Monday, December 31, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nice Weekend

The weekend has come to a close. It turned out to be a busy one. Ezmerelda went to the dealership on Saturday for her 30-day service. (Side bar - does anyone else name their vehicles? I think just about every car I've ever owned has had a name. Derek laughs at me. Just curious if anyone else had this, apparently, odd habit.) That ended up taking most of the day.

While I was waiting, I spent some Christmas money. Finally got some new sweaters and, of course, I just couldn't have a shopping trip without expanding the shoe collection. After the shopping venture, Ez still wasn't ready so I decided to head to my friend Rhonda's house to practice our duet for Sunday. Nothing like waiting a little, eh? But it was an easy piece. We put it together in about 20 min. We spent the rest of the time catching up.

Finally got the call that I could pick up the car. Headed home for a while & then met Gayla & Heather for dinner at Pei Wei. Mmm. I loves me some Pei Wei! Had a terrific visit, as always. Those girls keep me in stitches. Gayla was introduced to the fine art of a stick shift - keep the clutch IN when the car's on & in gear. =) Lots of giggles over that.

Sang two services today. Went splendidly. Ventured to the grocery store for the annual New Year's Day crock pot o' beans. Then came home for a little siesta. Well, it was more than a little nappy-nap. Adda and I enjoyed about two hours. It was nice though. Had a little dinner. Derek came home from the neighbors where he was watching the Cowboys stink it up. Skeet & Kelli came over & we watched Bourne Ultimatum. Great movie - might mean a little more to me if I had ANY clue what the series was about. But great movie nonetheless, especially in HD.

Got the bag packed for my super exciting day at work tomorrow. Now it's off to bed.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Birthday Wishes

Happy birthday to my daddy!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Now We Work

And today, we work. Actually, I work. Derek is off until 2008...theoretically anyway. When last we spoke, we got interrupted by the cell phone, which means he may actually be working too. We'll see.

Yesterday, for me anyway, was a very relaxing day. I did a little bit of straightening around the house. But mostly, I played with my new toys. Have quite a few pictures loaded on the new digital picture frame. That's pretty snazzy, I tell ya. Have to figure out how to put music on it for an even niftier slideshow.

Also got my iTunes library loaded onto the new iPod Nano. My Mini has all but crapped out on me. I can't complain. It's lasted four years and been put through much abuse. My new toy plays video & stores pictures. I don't know what to do with myself and all this new technology.

Too bad I didn't think to load a bunch of video to watch today. It's going to be so very quiet at work!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

And Everyone Rested

Whew. Christmas day was a whirlwind but altogether a terrific day. Today, we clean up. Well, actually, Derek is working. I'm (sorta) cleaning up and putting the house back together. I think I've actually spent more time at the computer. But who's counting?! =)

We started Christmas day at Derek's parents. Yummy breakfast and then packages. There was no shortage of good loot this year - as always, we're very spoiled. Derek got the Bluetooth earpiece he wanted, along with the new Simpsons movie & 360 game, some clothes, and a few throw-back-to-the-childhood toys. I got a beautiful tourmaline pendant, a digital picture frame that also plays music, several pairs of slippers (since I've literally worn all my others out), pjs, and clothes. We enjoyed visiting after the big gift opening. Then we went to visit Derek's grandfather at the assisted living center. He opened his presents and just enjoyed having us there. He's such a sweetheart. We got the car all packed and then headed for home to unload and reload for the next stop.

My brother & Olga hosted this year's Christmas festivities, which was nice - so nice that I didn't even put up decorations this year! We had a fabulous dinner - fried turkey compliments of Chef David, taters, salads, etc. Then the package-opening commenced. We went a little crazy this year, so it took us over two hours to open gifts. You see, we like to open packages one person, one gift at a time so we can enjoy seeing what everyone got. We really racked up this year! Derek got several gift cards, some clothes, and his favorite - chocolate. I got several stamp sets on my "wish list," a desktop Cropper Hopper organizer, nifty kitchen linens, clothes, and a bunch of other stuff. My trunk barely held everything!



Many thanks to our family who, as always, went above and beyond. Thanks to David & Olga for hosting everyone. It was a houseful, but a great time was had by all. Thanks to all who sent a little note or a little something this season. We're truly blessed with wonderful family and friends.

We hope your Christmas was full of as many blessings as ours!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Might Just Make It

Whew. The whirlwind of gift-buying is finally over. Ordinarily, I'm finished shopping way before now. For whatever reason, this year things just didn't come together as they usually do. So I was one of the (unfortunate) souls out shopping yesterday. Blech! No fear, I got up early & avoided most of the crowds...and I managed to get the remainder of the presents.

So how do you guys feel about gift cards? This year, the media debate about this very topic has been interesting. In my humble opinion, gift cards are great in several instances: 1) you don't know the person well enough to buy them a "real" gift; 2) you don't want to insult someone by buying something too big or too small for them; 3) the person has a hobby, like scrapbooking or cardmaking or embroidery, and they would enjoy shopping for said hobby themselves; 4) the person asked for gift cards and even was so kind as to give you a list of places from which you could purchase said gift card(s); and/or 5) it's easier than racking your brain & you know the recipient won't mind. There are some people who are offended by the "thoughtlessness" of gift cards. Hopefully, everyone on your list has made this clear if they share that opinion. Anyway, long story short, gift cards were popular on my list this year--both giving & getting.

I have a few last-minute cards to make in which to put said gift cards (see above). See, at least I'm thoughtful enough to hand-make a card holder. Then the wrapping of "real" gifts must commence. Ordinarily, I try to wrap as a buy. But I've been lazy this year and have left 100% of my wrapping for the next few days. I hope to get all of that done today so I can clean house & make food tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Update

Derek's grandmother came through surgery fine. She is now back in her room, alert, and in some pain. They twilighted her instead of putting her completely under, since she cannot handle full anesthesia anymore. Hopefully she will require no more procedures and this will solve the slow heartrate issue. Continue to keep her in your prayers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Prayers

Please say a prayer (or several) for Derek's grandmother. She has been in the hospital the last few days with a very low pulse (in the 30s). They're not absolutely certain what's causing this but have opted to put in a pacemaker to see if that brings it up. She's really not well enough for surgery, but this is the only viable option at this point. The surgery's tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Busy, Busy

Though my singing schedule has slowed to a halt (almost), everything else seems to be moving at warp. This weekend was no exception. After a week of rain, my house was an utter disaster. So priority one before we left on Saturday was to get the house clean. That, of course, took longer than expected. With a dog going in & out, not to mention people, there were a lot of tracks to clean up. I did finally get the carpet in order, but the tile is still beckoning to me. But in a way, I'm glad b/c Dori tracked in fresh dirt all across the kitchen last night. Yesterday, after being groomed on Sunday, she decided it would be fun to tromp through the mud puddle--the only mud puddle. Just like a kid.

Anyway, got the house clean & started putting a major dint in the mounds of laundry. Which left me time to really put a dint in the Christmas cards. I'm happy to report that I'm halfway through making the twenty-plus cards that should go out. So tomorrow begins the first mailing. Some of you on the list may actually get your cards before Christmas this year--shocking! The other half will be a crap shoot depending solely on how hard the mailmen want to work the end of the week before the holiday.

Saturday night was Derek's company party at the Gaylord. I wasn't planning to get in a hurry to get there...until Derek called to tell me that it was averaging more than an hour to park. Wha? So I got it in gear & left a little earlier. While it didn't take me an hour, it did take about 30 min. Apparently, this was the weekend for Christmas parties. Couple that with the ICE show going on, and you had a recipe for a busy hotel. Our room, a suite overlooking Lake Grapevine, was very nice; but I don't think I've stayed in a "not nice" room at the Gaylord. The party was alright. There were a lot more people there this year, so for me, it wasn't as fun as previous years b/c we were so spread out & not able to visit as well. But all and all, a good time was had by all. Dori had fun staying home with Ms. Kelli, her favorite neighbor.

We got home about lunchtime on Sunday. I made the grocery list b/c I figured this weekend would be better than next for that big trip. Dori went to "get beautiful" about midway through the Cowboy game. And I hit the grocery stores. Going during the game was brilliant. The stores were crowded, but they weren't nearly as packed as I'd expected. I shudder to think about this coming weekend. And unfortunately, there are several things that I just couldn't buy until then due to spoilage. But at least I got the big trip out of the way. Running in for a few things will be daunting but nothing like facing an entire monthly list.

That cold I was fighting a few weekends ago has finally crept up and bit me. I got really stuffy Sunday night and it's kinda gone from bad to worse in the days since. Granted, it's not as bad as some people I've heard cough-coughing the last several weeks. I think the Zicam and Airborne have fended off the worst of it. I just wish they made softer Kleenexes. My poor nose. And on my gosh, my lymph nodes are screaming today. Clearly there's a war going on in there.

Other than that, I have a few more gifts to buy. Eek! My husband can be slow at decision-making. I hope he's done before the weekend. Otherwise, he's on his own on those. I'm going nowhere near a mall! But my wrapping operation must get underway this week. I haven't even begun that process yet. And you know, I like to be all froo-froo about it. And there's an odd rehearsal or two. We'll see if it all gets done.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thanks for Sharing

The weekend flew by, as weekends do when they're full of things to do. Derek went on a company-sponsored hunting trip. So I was home alone, not that I accomplished anything domestically-related. I had a full weekend myself. The concert at LHUMC went extremely well. It's the best we've ever sung actually. I was so pleased, particularly after the (typical) rough dress rehearsal. We really shined at performance. I wish we had a recording, but alas, our sanctuary is not equipped. But everyone in attendance has just raved and rightly so.

With that concert over, I'm coasting into the new year. This is the first year I can really remember my schedule slowing down going into Christmas. And honestly, it's such a welcomed thing. No stress. No worries over scheduling. Or how I'm going to be eight places at once.

So the start of my weeks of coasting brought a very unwelcome guest ... a stomach bug. Lovely. Had I realized when I woke up on Monday morning that I wasn't well, I would have just stayed home. However, I felt fine. So despite waking up late thanks to an alarm clock (operator) malfunction, I hurried in to work...only to leave four hours later after revisiting breakfast. Thankfully though that was the only meal kind enough to say hello a second time. I slept the rest of Monday and managed to make my own chicken noodle soup for dinner. Slept a little later on Tuesday but still went to work. Apparently, this lovely little bug is making the rounds in several places. So wash your hands often!

It's hard to believe Christmas is only 13 days away. I still have shopping to do! Nothing big. But still. I'll be braving stores this weekend, I'm afraid...unless I can convince myself to make those stops on the way home from work. Either prospect is daunting. I just wish it felt more like Christmas -- enough of this stupid hot weather already! I'm ready for REAL winter!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Concert Invitation

This has been another rather hectic week. For one, I successfully avoided coming down with the full-blown version of some kind of upper respiratory bug. That little battle began last weekend when I woke up with a sore throat that grew steadily worse as the days went on. I, of course, took myself straight to the doctor on Monday to be sure it wasn't some bacterial bug. My doctor deduced that the sore throat was likely caused by drainage resulting from a severe allergy flare-up. Gee, you think all of that wind could have anything to do with it?! Anyway, several days of extra rest and a huge load of vitamin C seemed to do the trick. (Ultimately the throat swab came back negative for strep or any other kind of bug.) The sore throat subsided by Friday and is now completely gone ... at least for the time being. And I'm not looking that gift horse in the mouth!

I say all of this b/c I'm the soloist in a big classical piece tomorrow evening. So aside from the fact that the sore throat attacked me last weekend in the middle of the NETCS concerts, I had to remain well for this weekend's performance. Naturally, that means I had another week full of rehearsals (several of them late ones). So getting that extra rest was a sacrifice of some working hours, but hey, that's what sick time is for!

Today's dress rehearsal went as dress rehearsals go ... terrible. But I'm a firm believer in the "bad rehearsal, good performance" mantra. Indeed, our final, brisk run-through of the piece proved much better than the first go-round. And I think it will be a stunning performance on the whole. We've never hired an orchestra this big, but I believe it's money well spent. There is certainly no shortage of talent amongst the players ... or the singers.

So if you're free, I would like to extend an invitation to you. Please join the music program of Lake Highlands United Methodist Church for "A Christmas Gathering." The evening concert will be preceded by dinner ($7 adults, $4 children - no family pays more than $20) at 5 p.m. in the Family Life Center. The free concert follows dinner at 6 p.m. in the sanctuary. All facets of the music program will be performing, including children, youth, handbells, and adults. The evening concludes with the chancel choir's presentation of Rutter's Magnificat with Susan Fox, Whitney Dewell, Kenton Kravig, and Ben Plocher as soloists.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Early Christmas Surprise

Derek seems to outdo himself every Christmas. Every year I wonder how he will top the last. Well, he got a jump start on Christmas this year. And I really wonder how he's going to top this one. Thursday afternoon on my way home from work he called to tell me he had a surprise for me. He'd cleaned out the garage so I could park my car in it. I've been bugging him about this for a while now, especially since it's dewed a lot lately. And I hate having to defog my car in the morning. I'm lucky I have time to get where I'm going much less to get the windows in my car clear. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised that he'd gone to all the trouble. Little did I know that there was an ulterior motive to that effort.

So I get home and convince him to take Dori for a walk. He tries to dissuade me from the walk, but I insist and he acquiesces. So we get Dori all ready. She's just as excited as ever. We leave, but Derek takes a different way than we usually do. I thought it was odd but didn't really give it too much thought. We walk around the corner of the house and this is what I see in my driveway.








I was completely speechless. I all but had to pick up my mouth off the ground with my own two hands. To say that I was surprised is the biggest understatement I've ever written here. Now my gifts for him seem a little ... well, just not quite enough. But he's happy with them. And I love my car! (Real photos soon)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Victorian Christmas

The Northeast Texas Choral Society certainly began its 10th season with a bang. This weekend, the chorus presented "A Victorian Christmas," complete with period costume, at the Hopkins County Civic Center. In all my years participating in this group or attending concerts, I cannot remember better attendance. And I certainly cannot recall better singing!

It was such a joy and a thrill when Carol Allen, director extraordinaire, invited me to sing "O Holy Night" with the group. As a charter member of NETCS, I, of course, jumped at the opportunity and was particularly thrilled to find that my schedule allowed my participation in the festivities. What an honor to sing with such a fantastic group of people! They were nothing but gracious to me--the girl who moved away to sing in "the big city"--and fell over backwards when I opened my mouth to sing. You see, it's been five years since these great folks have heard me sing. That's five years of voice lessons. That's five years of growth in sound. The sound engineer, in the nicest way possible, asked me to back away from the microphone a little bit. I take that as a great compliment. Needless to say, people were a little taken aback by how much my sound has grown while I've been away singing in "the big city."

But I'm certainly blown away by how much this group of singers has grown in their sound and professionalism. To think where it all began. And to reflect on where it is now. Wow. "A Victorian Christmas" will be hard to beat, and it will certainly be talked about for many weeks, if not years, to come. Congratulations, Northeast Texas Choral Society on ten terrific years of music. I wish you at least that many more! Thank you, thank you for allowing this hometown girl the chance to make music with all of you again. What an honor and privilege!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Concert Review

North East Texas Choral Society’s Christmas concert offers glad tidings of comfort and joy
By TERRY MATHEWS News-Telegram Arts Editor

Dec 2, 2007 - If last night’s sound check is a true indication of what is to come, we’re in for a great weekend of music.

Linda Riddle (left) and Ellen Atkins got into the spirit Friday night at sound check. “A Victorian Christmas,” presented by the Northeast Texas Choral Society opens Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center.

Director of Music Carol Allen has chosen an ambitious program that runs the gamut of holiday favorites, from “Silent Night” to Mel Tormè’s “The Christmas Song.”

This year marks the group’s 10th anniversary and they are going all out to make it a performance to remember.

“We wanted to do something special this year,” Allen said in an interview earlier this fall. “We want to bring in the holiday season with gladness.”

The stage is all gussied up and the singers will be decked out in full Victorian attire. As with all their shows, they’ve brought in additional musicians for accompaniment.

They’ve added a real “sugar plum fairy” and they’ve brought in some very special guests that are guaranteed to make everyone say, “I didn’t know they could sing.”

Mary Groner and Suzy Hamilton decorated the lobby with all the traditional holiday trimmings and it really sets the tone for the holiday experience.

“The minute you walk through the doors, the show begins,” said Allen. “We've set the mood with Christmas greenery, a decorated tree, poinsettias, mulled cider, Christmas cookies and ushers in full Victorian costumes.”

The chorus opens with a mix of Olde English carols and a Norwegian song, “O Yule Full of Gladness.”

The program includes favorites like “Silent Night,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “Silver Bells.”

They’ve included a children’s sing-a-long, with words to the songs included in the handsome printed program.

“We’re so proud of the printed program,” Allen said. “We’ve dreamed of something like this for years. It really is a keepsake.”

Sulphur Springs native Susan Foster Fox, a former choral society singer who now lives in the Dallas area, is performing with the group. Her solo on “O, Holy Night” provides one of the show’s best moments. It’s hard to believe so much sound and so much power comes from such a small package, but this girl delivers some very special magic.

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, Allen and her singers pull something new out of their bonnets and stove pipe hats.

The arrangement of “Jingle Bells” evokes Barbra Streisand, but let me assure you that no one is going to rain on the choral society’s parade.

The family of Mickey and Barbara McKenzie have underwritten the costs for the society’s two performances.

“We’re so fortunate to enjoy such great support,” Allen said. “We’re so grateful to the McKenzies for believing in us.”

Mea Culpa

Because I was actually going to see my mom on her birthday, it never dawned on me to put up the usual happy birthday post. So....better late than never.



Happy birthday mom & my friend Melissa and everyone else with a Nov. 26th birthday!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

For My Brother

For those of you who may not recall, my brother is a State Trooper. I saw this article on CNN today & thought he might nod along in agreement & get a chuckle too. I'm sure he's encountered one or two stops like these. In fact, I've heard the stories. And this is information we can all use anyway.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Whirlwind

We're now at midweek of what will certainly be a whirlwind when it's all said & done. This week is crazy busy for me with rehearsals and then concerts. I have one evening to stay home & that will likely be consumed with preparations for being gone all weekend (i.e. house chores, packing, etc.). Thankfully, as the month of December rolls in, it will get progressively quieter as my singing engagements begin tapering (opposed to the usual gathering of steam leading up to Christmas Eve).

Derek is also busy this week. Business has been painfully slow this month, but such is sales when year-end approaches & hospitals are out of budget. Cases have picked up, as have appointments, so he's kind-of chasing his tail. I know, for him, this is a welcome change. For one, he hates feeling idle. For another, it's last quarter crunch time for quota. We're still waiting for those big sales to go through. Talk about a nail biter!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Survived

Well, Turkey Day is over. And I've officially eaten my way through two days of family gatherings. I shudder to think what the scale might have to say about that ... which is precisely why I'm not going to ask it anything until the middle of next week! We had a nice two days visiting with family & reflecting on all we have to be thankful for. The list is quite extensive, to say the least. We are truly blessed.

We've also survived our traditional day-after shopping excursions. It gets harder & harder each year to buys Christmas gifts. We're all in a place where we tend to buy things for ourselves as we need them, so our wish lists seem to shrink smaller & smaller. But we managed to get a few things and enjoy a day out.

The rest of the weekend is set aside for R&R. In fact, Derek is still snoozing as I write this. =) The house is all clean--I had to do that Thursday morning in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner. All that really needs attention is laundry--we did manage to dirty quite a few towels in keeping the kitchen tidy while we cooked & then after dinner when we cleaned up. Otherwise, I really do intend to start on my Christmas cards. I'm eyeing all of the supplies right now, as a matter of fact. So without further ado....

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day we’re thankful for
Our blessings all year through,
For family we dearly love,
For good friends old and new.

For sun to light and warm our days,
For stars that glow at night,
For trees of green and skies of blue,
And puffy clouds of white.

We’re grateful for our eyes that see
The beauty all around,
For arms to hug, and legs to walk,
And ears to hear each sound.

The list of all we’re grateful for
Would fill a great big book;
Our thankful hearts find new delights
Everywhere we look!

By Joanna Fuchs

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Preparing

While this weekend should have been filled with all kinds of chores, I really spent most of it resting. I'm so tired. My allergies are giving me fits & that means that I'm not sleeping as well. Something about my allergy flare-ups affects my REM cycle. It's really annoying b/c I'm never rested no matter how much sleep I get.

I can't say I didn't accomplish anything this weekend though. I went to the opera with my girlfriend. Ugh. We left at intermission. It wasn't that we hated it. We just weren't enthralled enough by it to stick around for the second half. I hope the rest of the season is better! I did get my hair done. And it's about time too. The grey was really showing! And I managed to get all of the grocery shopping done. So we're all ready to have Thanksgiving dinner now.

I'm excited about dinner too. We're back to traditional fare--turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, etc. Mmm. Mmm. We're going to the in-law's on Thursday & then having my family over Friday. Mom & I will do our usual day-after shopping at the wee hours of the morning, come home for lunch & a brief nap, and then cook dinner. But that's easier this year since we're leaving the turkey & ham to the HoneyBaked Ham Co.

Tomorrow we're picking up the meat and the beautiful table centerpiece that mom ordered for us and Dori's food & meds. And then I'm cleaning house. I decided not to do it this weekend b/c I would just have to do it again closer to Friday. Why do it twice?!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Finally...Rest

This has been another crazy week. Rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals. I'm one tired chick! This is the first night I've been able to stay home and do nothing. And I'm taking full advantage of it! Derek's gone to Ft. Lauderdale for another meeting--the last one of the year. I'm enjoying control of the remote and being able to make what I want for dinner. Curried pumpkin soup. Yum. Aside from that, there's really nothing new to report.

The weather has finally turned cool & feels fall-ish. In theory, we may get a real "Arctic blast" this weekend. I'm not holding my breath! I'm enjoying the cooler weather and so is Dori. The heater is serviced, so we're ready to go. I just hope it finally stays cool!

With the hot weather, it really doesn't feel like Thanksgiving. Can you believe it's next week?! Man. And I was reminded by one of my shopping sites today that it's "only 32 days until Christmas." Gee. Thanks for the reminder. I'm so not in the mood. I have a phrase to go along with that. But it's totally inappropriate & would certainly get my mouth washed out with soap by my Granny. I'll let all of you ponder what that might be. (If you've heard the alternative form of "Jingle Bells" from the elves' perspective, well, you get the drift.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cute Critters

It's been a very welcomed lazy weekend. Naturally, I did the usual cleaning. But I've mostly enjoyed relaxing. It's been soooo nice! Dori & I have enjoyed many good walks. She's begging for them at least twice a day. She comes wherever I am & gives me "the face."



It looks a little something like this.





And while I'm sharing cute pet photos, here's one of Meeko chillin'. He's grown so much since we rescued him six months ago. He's gone from a mere 9 lbs to a whopping 14! He's a big boy now!




Yo! Curiosity's good for the abs!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Vegas Adventure

So I worked a full day Tuesday--a very early day, I might add. We caught our 6 pm flight & got to Vegas about 6:30 pm. We checked into The Paris. Derek decided to upgrade to a penthouse b/c midweek rates allowed us to get a great rate. We were on the thirty-second floor overlooking the Bellagio fountains. Talk about a bird's eye view! And the room was insanely large--complete with guest bath, huge living/dining, and a master suite. It was really something. The first thing we did after dropping off the luggage was find something to eat. We opted for the buffet. At $26/pp, I'm not sure it was really worth it. But, hey, it was there & it was easiest. We hit the hay early, by Vegas time anyway. Derek had to be ready to go by 6:45 the next morning.

Wednesday, I was on my own. I had the luxury of sleeping in. But, still being on Dallas time, I was up before 8. I had breakfast in the concierge lounge & then hit The Strip on foot. I took a little tour of my own hotel before heading out for the Bellagio, Caesar's, and then the Mile Mall (or something like that--it was an entire mile of shopping). For any of you who are shopping fanatics, Vegas is your city. There's tons of shopping. Most of the shops are high-end, but you'll find plenty of run-of-the-mill stores too. Vegas is also one of the greatest places to people watch--one of my favorite past-times. Man, the things you see! I think I most enjoyed how over-the-top Vegas is. The decorations, the architecture, the sculptures, the art, the fountains--you name it, it's bigger & better in Vegas. By mid-afternoon, my dogs were barking and I had spent way more than I had really intended, so I headed back to the room to veg until dinner. I was fortunate to be able to tag along on the company dinner at Del Frisco's. So that meant I didn't get to see any shows on this trip, but there's always next time for that!

Thursday was another on-my-own day. I decided to walk down to the MGM b/c Derek had talked so much about it. I did a little last-minute souvenir shopping along the way. Even with the browsing, I got to the MGM before the lions were out in their exhibit--yes, they have real, live lions in the hotel. So I wandered around the hotel for a bit, and then dashed back to our hotel to check out, check my bags with the porter, and then headed back to the MGM. By the time I got back, the lions had been out about 15 min and already they were napping. I realize cats sleep about 20 hours a day but I would have thought the trainers would have kept them awake a little longer than 15 minutes! Anyway, I was able to get some great photos even if it was just of them sleeping. I headed back to The Paris to meet my driver to head to the airport, where I would meet Derek for lunch. Our flight left on time & we got back to DFW early.

So what did Derek do this whole time? Well, poor guy, he spent all day Wednesday (6:45 am - 5:30 pm) and all morning Thursday (6:45 am - noon) in a cadaver lab. This was an upper extremity hands-on education class for Stryker Trauma reps. So this trip was all about education for him. He had no time for taking in Vegas, but I don't think he cared all that much.

I had a great time on my own, but I do recommend that you take a buddy with you if you're thinking about a trip to Vegas. It's much more fun to people-watch that way!

Here's a slideshow to enjoy!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Vegas, Baby

This has been a hectic week. I had to stay home part of the morning Monday. Derek had to go to work, so I was stuck waiting on the security company. They came, it was an easy repair, and the system is now back up & running. So check that one off the list.

Monday evening was hectic b/c I had to get everything packed & ready to go for the Vegas trip. I went to work for 6:45 am Tuesday so I could get in a full day before leaving for the late afternoon flight. Derek took care of the luggage & picked me up on his way to the airport. All in all, it was a great trip--I'll go into more detail in another post later this weekend, including synopsis & photos.

So, if you've noticed an absence from blogging, that's why. We went to Vegas sans laptop. Who had time to blog anyway? There was way too much fun to be had!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fall Back

Have I mentioned how much I love fall? I'm reminded of another one of the many reasons why it's my favorite season: the fall time change. Oh how I do love gaining an hour!

We've had a productive weekend. Went by the tire place to get the hubcap ordered. (One of the many reasons we'll continue to do business with Discount Tire.) I actually got Derek into some stores to shop. He really needed some new jeans, and we were actually successful in finding his size in the store! We usually have to order them--Mr. Long Legs. Dori has been a happy girl--the weather is just how she likes it. She's spent lots of time outside & we've been on many walks (good for all of us!). The house is clean. The laundry is almost finished. I'm caught up on all my shows.

Mom and dad came by last night. Derek went to the early-morning Wal-Mart sale on Friday and found mom a laptop. He got it all set up, including updates, virus protection, accessories, and extra programs. So she picked that up last night. She's having a great time surfing...in front of the tv.

In family news, my grandfather has taken a little turn. Early in the week, the nurse found him on his bathroom floor in the middle of the night. He had fallen. They, of course, checked him out completely to be sure he hadn't hurt himself. That's when they discovered he was running a really high temp. They're still not exactly sure what caused the high temp, but the tests did show that his liver numbers are really out of kilter (and it sounds a lot like what we went through with Dori, oddly enough). So they're running more tests in hopes of finding out the culprit that's compromising the liver. Please do keep him in your prayers this week.

Friday, November 02, 2007

TGIF

Wow, this was one of the longest weeks. I ran, ran, ran this week. Maybe that's why. Had very productive rehearsals, albeit lots of them. Finally got to run through my solo piece with the director of NETCS, so I'm not as worried about that concert. I do have some nuances to work on, but it's really just down to that. I came home with two solos for that concert, so I'm very pleased. Most of these people (from my hometown) haven't heard me sing in ... oh, I don't know ... six years, I guess. Everyone at rehearsal was impressed at my sound; it's grown a lot in that time.

Had a good lesson Tuesday. I still have a lot of work to do on the Rutter. While the music is oh-so beautiful, it is truly difficult. It requires such a long line, which means lots of laryngeal strength and breath support. And that makes for one tired singer by the time a rehearsal is up! But it's so worth it when you hear the end product. I'm still amazed at the recording from the March Chorale concert. (If I can get my DVD drive to cooperate, I'll upload a snippet of the video for you guys to hear.)

Naturally, I had choir on Wednesday so I missed all of the Halloween festivities. I'm glad I made bags and as many as I did. Every single one of them was gone by the end of the evening. That's a lot of candy!

In other news, we bought a new vehicle this week. (Pictures soon) Derek's work vehicle was due for a stint in the shop. We had hoped to make it to '08 with it, but we just couldn't risk driving it that long without major work. So we opted to trade it in instead. The problems weren't bad enough to reduce the value of the vehicle, so we got a good trade-in value. And this time we were able to get him a new ride instead of a used one. It's really nice. We hope it's as good as the last one, which only required routine maintenance & care. Here's to another 105K miles!

Our security system is on the fritz. We got a call from our monitoring service that the battery was sending a signal. We opted to buy the battery & install it ourselves to save some bucks. When we came home Wednesday, the house smelled terrible. We both assumed it was the trash. But upon further investigation discovered the horrible smell was coming from the closet with the system box. Yep, definitely rotten eggs. So clearly the battery's bad. But I was also concerned about what turned out to be the power source for the box. It clearly needs to be replaced, as well. So our monitoring service will be coming to do system maintenance on Monday. We hope they'll install the battery we bought, too.

Oh yeah, and Wednesday afternoon I somehow managed to download a Trojan horse onto my work computer. Can you say that I'm not my IT guy's favorite office gal right now? Yeah. Understatement. Because my machine is 100% not repairable without a system wipe. I guess the good thing for me is that our new computers are in. Bad news is that I haven't a clue when I'll have a computer. Can you say long days?

And another thing. On my way home from rehearsal in E. Texas on Monday, I lost one of my hubcaps. Apparently, when the tire place replaced the one tire & rotated all of the others, they didn't get my hubcaps back on properly. Good news though. They're going to replace the one that flew off & check all of the others. I just have to find the time to get up there for them to get the part number. Bad news. I have to drive my car with a hubcap missing. How embarrassing!

I hope to spend some time playing with the new printer this weekend. I have tons of projects to work on in the scraproom--namely, the handmade Christmas cards. If I don't get started on those, Christmas will be here & they won't be done!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another Exciting Weekend

Another exciting weekend completed at The Foxhole. The critters and I were successful in our house cleaning efforts, including the clean-up on aisle nine. Nothing makes me feel great like having a clean house, ya know? All that's left is finishing up the laundry, which requires an ironing board so you can see why that's still lingering.

Derek had a great business trip in San Francisco. And he had a little bit of the weekend left to enjoy at home. Dori's still doing terrific after our little hiccup last week. Who knows what that was all about. I had a nice dinner with my friend Elise at my favorite Italian restaurant. Missed out on the tiramisu again, but everything was still excellent, as usual.

Today, I do my civic duty by reporting for jury duty. At least all I have to do is walk downstairs to report. And I'm hoping to come back upstairs to my office until they need me. But we'll see whether that actually works out. Let's hope I dodge the bullet on this one.

Friday, October 26, 2007

It's Time to Admit...

I really hate oatmeal! Seriously. Can't. stand. it. Why is this so earth-shattering? Well, I've been eating oatmeal my whole life. Growing up, I really loved the instant maple & brown sugar flavored oatmeal. But recently, I've been buying the Kashi oatmeal that, while microwaveable, is not instant oatmeal. You have to microwave it to cook the oats--I've always just added hot water & let the oatmeal sit for a while until it got thick. I know that I must make the most terrible faces when I eat the Kashi oatmeal. Why? Well, it's not so much the flavor of the oatmeal--Kashi has some pretty good flavors. It's more of a texture issue. "Real" oatmeal has the consistency of boogers. Yeah. Sorry. But that's just what it reminds me of. And I don't know about you, but I have a real problem eating anything that reminds me of boogers. And that, quite frankly, encompasses a lot of my issues with foods on my "hate" list. So, while the "real" oatmeal I've been eating is good for me, I think I'm going to have to pass on it. For good. I'll get my oats somewhere else. Thanks.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Turn in Place

It appears we've headed off at the pass whatever it is that may have been plaguing Dori. She ate breakfast this morning and did fine all day in the bathroom. She's definitely perky, still hungry, and seems to back to good digestive health ... if you get my drift. I'm just glad to have avoided a clean-up on aisle seven!

Two Steps Forward and a Shuffle to the Side

Well, it will be quiet around the house for a few days. Derek's off to San Francisco for a business meeting. (No, worries. He's way north of the wildfires!) So that means the critters & I will be home alone to do whatever we want...which means we'll probably be lazy--watch what we want to watch on tv, do some stuff in the craft room, practice some music, you know...stuff. We definitely have to clean. I know the critters will be excited to learn that!

Speaking of cleaning, I definitely have to hose down the master bath. Poor Dori had a little setback (hence the post title). When I got home from work Tuesday, she had left some "presents" for me. Thankfully, it was obvious that she hadn't taken care of business before Derek left for the day and just couldn't hold it until I got home. So at least that was an easy clean-up. Anyway, we went on our standard evening walk and it became apparent that something else was going on as she wanted to stop every five seconds & make deposits. (Warning: TMI on the way) What successful deposits she was able to leave were not of the solid variety, but mostly she was just gassy, which was pretty funny b/c Dori hates to tootle. So there was lots of checking out of the gassy noises & then dropping of the head when she realized the sounds were indeed coming from her own hind end. I digress. Anyway. She was still acting completely normal aside from the runny poo/gas. She ate fine. She played. She was perky. So even though I was a little concerned, I was hoping it was just b/c she'd tried to hold in some poo all day long & that that had just messed up the sensitive system. I mean, hey, doesn't that happen to you? Anyway. Dinner, unfortunately, did not come out solidly. So we were up & down all night long letting her go outside. At midnight, Derek finally gave up & slept on the couch so that Dori could be closer to the back door. That's when she decided to go to sleep--after we'd been up and down for two hours letting her outside to pass gas and/or ... well, you know. I guess she just wanted to be closer to the door (she usually sleeps in the bedroom with us, where we keep the door closed b/c we can't trust our brood not to get into things while we're sleeping).

Yesterday morning, she was not interested in breakfast and she was still having bathroom issues. So we called the vet about it. She prescribed an antibiotic & we have thus far dodged an office visit. Derek put Dori in the master bath when he left for work rather than putting her in her room. (Tile is a lot easier to clean than carpet!) When he got home, the bathroom was quite a mess. (Thank goodness we put her in the bathroom!) Poor Dori had her head down the whole evening. I guess she thought we'd be mad at her. It's not like she could help it! Last night, I couldn't get her to eat anything--not even her favorite veggies. That made me think her tummy might be queasy, so I gave her a Maalox chewable, which she took happily. When I got home from choir, I tried feeding her again. Still not interested. Before bed, Derek finally forced her medicine down her and I gave her another Maalox. We left some broccoli and dry food down and put her soft food in the fridge. She did fine overnight and did not ask once to go out to potty.

This morning, the broccoli and dry food were all gone and she acted hungry. So I got her food back out. The first thing she did was pick out & eat the carrots she'd refused the night before. Then she set about eating the soft food, carefully picking out the pieces that had some leftover medicine in them. Stinker. She's back in the master bath again today. Hopefully there won't be a repeat of yesterday b/c I have to clean it up. Me. The one with the most sensitive gag reflex you've ever encountered! I don't do vomit ... or poop. Let's hope Dori has a good day.

Wow. All of that was to say that I definitely have to bleach the bathroom. Even though Derek's already scoured it & bleached it, I still feel like I should do it myself. Gives me the willies just thinking about all the germies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Love Fall

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the crisp air. I love sitting on the patio in the morning with a hot cup of coffee just watching the world go by. I love taking the dog for a walk--she's even more excited about her walks than usual. I love watching the leaves turn colors and slowly drop from the trees. I love the fall flowers. I love fall!

More than that, fall is my favorite time of year for food. Soups. Stews. Chilis. Roast. Beans. Thanksgiving. Can you think of a better time of year for food? I really can't. Well, summer would be a close second b/c of tomatoes & my favorite fresh herbs. But fall takes #1 hands down in my book. I made southwestern pumpkin soup last night (recipe). It was soooo good. It wasn't high on Derek's list of favorite soups, but I thought it was great. I think I spoiled him with the butternut squash soup last fall--he loved it--so he wasn't fond of my additions to the recipe. Tonight we're having tortilla soup. Mmmm. Another favorite. I'm so excited it's cool enough that I can finally cook all of my favorite fall recipes!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Finally

Fall weather is here! We awoke this morning to the strongest cold front yet. Man, is it windy! But on the upside, the brisk fall weather has finally arrived. In fact, this morning's temp (59F) is today's high. So for the first time this fall, I wore a turtleneck to work. Whoohoo! I love this time of year. What I don't love about this time of year, however, is the junk that blows in with these kinds of fronts. My allergies are going haywire today. Can't have everything, I guess.

Had a very nice weekend. Friday, for the first time in weeks, I cooked dinner. Derek, of course, enjoyed that. It meant he didn't have to think too hard about what he could eat b/c I'm super conscious of his new diet...more so than he'd like me to be, I think. We had a terrific anniversary dinner Saturday night at our favorite Italian restaurant, Cosa Nostra. We once again had the fondue to start. Not exactly on Derek's new diet, but this was a special occasion, so I let him cheat. I had the salmon special for dinner this time. Derek stuck with the pork chops. Both were excellent. We were robbed of tiramisu once again, but the cappuccino cheesecake was d-lish! Yesterday was a lazy day. I worked on laundry and laid around. I really needed to clean, but I just couldn't get up the gumption. Dori & I played outside several times throughout the afternoon & then went for a walk at dusk. So I wasn't a total slug. And I did actually get in the practice room to work on the music for tonight's rehearsal.

Derek and the gang thoroughly enjoyed the Cowboys game yesterday, which turned out to be a 3 o'clock game instead of the original noon playing time. They stayed 'till the bitter end, which was a good call. The 'Boys were lookin' a little ragged there for a while but managed to pull the win in the end.

Everyone send some *happy thoughts* to my friend Jana this week. She's in a special one-year teaching program at the University of Memphis law school this year. This week, she begins interviewing for her next job. She's a bit stressed and certainly anxious about the whole process. She's a very talented young lady who should have no trouble finding a job. Nonetheless, interviewing is always stressful no matter your qualifications. So if you have a moment, say a little prayer for Jana.

It's official: my brother will be transferring from the Terrell office to the Rockwall office effective November 1st. He'll be running straight traffic in this office, so no more accident investigation or DOA stuff. County handles all of that. Rockwall office is smaller, so he should have more opportunity to advance & get more experience. We're all proud of him!

And happy birthday to my friends Kara & Heather and my cousin Scott! Guess we know what our parents were doing in January...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Happy Anniversary

It's hard to believe that seven years has come & gone since we said "I do." We're both a little older, a little wiser, a little fluffier. But I cannot imagine spending my life with anyone else. There really is someone for everyone. And I'm glad that you're mine!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

From Boohoo to Whoohoo!

Tried to get to Discount Tire when it opened this morning, but the leak in the tire was bigger than anticipated. So getting the tire to hold air was a bit tricky. I finally got enough in it that I felt comfortable driving to Rockwall. By the time I got there, there was a long line & my tire was once again flat. I waited a lot longer than they said I'd have to...but it is Saturday and I was late getting there. As suspected, the tire couldn't be repaired b/c of the amount of time I'd driven on it while it was flat. Apparently, it's not uncommon for this to happen to rear tires. When they go flat, it's not as obvious as a front tire b/c there is no obvious pulling or wobbling. The typical flat tire sound isn't even obvious until you turn a corner, which is when I first noticed it. So long story short, I had to get a new tire. But thanks to the super duper warranty we purchased with the new set of tires, the cost of the new tire was 100% covered. Whoohoo! I did have to purchase a new warranty for the new replacement tire. But hey, I'll take $15 over $150 any day!

My little tire excursion took up most of the morning, especially once I tacked on a few additional stops on the way home. Hey, the dog has to eat...and so does Derek! So I'm just getting started on the regular weekend chores. Think I'll do all the laundry today & work on the house cleaning tomorrow while Derek's gone to the Cowboy game.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Boo-hoo!!!

First of all, I think I've figured out what happened to one of those masterworks that went "missing" from my library. Yep. I'm just crazy. If my research proves correct, I never actually bought the piece - I just thought I did. Nice. I'm officially cuckoo at 30-whatever. But on the upside, the very nice librarian for the Chorale has agreed to go to storage and look for my copy and send it to me (once I pay for it, of course). As much as I would love to have my original markings from the score, I really hate to make her look through 60+ scores just to find mine b/c it will totally be a hunt-n-peck search. Why? Well, I don't think I wrote my name in it, for one thing. And, if that hunch proves correct, that means that she'll have to look through each score to find the one with the soprano solo line all marked up. And Murphy will probably make it be on the bottom of the stack. But, on the other hand, the nice librarian did volunteer to look in storage for my score. So....

Second of all, I think I may have to replace an almost-brand-new tire. I went to dinner with a girlfriend last night, and as I was pulling into the community after dinner, I heard an odd noise. I rolled down my window b/c I was pretty sure it was a flat tire noise. Pulled in the driveway. Yep. Not just flat. Flat as a pancake. Whah! I have no idea how long I drove on it that way. I really don't think it was flat when I left the restaurant. Surely I would have noticed that. Then again. I can be a little air-headish sometimes, especially after a visit with girlfriends. I'm hoping that it flattened as I drove and only got super flat as I was approaching home. Anyway. We bought four new tires at Discount Tire about six months ago, so I'll take it back there for repair or replacement since we have the super-duper warranty. I really hope it's not replacement! I'm still paying vet bills! Sniff.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mi-mi-mi-mi

Not that it's any surprise, but my week has been cram-packed with singing. And it's about to get busier. I'm now part of a quintet at church (my paid gig). When we lost the new second sop/alto a week or so ago, Epiphany lost a singer and that meant a group rethinking. So I got called in to be the replacement. I was part of a similar group at Ridgewood, so the music is completely familiar at least. It does add an extra evening of rehearsal each week and means a shift in my lesson schedule, which is pretty tough since my voice studio is completely full & I've had my current slot for ages.

I've begun working in earnest on the big gigs I've agreed to sing in December. Naturally, it's a lot of music and there are tricky places to hammer out. My big solo work (Rutter) is quite difficult and will require a lot more time than I had anticipated. Though, it seems odd that I didn't anticipate it being a lot of work, every Rutter piece I've ever sung has required tons of work. Like the rest, this one requires such a long line. Back to some very boring laryngeal strengthening exercises. Blah. But I do know that they pay off in the end.

I'm due at a rehearsal for my NETCS engagement on Monday, and I've been so wrapped up in the Rutter that I have (ashamedly) not even begun listening to, much less rehearsing, my NETCS music...and there's a lot of it! Eeek. I'm a little panicked. I really need to be strong and know my part b/c I'm coming back to this group as a pro not just as little ol' me. So I guess you know what that means...the rest of the week/weekend will be consumed with music. Oh how I do love my iPod!

Speaking of music, I've been on a mad hunt for a big work that should be in my library. I have reason to believe that I've loaned the Mass to my boss at church, even though she doesn't recall having it to peruse. I searched this last weekend for it b/c I finally got a recording of the concert & wanted to follow along in my score. Interesting. Not where I thought I left it. Looked through the whole library. Not there. That's when I remembered that I'd maybe loaned it. So I checked with the boss lady last night. Granted, we weren't in her office where she could look in earnest, so the "no" was more off-handed than certain. But I was still surprised to hear the "no." So I looked for it again last night when I got home but to no avail. Either I have indeed loaned it or it's in the scary office with another work that I seem to be missing (how conveniently...in the middle of the night, quite literally, I realize there's a second one missing. I don't remember seeing the Requiem when I went through the whole library looking for the Mass.) That's strange. I have no recollection of loaning that to anyone. So that means that I've done something with part of my library.

(Realization) Oh lord. If the missing works are in the scary office, it may be weeks before I find them! Sigh. Don't you just hate it when you can't put your hands on something? And when you're talking about a full score, well, now two full scores, you're talking about a serious expense to replace them if they don't turn up. Plus, you've lost every helpful note you wrote in the originals. If I happened to loan you a score or perhaps two, could you remind me so I can quit fretting about what happened to these two jewels? And preferably before I tear my house apart this weekend really looking for them? K. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Moooooo

Yesterday was a loooooooooooooong day. After work, I dashed home long enough to let the dog out, powder my nose & change into comfy clothes. I then jumped in the car for a voice lesson & subsequent rehearsal. I finally got home about 8:45 pm. Yuck! Those kinds of days are why I've given up theatre for a little while--same kind of schedule. And this girl needs her beauty rest in order to avoid being a stark raving b....well, you know what I mean.

The rest of the week isn't too bad, but it's still looking crowded. Because I did stuff around the house this weekend, I never got to the grocery store. Sigh. So that means that I get to face that after work today. Ugh. Not my favorite. I'll go home, take Dori for a run, and eat before facing that task. Perhaps by then the stores will have cleared out from the after-work rush. Tomorrow will be another long day. I have a rehearsal at 6 & 7:30. So I'll get about 30 min at home before heading out for another late evening. Thursday I'm having a belated birthday dinner with a friend. Friday (cross my fingers) should be a quiet evening at home. All in all, the weekend should be quiet, I think.

Derek got the results from his physical today, and he's not a happy camper. On the upside, his blood pressure is fine & he's not diabetic. On the downside, his cholesterol is quite high. His doctor wants to put him on meds immediately. I, however, think that's a stupid idea. Doctors are too quick to shove a pill down a patient's throat than they are to attempt to remedy a malady naturally. Let's consider some mitigating factors--ones I'm sure the doctor didn't ponder before recommending a pill. Being in sales and on the road every day, Derek does not have the best diet in the world (lots of food on the go, like hamburgers and fries) and he does not take the time to exercise regularly. I don't want Derek taking meds that he may ultimately not need. So he's going to spend the next three to six months (he hasn't decided but I think six months is a better marker) making positive changes in diet and exercise to see how much he can bring down his cholesterol. At the very least, I'll feel better knowing that he tried even if he ultimately ends up medicated. It may be that his genes are against him on this one, just like my genes are against me in the blood pressure dept.

All in all, this turns into something great for both of us. My clothes are getting a little snug, and I don't want to go back to being Fluffy Susan. I was doing so well until we started jetsetting the last month or so. Now the scale spits out a number that I'm not happy with, and clearly my clothes are saying the same thing. So we're finally going to do what we've talked about for the last year: join the local gym. Sure, I'm still going to run with Dori b/c she loves it & needs the exercise herself. My runs with Dori are just too short to do me any good, but I can actually get in a good workout (beneficial to my snugness problem) at the gym. I hope Derek & I can go to the gym together (accountability is key to a successful regimen), but I doubt he'll want to keep my early-morning workout hours. Hey, I know my weaknesses--I can think of a million excuses for not going after work!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Productive Weekend

It was a busy one, indeed. Friday was the only quiet day of the whole weekend. We enjoyed an evening in in front of the tv. I worked on laundry but was otherwise unproductive. Saturday, I got up & made Derek breakfast. Then I started the house cleaning. Fun. Not! But it had to be done b/c it hadn't been done in a while. Gross. Anyway, got that done pretty quickly. Worked on more laundry in between. Then I got ready & met friends for a belated birthday dinner. We had a fabulous visit & I got some Kohl's bucks to spend. Whoohoo! (Thanks, Gayla & Heather; you're too good to me!) I wish I could remember some of the things I told them I would blog about; they were funny. But sadly, my some-timers has stolen those brilliant ideas for the moment. Hopefully they'll come flitting back this week (or one of the girls will remind me). Today was the usual. Sang three terrific anthems at church. Then I came home to work in the craft room. I had lots of thank you cards to make!

Got those all done. So now I'm preparing for the week ahead. I have a busy evening tomorrow--voice lesson & rehearsal. I really should be singing now, but I just realized I'm missing Desperate Housewives!

Later!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Where to Start

Had a terrific birthday dinner with the family last night. What's better than squeezing 7 people around a table meant for 6 at most?! =) We had a nice visit, I got some great presents, we enjoyed good food, and there was even cake. Can't complain about any of that!

Got Dori's bloodwork results today. Everything is back to 100% normal. Yay! She will continue taking two medications indefinitely--they have no side effects and support liver function--and we'll continue feeding her as much as she will eat. She's going to stay at the vet while we're in Vegas...just in case. We think this first round of antibiotics will be enough, but there's no need exposing her to other things & sending her off to get exhausted (after playing hard) at camp to find out. Hopefully we're in the clear for the long-term. At this point, she's scheduled for a routine follow-up in 6 mos.

Guess what I'm doing this weekend?

Gee...was it that easy? Yep, I'll be cleaning & doing laundry. My house is an utter disaster...for me anyway. And I need to get the inside clean so I can start on the garage. With winter quickly approaching (I hope), we need to get the pellets for our new fireplace insert. And since we'll be ordering a ton of those (50 40-lb bags), we need to make space for them. And that means getting the garage in order (finally). Guess that means I need to get to it.

Oh, I did take a few pictures in Napa, though I wish I'd done better. Anyway, here's the album--what there is of it. I'll do better next time!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thanks

To all of my friends and family, thanks so much for all of the birthday well-wishes sent my way. The cards & sentiments were appreciated (and the loot hasn't been bad either!). It was a great day.

In other news, Dori is at the vet today for a check-up after several weeks of meds. Since everything will be checked by blood panel, it may be next week before we know anything. She's holding steady at 47 lbs--a little thinner than we'd like to see her--but with that healthy appetite, we hope to see her back up to a healthy 55 lbs over the course of the next month. We'll up her soft food and veggie snacks to see if we can put some meat back on her. We're going to start walking several times a week to work out some of that extra energy she has now, so she'll definitely need some more calories to compensate.

Apparently, this is the year for travel for us. Derek just called and invited me to a training course in Vegas. He'll be working during the day, so I hope to sightsee. There's lots to do on The Strip ... or so I hear. We'll be staying at Paris hotel. Oo-la-la. It's a short trip, but I should at least be able to take in the major sites close by.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Birthday to ... ME!

I love stretching my birthday out as long as possible. Don't you? Got cards from friends & family yesterday. And my neighbors had a cookout for me last night--complete with a pan of brownies with frosting. YUM-MY! Unfortunately, Derek had to go to work, so he missed it. He ran in the door to give me my (early) present & then headed straight for Waxahachie. And then it turned out that the break was so bad it had to go recon instead of trauma. Bummer. Think it was after 11 when he got home--I don't know, I was sleeping. I digress. Anyway, one of my bosses is taking me to lunch today. My mom called just a bit ago. I'm meeting family for dinner tomorrow night. And I believe there may be several other lunches & dinners in the works. Oh, how I love to make birthdays last as long as possible!


And look what my dear, sweet husband got me for my birthday! (Mine has a silver face instead of black.) Yep, I'm definitely spoiled.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Of Birthdays & Such

Dori apparently had quite a time at the vet's office while we were in Napa. Derek picked her up yesterday morning. The girls in the office said they weren't "sure whether they wanted to let Dori go home." They really do love her up there. The girl checking Derek out even said, "looks like somebody got lots of playtime." One of the girls went back to get her from her kennel while Derek was paying. She made the mistake of telling Dori, "your daddy's here to get you" before she'd put the harness on her so Dori bolted from her kennel to the front to see her daddy--all wiggles & licks (and she's not a licker). She was quite excited to see him. As soon as she got home, she wanted to go inside to see the cats (and do a million zooming laps around the house) before going outside. I can't say that I got quite that kind of greeting when I got home--she was napping by the time I got home. She's still doing terrific--taking her medicine well, even perkier than last week, eating like a champ. She took her last antibiotic for breakfast, so I guess she'll be going for follow-up on the hepatitis later this week. Let's keep the fingers crossed that it's acute & not chronic!

In other news, I'm about to celebrate a birthday. It's hard to believe that a year has come & gone. Seriously. And this, to me, is a more monumental birthday than last year. I'm now "in my 30s" and not quite sure how to feel about it. I don't feel a day over 25. Funny. Age, I guess, is relative. Apparently, I don't look a day over 20--or so everyone says each time I'm asked for i.d. And yet, there are times that my age is vastly apparent--like when you spend a weekend with someone who only has vague recollections of the 80s. Wha?! Oh well. Another year is always better than the alternative.

Finicky


I feel like feeding time at our house is sometimes like this--for critters & people alike.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Be Observant

Our weekend in Napa was fabulous. I wish we'd had more time there--a day or two at least. We happened to be in the valley for harvest, so it was pretty busy. And we encountered a lot of traffic driving up the mountains into the heart of wine country on the two-lane winding highway, so we spent more time in the car for the 20 miles or so we drove than we anticipated. But we still hit a few of the big vineyards on our must-see list and have some terrific wines on their way to us sometime in the next few weeks (if temps cool off enough for shipment from the valley to here, that is). We hope to attend the same conference next year to hit some of the other vineyards we just didn't have time for. Plus, we have a feel for the area & I feel more comfortable venturing out on my own than I did this trip.

Coming home, our plane was delayed so our 8:30 pm arrival at DFW became 10:30 pm. Ugh. Thankfully we didn't check luggage so we were back at the car & on our way by a little after 11. The rest of the ride home proved more eventful than either of us would have liked. I'm driving along talking to Derek and all of a sudden he says, "slow down & let this car pass." I hadn't even noticed the car that was in the lane to my left until he mentioned it. I was putting along about 65 in the center lane. So I slow down to let the car pass. Instead, it slows down to match speed. I speed back up. The car accelerates. Derek says, "get over a lane." So I get over in the right lane. Sure enough, that car gets over too. I'm going in to panic mode. Derek says, "floor it." I speed up to about 80 and that car absolutely guns it to catch me. I immediately let off the gas & start a quick deceleration. The car begins doing the same. It's still ahead of us as we approach an exit and Derek yells, "exit...quick...now." I barely make the exit & thankfully that car isn't able to follow. We then start talking about it. He had noticed the car long before he told me to slow down & let him pass. Apparently, it had come up on us & was speeding up and slowing down, checking out the car the whole way. We have no idea what the person's intention was, but it became very clear that the intention likely wasn't good and we should do whatever we could to get away. We surmised carjacking or robbery or something worse. I only wish we'd had time to report the car to 911 before we evaded him. I wouldn't be surprised if he began stalking another car after he lost us.

But this brought to mind an important lesson that I wanted to share. Be aware. Be observant. Don't panic. No matter the time of day, pay attention to who's driving around you & their behavior. If you have reason to believe someone is scoping you out like this guy was us, do your best to lose him or get to a safe place as quickly as possible ... even if that means abandoning your car as you run for safety. I was telling Derek that, had I been by myself, I probably wouldn't have noticed this car until it was too late. I get in the car & drive and pay very little attention to anyone else...unless it's plainly obvious they're after me. This guy was simply scoping out my car. And I can guarantee it would have taken me quite a while to even notice it. And if I'd noticed it, I know I would have panicked. I'd like to think my first instinct would be to call 911. I've certainly called in my fair share of aggressive drivers. But would I have thought to call in a car stalker? Derek stayed cool as a cucumber as he was giving me instructions. He's definitely the reason there is nothing more to the story other than "what might have been." I hope that I'm able to stay calm & be smart if I'm ever faced with another scary situation like this. I've certainly thought through some scenarios for future reference. And quite frankly, so should all of you.

Stay safe out there.

One word: WOW

I promised a Lion King review and here it is. WOW. Really. That's about all I can say. It was a fabulous production that I could see over and over. And it's on my list to see in New York when I go again next year.

The music was, of course, terrific. The script was straight from the original movie (with the addition of "Morning Report," which is in the most recent re-released version of the movie on DVD (and not a favorite of mine), and maybe one other song). The actors were superb and perfectly voiced (as in, they sounded as close to the originals as you could possibly get, which wasn't necessary but certainly nice when you love the movie as much as I do). The costumes were knock-down, drop-dead gorgeous. Phenomenal. So lifelike. Just amazing.

I think we spent most of the show with our mouths open. And we stood on our feet applauding for a long time at curtain call. If you haven't seen this show, don't walk...RUN to the nearest theatre showing it. It will be worth every single penny you pay for a ticket. And I highly recommend floor seats--center aisle if you can get them. Our floor seats, even though on the side aisle, were awesome!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

So Much to Do

There's so much to do before our weekend get away/working trip to Napa. I haven't even started the packing list, much less picked up everything we need. The house hasn't been cleaned. The laundry isn't finished. And I have other fun things to do between now & 5:30 a.m. on Friday! Like... go see

I'm so excited that I just can't even stand it! My mom, grandmother, and I will be going with a group of kids from mom's school. We have terrific seats on the floor--right where the action will be...or some of it anyway. Can't wait! This show comes highly recommended by so many people; I know we won't be disappointed. Look for a raving review sometime this weekend, assuming I do any blogging while in Napa.

Speaking of Napa, I'm kinda in panic mood over the trip. I was thrilled to find that the weather will be nice during the day (71F Fri, 74F Sat, 77F Sun), but I'm a little concerned about nighttime temps (41F Fri, 44F Sat). Those of you who know me know that I'm exceedingly cold-natured. And pretty much anything below 70F means that I have a sweater on. So packing for this trip will be tedious. I'm an overpacker by nature. And a place like this makes it more difficult. I'm thinking I'll mostly pack sweaters b/c I don't anticipate doing anything so active that I'll sweat very much. And I'm definitely sure that I'll leave the swimsuit at home. Brrrr. No going to the pool when it's less than 80F! Evening wear will be difficult. Sleeveless dresses are probably out. Guess that leaves me to pants suits. We'll be entertaining clients at night, after all.

Aside from the woes of figuring out what clothes to pack, I haven't gotten our toiletries in order. Sounds silly. But with such a short trip, we have the option of carrying on all of our luggage rather than checking bags. We still haven't decided on this detail. If we carry on, I have to buy smaller toiletries for some of our day-to-day items b/c of the TSA restrictions. Hopefully Derek & the other people traveling with us will get this figured out. Then I can make my obligatory trip to the store...or not.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quiet Weekend

We've enjoyed a nice, quiet weekend. Friday night we celebrated our neighbor's birthday with homemade hotwings and a gathering of friends. Saturday we spent all day getting the filing sorted & ready to go into the filing cabinet. I've been avoiding the filing for...oh, I don't know...more than a year b/c lots of the stuff goes back to the end of '05. Sad, I know. Aside from the fact that I'm ready to get Derek's office in some semblance of order & this is where the piles of filing have been multiplying like bunnies....the real motivation is that we've put off getting everything together for the accountant until the very last minute. So going through all of this paperwork was more a matter of necessity. The dining room table is completely covered with piles and piles of sorted paperwork. Now it will be going to its proper home...and may we never let it wait this long again! While I was sorting the filing, Derek was working on his portion of the records for the accountant. I'll be glad to be finished. We took a break last night to enjoy some wine & cheese over a movie. It was a nice, quiet evening. Unfortunately Derek had to go to work this morning, so our plans to go to church together were thwarted once again. I appreciate the business since it pays the bills, but it would be nice if he could get one weekend without working! (I didn't have to sing this morning, so we would have gotten to sit together. That doesn't happen often.) So I've had a quiet afternoon to myself. The cases have been lining up, so it will be a late night for him, too.

On a different note, Dori is continuing to improve. She still has a healthy appetite, waking me up the last two mornings for breakfast at her regular (very early) weekday time & begging for dinner in the evenings. She's had veggie snacks & has gobbled them up, as well. We took her to PetsMart yesterday since we needed kitty nibbles. She had a blast walking through the store, greeting everyone she met. She put on her best show for everyone. We're so thrilled that she's virtually back to her old self. While we're in Napa Valley next weekend, she'll be staying at the vet again. We debated about sending her to camp as planned but decided that since she'll still be on meds that it would be better for her to be at the vet instead. The vet's office is terrific about giving Dori lots of attention even when she's boarding, so we know she'll enjoy her time there. Maybe when she's 100% we can send her for a weekend of unbridled playtime at camp.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Must Be Crazy

Well, I've done it. I've gone and double-booked myself...and it was completely voluntary. The first weekend of December, I will be a singing fool. And I LOVE IT! I am a charter member of the Northeast Texas Choral Society--the brain child of the lovely, talented, and absolutely delightful Ms. Carol Ruth Allen (whose also like a second mom to me). This year marks the 10th anniversary of NETCS...and my, how far this fabulous chorus has come! Needless to say, this entire year is intended to be a celebration of ten glorious years of choral music in a small town. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, Carol called me today about singing the solo in one of my all-time favorite Christmas pieces. After much careful pouring over my schedule, she & I decided that it's completely do-able. So not only will I be singing the piece she proffered, but I will also be singing the concert in its entirety on the evening performance and the first half of the matinee (to allow me time to make my call for the big Rutter piece I'll be soloing on at LHUMC). The first weekend of December will be a busy one for me. But what an exciting opportunity on all fronts!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Better Week

Well, this is certainly a better week than the last...thus far anyway. Test results from Dori's liver biopsy show that there is evidence of hepatitis--just as the vet suspected. (Because I haven't actually talked to the vet (i.e. this info is all through Derek), I can't really tell you more than that.) She begins some new meds today. (And she's still eating like a champ...whooppee!)

Did I mention that I cancelled the audition I had scheduled? Aside from all of the stress from Dori's illness, I realized that the show was going to run during some critical times for my church job. And since I'm paid at my church job & will have some solos in the big pieces we're doing there, I decided for those dings on the resume instead of the show. There will be lots of other theatre opportunities, but I don't know how often I'll get a chance to sing some of the choral pieces (with solos).

Aside from my church job, I have absolutely nothing going on musically/theatrically right now. But that's okay. I have some really big pieces to tackle for the next NATS & recital. Lots of ear torture for the neighbors. They've been missing out. I know they'll be glad to know that the evening concerts are back on.

Derek is having an awesome month at work. In fact, he's had back-to-back super sales months. He's more than halfway to his number, which is terrific considering his territory, and his growth is more than the required 20%. But I know he'll be a lot happier when some of those pending sales finally close. They're really close, which is more than he could say mid-summer. And if those sales do close before year-end, he should be super close to making his number for a second consecutive year (if not over). Either way, he's a super salesman and has so much to be proud of.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hungry Husky

Let's just say that Dori's making up for lost time. When I got home yesterday, she had eaten all of the broccoli I had left for her. After I let her out to potty, she came back inside and followed me to her room where I was about to pick up her dry & wet food b/c I didn't think she would eat it. Well, she started going to town on it as if to say "yo, I just wanted an audience. it's not that I wasn't going to eat it." Anyway, she ate most of the dry food and all of the wet food and then she begged for more. So I refilled the wet & dry food, which she wasn't as interested in, and then made some more veggies, which she happily gobbled up. *Whoohoo, we did a little happy dance.* It's so good to see her eating again. She ate little bits all night long and woke up this morning just as hungry. She's had wet food, dry food, brussel sprouts, and several separate helpings of broccoli today. I think I'll branch out on the veggies for dinner so she doesn't get bored. It seems our sweet Dori is very much feeling like herself again. Yay!

In other news, we've spent the day cleaning house. It took me more than hour just to clean the master suite. Yuck! But recovering from vacation & then worrying about the dog has sapped all the energy I might have otherwise put into housework. I still have a few hours of work on the floors--okay, maybe just a little over an hour--and then it's time to hit the laundry that's multiplied like bunny rabbits while I wasn't looking. Derek's been extra helpful & tackled the dishes and bathrooms. The house should (mostly) be in order once the day is done. That's a nice feeling. Perhaps I might actually get that time in the scrap room that I've been hoping for.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Weekend Approaches

Yay! It's Friday! This has been one of the longest weeks on record, I think. Sure seemed like it anyway. I'm glad for a weekend that isn't filled to the brim with things to do so that I can make my own to-do list instead. I have oodles of laundry & house cleaning to do. But it's nice to know that I don't have to get in a hurry to do any of it b/c I'll have all weekend. Super yay!

Dori is home recovering. We picked her up last night (and the bill was smaller than anticipated!). She wasn't as loopy as last time b/c they were able to heavily sedate her as opposed to using general anesthesia like last time. So her recovery has been much faster. She's still a little dopey this morning, but she should be completely back to herself by the time we get home from work. She also had a little breakfast this morning. It wasn't a lot, but hey, it was something! I started with the SD d/d duck & potato dry food, but she wasn't interested. So I heated up some of the SD d/d venison & potato soft food that was in the fridge. She wasn't overly thrilled with it either but with a little coaxing & hand feeding with a fork, she did eat a little for both of us. B/c I wanted her to eat more than a few nibbles, I stayed home a little later & cooked her some broccoli & brussel sprouts. She happily ate almost all of the sprouts & some of the broccoli (until I tried to trick her into eating more of the d/d soft food by putting it with a piece of broccoli & then she turned her nose up at both...shame on the mommy!). I left all of the food choices down in the room where she's staying today in hopes that she'll eat some more as the day goes on. I gave her the anti-nausea med, even though I'm not convinced that she needs it, just to be sure that nothing inhibits her appetite.

And just in case I haven't mentioned this before, we absolutely love our vet clinic. From top to bottom, they are the nicest people you'll ever meet with a genuine love of animals and concern for animal welfare. They've been so sweet through this entire process with Dori's illness. Anytime she stays with them, we know that we've left her with people who will oooohhh & aaaahhhh over her as much as we do. And it shows b/c if you say "Dori, do you want to go to the vet," she runs to her leash & gets all excited and she's just as excited when she walks in the door of the clinic. It's so wonderful to know that the staff of our clinic love our dog as much as we do! For this, we say thanks!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dori for Liver Biopsy Today (updated)

Dori's done very well at home the last day and a half. Tuesday night she was absolutely exhausted after staying up for two days at the vet's offices. So she pretty much sacked out as soon as she got home and slept the entire evening. Yesterday morning she was a little perkier. By yesterday afternoon, she seemed more like herself--happy face, tail wagging, chasing the cats, sniffing hiney (hey, she is a dog). She's still not eating, but I think it's b/c she doesn't like the food the vet told us to put down and not b/c she isn't hungry or feels sick to her stomach. I know this b/c she's begged for food the last two evenings, but we refrained from giving her anything aside from the dry food the vet recommended. I'm going to check with the vet today & see what we might be able to cook for her or what other food we might be able to give her since she clearly refuses what we're currently serving. She's still drinking lots of water, so she's at least staying hydrated. But I would like to see her eating again, particularly now that she's showing signs of wanting food.

Today, she's back at the vet's office for an ultrasound-assisted needle biopsy of the liver. The biopsy will be sent to a lab for detailed pathology. In a nutshell, we hope this testing will tell us what is attacking her liver. The vet seems to think it's hepatitis, but honestly, there are hundreds of liver diseases--viral, bacterial, autoimmune, congenital. We want to know for sure rather than guessing. I should have more info when the vet calls later in the day.

{UPDATE} Dori came through the procedure fine and is recovering well from the anesthesia. The biopsy was successful, and the samples are on their way to the lab. Test results should be in by early next week, at the latest. Today's ultrasound still showed a suspicious gallbladder, so we will be watching this closely in the coming weeks. It is possible that it may ultimately have to be removed and could be a small part of what's currently going on. The vet is still convinced that test results will show hepatitis. Dori will be ready to come home this afternoon. We now have instructions on what foods we can offer her. Dori will be happy to know that we can feed her any veggie she's willing to eat. We'll also be trying the Science Diet d/d again and discontinuing the z/d since she's obviously taken a dislike to it. We will have anti-nausea medication to give this weekend, which should encourage her eating and help her recover from the anesthesia. Recovery will take most of the weekend b/c of the compromised liver. All in all, things went well today. We simply have to wait for the test results to see what further steps we'll be taking.