Winter 2017-2018

A Busy Winter

Ralph's Blog

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Usually we have set up for the winter in Austin and just kicked back and not done anything much. Stuff happened before we started traveling, so you get to hear about it. The first was going to the Festival of Lights with a whole gaggle of kids.

They turn all of Zilker Park into a light show, complete with the obligatory overpriced food booths, but hey - what would expect. The light show is a fine thing, especially with kids cavorting around. We managed to find all of them when we went home, too.

Christmas in Louisiana

Each year we spend Christmas with son-in-law Scott's family in New Iberia, Louisiana. The first year we took the RV with us, but we discovered it's actually cheaper to pay for a motel room than rent an RV space there, so we just bring our pillows but leave the cats home. This year we got to play with the puppies that the motel staff were raising, a nice bonus.

It's always a fun time, and this year grandson Franti wanted to use the camera so you actually get to see a fairly rare photo of me in front of the camera.

The Sportsman

I have give some props to grandson Zander. He collected ribbons for just about every sport imaginable at the awards ceremony. Next to him is his buddy Isaiah who did about the same. He competes in basketball, football, track, and who knows what else. Even his sports-impaired grandpa can figure out he's quit the athlete. We only met the two young ladies in the last picture at the ceremony, but they collected their share of awards, too. At the risk of being a chauvinist pig, the boy hangs around with some pretty accomplished ladies.

The Big Four-Zero

Judy's son KD hit that landmark birthday this year, and his wife Rindy was able to throw a surprise party for him without being found out. Being a part-time event planner gave her an edge up, she arranged to have the proud parents and several old friends from various parts of the country fly in for the bash. That's Judy with Rindy's mom, who successfully hid us away at their place until the party happened.

It was a happening party, which antiquated description should clue you in that I'm just plain too freaking old to appreciate the music. Not so for Judy, who seems to grow younger every year and appreciates things like hip-hop that leave me cold. As proof I offer Judy and KD doing a duet when the karaoke started, along with some random shots.

A Cool Museum

While were in Portland, we visited the Science and Technology Museum to be greeted by the friendly dragon above. Very kid friendly, but the best part was the old diesel submarine Blueblack from the days of the Cold War, floating in the river behind the museum. We took the tour and wondered how they could squeeze 85 people into so small a space for months at a time without underwater mayhem occurring.

We drive a diesel pickup and every once in a while get a whiff of the diesel fuel. I can't imagine living in a big tube filled with the smell of diesel for months on end. The picture on the left is the engine, which runs a generator that charges the batteries in the picture on the right. The batteries then run the electric engines that drive the sub. You can imagine just how hot it gets with two monster diesel engines running when you're submerged.

On the whole, I prefer traveling in the 5th wheel .

Meet Maxie

If you've been reading these blogs, you'll know that our cockerpoo Shira passed on a while back. Enough time had passed that Judy wanted another dog, so we started looking. Back when I was a kid, AKA The Stone Ages,chances were somebody within a couple of blocks was desperately trying to give away a litter of puppies. All you had to do was collect one and put out a dish of dog food.

Silly me, that just ain't the way it's done in these modern times. So we started looking on the Internet, of course. We found a cocker spaniel rescue group and filled out page after page of forms to prove we were good enough to own a dog. Oh yeah, we had to send in a video of our home for them to check out. Judy, who at one time worked in placing kids for adoption, swore the forms were more comprehensive than the forms she used for real human kids. In addition to the paperwork they wanted a $200 fee.

The paperwork completed, naturally they didn't have any dogs available. Further searching revealed that there are people who actually charge $1,000 or more for cockerpoo puppies. For my money, anyone who pays that $200, let alone $1,000 for a dog needs a shrink far more than a canine companion.

After several weeks of searching, up pops a picture of a curly white fluffball the image of our dear, departed Shira at the Austin animal shelter. So we write down the info, hop in the car and head for the shelter, where we find an empty cage. He couldn't be gone already, could he? Fortunately, he was in surgery being neutered, so we were told to come back at 4 o'clock when he was awake again.

This time he was there in the cage, but the poor dog was a mess. It seems the previous owners had turned him and his sister in after one of them bit someone, but they didn't know which one was the culprit. He obviously had not been well cared for as he stunk to high heavens and hadn't been groomed in far too long. If you don't know, poodles and poodle mixes have fur that just keeps growing and doesn't fall out. The upside is you don't have hair on all the furniture, but the downside is you have to pay to groom them every few months.

Since he had just come from surgery, we couldn't give him a bath, so we found some dry shampoo at the pet store and Judy proceeded to clip and scrub until he didn't exactly smell like a rose but no longer smelled like a latrine.

The best part - the shelter had a sale going so we got Max for all of $28 neutered and with all his shots. A pretty good deal, but the next day we spent $180 at the vet because he had kennel cough. Karma is a bitch. Once he was feeling better he has turned into a real sweetheart. So meet Max, the light of Judy's life.

Equal Time For the Cats

I'll finish up with another picture from Franti the photographer. That's Georgie reacting to our other cat Sophie, not her new room mate Max. Both cats love the dog but only tolerate each other. Go figure…

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