Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wild Goose Chase

Yesterday we spur-of-the-moment decided to go visit mil in Kerrville. We tried calling ahead, but no answer. Then we tried the cell phone, but still no answer. So we decided to go anyway. Good choice, huh? But it was my Man's only day off this week, and, besides, mil is ALWAYS there!!! Except for yesterday, that is ;-/

We would have easily fit into our minivan, however the a/c isn't working, and this was Texas in September, so we loaded up into D's SUV. For a big vehicle, it's pretty crowded, but we managed. All Monga had to do was contort himself into a pretzel shape while crawling in through the front door, squirm around into the back seat, and wedge his skinny little self into the back seat between the two tiny girls in their space-age (BIG) car seats. D was driving, and that left me comfortably in the front seat. Or it would have been comfortable, had I been a double amputee. The floor under my feet was full of purses, water bottles, kleenex boxes, books and homework, oh~and my feet. Well, it was only for 2 1/2 hours, and we did have the a/c. Good thing, because that's about the only thing that was right.

After an hour or two in the car I gave the phone another try. Still no answer. Hmmmm....??? Odd, but not alarming. As I said, mil is ALWAYS there, and I was sure there was a perfectly reasonable explanation. As soon as we arrived, D and I got ourselves and the babies out, Monga did his contortions in reverse, and we walked across the parking lot into the nursing home. D and I and the Gingerbread Cookie headed for the ladies' room while the others searched out mil. When we met up again in the hall, Monga and the Princess were mil-less, but they had a report. They had checked the dining room and her room, to no avail, and they didn't really know where else to look. I suggested asking someone, so we took off down the hall to the nurses' station where we were told, "She went out with Le." Ok, then.

It was noon, and remember that we had two tired, hungry, cranky little girls with us, so we decided to go get something to eat, with a stop at CVS for lots of free-coupon goodies, and then try mil and Le again. Only Le beat us to it. I told her we figured we would find her in our wanderings around Kerrville, and she said, "You'll find us in Bandera at John Grover's funeral." Uh-oh...

So. So much for visiting mil on Monday. Instead, we went to the river and introduced the little girls to a place that held lots of happy memories for Monga. They sat on the bank, throwing rocks and sticks into the river, watching it go by, occasionally trying to jump/fall in, while reminiscing on Monga's growing up. After a time of pleasant leisure, it was naptime, so we loaded everyone back in the car and headed for home.

The whole back seat was asleep before we got out of town, and the ride home was quiet and uneventful. All in all an enjoyable day, especially for a wild goose chase.

WhataWeekend Friday!


Friday night D and I were sitting at the table planning our next-day trip, the one we were taking to visit M, who was going to be 'here' at the Army/A&M game for the weekend.

It was late-ish, around 8:30 or so, I think, when the doorbell rang. D and I looked at each other. She said, "Who is that?!" as I said, "I bet it's M." So I went to the door, and there was our friend Tr, the mom of one of M's "West Point 'Texas Trio." With a BIG smile on her face, she said, "Is this yours?" And there was M!

Magnificent! Tall and handsome, sharply dressed in his 'wog' and shiny black shoes and white cover, backpack in hand, he stepped into the room, and we looked up at him. And up. And up. "Is he taller?" we wondered. Lots of all-around smiles and hugs and kisses and more hugs and pats and smiles.

M was ready to change his clothes and get comfortable, but being the last-minute trip that it was, he had not brought his duffel with him, not even a toothbrush. But no worries. We have extra toothbrushes (new ones~not those old clorox-ed guest toothbrushes Granny used to keep on hand), and as for clothes...well, we happen to have a dresser and a closet full of clothes just his size.

Off he went to change, and when he came out, he was just plain M again. D and I agreed that it must be the gig line and the stripes down the sides of his pants that made him taller. Not to mention wearing his uniform pants at his actual waist ('up to his armpits,' he would say) instead of at his hips where he usually wears his pants. Anyway. Still our own long-legged M!

We talked and laughed and caught him up on everything around here. He showed us pictures and pictures and pictures of his new life. We heard about his roommates and his classes, debate team (loves it), boxing class (hates it).

Pretty soon Ko showed up, and it was like they had never been separated. They made a midnight run to MoreMart for Oreos and Pringles, went for a ride in Ko's "new" jeep, came home and demo-ed boxing for us. EEK!!! I can hardly bear thinking of MY boy getting pounded on. And then we finally trickled off to bed. At one time I got up to see the glow of the computer coming from across the hall, and here was M sitting in the dark, fixing whatever has ailed this computer for oh-so-many weeks.

Next morning came really early. My Man was off to work by 5:30, and for M, formation (or whatever they call it) was at 9, so soon it was time for the *boys* to get up and on their way, leaving the rest of us at home to pack up and get ready for A&M Adventures, coming up!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Eyes Have It

A few weeks ago I made my occasional "annual" visit to the eye doctor. Being the non-doctor person that I am, I would have preferred to save it for some non-existent future time, but I had already had the appointment for three months, and I was tired of dreading it. Besides, so far, I am a seeing person, and I would like to stay that way. With a family history of diabetes and glaucoma and cataracts, and with a personal history of a pterygium ...well, the eyes have it, so off I went to visit Dr. Chang.

I can still read a road sign long before anyone else even sees the thing, but when it comes to reading, sewing, knitting, writing, all the close-up stuff that I love to do, well...forget the heck out of that, unless I wear my glasses. And getting out a splinter...? Can't even do that with the glasses. They are just beginner glasses from MoreMart, but still.

At this point I have about six pairs of the things. One in my purse, one in the car, one in the other car, one at the computer, one at the desk, one on the night table. That's where they are supposed to be, and you'd think with that many pairs of glasses floating around, one might show up when called for. But can I ever find one? Rarely. When I finally do manage to find them, they pinch my head, they pull my hair, they get in my way, and I forget to look through them, trying instead to look around them. What a nuisance. One more perk of getting old.

But Dr. Chang loved my eyes! His Girl Friday got them prepped and droppered and dilated before he came in for his look, and after scanning her notes he asked me if I had had lasik surgery, causing me to shudder and gasp. "NO WAY!" The mere thought of someone poking around in my eyes, to say nothing of cutting and slicing on them...Well, I cannot begin to express the CREEPS that gives me!!!! So Dr. Chang was incredulous that I might see as well as I do without having the surgery, but the thing is, I don't think I see all that well. I did for a long, long time, but once I hit "that age"... things sorta started falling apart: fuzzy words and blurry letters, itching eyes, and seeing things as though through tinted windows. Of course, there's no knowing what sorts of eye horrors he has seen, so to him anything may look good.

In any case, I've made myself a note, for next time I start worrying about my eyes, to remember Dr. Chang's parting words: "I'll see you next year. Or maybe in two years." So, whaddya know, after all the dread, Eye'm perfect! ...at least my eyes are...at least in Dr. Chang's obviously imperfect eyes...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

TAMU Coming Up!

All set for our first look at our boy since R-Day! M was one of the *selected* to attend the Army/Texas A&M football game right here in TEXAS, only two hours (or so) away!!! So, Lucky Us!!! (Just imagine ~ $60 a ticket...They'd have to pay me a lot more than that!)

What an ordeal...but finally we are all ready to go. Well, besides the packing and loading. But that part's the easy part. It's figuring out what to pack and where to go that takes up all the brain power: hotel shopping and schedule coordinating, with only the scarcest bit of information...

We are learning that when it comes to planning, it's all about the last minute. Maybe that's part of the grand scheme of teaching cadets to be flexible and think on their feet ~ all well and good for them, but I didn't join up. On second thought, maybe I did... When I signed on to be the mom those oh-so-many years ago, it appears that I was also, unknowingly, signing up for a great many things I never even heard of before, and every now and then another new one pops up to haunt me. But, as they say today, "It's all good." And it really is.

We booked this Patel hotel sight unseen, so I can't really vouch for the place. According to the online reviews, it is a "good, basic hotel, and clean, with a MoreMart next door and a McD's down the street." So far so good.

But you know what? I don't care if it's the Black Hole of Calcutta or if it looks like that purple hotel where we once-upon-a-time stayed in San Antonio. I don't care if it's good enough for Edgar Allen Poe. All of our kidlets will be there, including the one we have not seen in almost three months. What more could we possibly want?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Once You're the Mom...

..you're never not the mom. You sign up for life, to have your heart taken out, trodden on and broken by the very objects of your heart's affection. I was reminded of this once more last night when I got an unexpected phone call from S while cooking dinner:

"Mom, I'm ok. I don't know if it will be on the news tonight, but just in case, I thought I'd call and let you know before you see it there." And then he proceeded with the story of the woman who turned left in front of him and HIT him. I asked him if she stopped, and he said, "Yeah, my motorcycle was under her car." AAAGGGGHHH!!!!

Questions, questions, questions... "ARE YOU OK?" "Where are you now?" "What happened???" "Why did she hit you?" "Did she get a ticket?"

Answers... "My back hurts," "I'm at work writing up the report, going to go home after this," "She didn't see me," "She didn't want to be leftover," "Yeah, they gave her a bunch of tickets."

  • He has a three-day weekend to recover and get right back out there on that motorcycle, which he loves, and the rest of us aren't so crazy about. Men and their toys...
  • It's gotta stink that you have to write up your own accident report, but actually maybe we should just be thankful that he can, and at least he gets to go home early.
  • I just bet she didn't see him. People that see motorcycle cops generally slow waaaay down below the speed limit, guilty consciences hard at work.
  • Yellow light accelerators never want to be leftover (All sorts of troubles come up when yellow light accelerators meet green light anticipators.).
  • And about those tickets...well, lady, sorry about your luck.
You might think that once they grew up and out of your house, they might grow out of your heart as well, but let me disabuse you of that notion. It isn't bad enough that they go and join the police force. Nope, then they have to join the motorcycle brigade. But you have to "let" them, because if you don't, they will do it anyway.

And your heart...well, tuck it back in and hope for the best. It's all we can do when all we really want is to give our kidlets roots, but we have to give them wings.

And it is especially bad when Kid's dream = Mom's nightmare.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Almost Autumn

Summer doesn't fool me. I know it'll stick around waaaay past time for it to go, like a naughty kid that will do anything to stall around and postpone bedtime just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit longer. But, sooner or later, the inevitable always happens and it will have to go. I can wait. Having survived another round of summer's worst, I can afford to be a gracious winner.

Now, blessed with the ever-so-faintest hint of cool autumn ahead in the air, I may actually sleep under the covers tonight. Well, at least under the sheet...

YES!!!! It is Almost Autumn...and I am ready!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Escape from Techno-Hell

Well, not entirely, but maybe we're getting closer. My Man and I figured out, all by ourselves, how to fix the phone and the internet. Not to take too much credit, all we did was pull the plug on the whole operation. When we plugged everything back in a few hours later, voila'! It worked! What an unexpected victory! And it sure beat spending three hours on hold with our internet provider's non/tech-support.

That big little success encouraged us to tackle the TV/VCR/DVD dilemma, so after a long-distance consult with one of the kidlets, my Man crawled up in the entertainment center with a flashlight and managed to locate the loose/missing connections. Well, some of them. The DVD player is still on the injured list, but the VCR and the TV are now back on the job.

Meanwhile, it was decided to accept Foxfire's offer of an update to the New and Improved Foxfire3. Alas, unbeknownst to us, Foxfire3 and Vista are engaged in WWIII, and we were drafted. So, it's back to Square One on that computer.

Our other desktop computer dropped out of our little home network quite awhile ago, leaving only our little laptop. Sadly, it was out for surgery, which left us in techno-blackout for the last week and a half, with the exception of a little 17-hour window between our initial victory over our ISP and our induction into WWIII.

Fortunately, our laptop was released from Intensive Care yesterday, lifting the blackout. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it will be able to keep up with the demand for its services. My Man uses it quite a bit for work; I have enrolled in two online classes; and D, who is here for a few weeks, has also signed up for an online class. ACK! We may all have to tighten our belts and go on a severely restricted internet diet.

In the meantime, it is doubtful that WWIII will be resolved, but we have a couple of leads on how we might win our own little battle (Don't worry, M, we won't actually do anything without strict supervision.).

Aaaahhhh...to be possessed of the elusive techno-gene.... Can one inherit it from one's kidlets?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On the Gulf with Gustav

Well...not exactly. That would be the cruise before us.

Our trip, which was to have been the five-day cruise with calls at two glamorous ports, was instead, coutesy of Gustav, the three-day Cruise to Nowhere. Really. Rather than disembarking (debarking?) in exotic foreign places, we floated around out there, one "Fun Day at Sea" following another. A Fun Day at Sea consists of all manner of activities, sublime and ridiculous. Activities whimsical, physical, comical, or informational, take your pick.

Now about the food...It's true what they say about the food on a cruise: it is limitless. There may be two or three hours out of a day that you can't find a place to eat~perhaps between the hours of 3am, when the Gala Midnight Buffet shuts down, and 6:30am when the serving of breakfast begins. But don't worry. If you just can't make it that long, give the 24-hour room service a call.

And let me tell you, you aren't going to find any chicken-fried steak or fried okra or black-eyed peas or pinto beans on this menu. None of that "down-home" stuff. Try lemon curried lentils and Caribbean pepper pot. Grilled portobello mushrooms, tiger shrimp cocktail, pumpkin soup, charred corn, tempura veggies, and poached salmon. Even the lowly potato takes on the scent of rosemary. On the salad bar ~ a veritable garden: veggies fresh and pickled and marinated, lettuce in endless variety, dressings and toppings galore. And for dessert: mango cake and tiramisu, cheesecake in many flavors of both fat-free and yummy versions, coconut cake, banana cream pie, jello, and pudding, 24-hour ice cream and frozen yogurt, orange cake, and apple pie with ice cream. That's the sort of thing to find on the cafeteria-style line, and if none of that suits you, well, try the pizzeria, the deli, or the bistro. Or the grill, where you can get backyard fare of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, onion rings, sauteed onions, and the like, just outside the door by the big pool.

To drink: iced tea, coffee, lemonade, fruit punch, apple juice, orange juice. Really, the onliest thing they didn't have was...water. Well, they had water, but...well, ick.

That's the menu on the casual Lido Deck. If it's the fancy stuff you want, go to one of the dining rooms where you will be served by a staff of attentive, impeccably-mannered waiters, uniformed in vests and ties, who will serve your drinks in elegant stemmed glasses, and bring you menus of starters and entrees and desserts to die for. Some nights they will even dance and sing for you, and when they come marching and clapping down the aisles, it is hard not to get up and dance and clap along with them.

Did I mention the Chinatown Restaurant and the Rolls Royce Bar? You really can go from restaurant to restaurant for the duration of the cruise, and if you don't want them to have to roll you off, well...try out the gym. We opted to stay in shape by using the stairs. We walked from our cabin on the Main Deck (Deck 5) deep in the bowels of the ship up to the sea breezes of the Sun Deck (Deck 12) for putt-putt golf probably about 26 times a day. We did use the elevator on three separate occasions as a treat at the request of the Blue-Eyed Boy.

Just in case you might like to do something besides eat on your Fun Day at Sea, you can choose to swim in one of the four pools, play miniature golf, run/walk/jog on the Olympic track, play volleyball or basketball on courts totally enclosed by netting, play ping-pong or shuffleboard, or bask in the sun with a book from the ship's library. Play Bingo, or go to the beauty shop and/or the spa for the pampering of your life: hair fixes, mani/pedicures, massages. Get your portrait taken at one of the many photographer's stations set up at various places around the ship. Go to the card room for a hopefully friendly game of...whatever.

If you are traveling with a kidlet, as we were, you may want to check out Camp Carnival. They have a whole schedule of age-appropriate games and puzzles and parties beginning at 9am and going until 11pm (Shouldn't those little guys be in bed by then?)!

Need something more scheduled? Check your handy little Carnival Capers paper which is left in your cabin each evening by your devoted cabin steward, along with chocolates on your pillow, cookies with faces for the kidlet, and pillows folded into animal shapes, a different animal every night. In the Carnival Capers you will find a complete hour-by-hour listing of every activity on the ship: shows, classes, games, contests. Even menus ;-)

Oh! Don't forget gambling in the casino! I can't really speak with any authority on this, but if the jam-packed crowds and the clouds of cigarette smoke billowing out the door were any indication, this might well have been the most popular activity on board. Well, besides eating. And besides the unending army of bar staff around every corner handing out champagne, rum punch, Bloody Marys, screwdrivers, whiskey sours, wine, and the occasional "non-alcoholic fruit punch" (For more *ambiance,* try the Starlight Lounge or the Neon Bar or the Stripes Bar.).

And then there's everybody's other favorite: shopping! There were stores galore, and sellers of gold and silver chains and other jewelry in kiosks on every deck. Not being a shopper myself, I can only speculate, but there must have been some really great deals, because most of the people I met around the ship were burdened with bulging shopping bags.

Art aficionado? Go check out the Art Gallery and sign up for the drawing/contest to win a Picasso! No thanks, I think I'll pass...

If you are a night owl and can tear yourself away from the Gala Midnight Buffet, you might want to go to one or more of the shows. And don't worry about your kidlet. Just deposit him in "babysitting" (for a small fee of invisible $ on your *sign & sail* card) where you can leave him until 3am!!!

So, you see, a Fun Day at Sea really is a fun day (and night) at sea. Even for a non-smoking, non-drinking, non-gambling, non-shopping stick-in-the-mud like me. Because on a cruise, particularly on a Cruise to Nowhere, you have a luxury unmatched in your everyday life: Time. Time to sit and enjoy the timelessness of time. Without a timetable.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Welcome Home...

When we got off the boat Nellie had a dead battery. That was our first clue.

When we got home we were met by:

  • dead telephone,
  • dead internet,
  • dead tv/vcr/dvd connection,
  • clutch out on Old Reliable,
  • expired inspection on the War Wagon,
  • lapsed registration on the Road Warrior.

After getting the internet back on track, we have Vista at war with its mortal enemy Firefox3.

...to the Twilight Zone!