5/2/17 Paper rockets

OH boy, Mom and Dad came back! They sneaked in during the middle of the night but I came downstairs wagging my tail anyway. I was so happy to see them! Even though all my caregivers did a good job, I still missed my human parents.

I have been very exhausted with stress and worry. I licked my paws a lot and Mom frowned on that, reminding me that the Vet says I will have to wear the Cone of Shame if I keep it up. So I knocked it off.

I will say that this trip they took was easier on me not being in the crate at all. I am very happy about that!

Today things were pretty much back to normal. Mom wasn’t feeling well from something she ate yesterday, and we took a long nap. In the evening, once the family was all home and settled, Jamie started making these paper rockets that he launched out of an old paper towel tube. Some kids will play with anything!

Naturally, I got very excited watching the Poof! and the ensuing rocket. First he tried launching a table napkin, but I got hold of it and tore it up to bits. Mom told Jamie, “OK, now you pick up all the pieces of slobbery napkin!” So he did. A couple of rocket configurations later, he presented the Treat Launcher. Basically, he folded a Post-It into a cone shape and stuffed a treat inside of it. Then he propelled it out of the paper towel tube. The rocket shot off in one direction, and the treat went the other way.

First, I grabbed at the paper rocket, but then realized a treat was in the offing. Quickly, I changed my tactics and darted after the treat. The paper rocket flew very well, and landed in the ceiling light of the kitchen. Jamie had to drag a chair over to fish it out of the light fixture.

kitchenchair

Jamie almost got burnt on the light bulb, but at least I got the treat!

Woof!

Love, Maggie

 

 

5/1/17 Globe Trottin’ Part 3 (the end)

I’ll wrap up this journal of our travels in Aruba.

We had decided to go on a Land Rover excursion to the “Natural Pool” and some other sights. The man who booked our tickets for us assured me that there was a restroom we could use to change and “go” before getting into the pool. We packed up a light beach bag, slathered on the sunscreen, and were ready for our 7:00 a.m. pickup the next day.

All told, there were eight Rover vehicles in our tour. The tour guides and drivers were dead-pan funny. The first rule, they advised us, was to make lots of noise and screaming when we saw rival tour companies, “so they would think we’re having a really good time.” Jim and I took the seats in the back of the Rover and after we were settled in, were advised that those were the bumpiest seats on what was going to be a very bumpy tour. “This is not going to be a nice, smooth, bus tour,” Steven (our guide) said. Oh, my. Too late to switch – the other seats were occupied.

We jounced and bounced, careened and jostled, all the way up the side of a distant “mountain”. It was a long trip. Along the way, we spied various other tours, and we screamed and waved accordingly. Our driver obliged by honking his horn repeatedly. We arrived at the Natural Pool and I told Jim I was glad there was a restroom, because all the bouncing around was taking its toll on my bladder. The driver overheard me and laughed, and told me to find a good rock.

Oh. The restrooms were three stops away. Curses!

I did find two good rocks with a narrow passage between, and switched out of my clothes and into my suit, and took care of business while protecting my modesty. We were promised snorkeling, but the water was very choppy and we opted instead just to go in. We were issued life jackets, and we slipped across the rocks and into the water. Let me be clear that Jim is NOT a water guy. The look on his face being issued the life jacket was priceless. Jim doesn’t like to get wet. But he had a blast nonetheless.

This is a picture of the approach to the pool. I didn’t want to risk losing my phone inside the actual swimming area. You can see how rough the water was against the rocks and there was a decent undertow as well:

naturalpoolaruba

We visited many more sights, like the ruins of a gold mine:

goldmine

And the California Lighthouse (named after the ship that sunk there):

calilighthouse

(Those yellow Land Rovers are what we were riding in.)

We made a couple of more stops, as well. Thankfully, we always wore our seatbelts, because we went airborne a couple of times (I thought the seatbelt was going to cut me in two at one point). The bouncier it was, the more everybody screamed – although I am not sure it was because they were trying to make the other tours jealous! There were some pretty frightening moments. But it was GREAT. We got back to the hotel covered in fine dust and grit. When I took my contacts out and cleaned them, it looked like champagne popping. The peroxide solution spewed out all over the sink! We were filthy.

I do want to point out just for a quick second that, had I not changed to the anti-inflammatory diet (which I mostly tried to stick to) and lost some weight, there would have been no way that I could have done ANY of these things, like walking up and down the rock stairs, swimming, and enduring the bouncy Rover trip – because I would have been in too much pain.

The rest of our Aruba trip was spent sightseeing, and doing other touristy things. We had a fun time, and as I mentioned, all the people were very nice and friendly. They obviously love their country, and went out of their way to ask how our trip was going and if we were having a good time. One cabdriver told me, “We try our best,” and I think that sums it up nicely.

Looming over our heads was the long trip home. I didn’t sleep the night before we left. I was so worried about the connecting flights. I was right to be concerned. This is when we discovered that there is no TSA pre-check coming back, and had to go through the Security checkpoints and Customs. That wasn’t too bad, but at 11:35 a.m. we found out our flight had been delayed until 4:15 p.m. We were trapped in the little airport. We approached the counter and begged the woman there to put us on another flight home. She explained that, in Aruba, you have to stay with your luggage. They legally could not keep our bags and send us off early. So we had to stay.

Naturally, this meant that the hour and a half layover in Newark, NJ was going to be whittled down to mere minutes. “How are they going to get our luggage together in 15 minutes?” I fretted, when we were finally on the plane. Jim assured me it would be fine. I spent the next five (5)! hours trying not to be claustrophobic. We had been assigned the very last seats in the last row. Jim started to feel a panic attack coming on, and I coached him through some “yoga breathing” until he started to feel better.

When we landed in NJ, most of the passengers complied with the instructions to let the people with connecting flights off the airplane first. “These are some of the tightest connections,” the flight attendant advised over the PA system. We hit the terminal and ran.

We got to our gate as the last person in our boarding group was getting their pass scanned. We hopped onto the plane with scant minutes to spare.

The ride home was turbulent and we had a rough landing. (This seemed, however, like “no big deal” after that Land Rover experience!) Belched out into O’Hare Airport, we streamed to the baggage claim area, only to be told that our suitcases were still in Jersey. (We did receive them the next day). It was, of course, cold and rainy in Chicago. In fact, it hasn’t stopped raining since we’ve come home.

Exhausted, we drove home. It was hard to sit in the car. We made it through the front door at 1:30 a.m. Sleepily, Maggie trotted downstairs to greet us. She was overjoyed to see us and we, her. I checked on the sleeping Jamie and then went to bed. The next day was Saturday, and we had to be up at 5:30 a.m. to get Jamie off to the Midwest National Robotics Competition.

It was going to be a short night.

I hope you enjoyed the tale of our travels to Aruba. I’ll be turning the blog back over to Maggie.

Thanks for reading!

Your friend,

Elizabeth

4/30/17 Globe Trottin’ Pt. 2

Jim and I landed safely in Aruba, unpacked our suitcases and got ready to go for a swim. After the two flights we had to take to get there, I was anxious to get in the water to de-stress!

(One travel tip I have learned is: pack your swimsuit and flip flops in your carry-on luggage. This way, if your checked bag is lost, or if your room at the hotel isn’t ready, you can still go to the beach or pool.)

The one commitment we had was a company awards dinner that we had to attend. I guess blending a little business with pleasure was OK, considering the company was picking up the tab for the entire trip! So after swimming in the infinity pool and getting used to the time change a bit (an hour ahead of us here in CST), we went to the awards dinner and then, for the rest of the time in Aruba, were on our own.

I had mentioned that the Renaissance Hotel was separated: one part of the hotel was a high-rise for adults only, and the other part (across the street) was a family resort and timeshares. A golf cart would run you to the either side, but the coolest thing was that the property included a private island some 20 minutes from the hotel. To access the private island, you had to wait for a speedboat at the pier, give the captain your room key (which he swiped into a fare box and returned), and then he’d zip you over to the private island. This island was also split up into the Iguana side (families) and the Flamingo side (adults). This island was some of the most beautiful beaches we’ve seen; from the deep blue of the Caribbean Sea to the white sand on the beach. Here are some pictures. (Warning: no makeup, no photoshop, sea salt wind in the hair. Going Native….)

dadandmomaruba

Here we are on the speedboat. You can see the wake churning up behind us and in the further distance, the greenery of the private island.

palmtreearuba

I sat in a beach lounger directly under this palm tree. As you can tell from the photo, Aruba is a very breezy island and we were surprised that, at night, when the sun went down, the temperature didn’t cool off very much. Temps were in the mid to upper 80’s with a nice breeze the entire time.

Aruba doesn’t have any mosquitoes – Jim said the wind blew them away from the island – (except for this very lush, green, nature trail and they advise not to take it if you aren’t wearing mosquito repellent). We didn’t take the nature trail because I didn’t have repellent and didn’t want to get bitten up. I mention this because of the Zika virus. If you are planning a destination wedding/honeymoon, Aruba is a great place to go, and not have to worry about Zika.

mombeach

(Me, on the private island, under said palm tree)

iguana

(an iguana, hiding under my beach chair)

On the private island, they feed the Iguanas around noon every day. All the iguanas come running toward the little bridge that separates the two halves of the island to get a lunchtime meal of lettuce. This guy ate his lunch and ran under my chair. There is a pellet machine that dispenses shrimp tablets for the Flamingoes. These birds approach you and eat the pellets right from your hand. I tried to get a good shot of this, but they were surrounded by people, so I couldn’t really get a decent shot.

We had a great day on the island and got in a lot of sun and swimming. We decided to go for an excursion off-roading the next day….so please stay tuned for Part 3.

Thanks! Your friend,

Liz

 

4/29/17 Globe Trottin’

Hi, this is Liz. I’m hijacking Maggie’s blog to let you all know what we’ve been up to.

In January, Jim went to his company’s yearly management meeting in Arizona. He was informed that he won a trip for two, all-inclusive, to Aruba. The trip would take place the last week in April. Of course, we were delighted, but knew there would be a lot of preparation for just the two of us to leave.

I started out by making lists…of course. And enlisting help. Mike, (Jim’s oldest), Jamie, and Laurel, my dearest friend, were called upon to take care of things on a daily basis, while Erik kind of “satellite coveraged” on his part. They all did a fantastic job.

I’ll spare you the grind of buying travel items, packing, getting pre-checked with TSA (which is great here in the US but doesn’t mean diddly-squat in another country), preparing more lists, and cooking for the week we would be gone. You get the idea. I had to have all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed before we actually left America. I bagged up and labeled Maggie’s food and medication, and food for the fish, too. (Unfortunately, while we were gone, Spazz, the big, beautiful goldfish, died. Jamie gave him a nice funeral in the side yard with a commemorative brick. Swim free, Spazz my friend.)

I was extremely concerned because we did not have a direct flight to Aruba. We flew out on American on the most super red-eye flight imaginable. We had minutes to spare in Miami, where we had to criss-cross the terminal to make our connecting flight. That was definitely a foreshadowing of future running-across-terminals to come.

We arrived in Aruba from the grey, rainy skies of Chicago to the bluest skies and water as you can see. Wow! Here is a picture of the resort. There was one side for families and the other was adults-only. We stayed at the adults-only side.

resortaruba

Just incredible. And I must say, the Arubans are extremely nice, well-educated people. They speak five languages: Dutch (it’s independent, but considered part of the Netherlands), French, English, Spanish, and the “street pigeon” which is a combination of all four languages listed plus some Portugese. By the time they graduate high school, everyone is fluent. And very, very, friendly. One thing that was different about Aruba vs. Punta Cana is that the grinding poverty that is off-resort in Punta Cana was not there, or at least not to that degree, in Aruba. We went all around the island, which is about 20 X 7 miles, and hosts 120,000 people.

I will turn the blog over to Maggie when I am done relating our adventures. However, I don’t want to make this blog too long, so I’ll break it into a couple of parts. I’m sure Maggie will have a lot of things to say about being left at home.

Thanks for reading!

Your friend, Liz

 

 

 

 

4/5/17 Stop. Raining. Now.

ANOTHER cold, wet, rainy, grey day. It seems so unfair with parts of the country being in draught. We are inundated with rain. I don’t think the ground can take much more. I certainly can’t! Have you ever tried going potty with BOTH hind legs in the air?? It’s not an easy trick, but I hate putting my paws in the wet, cold puddles and mud!

Mom says James Bond has someone called “Miss Moneypenny”. Mom says she has me, “Miss Muddybelly”. Very droll!

I think Mom has gone stir-crazy. Wacko. Lost her marbles because of the lack of sun. Whatever. Today, she was cleaning the house for hours on end, moving the furniture, washing floors, pulling out that horrible vacuum. I looked at her like she was nuts. She even rolled up the rug and vacuumed under that. She took away all my lovely dog hair. Now I have to work hard to put it all back. She’s cuckoo.

Why’d she wash the floor, anyway? At least, why the one in the kitchen? As soon as I do go out, I bring in the paw prints while she chases me around with a towel. I guess that’s some measure of job security!

Meanwhile, I’m holding my bladder and finding all the blankets I possibly can.

greatnap

Woof! Stay dry.

Love, Maggie

 

The Black Pier

Something my human Jamie wrote, I like it

Strength of a Thousand Men

Do you remember the night we went to Navy Pier?

It was midnight and nobody was there.

The city was behind us, and all of its complicated things…

The buildings crammed together…

The white windows…

The sound of police cars and ambulances…

The darkness shrouded trees illuminated by the full moon…growing in the center of once packed boulevards…

It was all behind us. We stood on the end of the pier, the dark wet wooden boards under our feet. The chipped white railing was smooth in my palm, especially the areas where the paint had fallen away to reveal sea-washed steel. The Ferris wheel behind us was not rotating, but it cast its warm-colored light over our backs like a thin sheet. All you could hear was the slapping of the inky black waves before us and the indistinct roar of the skyline behind us.

Nobody was there.

I stared…

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4/1/17 No foolin’

What, may I ask, is that unusual bright thing hanging out in the sky?

The sun?? But we haven’t seen it in over a week!

After getting pounded by rainstorms, the sun made an appearance today. No foolin’!

Mom was so happy, she went out and did yard work. She also took me by the swamp (I must digress here; when it is filled with garbage, it’s a ‘swamp’. When it’s clean and nice looking, it’s a ‘pond’. You may refer to it however you like.) Anyway, Mom took me out and let me have a good, long sniff around. She put me on the tether in the back yard and let me eat some grass which is finally poking out. Amongst the weeds, of course; nothing can stop them. I sniffed and peed and kept an eye on Mom until I got so tired out I “asked” to come in the house so I could rest on the couch. Mom let me in and finished picking garbage out of the perimeter of the swamp – er, pond. Then she raked up a lot of sticks and put them in big paper bags. At first I watched from the front window but eventually ended up on the couch.

swampzilla

Sniff, sniff! The geese are back and have a nest around here somewhere. I can’t see it but I can sure smell it!

I thoroughly enjoyed my day in the sun, but the weatherman is predicting rain AGAIN for tomorrow and all week with the exception of Tuesday. How I hate the grey skies!

Woof! Love, Maggie