Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas at the Dicou's---2009 Home Tour

Before I take down the Christmas decorations, I'm taking you on a little tour of the Dicou home front. We had three Christmas events at our house this year:  the All About Pets Christmas party, the Dicou Family Party, and I hosted our Bookclub Luncheon. So I had to have all of the decorating done by December 8th. Note to Self: Get done early again next year. Christmas was so much more enjoyable that way. It removed a TON of the guilt and anxiety. I actually felt on top of things. Ok, here we go.

First stop---The Fireplace

I love snowmen. They're so happy. Over the years I've collected a bunch. What's great about using snowmen to decorate is I can leave them up until Memorial Day, believe me--- we'll still have snow.

Here's a close-up.

And another.

Next up---The Christmas Trees

Each tree had it's own theme. The tallest is decorated in tourquoise, magenta, lime green, and red. The middle one had mostly poofy-felt/fabric ornaments, and the baby tree had our Hallmark ornaments that we've been collecting since 1980.

I made a felt circle garland for the tallest tree that I discovered here on Anna Maria Horner's blog. She made a great tutorial with easy to follow instructions. I chose the colors of the felt, then pretty much built the rest of the tree around it. I did the stitching while watching Jazz games on tv, or on a flight to New York, or while in the car (I wasn't doing the driving). Each circle took about five minutes.

Moving along we come to---The Nativity Scene

I've, also, been collecting Nativity scenes on our travels. In this one, I love that there's a bunny sitting in the manger with baby Jesus, and how many times do you get to see a gray tabby cat among the mix of sheep and cattle in Bethlehem?

Let's slip into the kitchen and see---Our First EVER Gingerbread House

We were invited by the Skousens and the Ferres to join them in one of their Christmas traditions. So, we made our very first gingerbread house. I think it turned out absolutely adorable. Our snowman salt and pepper shakers look like they're about ready to step inside.

Last stop---Our Christmas Card Photo

I was tickled with our photo.  Taken on Thanksgiving Day we had just finished eating, so with full tummies I dragged the gang out to the porch. I was given five minutes (it was really, really cold) to set up the tripod, set the self-timer, jump into the photo, suck in my belly, and look relaxed. And I found a cute frame at Target that matched perfectly.

That's it until next year.

Happy 2010!

It's gonna be a good one.

Friday, December 25, 2009

What Santa Claws brought Murray

Keeps you warm and your paws free.
Merry Christmas to All!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No, Virginia....

Me. Santa. 1962.

When I was about 8-years old, my friend, Jo Maxfield told me that my dad, a Texaco owner, was Santa.

I remember thinking something like, "You mean the gas station is just a front?"
No.... She said that her dad was Santa, too.

Then she told me about sex.

So...dear blog reader, how did You find out?

 About Santa, that is.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Moaning and groaning.

The emergency room.

So there he is, minding his own business, vacuuming.

Next thing I know Mike's laying on the bed in fetal position gasping, "There's something bad going on inside of me," and moaning. Moaning and groaning.

He wants to shower. Less than a minute later he's lying on the bathroom floor. In fetal position. Moaning.

He'd been sick earlier in the week with an upset stomach and other gastro-intestinal symptoms.
The moaning continues.

We decide a trip to the emergency room is in order. He heads for the truck. I scramble to find my shoes, purse, and car keys. I'm 30 seconds behind him. Next thing I know he's laying in the driveway. Moaning and clutching his abdomen.

We head down the hill with him alternating between telling me to hurry and telling me to quit driving so crazy. Laying in the backseat, every turn jars him and increases the throbbing pain.

We arrive at the E.R. with my shoes still sitting in the passenger seat. Hunched over he stumbles into the waiting room, still moaning. They grab him, rush him to a bed, and begin trying to hit a vein to place a catheter. He ran 10 miles that morning so he's dehydrated and they need a port to be able to give him pain medication.

The nurse asks on a scale from one to ten what level is your pain. "TEN!"

From the second we walked in, the doctors and nurses were suspecting kidney stones.

A CT scan confirmed the diagnosis. He had a kidney stone the size of a tomato seed lodged at the junction between his ureter and his bladder. (The ureters connect the kidneys to the bladder, the urethra connects the bladder to the outside world.)

For the next six hours Nadine is his new best friend. She has the morphine.
Finally, sweet relief. At least the pain level is now a "seven".

We are given a few options. One involves running a tube up the "channel" (the doctor's words) and placing a stent to provide an opening to let the backed up urine flow into the bladder. The other option involves running a basket up the "channel" and retrieving the offending stone. Hmmm.... not wanting anything in his "channel" we take option three: loading up on intravenous fluids, to see if we can flush the thing out, and Flomax to help the smooth muscle of the ureter to relax it's grasp on the stone. And a request to keep the morphine handy.

Thankfully, with the pain somewhat controlled---now at level 5---he was sent "upstairs" to the regular part of the hospital.

The plan worked. He made it through the night with only two more shots of morphine. In the morning, the pain level was about a two.

Apparently, the ureter had spit the stone into Mike's bladder.

The doctor sent him home with a paper filter that resembled a snowcone cup, and instructions to strain his urine and watch for the stone.

Sure enough, on Sunday evening Mike became the proud owner of a dark-brown-tomato-seed sized kidney stone.

Mike does not want to repeat this experience. Ever.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Are you kidding me?

It's only September 30th! September! 30th!
I think I'm going to go cry for a little while now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A biker chick and a couple of dudes

This photo of Mike was taken over my shoulder while riding my bike.
Kids do not try this at home.

Can I just say, "Saturday was awesome!" Mike and I and our friend Doug rode in the Moab Century Tour. A "century" for the uninitiated (and probably far less foolish) is a 100-mile bike ride with support stations along the way that offer cut-up bananas and oranges, Power bars, salty snacks, energy drinks, water, and other treats. Sometimes the really good stops have a full-on make-your-own subway sandwich bar with potato chips and ice cold Coke. (What a great sport this is.) Also, many "century" rides offer shorter options of roughly 20, 40, 60, or 80 miles.

Mike checking out the snacks.

If you pedaled the full 100-mile ride in the Moab Century Tour you got to experience a climb called the "Big Nasty"---a 3000-foot ascent over seven miles. That sounded a bit steep to me (a bit?), and when I looked online at the description there were points along that climb called Little Nasty, Tom's Misery, and Stairway to Heaven. Hmmmm.....

Not wanting to christen a spot on the course called Leslie's Misery, or be knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door, I opted for us to ride the 65-mile "rolling" course. It featured a couple of pretty good hills, too, but they weren't notorious enough to get scary names.

Oh. My. Goodness. Sometimes I forget how truly beautiful Utah is. The ride began at 7 a.m. and paralleled the Colorado River for roughly 34 miles to the turnaround point. In the morning light, the red rock canyons seemed more vibrant; the green brush seemed more lush; and the river rippled past us like foamy chocolate milk. Absolutely stunning.

There is often talk of "runner's high." I'm pretty sure I had "biker's high."

I couldn't quit commenting on how beautiful it was. I took a few photos but they don't even come close to what I saw with my eyes that morning. Breathtaking.

Why do we ever go anywhere else?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

White moustache and green bug-eyes

In Memoriam
Stanley Poopenstein Dicou
Stannie first came into our lives as a 3-month old paraplegic kitten. The family who brought him in to my veterinary clinic had no idea what had happened. He was fine when they had let him outside, but when they went to let him back in he was dragging his hind legs behind him. Nothing abnormal was seen on the radiographs. There was a chance he would recover via the magic of prednisone and time. could be permanent.
The family was pretty much overwhelmed by the whole thing and asked to have him euthanized. About this time my (then 18-year-old) daughter Natalie showed up. She instantly fell in love with the little handicapped kitten with the white moustache and green bug-eyes. The family ok'd the adoption and he was ours. Or rather Nat's.
At home, we introduced him to our dogs Maggie and Frank. He, at first, would hiss and lunge at them swatting with his front paws, and at the same time, dragging his back legs. He was really quite pathetic, but it gave us a hint of his attitude towards life. In short, he wasn't going to take anybody's guff.
It only took a few days for his legs to return to normal. The only real deficit he showed over the rest of his life was rather than land softly on the ground like most cats dropped from waist-high, he landed with a hard thud.
Stannie soon grew to be Nat's best friend, little buddy, and constant companion.
When Nat was a student living in Provo he wandered away one night. Nat searched for him thru the night and called us early the next morning with the distressing news. She printed up and distributed about 1700 flyers (no exaggeration). We had a couple of false alarm responses from people who thought they had him, but no. It wasn't him. We even brought Frank to Provo to serve as a sort of bloodhound to try and sniff out Stan. But Frank didn't understand his duty. We, also, hoped that maybe Stan would recognize Frank and come to us. (By this time, Stan no longer hissed and lunged at Frank. In fact, he found him quite tolerable).
As children of the 70's and fans of  "Dragnet", as well as other cop shows, Mike and I were well-acquainted with stake-outs. We walked the neighborhoods going door-to-door talking to people (also, a "Dragnet" tactic) we were told about dumpsters where lots of cats would congregate at night. That's when we came up with the idea of a stake-out. We brought cans of cat food---the smellier the better---and lined them up in a trail leading to what seemed to be the most popular dumpster. Mike and I sat in our old red Jeep Wrangler. Waiting. Now that I think of it, we should have brought donuts.
We watched over a span of about three hours as several cats came to sample our wares. But none of them were Stan. The sun was setting and it was getting cold. Our scheme didn't seem to be working. We started up the Jeep and began to pull out of the parking lot. Our headlights shone on a set of green bug-eyes. They were staring right back at us. Could it be?
I immediately flew out of the passenger side of the Jeep and ran (right in front of oncoming traffic) towards him. Of course, he saw this crazed woman running at him and...took off running himself. Nat says to this day she didn't know this old gal could move that fast, but I wasn't going to lose him now.
He ran around the corner with me in hot pursuit. Nat came running also. I can still hear her calling, wanting to believe, "Is it him?"  He was hiding under a car and I called to him softly.  He walked up to me and I snatched him up and would not let go of him until we had him safely in the squad car, I mean Jeep. (I think if I had handcuffs it would have been just perfect).
Stan has been by Nat's side for the last ten years. Others came and went. But Stan was always there for her. Waiting to snuggle. He showed that attitude sometimes though. When he was done snuggling, that was it. He'd hiss in your face and walk away.
When Nat would come in her apartment door from work she'd call, "Stannie, I'm home!" and he would come to greet her, ready to be scooped into her arms to hear how her day was.
Stan was a very important part of our family. We will love him and remember him forever.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

In case you are considering renting goats

In July, five friends and I rented goats for a week-long backpacking trip to the Uintas.

"They just follow you", we were told.
"They go 10 or 12 miles a day", we were told.

Let me introduce you to.....GOAT TRIP FROM HELL.

Within a half-mile of leaving the trail head we'd already lost a goat! Lost. Replacement value $600 for the goat, $600 for the gear.

Half an hour later I found him standing in the trees. We should have headed back to the trailer and called it good then. When the heavens give you signs like that you should listen.

We pulled, prodded, poked, begged, pleaded, cursed, and sometimes the goats would go. And sometimes not. When they would go they would average one mile an hour! And that was when they were going pretty good. At one time we figured it had taken us 90 minutes to go one mile. We kept saying that it was like herding cats. Ridiculous. And exhausting. At least if you had a pack-cat and it wouldn't go you could pick it up. By the end of the day we felt like we had gone 10 or 12 or 50 miles. Really we had gone 4.5.

So that was only part of it. On a steep, boulder-y slope (about 7-miles up the trail on the second day) a gigantic wind came up. Seriously, it had to be like hurricane gusts or something. It knocked over Karen, Joy and Sarah. Sarah broke her arm. So now Karen and Sarah had to hike off the mountain and it was late afternoon when they headed down. At one point they were hiking in the pitch black dark.

They went to the ER in Roosevelt to get Sarah's arm set. Sarah's son came to get her, and Karen headed back up the mountain after sleeping in a church parking lot for the rest of the night.

Meanwhile back on the mountain, there were four of us trying to wrangle five naughty goats and Betsy had not only HER backpack on but Sarah's strapped on her back, as well. She looked like a double-wide trailer.

Just exhausting. And very stressful.

We topped it off with a trip to the mechanic in Roosevelt because Sarah's truck was smelling hot. The gauges said everything was ok but there was a strange burning smell coming from the engine.

Actually, I'm amazed that we got out of that trip with only one fracture.
We weren't slated to come home until Saturday, but we couldn't take anymore.

Oh yeah, I left out the goat stampede.

Believe me when I say we considered a goat barbecue. We headed instead to Fish Lake for two nights.
Without goats.

Goatee and I during a lull in the pandemonium.

Saddling Goatee. Looks easy enough.

Karen giving Vulcan a little, uh, "guidance."

Joy dragging encouraging Cooper across the creek.
Goats HATE water.

                   Sarah with her splinted broken arm about to hike out 7 miles.
This gal is tough.                


                     Betsy as a "double-wide." This chick is strong.


            A happy ending.  All smiles at Fish Lake                                       

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My First Giraffe Kiss

When I go to Africa with Africa Is Life Changing one of the first things we do is visit the Giraffe Centre in Lang'ata just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. It was founded in 1979 to help rescue the endangered Rothschild Giraffe and to educate Kenyan school children about their country's wildlife. Most of them have never seen a giraffe.

So, here's how it works. You climb the wooden steps of an elevated platform that puts you at face level with the giraffes. Next, you grab a handful of cigarette-butt-sized pellets of giraffe chow. Hold out your hand and the graffes slurp up the tasty morsels.

After you have been brave enough to handfeed the giraffes, the attendant offers up a more intimate encounter. He says to put one of the pellets in your mouth (with as much poking out as you possibly can---wait, maybe that part just goes without saying) and the giraffe will take it from your mouth like a junior high boy/girl party game.

This photo (click on it to make it really big) is the result of my encounter. Mostly I think I was slimed by giraffe slobber.

So, there you go. My first giraffe kiss.
Maybe my last, but I'm leaving my options open.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's a fine life?

Hey, look at me! I'm entering the blogosphere. (Thanks JoSue!) I had no idea how stressful it could be. Right off the bat, I had to think of a title. A title? I didn't want it to be too specific. Or too cute. I wanted it to include whatever topic I wanted to yammer on about. So, Sunday, Nat and I were playing Scrabble while the musical "Oliver!" was on tv. One of the musical numbers sung by Nancy (the sweet and way too good for him) girlfriend of Bill Sykes (the scruffy and mean, bad guy) comes on. She sings as she's working the crowd at the pub "It's a Fine Life." So half-listening and trying to come up with a triple-word score---(it takes every neuron working at full power to beat Nat)--I thought that "It's a Fine Life" would encompass everything I wanted.

After JoSue helped me get the blog set up, I came home and wondered what the rest of the words said. In my mind it was just "'s a Fine Life!'s a Fine Life!

Thanks to today's technology I found the rest of the song.

The other lyrics: "If you don't mind having to go without things, it's a fine life!"
[Yeah. That makes sense. Life isn't about "things".]

The song continues, "If you don't mind taking it like it turns out, it's a fine life!"
[So far, so good. We don't always get to say how things are going to turn out. But life can still be good.]

Then comes, "If you don't mind rats bringing the plague in, it's a fine life!"
[The plague?....Really?]

Hmmm...well....that could put a damper on things a bit.

I think I can change the title if I need to.