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Rested, rejuvinated and ready to show some "vacation" pictures!

Thursday, September 24, 2009
If you would like to read the "low lights" of our recent cruise along the northeast border, be sure to click here.

This post will hopefully provide some of the highlights of our little trip.

Our first port was Portland, Maine. We had scheduled a morning tour around town and around the coastline on an "amphibious duck!" Unfortunately we missed that tour because of "discussing" our luggage and belongings situation with "customer service" people (I use that phrase "customer service" and maybe even the word "people" loosly) and shopping for replacement prescriptions, luggage and underwear, etc., etc., etc.

I'm am always in awe of how Rod can smile and keep his sense of humor under ANY circumstance! No wonder I love that guy!

Here is a picture of Rod's pill caddy after it took it's little ocean dip.

We were able to catch our afternoon shore excursion which was riding on a little "motor coach" around the coastline and through the coastal village of Kennebunkport which included driving past the "Bush Family Compound." No matter what your political opinions are, it is still very cool to see the home where two of our president's spent their summers. The property has been in the Bush family for many generations. If you're interested in a little history about the area, click here.

The United States flag was flying high on the flagpole which, we were told, means that "George and Barbara" were on the property. We saw what looked like a secret service boat driving around the waters by the property and a couple of big white vans that almost looked like a catering company. If they were having a party, we didn't get our invitation....it's probably at the bottom of the ocean back in Boston....

On Wednesday we docked in Bar Harbor. We decided to sleep in a bit, work a little more on our "issues" with the boat and try to relax. In the afternoon we went whale watching! It was very cool! We actually saw two different Finback Whales! If you want some information about these "second largest living animals, after the Blue Whales," click here.

Here is Rod's "look of amazement" after seeing a whale!

What a goofball!

On Thursday we visited the port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. We took a free bus into town, went to a museum where we learned about the history of the area, including how the people of Halifax were the first at the scene of the Titanic tragedy.

We spent Friday "at sea" sailing back to the Boston Harbor. We had planned on staying over Saturday night in Boston so we could tour the city. But, given how well things had gone on the trip, we decided that we just wanted to get home to our drugged dogs and our own beds.

Well, I need to close this post for the day. I'm off to take a knitting lesson. My dear phriend Cindy and I had promised each other that we were going to take a knitting class so that we could get beyond just knitting scarves. With fall here, I decided I needed to get my behind in gear and learn how to knit, I mean, really knit. So, I'm going to a local knitting store called, "String of Purls" and see if this old dog can learn a new trick.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

Did you hear about the lovely couple who....

Friday, September 18, 2009
went on a relaxing cruise along the New England shore? They flew from Omaha to Minneapolis and then Minneapolis to Boston without any trouble. They took a cab from the airport to the dock where the cruise ship, the “Jewel” was waiting for them. It took a bit of time to get checked in, where the luggage guys whisked away their luggage, the service counter people took their credit card number and took their pictures so that they could be given a “sea pass” that basically is a credit card/charge card/ room key and identification card all rolled into one. With the assistance of a crew member the “lovely couple” were taken to their beautiful room where a plate of fresh fruit was waiting for them. Their luggage had yet to arrive, but, that was not unusual for a big ship like the Jewel.
Well “the lovely couple” (who from now on will be known as “us, we, our, I, Rod and Annette) headed off for our first of 3, 679 meals that we would consume while on the ship for the next 5 days (ok, I know, that was a bit of an exaggeration…it was really closer to 3, 678 meals). Upon returning to our room we were still not surprised that we didn’t have our luggage. As “seasoned” cruisers we knew that it might be a good couple of hours before the workers would be able to deliver the bags to the thousands of people on board. We did notice the phone “message” light flashing. We figured it was the typical, “Welcome to the Jewel of the Seas. We hope you enjoy your voyage.” Imagine my surprise to hear this sweet little accented woman’s voice say, “Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Markin. This is “blah-blah-blah” from guest services. We regret to inform you that there has been an incident involving your luggage. We regret to inform you that when your luggage was being transferred to the ship, it accidentally FELL INTO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN! We would like your permission to clean the items before we return them to you. Please call “blah-blah-blah” at guest services as soon as you get this message.” Rod was out on the balcony enjoying the view as I listened to this message. I pushed the “repeat message” button thinking I must have misunderstood what this young lady said. Nope! She actually said, “ YOUR LUGGAGE FELL INTO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.” I yelled at Rod saying, “Our luggage was dumped into the Atlantic Ocean in Boston!” He, of course, thought I was jesting…until I replayed the message! He called guest services and was told that our luggage was dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. The good news was (according to them) they were able to retrieve both pieces of our luggage. But, the bad news was, everything was drenched with ocean salt water. They wanted permission to clean our clothing and the “other items” that were in the bags.

Now, here’s where the story REALLY gets interesting….

Bag #1’s Contents: clothes

Bag #2’s Contents: medicine, all of MY medicine for my pulmonary hypertension, all of Rod’s prescription medications, a heating pad for the leg aches I’m still getting because of the knee issue and Rod’s CPAP machine.

You might want to reread the contents of bag #2 to get the full impact of what happened. By now our ship has left the port and we are on our way to our first stop, Portland, Maine.

Rod, in his stern “doctor voice” told the guest service person that he wanted our luggage delivered to us a.s.a.p. so we could actually see what kind of damage they were talking about. AND, no matter what, we did NOT want them touching the medicine!
Our luggage was delivered and it was an absolute mess!! The suitcase with the clothes had every single item dripping with smelly water. The second bag was when the real problems were revealed. I should start by saying there was some good news in bag #2. The medicine that I have to use for the pulmonary hypertension is all sealed. So, with the exception of a couple of packages of extension tubing, needles and the alcohol squares that I use for cleaning the tops and connections, everything else was fine. I had all of my oral meds with me in the carry-on, along with my back-up Flolan pump and cassette of medicine. But, Rod had his shaver, CPAP machine, the heating pad and all of his oral meds. At the last minute he stuck those pills in the checked luggage because he didn’t have room in his briefcase.
We were sent down to the ship doctor’s office to try to get replacements meds for Rod and any items I needed to replace for my Flolan supplies. The doctor was able to help Rod out with some of the prescriptions, but the doctor’s replacements were drugs that were manufactured in Russia!! There is no FDA in Russia. Rod politely accepted the pills as we started to figure out what we were going to do as soon as we landed in Portland the next morning. There was nothing that could be done for his CPAP machine. This $5,000.00 piece of equipment was completely ruined.

Well, in an attempt to make a long story a bit shorter, Rod and I spent the first half of our stop in Portland taking cabs to drug stores and Target stores to replace his prescriptions, new luggage, underwear, socks, etc. He was unable to find a CPAP machine. But, after several hours of phone calls Rod received a new CPAP at our second port of call (Bar Harbor, Maine…on Wednesday) and was thrilled to finally get a good night of sleep.
We did not receive our cleaned clothes until Tuesday evening. We got several phone calls asking for our permission to clean the clothes for us. Every time we said, “Yes!” It was pretty obvious that no one in “guest services” had a clue what was happening.

In spite of all of this crap that went on with the luggage and everything that went along with that, we did manage to take a tour Tuesday afternoon. We went to Kennebunkport, Maine and saw the Bush family compound. The American flag was waving proudly in the front of the house. The flying flag is the signal that President George and Barbara were at the house. We even saw a secret service boat patrolling the area around the compound. We had a little free time in the town of Kennebunkport where we enjoyed a delicious piece of blueberry pie!

Wednesday was a much better day. We landed at the port in Bar Harbor where we went on a whale watching boat and we actually spotted two different “Finback Whales!” We were told that Finback Whales are the second largest whales in the whale family. After our little excursion, we were, once again, given a little free time. This time we found a fabulous bookstore and another restaurant that also served delicious blueberry pie! Ding-Ding! 2 pieces of blueberry pie with ice cream two days in a row!
Thursday we landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We took the free bus named “Fred” into town to visit the Maritime Museum where we learned about Halifax and their part in retrieving survivors and “non-survivors” of the Titanic disaster. For lunch we went across the street to a Chinese buffet. I know, don’t ask me why we went to some goofy Chinese buffet when we were in a fish town. They also didn’t have blueberry pie there. But, this did have ice cream!
That brings us to today, Friday. We honestly feel like this is the first day of our vacation. We finally had our belongings, either returned or replaced. We’d signed the majority of the paperwork involved when your luggage is thrown into the Atlantic Ocean. So, we slept in, went for lunch, took a nap, went for a snack….you get the picture.

We get back into Boston tomorrow (Saturday) morning. We were planning on staying over an extra day so that we could explore Boston since I’ve never been to Boston and Rod has only been there for meetings. But, given how this trip began we both decided we just wanted to go home. So, we’ll be coming home tomorrow night. Hopefully Rod will have a quiet Sunday so he can face work after his week of “vacation.”
OK, that’s it for now. This has been a strange, strange week, even for a “Markin.” We’ll be glad to get home and see our little “Prozac Babies.”

Thanks for checking in.

Thanks for reading.


*************IMPORTANT P.S.
I tried really, really hard to upload some pictures, but I kept losing my internet connection and at .55 cents a minute, I figured you good people wouldn't mind waiting for me to get home and some pictures from our "vacation." Sorry.... I'll get them posted when we return and get settled in...
Thanks again.

Pack your virtual bags.....

Sunday, September 13, 2009
Rod and I are heading out early tomorrow morning (very, very early....ARG!!!) to fly to Boston where we'll pick up the "Jewel of the Seas"

with the Royal Caribbean cruise lines for a 5 night "Canada and New England Cruise!" We will board the ship in Boston, making stops in Portland, Bar Harbor and Halifax, Nova Scotia. We'll return to Boston and stay an extra day so we can see the city.

Rod's been to Boston, but only for meetings. We're hoping the the fall colors will be in full force.

Sorry, this needs to be short and sweet. I need to pack clothes, medicine, O2 supplies and mix. Traveling with all of my crap harks back to the days when the boys were babies and we had to bring and entire extra car full of things. (kidding...mostly)

I'm taking my computer and I'm hoping to bring you all along.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.


Where were you 8 years ago?

Friday, September 11, 2009
Last year on this date, I wrote about our experience on September 11, 2001. First, I never expected to still be blogging. In fact, to be honest, I wasn't sure I'd still be here, as bad as that sounds. I think, in all honesty, I feel better than I did a year ago (if you don't count the stupid knee). A lot has happened since September 11, 2001....a lot has happened since September 11, 2008.

I'd like to take this moment in history to thank God for this life, this country, the family and friends we have been given and all of the freedoms that come with living in this country and from God Himself.

I'm being a bit lazy, but I just don't see any reason to re-write what I wrote last year. So, I have copied and pasted here today.

Please remember. Please take the time to thank all of the people that keep us safe because they have decided to put themselves in harms way. Most importantly, take the time to hug your loved ones and tell them how much you love them.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 11, 2008
Where were you 7 years ago?
Seven years ago Rod and I took Nick to Manchester, England so he could do a year of college in Europe. We planned on taking Nick to college and get him all settled, spend a day or two visiting the area and then head on back home. Well, as luck would have it, Nick was able to get settled, get a bank account set-up, etc., in just a couple of days. So we decided to head back home a day early so we could get back to work and check on how Chris was doing with his first year at Northwest Missouri State College in Maryville, Missouri. So, we headed back to Omaha on September 11, 2001 on flight Delta 65. After a few hours into the flight the pilot announced that our plane was having mechanical problems and that we were going to make an unexpected landing in St. Johns, Newfoundland. Rod had his cell phone and started making phone calls to try to let Nick and Chris know what was going on (although,he wasn't suppose to, you know, cell phones interrupt flight communications, yah, yah, yah...). He started getting bits and pieces of information, just enough to let us know that it was unlikely that our plane was experiencing mechanical problems. His cell phone was running out of battery, so he asked a flight attendant if he could charge it up back in their work area. The flight attendants were trying to put on these tough professional faces, but they were obviously very worried. They had also only heard bits and pieces of what was actually happening. Rod told them that they could certainly use his phone to call their family members to let them know they were safe. They were very appreciative. We circled Newfoundland for five hours while the pilot drained the plane of all of the extra fuel (we later found out that a bomb threat had been called into our plane). After we landed in St. Johns we sat in the plane on the tarmac for 10 hours watching 20+ other planes land at this small terminal. We eventually were let off the plane and loaded on big buses. Because of the security threat and the fact that the officials had no idea if they had any "bad guys" on this flight, we were not allowed to take any of our luggage, any of our personal items, not even any of our medications, unless there was something small in our carry-on that we could stick in a purse. (Thank God I wasn't sick then. I don't know what would have happened.) So, we stuck Rod's phone and his charger into my purse and got on a giant bus with our fellow travel companions. We rode for about 30 minutes and were taken to the Mile One Centre, which is a huge auditorium used by their hockey team.

We still did not have a real idea of what had happened until we walked into the stadium. We had to go through different check-points, getting registered, getting free drinks and snacks and then we were led into this hockey auditorium. Like many sports stadiums, this one had numerous giant screen TV's and we saw for the first time what had happened and what was going on back home. It was so eerie seeing what was going on in our country, while we were stuck in a totally different country. We had Nick in England and Chris is Missouri and here we were in Newfoundland. We had to stay at the Centre for a few hours until our flight was announced. We were loaded back into a bus and this time we were driven to the Salvation Army St. John's Temple, where we lived, sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags for a week.

Due to the bomb threats and the overall situation, all of the planes that landed on the island had to dump their extra fuel. We had to all wait until fuel could be delivered, via boats, and then we had to wait our turn to leave. It took us a full week before we were back in the air, heading for home. This is actually a photo taken from our return flight as we flew over New York, one week after the attack. Notice how it's still smoking.

I love our country. I love being an American. God bless America and all of it's people.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009
OK, I'm starting this posting on Wednesday night (9-9-09) because I'm so frickin' mad at my dogs right now I can't relax enough to go to sleep! So, I decided if I wrote about it (typing it, smacking the keys like they are little puppy butts!) I'd calm down and be able to go to sleep. Then I'll come back to it tomorrow (9-10-09) and add something more intelligent or interesting or at least less grumpy!

So, Rod's out of town again. He'll be back Friday morning. (Just two more sleeps....I can't remember where I heard that phrase...maybe one of the many books I've read....but, I digress....)If you've read this blog before you know that when Rod goes out of town, I've got extra chores. My dear friends Tammy, Dan and Carly are taking care of the horses (after I got scolded because I didn't tell them that Rod was going out of town because I didn't want them to have to do MY chores. I mean, they have their own busy lives! But, with my knee still trying to improve...which it has...I figured I better give in to peer pressure and let them help.) So, that just leaves me with the fish and the dogs. I have not had any trouble getting the dogs "to bed" since they were little puppies...like when they weighed less than 100 pounds. But, now, two nights in a row when I hobble outside (looking for the sympathy vote) to have them do their business, they both run off barking, chasing and just basically acting like idiotic dogs. Why is this a problem you ask? Because after they go outside to "do their business" they come in and Haver goes to "his room" (the laundry room) and Asa comes upstairs with me and I get to go to bed!!

Last night I dinked around for over 30 minutes before they finally got tired of whatever they were doing and finally came inside! I don't want to wait 30 minutes to go to bed! (Although tonight it will be more than 30 minutes since I'm doing "blogging therapy" to calm down enough to go to sleep!) I was determined that they were not going to do a repeat tonight. We headed on outside and I'm telling them, "OK guys, it's potty and night-night....potty and night-night....potty and night-night." I praised them as they squatted and praised them as they started walking back towards me and then WHAM!!! They either smelled something or saw something and then they were off!!! I yelled their names, I whistled, I clapped my hands and....nothing! I opened and shut the garage doors a couple of times, trying to get my point across and....nothing! I went out the front door to the front yard and yelled their names, clapped my hands and whistled and....they came running! Yahoo! But, just as they were making their way to the front door.....THEY WENT OFF RUNNING AGAIN ACTING LIKE IDIOT DOGS!!! ARG!!!!!!!

By now my heart is racing, my ire and dander are both up (whatever either one of those things are...) and I was really pissed! (Sorry about all of the language...but, when your beating the hell out of the computer keys, you can't help but get a "naughty" word or two in the sentence!) I came back inside and wrapped up both knees, ready to go outside and fight the fight to get these two stupid wack-jobs to come inside so I COULD GO TO BED!!

I head back outside, yelling, clapping and whistling and here comes Asa....with a dead animal hanging out of his mouth! OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!! NOW they come when I call and they bring their road kill with them!

I yelled "No, no, no, no, no!" to Asa and miraculously he responded, dropping the vole onto the driveway and headed into the house. I hollered for Haver and he rounds the corner, thankfully with an empty mouth! Somehow he managed to walk past Asa's "catch of the day" and waddled on into the house! I told him it was time to go "night-night" and he waddled right into his room! Asa, basically shivering in fear from all of my screaming stood looking at me with a look that said, "I hope this crazy lady doesn't do to me what I did my little vole friend." Instead, I told him to stay downstairs for a while because I wasn't interested in having "vole breath" in my room, and he listened.

OK, I'm actually starting to type more slowly and lightly on the keyboard. I think it's time to stop for now, get some sleep and pick this up again in the morning.


Well, it's now around 5:00 on Thursday (9-10-09) and I'm finally getting back to this post. I would like to add a couple of things, unrelated to idiotic dogs.

1. Yesterday was Christopher's birthday!!! He turned 26 years old!! There have only been a handful of birthdays that he's been away from home for, but I miss not being able to give him a real birthday hug on his real birthday. I thought you might enjoy a little bit of video from his very first birthday. It's a bit grainy and not very long, but you can see how incredibly cute he was (and still is...sorry Chris, I'm your Mom!) Also, the voice that you hear is Rod's Dad. He was taking the video. And, yes, the split-second vision of someone in a red sweater is me and NO I'm not showing you any more of her...me...at least not today....maybe if I start taking up drinking....or someone buys me a Blizzard.....

And, for those of you faithful readers of this blog, be sure to click here to see how adorable Chris was in the spring of 1986....

I can't remember what else I was going to write about tonight. So, I guess this is it for now.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

The End of an Era...The Nebraska State Fair in Lincoln

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rod and I both grew up in Lincoln, NE. Nebraska has been having their state fair in Lincoln for 140 years. So, if you do the math, Rod and I have been going to the fair for about 10 years. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

The Nebraska State Fair is moving to Grand Island which is more in the center of the state.

As kids, we'd go every year since it was in town. When Rod was in high school he worked at one of the restaurants every fair season, cooking hamburgers. This particular "stand" was owned by the same guy who owned a regular restaurant that Rod worked at during the school year. One year in college,(the college, Nebraska Wesleyan was also in Lincoln) after we started dating, Rod got this idea that it would be fun for the both of us to go back and work the state fair booth one year. I really don't know why Rod thought that was such a fun thing to do! I mean, it was fun working with Rod, but it was hot, tough long hours! But, we'd get up early, go to the fair, work all day and then go on a couple of rides before we called it a day. We also got into the fair for free and did make some pretty decent money!

When Nick and Chris were little, we'd take them to the fair every year. They would love the rides, the animals and, of course, the food! I don't know about you, but there's nothing better than a good funnel cake!

Rod and I have gone a couple of times since I got sick. It's not really an easy place to maneuver. The last time we rented a scooter and that made a big difference. I really wasn't sure about going this year because of my stupid knee. But, since it was the last year for the fair to be in Lincoln, we figured we needed to go. So Friday night after Rod got home from work, we headed on down to Lincoln. Luckily the scooter rentals just happened to be at the entrance where we parked! (Another one of those little "miracle moments!") We loaded up the scooter with my O2, medicine and other crap, then started out. I'm just going to jump right to the end of this story...The fair this year was really, really pathetic! We don't know if it was because the organizers knew it was the last year or if it was the economy, we're not sure. But, we really did expect...MORE! It started out with the beloved funnel cake that ended up being, now I'm quoting my beloved husband...."It was a GUT BOMB!" Here he is, ordering said "GUT BOMB!"

After that, we basically wandered around the fairgrounds for about an hour, trying to find something interesting to see. There were some big John Deere displays and the Budweiser Clydesdales, but they were in these little cages, sleeping.

After a TOTAL of 90 minutes we decided to go home. On the way to the car we hit the highlight of the evening.....



Rod took this picture. Not until I downloaded it to put on this blog post did I realized that I was talking to the wrong end of 850 pound "Harold."

I would like to wish Grand Island much luck in rebuilding the Nebraska State Fair. It's not beyond me to drive that extra mile for a good funnel cake.

Thanks for reading.

Couch Potato Diaries...Day 12....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Well, I went to the specialist on Monday. She was very nice. She's trying a new cutting edge type of approach where she uses an ultrasound machine to look directly at the knee and find where most of the fluid is so she can just insert the needle there and not have to "dig around" looking for the best spot. She also promised to give me a tad bit more numbing medicine so it wouldn't hurt so much. Such good theories.......

She went into a different pocket of fluid and was unable to get anything out. It was also all congealed blood. Even though she used an 18 gauge needle (now and forever known as a BIG-ASS needle) she was not able to get out any blood, whereas the doctor last Monday was at least able to get out some blood with the same, BIG ASS needle. After she dug around a bit trying to get some fluid out, she decided to inject some steroids. The thought is that I have damaged my knee causing it to bleed. Because I'm on blood thinners I bleed more than the average Joan. The blood then clots and gets absorbed and things are all better. But, every time the dogs clip me, run into me, wag their tail and hit my knee, it gets re-injured and bleeds again, starting the whole vicious cycle all over again.

We can't find out what the exact damage is because that would mean an MRI would have to be done. I can't have an MRI because of my Flolan pump. So, for now, I'm staying off my feet as much as I need to, keeping it elevated, and iced. I'm also going to keep wearing this BIG ASS brace (it just FEELS good to type BIG ASS and not be referring to my body)until my knee feels stable. Also, Rod has made me promise not to carry any more 40 pound boxes of plums which is what appears to have been the latest trigger for this cycle.

The knee actually feels better tonight and I actually went out and ran an errand this afternoon. I took some clothes to the cleaners and, while I was out I figured it was necessary to swing through the Dairy Queen drive-through and get a blizzard. We all KNOW that Blizzards can cure almost anything!

A positive thing that has come out of this latest bump in the road is having the opportunity to once again experience some of the little miracles that God provides and we are usually too busy to pay attention to or notice. Here's an example, one that may look silly or small to some, but my phriends with O2 will understand. Up until last night (when my knee was starting to feel better) I have not had my long, long line of O2 tubing stuck or crimped AT ALL! I could go anywhere, whether I was pushing my walker or sitting on and rolling my walker or actually trying to walk all over the first floor and NOT ONCE did I have to back-track to free my tubing! NOT ONCE!

Another positive thing that has happened over this last week is to take advantage of my constant sitting position and scanned some pictures from Nick and Kara's wedding that Kara's mom and aunt took. We haven't seen the "official" pictures yet, but these "amateur" shots are great!

This is a shot at the rehearsal night.

This is a picture from the delicious picnic that Kara's parents hosted for relatives and out of town visitors. This is my beloved and significantly older sister (in the middle...you're welcome Kathleen) her daughter Maggie on the left and her other daughter Katie. Such beautiful girls, inside and out!

Here is a really nice shot of Kara, her brother and sister and their grandma!

Here's a shot of Chris sticking his brother with the pin for his boutineer!

My, how they have grown!

And, my favorite picture...

If that's not the look of love, I don't know what is!

Well, I think that's enough for this post. As always, thanks for checking in and thanks for reading.