Friday, December 31, 2010

Here's to a Great New Year!!

Life is looking up in many new ways!  Cora and I will be travelling soon and these two lovely ladies will have a new loved one to meet soon!  One will have a cousin to play with, and the other will have a new niece!  Honestly, I think this is going to be the best year ever!!

Cora and I are relaxing.  We are going to have home made egg rolls.  We will have some excellent snacks and a glass of champagne to celebrate the new year and the new member of the family!

So, for those of you about to celebrate, have a Happy New Years!  May the new year bless you with happiness, wholeness, love, and well-being!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Who Knew!?

Who knew that leaving the country would be so much work?  I spent the last two days trying to get quotes, and finally tickets, to go to China!  First it was me trying it on my own, but after a few hours, I was overwhelmed and turned to the professionals.  Cora and I had a basic picture of how we want things to go down, plus we have the specific dates that need to see us somewhere specific.  Still, we wanted to be open to changes if it would save us money.

I sent the requisite information and awaited the replies.  I got replies and found that there were things wrong with them.  I made corrections, sent them off, made calls and wrote emails clarifying things and smoothing things the end, I spent A LOT of time on the computer and phone.  I cannot imagine how that kind of thing went down before the internet!

And I won't even begin to go into the complications and idiocy created by our agency!  Let me just say I pulled a little hair out of my head because of them today.

I also went into town to get the two syringes and needles and stuff we are to take with us to China in case someone needs to give us a shot or take blood from us in China.  You would think that would be a simple order.  Turns out that, NO!  it isn't!!  I went to a Safeway store to get this prescription filled a few months ago.  They filled all the pills, but had no syringes.  they told me go to "Keeler's."

I walked into Keeler's and they looked at me like I was an alien...OK.  This might not be so easy.  I looked at the guy.  "Where CAN I get them then?"  He said, scratching his head in a doubtful way, "The hospital?"  I looked at him again to be sure he was serious.  He was. OK, off I went.

I showed up at the hospital and asked the information lady how to get to the pharmacy, "Go down this hall, take a left, then a right, go up two flights of stairs, take an elevator to the basement, turn right, then left, then take an elevator up three levels, down a hall to the right, then down two flights, step out, turn left, jump up and down three times, then skip backward ten paces, take another left and go twenty-three feet, stop immediately, duck, side-step, stand straight, then take four steps and...," Well, you get the picture ...I only had to turn around once.  I walked into the pharmacy and said what I needed.  The guy looked at me like I was an alien.  I was beginning to wonder if I had grown a third eye or something.  I explained my problem...again.  They still seemed to think I wasn't from around there.  Again, I asked, "Well, where CAN I get these things?"  He convened a huddle between him and two nurses and a trained baboon.  When they broke, he said, try "Tieton Village!"

Off to Tieton Village I went.  I was beginning to think I should try finding one of those vans that give out clean needles to drug addicts, but I wouldn't know where to go.  I made it to Tieton Village.  They looked at me like I was an alien.  I waved that off and gave them my sob story.  They showed a gleam of recognition and soon I was looking at syringes on the counter in front of me.  I said, "OK, how much?"  They looked at me, looked at the syringes.  The one looked at the pharmacist, who shrugged and said, "How about a dollar?"  OK!  I dug in my pocket and found 60 cents.  DAMN!  I hate this day!  I ran out to the truck and managed to squeeze enough change out of the rug to make a dollar.  I returned and took ownership of syringes I hope I never need to use.

I returned home and made a few more finishing touches to our travel plans...which are not quite set in concrete yet, but, looking good and for a better price than we dreamed!

I cannot wait to see China!!

I leave you with a photo I snapped today, since I made sure to take my camera with me to town!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Day Without a Camera!

 I had lots to do today.  Among these things was get prices for tickets to China...HURRAYYY!!!!!!

I also had to get a few things in town.  Now, being the person I am I often see things I might want to take a photo of, but it was just a drive into town and as I gazed at my wonderful camera, I decided, "Nah, I won't see anything worth taking photos of..." And I left it home.  I regretted it by the time I drove into town.  A Lockheed P-3 Orion was making touch and goes at the airport.  I drove to the airport and took this photo with my stupid phone.  I am convinced I should keep a camera with me all the time...look how close I was!  With my Nikon, I could have shown you the copilot.

After this photo, it landed, came to a full stop at the end of the runway, turned around and made a high speed run back toward me at the approach end of the runway.  He then aborted and came to a stop at the approach end of the runway and turned around again. That's him below.  This time he took off again.  The P-3 is a Navy Patrol plane.  It is used for a number of things, from hunting submarines, to patrolling the coast and shipping, to electronic surveillance of other countries.

I went ahead and got my groceries.  The entire time that P-3 kept buzzing the store.  He was rubbing in the fact that I did not have my camera and I could do nothing about it.
 On the bright side, I did get to see one of my favorite people in the store, though!!  My niece Leah!!
And folks, China is going to be awesome.  I think i might be coming down off the freaking out...a bit.  I am really looking forward to this!!!!  I have been for several years now, but now it's REAL!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holy Cow!! We Have Our Consulate Appointment!!!

We got our Consulate appointment tonight!!  OMG there is so much to do!!  We leave in two weeks!!

Which leaves me somewhat worried.  As a sub, very few teachers get sick in the week after a break.  Given the dates, I probably will only have one full week to sub during the month of January...March is going to suck!

Oh, yeah, and we have to get airline tickets, find a place for Sully to stay, clean up the house, get the last few things in place for a child to come stay, pack, plan, go crazy, and become parents.  Jeez, if there were ever a time for miracles...ummmmm...anytime now.

Great and Grrrrrrr

The last few days have been a heavenly existence.  Cora and I have been relaxing.  We have read a few books, watched a bit of TV, and really had some good one-on-one time enjoying each other's company.  I think we should have more time like this.  It's been nice...and the cookies she made last night are delicious!

She got me reading some books on her Kindle a few weeks ago.  I was hooked almost immediately, and so it's been fun telling her where I am and what's happening in the book.  We downloaded a few more books and I think it will be fun sharing these books.  I have Kindle on my computer, so I can read from my computer while she has her Kindle.

We had a good Christmas.  It was wonderful seeing family and relaxing.

My sister, my dad, and I used to go for walks at night.  My mom worked graveyard shift, so we found ways to entertain ourselves.  Walks were one of those avenues of entertainment.  Walking at night was fine, but soon got boring.  My dad, not being as mature as one might expect, followed along with his kids suggestion that we hide from cars one night.  THAT proved great fun.

Over the years, we perfected it and it became our thing.  We have introduced various friends to our unique entertainment.  My brother-in-law and Cora have both gone on these walks.  They are entertaining and you get some exercise and laughs out of an otherwise boring walk.

On Thanksgiving, my sister, my dad, and I were trading stories about our escapades.  My niece, soon to be seven, really seemed intrigued by our stories.  She kept asking for one more story...I had difficulty dredging more than just the standard ones we'd already covered.  Hey!  It's been 20 years!  She was very interested, though.

Usually, when we have a holiday at my parent's house, my sister and I end up going for a walk.  We sometimes take a guest, but other times, it's just us.  This year, we decided to go...with Cora's approval.  My niece wanted very much to go.  I don't know if my sister planned it, but we ended up taking my six-year-old niece with us to continue the family tradition of hiding from cars.  She was very good!

She wasn't quite sure about walking in the middle of the road at first (Her mother had taught her you DON'T walk in the middle of the road and she took it to heart!).  After we convinced her that we would make sure she wouldn't get run over, she had a wonderful time.  I believe our score was twenty-six cars!  It was a fun night.  My favorite part was when my dad made a run to hide from a car and found himself midair two feet off the ground.  He made a grab at a small fir tree and managed to brake his speed and disappear quickly from sight...however, what stays with me is the vision of this small fir tree doing its impression of one of those punching dummies that has a weight at the bottom and just keeps nodding back and forth.  Not exactly stealthy.  The whipping fir tree, if seen, surely indicated some sort of...hi-jinks!  It was a good walk and my niece now has something to talk about!  It's a family tradition now.

Now, shifting gears, I have been interested in the wrecks left by the various military aircraft that have crashed from the skies over Washington over the past 60 years or so for quite some time now.  I've visited a couple.  I, mostly, do arm-chair research looking for crashes in the state, especially during this time of the year.  It is a hobby.  It is fun for me to write up an accident report and once in awhile someone writes me an e-mail thanking me for the story as it pertains to a loved one or someone they knew.

A few months back I found a newspaper reference to a crash in northern Oregon.  It's a few hours away from here, but not far from the highway and during the summer months should be easily accessible.  I just got the accident report for it about a week and-a-half ago.  I had visions of possibly visiting it this spring or summer.  I don't get out often, and most of the sites have been visited.  Many are up in the hills and not accessible by my paltry two-wheel drive.  This one was different, though.  It's less than a mile from the main road.  And it was NEW.  The website/databases I use had no reference to it, so I emailed the guy who runs one of the main sites.  He said thanks for the info.  I sent off for the report.

Lo and behold, I got an email from this professional wreckchaser this morning.  It invited me and several local (within two states) people to come find this site on Thursday with him.  It would be a chance to meet.  So, as I read this email, my hackles rose a little.  I was the one who located the existence of this wreck.  I brought his attention to it.  I just got the report.  Dammit.  It was MINE!  OK.  I'm sorry.  Anyone who wants to visit it is welcome to it, it isn't really mine.  But, do you think he mentioned WHO had brought it to his attention?  Nooooooo.  Of course not.  His area is down in Arizona.  It's like he's treading into my territory.  Do I have any good reason for being irritated?  Probably not, but still.  Grrrrrr.  

I probably won't go, since, this time of year, the ground is covered in snow, and all of our efforts and resources are trained toward our impending China visit!!  Not to mention, it's two hours away and I don't necessarily want to spend a four-hour drive without some assurance of something being there.  Guess I'm a softy, I don't want to waste my precious time, especially if it's going to be freezing (that part of Oregon is not exactly a garden spot).  I DO think I'll type up the report and ask him for pictures if he finds it and put it on my airplane blog, though, dammit.

I hope you are all enjoying the holidays!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Nephews and Nieces, OH MY!!!


We had a great Christmas.  I got to see my favorite nephews and nieces.  We enjoyed our time with both families. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Warmth, Happiness, Good Feelings. Christmas.

 Christmas Eve!  My SISTERS' birthdays!  Our Christmas with my wife's family.  It was all very good!  So good to spend quality time with loved ones.  Got some good gifts and gave a few, too!

I love both of my families and I hope we get to enlarge it by one soon!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Wish

'tis the season!
and Christmas is near!

I hope you all have a white Christmas.  I hope you spend it in the warm company of those you love.  I hope you find happiness wherever you are.  And I hope Chloe comes home soon.  Until then you are in our thoughts and hearts little girl!

I took some pictures this week.  What do YOU think?  Color or monochrome?

 I took a few portraits of my dog.  He is always so cute...when he's asleep.
I also took a few photos of other wildlife...


 Thought you all might like to see this!

Phinally Photos!

As you know, yesterday, I reached the Google 1GB limit of photos on my blog!  I had to spend five bucks to buy more memory.  So, here are the rest of the photos I was planning to share.  I took these on Monday.

 There is something about the snow that makes me happy to take photos.
 I don't know if it is the purity of the snow or the fact that the weather tends to blank out ugly backgrounds.
 I don't know.  I DO KNOW that I enjoy the pictures I get.
 The harvest...apparently didn't reach these trees.
 We also found out that we have immigration approval yesterday!!  We get to go get Chloe!  We are waiting for the hard copy, and THAT will be the actual notification, but it was good to have the immigration officer call.  Apparently she judged that I intended to continue calling until I got some information.  Each call continued to get longer and more positive...wishing her happy holidays, and pointing out that we hoped she would get to spend it with family, which we hoped to do.  Any information she could share would REALLY make our Christmas, and our families would share in that joy...etc., ect., etc., ad nauseam.   REALLY, I began to ham it up a bit.  I think that's what pushed her over the edge.
The point is: there is nothing big between us and our girl!  Now, we will have a wonderful Christmas secure in the knowledge that this will be our last as a couple.  Our small family will grow!

I plan to have more pictures for you soon.  Lately, it has been much about making it through each day.  Now that we have a positive look at the adoption I feel more like looking for pretty pictures!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


WE GOT IT!!!!  We are approved!!  USCIS finally came through!

I was talking to a friend outside one of the schools when my phone rang with an unfamiliar number.  I answered it.  It was our Immigration Officer.  She said she had approved our paperwork last week.  It should be here anytime.

It is approved!!!!!

Chloe, we are coming to get you!

Last Pictures

I won't be posting any more photos.

for about 24 hours.  I apparently reached the 1 GB limit that Google gave me for photos.  Only took three years and an upgrade in cameras.  Given the price and the facts that I enjoy posting my photos, it was not hard to decide to spend five bucks a year and have 20 GB available.  However, it will take about 24 hours for that to come through...until then, enjoy the weather.  We have even more snow.
I have been sitting around the house making no money.  As my petty attempt to make up for that, I have been cleaning the house and doing those little things I have been meaning to do...between watching episodes of "The Carrier."

I hope you all have a good week.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Snowing...again

I got up this morning and was slowly making my way toward the coffee pot when two dogs swept by me to investigate a sound outside.  Out the dog door they went.  I figured, well, at least they aren't jumping on the bed and waking Cora up.  I began putting coffee in the filter and water in the reservoir and pushed the on button.  Then, with the same urgency both dogs swept back into the house and by me into the living room.  I thought briefly of landing a kick in one of their sides to explain to them how we don't do ANYTHING in a hurry in this house early in the morning, and perhaps they would get that being chipper early is unappreciated, too.  But they were past me too quickly and the thought past also.

I took two steps when I realized I had better check the weather conditions...the blinds were down.  I had not even looked toward them.  It was dark(remember?  I make coffee in the dark).  I KNEW something was up with the weather, though.  How?  you may ask.  Is it my powers as a weather god showing through?  No.  It's the power of the wet sensation that traveled from the bottom of my foot to my brain.  See, the floor had not been covered with wet doggy prints a few seconds before.  I went to the blinds and pulled them apart enough to confirm my suspicion.  SNOW.  Well, there goes the thought of sunbathing in the backyard.

I had first graders yesterday.  It was a pretty good class.  There were a couple (four) behavior problems, and by problems I mean children.  A couple could not stay in their desks.  I'm not allowed a cattle prod, so the best I could do was repeatedly tell them to stop, have heart to hearts explaining my expectations and generally  growl.  It was going pretty well despite the problems...until.

Until, whilst I was bent over helping a student with her paper, another little girl (problem #3) interrupted me to tell me that problem #2 had just "showed his bottom to me."  Great.

Yesterday was pajama day...I looked at problem #2...yep, his pajama pants could have easily slipped down revealing..."bottom."  Problem #3 began accusing Problem #1, then Problem #2 accused Problem #4 and some others of the same thing.  I had a sudden vision of having to dunk them all in water to see if they were witches...but shook my head to clear it.  Problems #1, #2, and #4 were boys.  Number four had jeans on and I could not see him being able to quickly moon anyone.  Honestly, I could not see how SO many people could be mooning others without me seeing, so I automatically decided one or more of them were passing the blame or making things up.  I decided to have words with #1,#2, and #4.

Of course, in the meantime, most students had no idea what was going on or what some of them had been accused of.  I had many petitioners for help...I told them, gruffly, to go back to their desk while I handled this.  I looked at #1, #2, and #4...none seemed overly impressed to be the center of the teacher's attention.  Damn.  there goes that.

I had already switched from my normal Mr. H. nice-guy voice, to my really-annoyed voice already with no apparent effects.  I went to Defcon 2, out came the I-am-so-pissed-off-I-might-eat-you voice.  That seemed to at least grab their attention, if not stir them to worry.  Crap, these guys are pros!

I decided to throw a scenario their way so they might see the inappropriateness of their alleged actions.  I stared with saying that IF they had done this, it was highly inappropriate.  I explained that I had not seen it, and that this was their one special chance.  If I EVER (I spiced this word with extra mean-pissed-off-teacher voice) heard that they had done this again, I would march them right down to the principal.  I expected this to elicit some did, barely.  Number one shifted his weight.

I continued.  "This is the kind of thing that the principal calls parents about."  Slight discomfort from #1 and #4, #2 seemed completely un-phased.  "You parents will have to come down and get you.  How do you think your parents will feel having to leave work or home to come get you?  Do you think they are going to be happy?"  Finally, all three seemed to lose a little color.  Ah HA! I'm on the right track!

Time to deliver the coup de grace!

"You know, Christmas is just a few days away."  Terror shown in their eyes as what I was suggesting began to seep in.  "Do you think Santa Claus will be happy to hear what you guys have done?"  They had just turned pale and might have been trembling.  I had them.  I told them, "As it is Santa probably knows what you have done, but he's a nice guy, MAYBE if you are good the rest of the day he will let this drop...but you better be extra good!"  They departed with fear on their faces.

My job here is done.

I took them to the specialist a little while later.  While they were there, I dropped into the office and let the principal know what had happened in my class.  First day in a new building and THIS is how I meet the my life.  She looked worried, until I described who the perps were.  Then she looked like she understood.  When I explained how I had handled it, she broke out into a wide grin and said it was good to know what scared them.  She said she was going to try using that on kids now.  She thanked me and told me to have a good day.

At the end of the day, I had given everyone a drawing to color and saw everyone off.  One little girl had asked me during the day if I had a girl friend.  When I said I was married, she looked disappointed, but then she said her mom had a boyfriend with a slight frown.  Number 1, #2, and #4 left telling me I was a good teacher, as though they had done nothing.  A little girl gave me a hug on the way out and said she thought I was a good teacher.  I thanked her.  When they left I cleaned up, wrote the last of my notes and departed, too.

All-in-all, it was a good day.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I thought most schools would have half-days on Friday.  I seem to have been mistaken.  I will probably be working a whole day today...which is a good thing.  I'm looking forward to the break with a mixture of feelings.  I like the idea of having a few days off, but I'm not sure if I like the idea of not making money.

We've been waiting on USCIS.  I don't know when they will get off their butts and get to work on approving us, but there are a few things that make it bear-able.

There are, of course, the soft and fuzzy kind of things, but also friends, family, and loved ones.  All work seamlessly together to make the wait easier.

I am hoping to make an enchilada to join the masterpieces Cora has in the freezer for next month.

For now, I am going to enjoy breakfast and begin a new day.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Friends Are Out There

The X-Files Addition

OK, maybe no Faux Moulder...or was it Foxx...I forget.  No aliens.  No strange happenings... Oh, well, never mind that.

This week we have been waiting for news from USCIS.

So, anyway, we were both feeling down today.

It sucked.

I taught at a high school.  The kids seemed to like the drawing I made at the top, but it did not help.

Then we went to home.  I got the mail and brought it home.  When we opened it up there was a bunch of cards from many of my high school friends.  What's more is that there was money in every one of those cards.    Money that will help us on our way to go get little Chloe!!

It's funny.  When you are feeling down and ready to give in, a friend comes along and gives you a little push and a smile.  In this case, though, it was several old friends at once.  They did this without thought for what was in it for them.  They are simply great people.  To those of you who were so generous, I want to thank you.  VERY MUCH!!

We had a much better day after that!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cold Dead Hands

So, there are days, and in our case, decades, when. it. sucks.  Our Agency said a couple weeks ago that they had phone numbers to rattle cages at USCIS (immigration).  Well, today, I called to ask them to rattle those cages.  We, apparently, must NOT rattle the cages of USCIS...they don't LIKE it.  And, if annoyed, they will make sure your stuff gets dropped in the garbage can.  Being a governmental agency, however, I am NOT allowed to threaten them.  (Have you ever seen that at the various government agencies? US Post Office, etc.? Maybe there's a reason they need those signs)  Our "agency" has gone through "accepted" channels (i.e. e-mail) and, even though it's been a week, it isn't past the expected time for a response.  (How long does it take YOU to answer an e-mail?)  

Murder. Death. Kill.

I have been finding it difficult to stay in the spirit of the season.  

Murder. Death. Kill.  

I might also be too much of a fan of science fiction.  Stallone and Snipes in Demolition Man...remember that?  Yeah, I'm thinking I'll have to go pry our change of country approval out of USCIS' COLD DEAD HANDS.  Actually, that seems a worthy (and entertaining) goal.  

So, NO ONE has EVER asked WHY they have those signs up? Because I think it's because they SUCK.

And they deserve to WORRY when they walk out to their cars at night...especially if they have a hand in delaying our change of country approval.  OK, I am unhappy at having to wait so long.  I just want to go get my daughter.  I wish I could explain to them in person how important it is that they approve us!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snowy Weekend!

 You should totally live where I do.  Look at the neighbor's house!  Doesn't that look like a gingerbread house?

I shoveled four times today.  Cora caught me on media.
We got over six inches today!

While I made myself busy doing dishes and shoveling sidewalks, Cora was doing her thing.  I made a mean beef soup and she did a lot of work around the house...made me feel like I was useless...but that isn't a new feeling, and it isn't her fault, she's just awesome!

Did I mention we got a crab and a shrimp last weekend? yeah, we did.  The crab went in my tank and the shrimp in her 16 gallon reef.  The next day we could not find the shrimp.  We were afraid it had died because we had not see it for the next several days.  That upset Cora.  Yesterday, on the way back from work, I stopped and bought another shrimp to see if I could make Cora happy by getting her a shrimp that would NOT die.  As I was acclimatizing it to its new home she got home early and caught me.  So, she watched me let the shrimp out.  As I was letting it out I mentioned that maybe the damsels (fish) might have attacked it...I let it out.  The fish attacked it.  We moved it to my tank.  Clowns are much more friendly.  

This morning, this was in her sixteen gallon reef.
 Apparently the first shrimp survived, but likes to hide...Son. Of. A. Shoot, I can't stay mad that long.  Look at the clown! 
 They don't mind photo shoots.

Cora decided to decorate for the holidays...

And here is what it looks like outside right now!