granddaughter are arriving Thurs evening.  Spouse's sister's husband and other son are arriving Fri night, and all are staying through Sun.

If the weather is good they'll probably go to the beach, but they may just decide to just hang out at home.  Friday's forecast is 92 degrees with a 30% chance of thunderstorms, and Saturday's forecast is for 86 degrees and a 40% chance of thunderstorms.

Regardless of what they do, I'm sure we'll have a fun time visiting.  I have to work Fri & Sat but will be with them in the evenings and on Sun.
Our brother-in-law and 2 nephews, Christmas 2017

Monday, August 13, 2018

Three Identical Strangers

I recently saw the documentary "Three Identical Strangers", about triplets who discover each other at age 19.  
Each triplet was adopted by a different family in upstate NY who had no knowledge that their baby was a triplet.  One brother goes to a small college where he knows no one, but is recognized by returning students.  He's then introduced to the young man they thought he was, who turns out to be his identical twin brother.

This amazing reunion makes the papers and is noticed by the mother of a 3rd young man who looks exactly like the twins in the newspaper.  The three young men discover they are triplets and find they share many seemingly hard-wired personality traits and preferences.

But the film is far from being a sweet reunion story.  The adopted parents of the three triplets soon began to seek answers to many questions, the most pertinent being why they weren't informed their babies had siblings, yet alone, identical triplets.  The adoption agency said the triplets were split up because it was unlikely someone would adopt 3 infants, but little other info is given them.

Years later a writer researching twins discovers the triplets' separation as well as the intentional separation of several other sets of twins by the same adoption agency.  Little is known about the reason(s) for these separations other than the study of identical twins' and triplets' development in different socio-economic households.  The psychologist's study was never published and all the data was sealed until 2066 when all the researchers and uninformed participants are deceased.

Its a very interesting documentary which raises lots of ethical questions, and wants to weigh in on the 'nature versus nurture' question.