Monday, November 30, 2009

Forth Worth Stockyards

Hi All!

After sleeping pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday, I am feeling better. For an added bonus - I don't have to work today so . . . YEAH!

Here is the second installment of the visit with my parents and my aunt and uncle. The Fort Worth Stockyards.

For those of you who don't know, Dallas and Fort Worth are only about an hour apart and these two cities and the suburbs between them are known as "The Metroplex." Dallas is considered to be the more "citified" of the two cities while Fort Worth maintains some of its "cowboy" roots. This doesn't mean that Fort Worth isn't a sophisticated city - it just means that it has kept more of its traditional past alive than Dallas has. This is a good thing since it gave us a good place to visit!

The Forth Worth Stockyards is a sample of what life might have been like in the "old west" when cattle ruled the scene. Every day there is a cattle drive in the Stockyards. Of course, we had to go and see that!

The herd of longhorn cattle were herded through the streets. They are very impressive animals. Just look at those horns!

Then, I got locked up in the "pokey!"

Mom and Aunt Donna got locked up too!

Then Dad got thrown into the slammer!

Here are some longhorn cattle trying their hardest to stay away from people. I am standing on an observation deck and the cattle are on the opposite end of the pen. Smart cattle.

Inside the Live Stock Exchange building Aunt Donna stood beside an antique buggy.

They have a "Texas Trail of Fame" and in the building they have plaques with all of the honorees on them. They were neat to read.

We all spent some time looking and finding some familiar faces and names.

You could get your picture taken on the back of this VERY patient longhorn. We opted to just take Mom's picture in front of him.

Cowboys accompanied the cattle drive (sorry some of the pictures are a bit out of order but . . .). Earlier they were cracking bullwhips. Really!

The cattle do this "drive" twice a day and are pretty content to do it. I don't think that the cattle would have been so docile in the days of the real cattle drives.

The horses were as impressive as the cattle.

It is a good thing that the cattle didn't decide to take offense to the cars parked along the road. Imagine what their horns could do to that paint job!

This marker is one of over 400 which were set in the countryside to mark the Chisholm Trail.

Aunt Donna and Uncle Al sat in the Billy Bob convertible. How fun!

Mom and Dad get up close and personal with "Calamity Jane." Isn't she cute?

There were plenty of touristy shops in this old building which once was used to sell sheep, goats, pigs, and other smaller livestock. The train runs right through the middle of the building for easy loading!
We found some neat shops. My personal favorite was the Ernest Tubb music shop where I found some good local talent CDs!

Speaking of Earnest - here is his star on the Texas Trail of Fame!
We all had a fun day at the stockyards. We ate at Riskey's BBQ (I am hoping I spelled that right!) and had good food. Then we set off for the new Dallas Cowboys' Stadium. That will be another post for another day!
Voice Update: Huskier than normal due to the cold but doing well - all things considered!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Rainforest Cafe

Hi All!

My visitors have headed north to Oklahoma for a few days so I have some time to actually blog!

I have been having a lot of fun taking my parents and my aunt and uncle around to "touristy" places. Not something I regularly go to see!

The first place we "hit" was The Rainforest Cafe. My parents and I have been here before and thought Aunt Donna and Uncle Al might enjoy it.

We sat at a table right next to Baba. He was a great host! For those of you who don't know - the Rainforest Cafe is a restaurant decorated like the rainforest. There are a lot of animatronic animals around the restaurant who "come to life" every five or so minutes. Every twenty minutes the whole restaurant "thunders and lightnings." There is also a starscape where shooting stars streak every so often. The place is a bit loud but it fun to eat at and the food is pretty good too!

This is Mom - she is getting her camera ready for some good shots of the cafe.

Here is Aunt Donna. I love her smile - if you look closely there is a HUGE iguana over her shoulder.

This is Dad - doesn't he look thrilled? For some reason, he looks odd in pictures at times.

Uncle Al - he had fun but didn't really say a whole lot.

This parrot was near our table - it didn't move but was pretty anyway.

The elephants move - they trumpet and shake their ears and raise their trunks. The last time Mom and Dad and I ate here we sat right next to the elephants.

A big dragonfly - they are huge in the rainforest

There are also massive fish tanks around the cafe with colorful fish. It is fun to watch them swim around.

Mom took this show with me in it.

Does this stool make my but look like a duck butt?
Voice Update: My voice is doing pretty well. It didn't really like the loud atmosphere of the Rainforest Cafe too well but . . . that is just a sacrifice I make for family!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Hi All!

Well - my parents and my aunt and uncle are here safely and we are having fun! I have been taking pictures and I will show you some in a while - today I just had to show you this.

I know you all have seen acorns. Mom and I were walking this morning and found these two examples of acorns to share with you.

Even though this is a dark picture, I think these should look familiar. They are just normal. In fact, they are a bit small. They come from a Live Oak tree.

Have you ever seen acorns like this? I have no idea what kind of tree they come from other than it is an oak and it was a small tree. They look like they have fuzzy caps and there is one other thing . . .

They are HUGE!
Mom and I were amazed by the size of these acorns - and from a small little tree!
Isn't it amazing what you see when you go walking?
Today is going to be a day of getting ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow. The turkey is defrosting and we will be baking up a storm!
I hope you have a fabulous day!
Voice Update: Other than talking too much and getting my voice worn out - things are going well!

Monday, November 23, 2009

They're Coming!

Hi All!

After a couple days of lots of sleep and time to putter around . . . I am ALMOST ready for Thanksgiving! I went grocery shopping yesterday and bought a turkey that is the size of a small child along with all of the "fixin's" for dinner. I am certain that there are things I have forgotten but that will be Hubby's job - to run out to the store to pick up a thing or two!

I did manage to injure myself this weekend. You'll never, ever guess how I did it! I hurt myself putting away groceries! That is right - groceries! And not even the honkin' big turkey! I pulled out a drawer in the fridge and it zoomed out and almost fell out - "luckily" it didn't fall because my finger was stuck under the handle. Of course, the weight of the drawer did a nice number on my finger - think bending the nail back about half way and blood under the nail with a nice sore spot under the nail. Yep - fun!

In other news, I did go out and paint our address on the curb in front of our house. This is something that different companies and charities offer to do for a "minimum donation" several times a year and we never take them up on the offer. However, since I had the outside paint for Hubby's Buckeye sign and my neighbor's bunny porch decoration . . . . I felt the urge to do it myself. Primarily to see if I could actually do it.

Yesterday, after church, I got the paints and sat out in the street - being very vigilant for oncoming cars - and painted my heart out. It is a bit "funky" but - I like it. I will be taking a picture to show you today. By the way - Hubby thought I was a nut case for sitting in the street to paint the numbers but what else is new?

I will also be taking a lot of pictures this week as my guests arrive and we undertake both sightseeing and preparation for Thanksgiving. It should be fun! Oh - that reminds me. I need to stop blogging and check their flight to see if they are coming in on time or not.

I will update you more tomorrow!


Voice Update: Doing surprisingly well. I think the inhale singing is doing the trick!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Planning

Hi All!

It is Saturday - the day to sleep in (if you don't have cats who insist that you get up to watch them eat the food they have in their bowls at 6:30 in the morning!) and to recover from the busy work week you just completed.

This Saturday, however, will be different for me. I am planning out my Thanksgiving week with visitors and a huge turkey dinner. This will involve lists of ingredients to buy at the store, lists of things to do while my guests are here, and lists of things to not forget to do so that dinner actually comes out right - and on time.

Don't you want to come and help?


Voice: Doing okay. Doing okay!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Four. In. The. Morning!

Hi All!

You remember these two cuddly critters, right?

The brown one is Miss Cleo and the white one is Skor. They are my darling little angel kitties. Just look how nice and sweet they look cuddling on my bed! Who wouldn't want these two cuddled up with them?
Well - let me clarify that statement. There are times when I am more than happy to cuddle with my kitties. They purr and snuggle and are sweeties. However, things are not quite so rosy when they decide to snuggle and purr at FOUR. IN. THE. MORNING!
That is right. Four A.M.
Last night - or should I say this morning - both of my darling kitties decided that I needed to be awake in time for the thunder storm so they hopped up on the bed purring and snuggling and cuddling. They managed to wake me up quickly because I am a light sleeper. I was wide awake in time for the storm to start.
Then - I tried to drift off to sleep again. Nope. Both kitties worked as a well-oiled tag team to ensure that I didn't get a moment's sleep until the storm and the rain was done. What time might that have been you ask? 6:00 A.M. Just about when Hubby was ready to get up and hop in the shower.
So - I have been up since four this morning. I did manage to get about a half hour's worth of sleep while Hubby was in the shower but then my little "angels" decided - as they do every morning - they they just couldn't eat a bite until I was up and about in the kitchen.
I LOVE having kitties.
Today I am heading to the DAC again after a two week absence. I miss my friends there. Then it will be back home for a nap and more house cleaning in preparation for my Thanksgiving company. I might even start to sit down and plan out the menu and ingredients I need to buy at the store. Doesn't that sound like fun?
Have a super day!
Voice Update: Doing more inhale and massage seems to be helping a bit. My voice is getting marginally stronger. We will have to wait to see how it handles company over the holiday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Returning Things

Hi All!

Let me tell you how much I hate, dislike, cringe to think about returning things. I try to make sure that I will like/enjoy/fit into the product I buy before I buy it because I hate returning things. Then - returning things online - just that much worse!

In earlier blogs I believe I have told you about my iPod earbud problems. The original earbuds conked out after about three years and so I went on a hunt for new ones. Because I like the products I have gotten from the website - iFrogz - before, I ordered earbuds from them.

The earbuds arrived and I was thrilled - they look so cool with a neat design on the sides and everything. Plus - they sound good.

However - they really hurt my ears!

Trying to tell myself that I just need to get used to them, I struggled through a week and more trying to "get used to" the new earbuds. No dice. In fact, at times they hurt my ears so much that I couldn't stand to keep them in my ears! Not good!

Well, I stopped by Wal Mart and picked up a cheapo pair of earbuds to see if they were any different. Surprise, surprise, they felt wonderful right from the start and the sound quality wasn't noticeably different (not that I would notice something like that unless it was HORRIBLE!).

The decision was made to return the iFrogz earbuds. Admittedly, I have been putting it off because of my afore mentioned dislike of returning things. However - today I have taken the plunge and have started the process. We will see how it goes. I hope iFrogz is as good about returns as they are about ordering and shipping.

How do you feel about returning things?


Voice Update: After a long bout of inhalation singing on my way to work yesterday my voice seems marginally better. We will see if it keeps improving. I think the inhalation voicing helps relax my cords and get them back into a more normal "groove."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And So It Continues . . .

Hi All!

Yesterday work wasn't too bad - a bit frustrating because I have decided that I need to take a more active role in the whole insurance thing. Up to now I have been leaving the complicated ones to Linda when she comes to work but . . . there have been questions when I am there so I am jumping in to figure out what is going on!

Let me just say that some insurance companies are pretty good - they send clear EOBs (Explanation of Benefit forms) and their help lines are actually helpful. They also pay for things like speech therapy for kiddos who can't say words correctly. Other companies . . . not so much!

There is one company in particular - which shall remain nameless - which is a general pain in the booty! They always want medical records and session notes - usually multiple times for the same patient within a couple months - their phone help lines are annoyingly complex and keep you from talking to a real person for as long as possible. And the real people you talk to eventually . . . sometimes they are not understandable - maybe in a different country?

Every time you manage to talk to a person on the help line they say something different from the last person you talked to. What fun!

Oh well! I have to do it so . . . I am doing it.

The other thing I have decided is that I am just planning to work every day. That way I don't expect a day off and get disappointed when I have to work. Thinking this way helps me think more positively and makes my life better in general!

Oh - what is the genesis of this post? Linda has another medical complication - nothing serious but enough to keep her out of work. So I continue to work . . .

I am beginning to think about an exit strategy though.


Voice Update: Doing fairly well. Not good but not bad. Still working on massage and inhalation exercises.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Hi All!

The weather here is still chilly - only 43 degrees when I woke up this morning! Both Fred and my lettuce found their way into the garage yesterday while I was working and/or at class so that they are protected from this cold spell.

Who made this happen? Hubby. I didn't even ask him to move the plants but, he remembered them and moved them. He is a good guy.

That simple act got me thinking about Hubby. He is a pretty quiet guy. He never really stands out in a crowd - by design, I should say. He likes being in the background observing.

Hubby is one of the "good guys" of myth and legend. He is kind and thoughtful in his gentle, kind way. He never really says too much but he does a lot. If he sees something that needs done, he does it. If someone needs something, more often than not, Hubby will help them get it. He wants everyone to be comfortable and happy.

When I first noticed the symptoms of SD in my life, Hubby was right there supporting me as I imagined the worst. As I struggled to continue teaching, he was roped into recording all kinds of things for me to use in my class - vocabulary tests, instructions for a practice TAKS test. Hubby only gave me a token complaint before sighing and recording.

As my voice continued to make itself scarce, Hubby picked up the slack. He made lots and lots of phone calls. He drove me to doctor appointments. He listened as I cried out my frustration. He tried to make people on the phone understand that yes, I was there but no, I couldn't talk. Literally.

It was Hubby who found information on the Internet about SD for me. He was the one who figured out how to get my amplified telephone which gave me that ability to use the phone again. He walked with me every evening when I needed to work on my breathing endurance. He even endured all of my vocal exercises - some of which sounded absolutely weird!

When my voice was returning and needed constant amplification, Hubby even accepted my being miked pretty much 24/7 with good humor. He did complain about the unintended feedback which I learned was caused by entering or leaving the car with the mic turned on but - who wouldn't?

Hubby has endured a lot over the past couple of years.

And his support continues!

Even now that I have a voice Hubby is supportive of my as I navigate classes and work and whatever else life throws my way.

Hubby is wonderful. I love him and can't imagine what I would ever do without him. He might be quiet but . . . he is my hero!


Voice Update: Mehh! Still hanging in a balance between good and bad. Most of the time my voice is okay but I am still struggling with different unvoiced consonant sounds. How frustrating!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Hi All!

This morning is chilly in Texas - it was only 47 degrees when I woke up! In preparation for my morning walk I pulled on my thermals which I got in Ohio last Christmas, a nice turtleneck, my new walking pants, a heavy sweatshirt, and nice thick socks. I was nice an warm - except for my ears. Before heading out, I did debate with myself about wearing earmuffs but . . . obviously I lost and went out without them.

My ears were almost frozen when I got in. Not so much from the temperature but rather, from the constant STRONG wind.

Normally, the wind is strong but only along certain streets of my walk. Today - it was windy EVERYWHERE! So windy that it was difficult to hear my podcasts!

Before Hubby left for work this morning, he looked at me and said, "You might want to bring Fred in for the winter. It is getting too cold outside for him to stay out there much longer."

Who is Fred? Well, for those of you who have forgotten, Fred is my date palm.

This was Fred at the beginning of the summer. I am very proud of Fred since I actually planted him from a seed from a date that I bought at the grocery store. Actually, I planted something like six seeds but only got one sprout - Fred!

It is difficult to see in this picture because of the lighting but . . . Fred has grown a LOT! He now has four leaves and one is very broad and thick! Go, Fred, go!

Currently, Fred is on the back porch in a sheltered corner so that I can gradually move him inside without shocking him by the drastic temperature changes. I also need to spray him for bugs!

In other news - I work today. I will probably also work tomorrow. Wednesday and Thursday are up in the air for now but I refuse to make any plans because the last time I did that didn't turn out too well!

Have a fabulous Monday!


Voice Update: Still lingering between good and not-so-good. I am trying to do my massage and stuff like a good girl but . . . I didn't do any yesterday. I know, I know! Twenty lashes with a wet noodle!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday Finale

Hi All!

Thank you for your get well wishes yesterday. I feel much better today - still a little foggy but much better!

Yesterday I went to bed and set my alarm so that I would get up in time to go and visit the DAC. Didn't happen. Apparently, I slept through the alarm because I didn't wake up until noon. OOPS! I had promised a classmate that I would meet her in the ASL lab to work on a class project at 1:00. That means I had to jump in the shower, eat something, and get myself in the car to drive the 40+ minutes to the college!

I did make it to the college and worked with my classmate on two different projects - one which is due on Monday and one which is for our final exam. Then I headed home. On the way, I remembered (thanks to the light on my dashboard) that I needed gas. Hubby had told me to get gas from the Kroger gas station so I headed that way.

The gas station is next to a yummy custard shop which has pumpkin custard this time of year. How could I not get some?

Then I "hit" Wal Mart to pick up some earbuds for my iPod. I have decided to see if they are more comfortable than the ones I recently bought. Guess what? They are! The other earbuds will be going back soon!

After shopping (and picking up a lovely pink shirt and a Christmas gift for Hubby) I went home to find . . . Hubby!

Hubby was working from home!

He NEVER works from home! This time, however, he was having problems with a needed website/program at work and it works fine at home so . . . he was working at home!

When he finished up, I took him to the scooter shop to pick up his scooter. It is now working wonderfully! Yeah!

Hubby made omelets for dinner and we went to bed early.

Not too bad of a day for such a bad start!


Voice Update: Doing better but still needing some work. I am massaging and doing inhale e's. Hopefully that will get it back "in whack" soon!

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'll Get Back to You Tomorrow.

Hi All!

I have a headache brewing so I am going back to bed. Sorry! I'll talk to you soon!


Thursday, November 12, 2009


Hi All!

Well - I didn't end up working yesterday but I did end up spending more time at the office than I had planned.

My normally scheduled speech therapy session is at 12:45 on Wednesdays. Every other week my appointment is at 12:45. Right. So - yesterday, I was ready to get to my session at 12:45. I showed up early for my 12:45 appointment.

Only to find out that my appointment had been changed this week and was really at 12:00!


I was late.

Luckily, Susan had a cancellation that day so I stayed around until about 2:15 for that appointment. While I waited I started to clean out a closet in the office in preparation for the office move to another, smaller office sometime around Christmas.

Now, the whole staying around the office for a later appointment did cause some minor ripples in my plans for the day.

Hubby was home for Veteran's Day and I had planned to go home and spend some time with him after my appointment before heading to the college for class. Because I was going home, I didn't have any of my school books with me. However, it was impractical to go home while waiting for the new appointment because of the time involved (I live about 40 minutes from the office). So . . . . I ended up going to school with no books and no materials. I also didn't have any snacks to make it from lunch - eaten around 11:30 - and dinner - which would be eaten at around 9:00 when I got home from class.

Such issues!

Everything worked out fine. I had a good session with Susan - my voice freed up a lot and now I need to really work to keep it that way! Class was fine without books - we didn't have anything due so it worked.

The only problem was the lack of snacks. I stopped and got some onion rings at What-a-Burger. BIG mistake. My stomach did NOT enjoy those one bit. Oh well!

Today I am working. But, first I have an appointment with my Endocrinologist. That means I will have blood work done so I have to fast before the appointment. I will go straight from the appointment to work and am going to pack some breakfast/lunch for me to eat between the two. Doesn't that sound like fun?


Voice Update: Doing much, much better thanks to my appointment. I still have some minor hesitation on unvoiced consonants but nothing like I was experiencing before the appointment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Holding My Breath!

Hi All!

I made it through another day of work with few problems. My voice is still a bit of a frustration but it made it through another day. Today I have speech with Susan.

Right now, I am holding my breath. Linda is supposed to be working today but I told her when I talked to her that she could call me this morning if she woke up and wasn't feeling well. So . . . I am holding my breath!

Yesterday was Linda's fifth session of Chemo and she is supposed to do six and then they will give her a different, less toxic, mix of Chemo meds. Hopefully, that will allow her to regain her strength. So far - she is doing really well. Another CAT scan showed that the tumors are continuing to shrink and her blood work has been good. Please continue praying for her!

In other news - I am still trying to decide about my new earbuds. Last night, before bed, I put them in and the left one HURT! I couldn't stand to leave it in my ear! This morning, during my walk, I wore them again and they still hurt but not as bad as last night. This isn't looking good for my new earbuds!

This morning was a neat morning to walk - it was cool (only 54) and very foggy. The sky was grey (unusual for this neck-of-the-woods) and the fog made the distinction between sky and land a bit fuzzy! It was almost like walking in a fairy tale. Of course, I don't think a fairy tale would have so much dog poop on the sidewalks!

Hubby is home today because it is Veteran's day. Please take a minute to remember your local veterans. They have really worked hard to keep our country free and we should thank them profusely!

Go to this site for a moving tribute to our troops - past and present.


Voice Update: I pretty much said everything there is to say - still frustrating me but not quite as bad as it was this weekend. Blah!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Autumn Walk . . .

Hi All!

Since autumn is in the air, I thought I would take you on another walk around my neighborhood to enjoy the sights.

This is one of the trees in my yard. It is a sort of yellowish-brown. When the leaves first turned they were much more of a yellow.
My kitty looks happy surrounded by fallen leaves!

There is some red in the neighbors's pecan tree!

Pansies are the flower of the winter season here - they do beautifully. This one just had a shower!

We do have some contrast - palm trees!

The geese are starting to gang up for their flights across the skies.

The view of the lake is looking beautiful at this time of the year. I really liked the reflection on the water.

Most of the trees are a yellowish-brown but there are a few red ones like this!

Every day this flag makes me chuckle. Can you read it? It says "Welcome all U turkeys!"

The gold course robed in golden yellow.

The roses are starting to show a bit of wear from the cooler weather.

More yellows.

And then there are these . . . flowers. Beautiful flowers!

Seed pods on the cedar trees - interesting little balls which "explode" when they are ripe and hit the ground.

Here is a shot of the cedar - with some reddish tinge to it - and all of the seed pods. By the way - in the spring, these darn trees make me all stuffy!

I don't know what kind of tree this is but it is a lovely yellow.

Turning onto my street, these birds were lined up on the top of the trees.

They must be ready to munch these bright berries!

Looking down my street you see some color and some green - some of the trees will stay green all winter long.

The yards are covered with leaves . . .

They make for an interesting picture - lots of texture!

A Hosta blooming like my poor little Hostas never did! Maybe next year!

A different view of the tree in my front yard. It looks pretty in this light!

Well- we are home. How did you like the walk?
P.S. I am trying the earbuds for a while to see if I get used to them. Today wasn't too bad but it still wasn't too good.
Voice Update: Frustration city! I am really struggling with unvoiced consonants. I am missing and missing and missing. Susan gave me a bit of a massage yesterday and I have an appointment with her on Wednesday. I don't like struggling! It seems like whenever I "forget" that I have SD - it comes back just to remind me that it is there! I guess I need to just never forget about it! If only that would work!