30 October 2013

Never slow down

I wish I had some good excuse for not posting but, let's be frank, I've really been slacking off.

I've been swamped at work with reports and our system validation.  After 10 months of development and weeks upon weeks of testing, we are almost ready to make the switchover.  This has been one long, slow, painful project.  on top of that, i've been out of town for the past three weekends and I am sitting here in California leading another round of audits.  I wish I could say this was my last road trip but there is still too much time left in the year to be that optimistic.

Last three weekends have been busy for me.  Earlier, we took the trailer and dogs down for one of our Airstream rally's at a local state park. The park is a nice place just south of Houston located along the Brazos River.  Great park, lots of trials, lakes.  Great place to see some of the local indigenous wildlife (raccoons, armadillos, possums, eagles, ducks, geese, and lots & lots of alligators).  Yes, I said alligators.  This is a regular haven for thiose cute little swamp critters.  This time of year , they are pretty slow/dormant, but in the spring during their mating season and you need to keep an eye on your kids and pets.

Two weekends back, everyone was in town for my day's birthday (the big 90).  The entire family gathered again at out local Italian restaurant for the gala event.  Even Stephen and  Rebecca were able to make down from Austin for the weekend.  Great to be able to spend time with them, even if it was brief.  Was a great party.  Even my brother from Seattle flew i with his wife to join in.  My middle brother, the budding photographer, spent some time a few years back pouring through all of the old Kodak slides was amassed over the past few decades of family life.  He extracted a lot of pictures and had the printed out or scanned on line.  He brought out a number of those at my mom's 90th in February and did the same for my dad.  It was fun to have my dad hold up the picture and explain where he was and what was the occasion.  Got to see the picture of them on the prom date, one of him in his flight jacket when he had earned his wings, on beefcake shot on the beach, many of them together on the road. Great way to look back over a long life.  

My dad is still going strong - still hauling their trailer all over the state, always active.  I honestly feel that is the reason the both of my parents are still going strong - staying active, never slowing down.  They even took the trailer up to College Station for the weekend game with my brother who flew in from Seattle for his birthday.  They are planning to take the trailer up to Dallas in a week or so to have some work done on the side panels and back end (he violated the 3 foot rule while traveling this summer).  

I spent last weekend up at the game as well with the furry children.  They love to travel and meet new people.  Part of the routine is to walk over to campus to see all the preface hoopla.  Of course, those two were the center of attention wherever the went.  We even stopped by a booth for veterinary service run by a bunch of vet students where they give out tips for pet first aide - in case your dog or cat is injured or eats something bad.  With all of the attention Claire was getting, she became the unofficial spokesdog for their cause.  I even had one of the students ask can i leave Claire there for a while because of the crowd she was drawing in.  Claire live for these show deals and is a natural.  

Unfortunately, I cannot seem to post any pictures from my iPad while on the road, but I will be trying to play catch up on everyone's blogs over the next week.  

Happy trails!

09 October 2013

Furry picnic

Where has the week gone?  I have been totally overwhelmed at work and at home since I have been back and haven't been holding up my end of the bargain on postings.  I am finally caught up on my chores but still find myself behind in posting any serious updates. So I guess will have to give you something less meaningful.  

This past weekend was our annual foster group Golden Retriever picnic.  Weather started out iffy with some serious rainstorms, but it cleared out by game time and the weather was picture perfect.  100+ dogs, twice as many people, enough food to feed a battalion, an open park and pond to explore - prime ingredients for all sorts of mayhem and mischief.  Was a fantastic turnout for both two and four footed participants.  Lots of food, lots of playtime, lots of water sports.  Put that many Goldens in one area and you are just asking for trouble.  

What an attention ham?\
Since Claire is over 10 years old, she is considered a "senior" even though she doesn't act like one.  Every year they hold a "Senior Parade" to recognize those of a more senior status in the club.  Claire has been part of that parade for the past few years.  They always ask me for a bio on the dogs to talk to while she walks the parade.  My offering for her this year was:  

Claire started out as a foster but her smile won over the agg79 family and they just couldn't let her go so Grayson got a new playmate to bond with.  Claire is a true Velcro Golden and is a real people dog.  There is not a person she won't lick, nudge, paw, head butt, or roll over for to get their attention.  She really loves belly rubs and knows how to work the crowd.  That silver smile on her face that always seems to win everyone over, young & old.  She has a tongue that goes for miles and is always quick to lick your elbow, hands, face or any other part she can reach.  She loves fig newtons, but will take pretty much any treat that comes her way.   Always fashion conscious, Claire is modeling for us today in a stylish auburn colored coat, with silver trim.  While she is content to lie around the house, she loves her daily walks with Grayson and Jerry.

While we don't know her exact age (a lady never tells) she does fall into the "senior" category.  Claire is a gentle dog who has had a few litters.  But don't let that sugar face and old brown eyes fool you.  She can spot squirrels at 50 yards and is working on trying to catch one.  She loves to wrestle with Grayson and keep him in his place (even when she lets him win).  Their shenanigans around the house have earned them the nicknames of Chaos & Pandemonium.  While still not much of a water dog, Claire will hang out around the old watering hole at the local dog parks.  

I will say that this year's picnic was a total, off the hook success.  Not sure how much money we raised, but there was a ton of participants, we got loads of publicity through the local media, and, most importantly, the dogs had a great time.  My two mutts were so worn out afterwards that they slept for the rest of the day and did not want to eat or go for a walk that evening. Any time I can wear out Grayson is a good time.  

02 October 2013

Wrapping up London

Made the trek back to London on Thursday after my audit.  I would have liked to stay in Wales one more day, but already had reservations and needed to head back.  

Train ride was pretty uneventful except for a delay along the tracks that had us moving at a crawl.  By the time I made it back to Paddington, it was the middle of the rush hour crowd.  Had to fight my way across town on a packed train to find my hotel south of town.  This one wasn't anything fancy or neat like the last two - just your plain old Hampton Inn.  I cashed in some of my travel points and got my stay for a couple of quid.  

Spent my last day in London just hitting the general sights.  Trucked across town to find an old quilt shop for momma to find her something unique (not the typical cheesy souvenirs). Then hiked over to Greenwich to explore the Maritime Museum for an hour or so.  Took the wrong DLR train, lost my Oyster card, stumbled upon a neat local market, had a beer on the Prime Meridian, picked up some cheesy souvenirs for co-workers.  Just a general day in London with no serious objective.  Meant to hit a few more of the museums, but ran short of time.  Maybe next time. 

Finished up late in the day back at the hotel.  I needed to pack up for the trip out to Heathrow.  I planned to get an early start to make sure I made the connections and cleared security in time for my flight.  A very good trip.  Glad to have opportunity to come back over.  Now I need to get ready for my next road trip out west at the end of the month.  

Figureheads from old ships
Cutty Sark
Meantime pub
You never know who you'll see in Trafalgar Square
London Eye