For those of you interested Only in TRAVEL, I (Jack) wrote the blog between March 2010 and October 2010 during our travels west. We saw the most beautiful places and had the best time in our big truck and little trailer. See Blog Archive below.

May 26, 2013

Never Forget

In Flanders Fields 
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) 
Canadian Army
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Taps (Song)

May 20, 2013

Oh, Wow!

Winthrop Cancer Center for Kids is an incredible place.

You won't have a dry eye after watching this video, yet you won't see anyone who isn't smiling. I hope those of you who read will take a moment and think of all the little kids who experience more pain than many of us will suffer in a lifetime, and think, also, about the incredible people who are "there for them", "there for you" should you ever need them. And, they're all SMILING!
Mary and Ally
Just look at these two adorable little mugs. Don't they steal your heart? Mary's spirit shines through. I saw her smile and giggle as the doctor pretended to stretch her to make her taller and take things out of her ears...I got to hear her Mom (My Niece, Jenny), giggle in the background. Music to my ears. The tiny little girl who came to my house and played--all grown up, married, stoically taking care of such dire and important things every hour of her life--it breaks my heart. My sister's heart is breaking in half, too, not only for her granddaughter, but for her daughter. How frustrating that she wants to take away the pain from both and can't--that's not the way life works. She is the "little sister that I have always looked up to."
Ally is the unsung hero. Yes, she adores Mary and Mary adores her. My sister tells me that she takes Ally to the store to get a toy when Mary is at the hospital getting treatment. Ally will run and choose something and squeal, "Gramma, gramma, look! Mary would love this!" When Jenny wants to take her out for a special time of her own, she doesn't want to go unless Mary goes. She's a little doll, but she has not had an easy time of it either as cancer affects everyone in the family. She's one of Mary's fiercest protectors. They will not only be sisters for life, they will be best friends for life.

Recently Jenny wrote after a week of ups and downs that no one should have to bear:
For anyone who knows me knows I am a creature of habit. I have the same thing for breakfast every morning I have the same routine at work etc. So when Mary got sick it seemed like our world was turning upside down & inside out. It was hard to think I would ever be happy again...about anything. And then someone said something to me that changed the way I looked at Mary getting sick and life in general....."if nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies." That has stuck with me since. Mary you are my butterfly! Especially after days like today. ♥
Jenny is an incredibly brave person as is John, her husband. I hope that those of you who read my blog will take the time to watch the video not just for Mary but for all the children who are struggling. The more awareness there is, the better all the children with cancer will be. I had no idea how many, many ways on an hourly basis that this disease ravages families. Up one day and down the next--too many times to ever count. 

If you've gotten this far and have thought of this little family, thank you. It means a lot to me.

A Song From Uncle Rich (Eva Cassidy)

Isn't it a coincidence that a week or so after this post, a package arrived in the mail. My sister, Judy, sent a hot plate and coasters that each of the girls made. Given the song that Rich "sent" to the girls, what a shock to see that Mary had drawn a Rainbow over a little girl in--what else...a purple dress. I put them on what I call "Rich's Table". Both girls are wonderful artists. Because Ally's was a little darker in color, it was easier for me to get a really good picture of hers-naturally some of the flowers were purple, too. 

May 14, 2013

Dockery Lake - Future Fall Camp?

I wake up this morning not in a hurry to get up to move around. The heating company is not coming until tomorrow so what's the rush. Oh, yeah, I need to order Jack's food and pick it up, today. Nothing else pressing except some housekeeping that really can't wait another day.

I turn the TV on.  Jack lifts his head as if to ask me why I'm disturbing the quiet. Then, he decides he might as well ask for a sweet potato chip or two or three. He gets them and follows me to the door to go out to relieve himself. I don't bother to leave the door because he'll be back in within a minute, get a drink, and go back to bed for a while.

I do a few things around the house until about noon. Then a light goes on. I was going to go up to put peppermint oil in the trailer, today, and retrieve the small cooler! How could I forget.  Okay. Shower quickly and get stuff ready. This is my first attempt to use the new, lighter ramp that I bought for Jack. Let's see how the old back holds up. I pack water for him and I'm ready in minutes and Jack senses that we're going somewhere.

Jack's back legs are getting weaker. It breaks my heart. He has no trouble walking, but he can't jump up to anything any more. He tries. I don't want him to feel failure. The new ramp IS a big improvement. I can handle it better. I'll spruce up the old one and find someone who needs one for a big dog. The small one I'll use so he can get on the couch when it's time.

We're off! I get to Wild Willy's and there is no one there. No problem. I have a key hidden somewhere on the trailer. Good deal. Jack is walking around in the field as I retrieve it and hurriedly get to the door. It doesn't work. Geez, that's strange. Oh, wait. I had them replace the door lock. DOH. I call and leave a message for Otto to call me when he gets back to the shop. I'm going to explore the area and I'll be back. I don't take any pictures of Wild Willy's because it seems like a sad place to leave my little trailer. There is an electric gate so it is protected at night. I can't wait to have it back in my driveway.

Right down the street is Lake Zwerner. I stop just to take a look. It's a reservoir that supplies drinking water to the area. Nice to see a body of water, but it's nothing special.

We leave the driveway and turn left on to Route 60. Curvy and hilly. I see nothing but motorcycles. Some are almost horizontal as they take the curves. I come upon an overlook. Nothing spectacular, but I stop. It's better than what I see where I live. A car pulls up and three people get out, and I say hello. They speak with a Scandinavian accent of some kind. They take pictures of one another in front of the vista, then one of the ladies asks me if I want her to take a picture of me. I tell her no thanks, I'll break the camera and she laughs. We bid each other good bye.

Up the road a ways, I see a sign that says Dockery Lake, Chattahoochee National Forest. Why not. I think the sign said 1.7 miles. It seems much longer because it's a single lane dirt road that goes down hill. I don't see another vehicle on the way down. I don't expect to see a campground, but there it is right in front of me. It certainly isn't for motorhomes, but darn I sure wish I had my trailer hitched on the back of my truck. I drive around--it's completely empty. I find the best campsite in this little piece of the forest. Huge and a put in for kayaking right from the campsite. I know my camping friends would love it as they are avid kayakers. There's water nearby--probably need to use a water thief to fill the fresh water tank as there isn't one on the site. Okay, now I know why I bought the quiet little Honda generator--to recharge batteries! Yes! I haven't been any place this quiet in what seems like forever. Bear safe garbage dumpsters tell me it might not be so quiet at night, but what a great place for a campfire. 

I don't take many pictures because my little camera can't capture the birds across the lake. I do see one bird sitting on a post--I zoom in as close as possible. It's a "can bird". Good siting, Nancy.

This is the campsite. It's huge. The truck is at the beginning of it. I'm standing down toward the water
A nice little stream that feeds the lake
Taken at quite a distance across the lake That little white spot is the can bird.
This is the put in on the campsite
Dockery Lake
And a nice trail leading from the campsite - I'm thinking it goes around the lake,  but I don't know.
I want to let Jack into the lake and to take the hike, but my back is feeling a bit taxed. I'm so isolated so I decide I better not hang around too long. It is a fee pay area and I didn't pay just to drive around to take a look. For the little time I'd be able to spend, it isn't worth getting the truck all wet and smelly.

Okay, so back to see if Otto has returned. Again, my company is motorcycles. I pull off at every pull off to let them go by me, and they are coming the other way, too. Otto hasn't returned but there is another man in the office. He doesn't seem to work there and has no idea where my new keys are so he calls Otto on his cell phone. I find them and out to the trailer I go. I leave Jack in the truck and put cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil in every corner of the trailer. It doesn't take long. I put tire covers on the tires and go to return the keys to the office, but the guy is gone. We're outta here.

I'm slipping. No pictures of Jack. Can't have that. I'll cheat and find one. I always think of the days I traveled with Rich when I am driving. I may have posted this picture before, but it still makes me smile. Whenever Rich left the driver's seat, Jack would take his place.
He's keeping his eyes on the road

May 3, 2013

My Funny Little Visitor and of course, Jack

My son has a pup named Bogey. Bogey is my guest this week. He is a great source of amusement for me, and I think I've even seen Jack smile a time or two. Bogey is a garbage hound.

When I went to therapy the other day, I made sure that all garbage was out of reach. I had bananas on the counter so I put them way back in the corner. When I got home, I knew by the look on Bogey's face that he had been up to something. He tells on himself. I looked around and couldn't find anything, until I got to the kitchen...uh oh, broken glass all over the place. He had been up on the counter! I scolded him and he went to his bed for a few minutes, but then came to ask for forgiveness. I'm just glad he didn't cut himself. 

He's as crazy about balls as Jack was before he got sick. Jack would still chase one until he dropped, so the vet has advised me to put the balls away. This is a picture that Michael had sent to me. I'm glad Jack had many good years playing ball, but sad to see that he can't do his favorite thing, any more.
Yesterday, I figured out with a myriad of gates how to confine him to the den yet give him and Jack access to water. Susan and I went to grab a bite to eat. Ah, now I outwitted him--silly dog! Did the little man really think I wouldn't figure it out?

We had a pleasant meal at Marlows about a mile from my house, but arrived home to garbage all over the place. I had a bag of garbage full so I wouldn't forget to take it out when I left, then walked right past it. DOH! We got home and there was the guilty look, again. After a scolding, Susan and I set about cleaning up. We cracked up because Bogey decided he would help. He knew where all the garbage was so he was bringing pieces over to be put back in the bag. He handed Susan a can! Too funny.

Michael tells a funny story. He had Bogey walking in a wooded area and a big buck appeared in a clearing. Bogey being Bogey chased him. They ran figure eights in and out of the clearing with Bogey running with wild abandon. Back out they came and the buck was chasing Bogey! He is a very athletic and fast pup.
Where's the cat? 
Could you let me out, please?
I can see why Michael loves this little guy. We call him the little guy because he's a runt--Bella was so much bigger than he is, and most Weimaraners are. I was raised with a huge one--not very many in this country at that time.

I don't know if you can see the pollen, but that porch is dark brown. I think the rain is clearing out the worst of it, but I guess I'll have to ask one of the kids to hose down the porch because it's covered overhead so the rain won't help.

Jack has decided that he needs help getting up on his couch so he wakes me in the middle of the night (I do think he's having a little difficulty seeing at night). I ask him if he needs help and he tells me yes with his eyes and his help me sound, and then jumps up on his own. We go through this several times day and night. Last night he woke me, I looked over by his couch and he wasn't there. He was two steps away from his bed on the floor. I got up to see what was wrong. I asked if he needed help and he told me yes with his eyes and his help me noise. Really Jack? It's on the floor! But, what the heck. I walked over to him, and he walked into his bed. <rolling eyes> Well, he has been my comfort, he was with us during the happiest of times and he's seen me through my darkest times so anything I can do to make him comfortable.

Leslie, the Physical Therapist asked me if he helped me when I fell. I told her, "Of course. He called 911." I think I had her convinced for  few seconds. People think of all yellow Labs as assistance dogs and think they can do anything! Funny. Well, at least he doesn't panic in the moment.
Jack tolerates Bogey. Here he's watching him howling at me because he wants to go out.

I stored my trailer at the place I had it repaired up in Dahlonega, GA until September. There was no way I could have hitched and unhitched, and then turned and twisted (thanks Gail) to back it into the driveway. When it was in the driveway, I checked on it a couple of times a week. I can't do that, so I'm a little worried about critters getting in. I'm going to do some research to see what would keep mice and such from getting in and I seem to remember moth balls would do the trick, but I want to see if there's a better way. I'll take a ride up there this week. I like this little town. It'll give Jack and me an outing. If you have a better idea than mothballs, please leave a comment, as most of you are the experts. :)

Just had to come back to post this:
Think Jack is Starting to Like the Little Guy?