Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Adventure Continues

We're about an hour away from leaving for the airport for our trip to Venice, and two days after that we'll get on board the Costa Cruise ship for our trip down the Mediterranean to Athens, via many ports, and back through Croatia to Venice again. We'll be back in Amsterdam on the 10th, and I'm thinking that will be my next opportunity to post to the blog—but you just never know.

Meanwhile, I thought I end with these few photos of the family in action. That's been the real fun so far. Then I'll sign off, singing a strange rendition of "Happy Trails to Us."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Keukenhof, The "Kitchen Garden" of The Netherlands

On Saturday morning we traveled a half hour by car to Keukenhof, to enjoy a day walking through the "kitchen gardens" of The Netherlands. That's what Keukenhof translates to mean, and all I can say is that they can boast the biggest, most perfect and without a doubt most fragrant blooms I've ever seen. From beginning to end, it was a wonderful day. It ended with Ben pulling up their copy of Ironman on Apple TV. I really didn't think I wanted to watch it, so I got my clothes together for church, then wandered down to say goodnight and got sucked in. Good movie, by the way. Very good movie.

Words won't do the day justice, but then they rarely will when it comes to travel and family fun. This time I started by creating a slide show, just so I'd know if it worked or not. To begin with, it worked. Ben came home and showed me how to make it automatic, though, so once you click on it, you no longer have to tell it to start from the page that opened. (When he does it, you click on the link and it just opens and starts. Now mine does, too.)

Two days are already gone, and they've been
wonderful. Our Sunday was filled with church, food, and bedtime routines for the girls. Then the adults sat together and played Clue. What fun that was! I think I've got the game nearly figured out, at least if you don't expect me to have an actual strategy. I want a rematch.

As for this blog, I'll go ahead and post it now and tweak it later. That way I'll have more time for having fun…

Ashley graduates from Joy School tonight, so I imagine there will be more photos in a day or two. Tomorrow is, after all, another day, and the fun has just begun.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy in Holland

I actually did get a couple of hours sleep on Thursday night. There was a fabulous thunder storm that I needed to enjoy first. It finally tapered off sometime after midnight. I was in the shower at 2:30 a.m. John wanted the 3 a.m. slot, so I cleared out for him and woke him up just before the alarm would have gone off. We were ready to fly into Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Our neighbor drove us to the shuttle (thanks, Doug). The shuttle was really punctual and arrived early at the airport. The day continued with nothing of any significance going wrong. I will say that the quality difference between Continental and Delta's food served is staggering. Our August and September 2009 flights on Continental were highlighted by the food. We were amazed at how really good it was. We'd never really had airline food that you could brag about before.

Well, Delta obviously doesn't care. At least I can say honestly that it was served by a very nice woman who didn't seem to be getting any thanks at all from the passengers. I made sure to tell her that we really appreciated getting food. We did. Even though it wasn't great, we were very hungry. Remember the adage, "Hunger is the best sauce?" John and I had a lot of "sauce" on our food.

Being here with Ben & Ruth, Ashley and Kate is wonderful. The smiles and giggles are so endearing. It really tickles me to see how excited somebody can get to see us. (The little ones got excited, too!) More tomorrow, and hopefully with photos. We're going to see the tulips in the morning.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Latest Flight & Health News

This is just a quick post to update everyone who might be interested on the latest news on my health and our flight to Amsterdam. Today's flight of the same number corresponding to our flight on Thursday is in the skies, scheduled to land in Amsterdam on time in less than an hour, 7:35 a.m. their time. This sounds very promising for our chances of arriving as scheduled, God willing and the volcano doesn't blow in the wrong direction...

I spent an hour with my wonderful physical therapist today. If you're in the Loveland area, you really can't beat Rebound Sports Physical Therapists. Jami, the therapist I was lucky enough to get, saw me limping in and checked me over. She had one of the assistants pack my back and neck in hot, wet and heavy packs, and then worked on getting me as pain free as possible. I can't believe how much better I feel than I did before I went in there. There are times when a good physical therapist is better than a doctor.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Flight Update—Holland Dreaming'

We're not on the airplane yet, of course, but things are looking up a bit. Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, where we're supposed to be headed on Thursday, has changed their front page statement. All day it's remained unchanged from yesterday's warning that no flights would be taking off and there was no estimate on when flights would be expected to begin. Tonight, however, there's a new message:

"Dutch airspace will gradually become available for air traffic on Tuesday. Air traffic to and from the airport will commence in phases. Initially flights will only take place at daylight and capacity will be limited. It will take days before air traffic to and from Schiphol will be fully resumed."

On looking further, I found some news that might be considered alarming. Our flight is going through Detroit. The eight fights tomorrow that go through Detroit have all been cancelled. There are nine flights being routed through JFK in New York City. Of those nine, four are still scheduled to arrive within an hour of their originally planned time.

I'm fairly positive, with all the people stranded coming and going, it's too late to change our city of departure. What does that mean for us? It's still prayer time. (Well, it's always prayer time, isn't it?)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ice or Heat After a Fall?

Oh, look! A short cut! Famous last words. I had gone down the hall to use the rest room before doing the sound check in church this morning. We still had nearly an hour before the congregation would arrive. I was singing and playing my guitar (country Gospel) at both services. As I returned from the ladies room, I noticed a sign on a side door that said "Audio Room" which happens to be in the very back of the sanctuary, and exactly where I needed to be for the sound check. What it should have said is "Big Step."

Although I love my trifocals, since they allow me to really focus at all distances, the one thing they don't allow me to do is focus on my feet. My feet are far away, relatively speaking, but the bottom of my glasses are for close-up viewing. I went through that door, hit the step and went flying. Luckily it was my right side that took the brunt of the fall, since if I had wrenched my left wrist like I did the right one, I wouldn't have been able to hold the strings tight enough to play. I also tore open my right knee and got a big goose egg on the back of my head. (Yes, somehow I managed to hit the back of my head on a metal components cabinet.)

So I've been using ice, which I've been told since my childhood days of being called "Stumble, Fumble and Fall" that it's the proper thing to use for the first 24 hours. After that, you switch to heat. And I'm dealing with the fact that many places on my body that didn't hurt twelve hours ago are chiming in now. I guess I'll be visiting Dr. Bohm tomorrow. He'll know what to do with me. He always does.

If I were a horse, someone would have shot me by now.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On Volcanos and Travel Plans

Our airline tickets for Amsterdam are for Thursday, April 22nd, five days from now. The airports across Europe are still closed due to ash from the volcanic eruption in Iceland. The volcano continues to erupt. Oops. Our son, who is expecting us for this visit with his family, gave me the link to check Schiphol, the Netherlands airport directly for updates. As of five minutes ago, it says "Forecast: no air traffic will be possible to and from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol until further notice. Unfortunately we do not know at present when air traffic will be resumed."


I've heard that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. Well, excuse me, Sir, but did You happen to remember that I have Granddaughters over there? Excited Granddaughters? Little ones who don't understand things like volcanos far away that they can't see, and planes that won't fly when the sky is blue and clear? (Their daddy told me it was.)

Thousands of people are stranded at airports across Europe, while I sit here in my very comfortable home. Many people planned to leave this week and are already inconvenienced. I'm not worried yet. Really—I'm not. I'm praying, though.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Paperback Swap Club—I Love It

Jeremy and Elisha called tonight, and were very excited about their first prenatal ultra sound. This grandma was pretty excited as well, of course. They're both working hard and pinching pennies. Any expectant parents who aren't are just irresponsible.

While we were talking, I mentioned John putting up a bigger mailbox
for me, to hold all the wonderful audio books I was getting through PBS, the Paperback Swap Club that's been saving my own budget so much by allowing me to trade books instead of buying them. Jeremy said he was getting ready to buy an audio book himself. I asked him what it was, and he said "Rich Dad, Poor Dad."

"Well, let me check the club listings." Within two minutes I had the audio book on its way to him, at no cost to either of us, from a helpful club member who had it on her shelf and no longer needed it. She'll pay the postage to mail it directly to him. I'll give her two credits, earned from mailing an audio book to someone else who wanted one of mine. The club keeps all the records so I don't have to do any of that. List price for the audio is $24.98.

Just then Elisha chimed in. "Find out if they've got Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth." I asked if she wanted paperback, hardback or audio. She wanted paperback so she could throw it in her purse and carry it around easily. Again, within two minutes PBS came through for me. Another member had it on her shelf, and it was ordered for Elisha. Since it's a book, it cost one credit, and the member will mail it directly to Elisha for me. The list price for this book is $12.95.

That means they just saved about $38—if they could find them in one place. They could beat that price on Amazon, of course, but not get them free. Then there's shipping and handling charges, too, unless they're Amazon Prime members. I don't believe they are.

What a great way to share books, save money and make friends. It's amazing to me that I've met some really great people through the club. You find people with similar reading tastes and put them on your buddy list. Messages go back and forth almost as often as books. What a blessing this club has been for me. And the new mail box looks terrific. I hadn't realized how dented and old the other one was. Our mail carrier even called out to John and told him what a nice box it was. I think she was just relieved at the size. Some days I get seven or more audio books. They fit much better in the new big box.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Photo Update

This is sort of a tribute to having two cameras. When I only had one camera, I never got the photos that we'd see from the car, like elk roaming close to the neighborhood, or concerts in church. So many times we'd say to each other that some day we were going to get a very small but decent camera to keep in the car all the time so that when we wanted one, it would be there.

About two months ago, more or less, we were in CostCo and saw a huge discount on one of the small cameras they keep out for people to test. What's that called, a floor model? Whatever it is, we saved about 40% by purchasing it. It had a couple of very small scratches, but was otherwise perfect. It's not as fancy (or as heavy) as my good digital, but it's the same basic brand, a Panasonic Lumix. Here are the first photos we took with it, interspersed with photos I took around the house on it's big brother, the Lumix DMC-FZ18. I can tell the difference. If I blew them up to 8x10 or larger, anyone could.

I'm going to start with the photos of the elk. This morning they came closer to the house than ever before. I'd guess they were about .2 miles by road, or less as the crow flies. We don't have any crows, though...

{Editor's comment... I've been trying to download photos to Blogger for over an hour, and I'm giving up for tonight. I guess they're having some type of problem with the site, since I've done it many times before without getting an error message. I'll try again in the morning. For now, at least this much will let you know what's coming, and that I am trying.}

I spent several hours during the morning and again during the afternoon, and finally (at son Ben's suggestion) went to his slide show page and did it that way. I got it done, but am not sure I know how to connect it. So hopefully, you're going to click here and see a slideshow. If you don't see it here, just wait (again) until he gets up. Remember, he's in Holland, and they're eight hours ahead of my time zone. When we connect, he can walk me through it. I'm pretty frustrated at this point. I really do have other things I was supposed to be doing today.

Wednesday, April 14th, 1:15 p.m. here (and 9:15 p.m. in Holland)— Ben was so good as to look at what I had done and send me the fix, so if you were here and tried to see the slide show, you got a message that said "Access Denied." Sorry. I think I mentioned that there's no fool like an old fool? Well, try it again. It should work now. If it doesn't, this entire blog post is going to disappear. That will fix it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

On Crowns and Kings

This hasn't been our best week, and it just started. Actually, you could say it started last week. On Thursday John broke a crown. It happens to be on one of his "anchor" teeth, which holds his dentures in place. Since we leave for Europe in just over two weeks, we need to rush through the necessary dental procedures to get him fixed up so he can eat and smile. He's not smiling now, I can tell you.

Turns out he needs to have at least one root canal, possibly two. They're sending him to an endodontist, which is a root canal specialist. We've been to three appointments so far, and tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. (yes, that's p.m.) we finally see the endodontist, about an hour from home, and hopefully he'll get right on it and not say, "Well, I'll examine you tonight and we can do it next week." If he does that, I'm not sure how much eating John will be doing on the trip. (Got a blender, Ruth?)

Meanwhile, I developed severe plantar fasciitis in my right foot and moderate (same diagnosis) in the left, so I've been going to physical therapy twice a week. I have an eye appointment Wednesday for the glaucoma testing, which must be done every three months because of the anti-seizure medication I have to take. It's a known risk. I'm not quite half done with the baby blanket I'm working on, and haven't done the hat or booties yet. I really wanted to get that in the mail before we leave.

I still haven't found my camera's download cable. We've got either a doctor's appointment or dental appointment every single day this week, and then we're getting hair cuts as well on Friday. I feel like that old commercial, product unknown, where the guy is sitting at his desk talking on the telephone.

"I can do that," you hear him say. "I can do that. I can do that. I can do that." Then he hangs up and looks at the phone and says, "How am I going to do that?"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Day in the Life

Has anybody seen the download cable for my digital camera? I know where it should be. I know where I thought it was. I even know where I figured I put it. Yes, those are three different places. It's not in any of them. I could have left it in the console of the car, but it's dark out there—and raining. And I hate to remind John that he was going to help me find my car keys, so I could I borrow his? Again?

Maybe I don't need to download photos tonight. Perhaps I'll think of it earlier tomorrow. Nobody's going to read this tonight anyway, right?

Besides, I have to go to town tomorrow for physical therapy on my foot. Plantar fasciitis. Fun stuff. I can check in the car then without making an extra trip. No one will notice that I didn't put pictures in here again. Of the elks. Of the snow. Of the beautiful hills. Sigh.