Friday, February 19, 2010

Home at last, home at last!!

We were up and out early this morning, headed to the airport shortly after 8am. We were leaving from different sides of the airport, so we parted ways fairly early :(

The flights were uneventful, though they were long and uncomfortable. I was fortunate enough to get a bulkhead seat on the flight out of Vegas and that was wonderful... I really do enjoy the additional leg room. My flight out of Atlanta was on a tiny, weeny regional jet and, while the gentleman next to me was small enough to do so, he just refused to stay in his own seat... it was arms and elbows and feet and knees... God, I HATE it when people take up some of MY space... I paid just as much (or more) for this damned ticket as they did; what gives them the right to take up MY space?? (Strangely enough, we're sitting here watching Bill Maher right now, and he's got Wanda Sykes on there - and they were just discussing "fat people on planes" - same theory... taking up MY space)

At any rate, I landed in Raleigh about 30 minutes after B and we met up at the ticketing desk; we proceeded down to baggage claim to retrieve our luggage (I took all the bags with me this time, because being on military orders makes them ALL free) -- and -- can you guess?? NO BAGS!!

So, again I have to find the Delta baggage office and report my bags as missing... Seems that they were left behind in Atlanta and would be arriving on the 10pm flight. Uh, huh... B says it's 'cause I argued with the desk clerk at the Delta counter last Saturday and she has flagged my name in the system! LOL Supposedly the luggage will be delivered tomorrow morning... let me say it again -- DELTA SUCKS!!

It's nice, nice, nice to be home and I can't wait to see Baby Girl tomorrow!! It was great to see the boys tonight! I've missed them, too! The baby chins are adorable - there's one male and one female; Middle Child wants to keep the one that's almost (but not quite) white - thankfully she's the female! The little guy is the same beige that Misty and Slippers are - hopefully we'll be able to sell him in a couple of months. We do NOT need any more chins!!

Little Man's puppy will be ready the first week of March and he's anxious to get her. I'm not too excited to have to housebreak a dog again, but, I guess you do what you have to do. Elvis is continuing to lose weight, despite our best efforts... he's still moving around well and seems happy enough, so we keep on keepin' on. Herbie is doing very well on his reconstructed knee and is pretty much bearing full weight, which is GREAT! Doesn't seem like his diet has done much good, but we'll keep trying. I'd hate for him to blow out the other knee!!

Well, time to get some rest; it's nearly 11pm here, so my brain thinks it's almost 8pm, but Baby Girl will be up early, early, so I need to sleep while I can!!

Our final night in Vegas

Let me start by saying that the Criss Angel show was NOT worth the money we paid for the tickets. It's in a fairly small theatre, and we bought level 2 seating (there are a total of 5 levels); everybody seems to get a 35% discount -- military, anyone staying at the Luxor, anyone who texts a certain number to get a code... pretty much everyone! So, we ended up spending ONLY $150 for the pair of tickets... The show is billed as Criss Angel - Cirque du Soleil - which was a bit misleading. There are characters in the show that dance around, but I'd hardly say that it's on par with Cirque!! He also wasted a fair amount of time with the dramatic crap, and did very few illusions - so it was a bit disappointing. B and I decided that we'll just stick to watching him on TV if we're interested... we prefer the "street magic" and he really did none of that in the show.

On the flip side, last night we went to see Phantom. It's my all time very favorite show - I love, love, love Andrew Lloyd Weber, but Phantom is my favorite of all of his productions... I've seen it probably a dozen times in the last 15 years, on Broadway and several different travelling companies. With the single exception of the Broadway production, this one at the Venetian was the best I've ever seen. Again, it's in a fairly small theatre (considering that some of the venues I've gone to to see Phantom are huge arenas...) so there aren't really any bad seats. I didn't want to miss the chandelier effect (if you've seen Phantom, then you know what I'm talking about), so I bought tickets in row P (got a discount code online so I paid $250 for the pair), which was about 13 rows back from the stage - we actually ended up being directly underneath the chandelier, and it was quite dramatic when it fell!! Next time, because YES, I will go see it again, I'm thinking row E... I want a clearer view of the actors faces. In my opinion, it was money WELL spent!!

We had stopped in a little bar in the Venetian for a drink before the show, and since the prices were more reasonable that we'd experienced elsewhere, we went back after the production for more. The lounge show was a pretty good band who did a 70's rock show, which was bangin' so we sat there for hours, singing along and drinking!! Drinking a bit too much, I would say!! I had a Creamsicle Martini before Phantom, and 3 Margaritas after, and you could say that I was a bit drunk by the time we finally left the bar.... We walked down the strip to the Denny's for breakfast... haven't had a drunken breakfast in a long, long time! We walked a little farther and I managed to find the spray paint guys and bought a black and white picture that I'm going to frame and give to First Born.

We hopped in a cab to get back to the Luxor and crashed hard... I woke up this morning at 3am with a terrific headache. I drank a bottle of water, since I had no pain relievers (won't make THAT mistake again) and went back to bed. My headache eased a little bit, enough to let me sleep until about 7am. I felt better after a shower, and even better when my sweet husband brought me some Tylenol after his usual morning coffee run!!

So, when I was feeling a bit more human, we walked (again) to the Mirage for the buffet; we took a cab back because we were worn out!! All this walking is killing both of us! LOL I went to lectures all afternoon and then we checked out the Shark Tank, which was pretty nifty... they had a large, low corner aquarium in there that B seems to think we could duplicate for a few thousand dollars - in a Carolina room in our new house or something of the sort - that would be awesome :) Personally I thought that we should build something more like the 1.6+ million gallon aquarium with the shipwreck that you walk through, and use it as our living room/den, but he seems to think that would be out of our budget - LOL!!

This evening, we spent some time in the casino - B gave me $2 in a penny slot machine and I turned it into $14 (a happy, happy time) which I then lost in another machine. All told, I went through about $30 and B spent about $30 also - I think we lost less than $100 total this whole week, so it was mostly a success. The next time we come to Vegas, I'm going to bring a set amount of disposable cash that is to be "blown" in the casinos just for fun... I really had fun tonight playing the penny slots because you can play quite a while when you're only betting $.30/spin!! It would have been fun to toss in $60 or so, but I just wasn't mentally prepared to do that this time around! I'm too cheap, I guess!! LOL

I talked to Middle Child a couple of times today - he transferred Binki to my friend for cremation, and was content with that - he chose a little white urn and is going to get a lock of fur to keep as well. I need to get him some type of engraved locket to attach to the urn that can hold the fur for him. I know he will need to learn to let go, but I also think he should develop that on his own terms. On a good note, he did some internet reserach (usually that makes me cringe, but I pray that he has enough sense to at least ASK me if he finds questionable advice) and read that he should put contact lens solution on the baby chin's eyes -- and lo and behold, the eyes are now open!! I guess they were stuck with some schmoo from the birthing process, and the solution dissolved it -- that makes sense. Whatever the case, I am thankful that the little critter seems to be okay. His/her brother/sister is doing well also, according to all reports.

It's been a good trip, but a little too long for my tastes. I don't like being away from Baby Girl this long, and anything more than 3 or 4 days is too much for any vacation in my opinion. I guess my lack of tolerance has come with my age, but as much as I enjoy travelling, I just prefer to be at home!!

For a while now, my tentative plan is to take First Born to Vegas for his 21st birthday next year - he loves the numbers and statistics involved in gambling, and I think it would be fun to stay 2 or 3 nights in one of the swankier hotels up the strip and give him a lump sum of cash to wager. If he wants to bring his girlfriend along, we'll have to delay through the summer until she turns 21, but that's alright, too. I'll leave that decision up to him.

As much as B dislikes the Vegas experience, he told me today that he can see coming back for a veterinary conerence, especially if we can get the Army to pay for it again. It's a great conference, really... lots and lots of interesting lectures. I attended a bunch of practice management sessions this time around, and really got some fascinating information that I think will be of use to me in the not-so-distant future... but more about that later.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So much to do and so little time!!

Last night's "plan" was to go to the House of Blues for cheap beer and half priced appetizers... instead we decided to take a walk down the strip before we got too inebriated or tired to do it. We walked all the way from the Luxor to the Wynn -- for those who may be unfamiliar with the Vegas strip, let me assure you that it is a LONG WAY!! We stopped at the Bellagio to see the fountain show and at the Mirage for the Volcano show; and we walked through the Wynn, just to see how "the other half lives". LOL

We ended up stopping at Casino Royale for $1 margaritas and Michelob beer and ate $1.99 footlong hot dogs in the back of the casino. After the pricey lunch we had, we had to cut corners somewhere!!

There are so many little things along the strip that are absolutely facinating... we came across a booth with a guy creating incredible pictures using common Walmart spray paint. I can't begin to imagine what this guy saw in his head, but what he creates is amazing... I told B that we HAVE to go back because I fully intend to buy at least one of his pictures.

We were pretty much dragging by the time we got back; all told, we were out for nearly 5 hours, most of it we spent walking - we sat at the casino for probably 20 minutes, but that's about it. It was good exercise, if nothing else.

Today, I slept in again, then we went to the Mirage for the lunch buffet - cheaper (about $20pp) and much better food... I went to lectures this afternoon and met B "after hours" at the House of Blues - tonight we did the cheap beer and half priced appetizers for dinner!! We have tickets for the 9:30 Cris Angel/Cirque du Soleil show tonight which hopefully will be worth the $150 he spent for the tickets... I also bought tickets for tomorrow's Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian and I'm REALLY looking forward to that, as Phantom is my favorite show of ALL time!!

On a sad note, Little Man called me, crying, this morning... he went into Middle Child's room to check on the chinchillas and found Binki dead :( Middle Child is understandably upset... he liked Twinkle okay, but just loved Binki. I told him that he can keep one or both of the new twins - he wants the albino, but says that its eyes don't seem to be open yet, which is likely a problem as they are fairly precocious critters, but today I told him that a blind chin will still be fine, and he agrees... he wants to have Binki cremated, so I gave him a number to call for that... when it rains, it pours, huh???

Monday, February 15, 2010

I did finally make it to Vegas

Yesterday was a terribly long day... I developed a migraine-caliber headache around midnight on Saturday, so I slept very poorly - I got up early yesterday morning and went ahead to the airport, out of boredom more than anything else. It turned out to be in my favor because my original flight was late and I would have missed my connection out of Atlanta. So, I was put onto an earlier flight out of Greensboro and spent a little extra tine in Atlanta, but at the end of the day, I deplaned in Vegas and that's the important thing. Of course, things just don't seem to be going my way in general these days, so I wasn't totally surprised to find that my luggage didn't make it onto my flight... It did finally arrive at about 4 am :( Delta sucks!!

The Luxor (where our room is) and the Mandalay Bay (where the conference is) are connected by a shopping mall of sorts, so I can actually go from one to the other without going outside. Of course, each hotel has a huge casino, and the complex is like a small city... you never actually have to leave!! There are shops and shows and a dozen or more restaurants right here!! It's amazing...

We ate at the China Grill last night (inside MB) - I had a mango martini which was yummy (I'd never had a designer martini before, just a "real" vodka one that was gross... might as well have just taken a slug from the Grey Goose bottle!!)!! We got the "tasting menu" for dinner, which was $59pp but it was more food than we could eat and included things like lobster pancakes, Shanghai sirloin, wasabi mashed potatoes, crispy spinach and "bananas in a box" for desert - it was a full 6 course meal... We splurged a bit, but justified it in the name of V-day!

Today I slept in then we went to the MB buffet for brunch - the food was pretty good but not spectacular for $24pp. Tonite we're going cheap -- happy hour at The House of Blues, for $2 beers and 1/2 priced appetizers!! Gotta save where we can!

We're going to try to go to the Cris Angel/Cirque du Soleil show here, and I'd like to see Phantom at the Versailles; B wants to try the buffet at the Mirage also -- that's my baby... always thinking about food!! LOL

Total change of subject, but Patrick called today to tell me that Twinkle had twins and apparently that are both alive... *sigh*. What am I going to do with those chinchillas?!?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Today has totally sucked!!

Today was the start of our mini vacation... my first trip to Vegas!! And - technically - the Western Veterinary Conference, but that's secondary or tertiary at this point-LOL

We has some snow last night but nothing major... work was hell and I got less than 2 hours of down time so I was already exhausted, but I figured I could sleep on the plane. I rushed home, finished packing and got a shower - and we were off!!

We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare; since I'm flying on orders and can take luggage for free, I was planning on checking all the bags and leaving B just his computer to carry onboard. Since we weren't flying the same airline - I was on Delta, B on Continental - and we weren't even leaving from the same terminal, B dropped me off with the bags and went to park the car. Since we were early, he planned to come meet up with me after parking the car.

The first thing I discovered when I attempted to check the bags is that both of my flights were cancelled, and I was directed to get into an extremely long line to try to get redirected. I called B and told him to check on HIS flight before he came back to meet me.

He showed up about 15 minutes later with the news that he seemed to be okay... I called Carlson to see if they could get me a different flight, B called Continental to see if he could get me onto his flight. Continental told B that his flights were totally booked -- so you can imagine how pissed he was when his flight backed away from the gate with half the seats unoccupied!! But that's another story... Carlson couldn't get me out before 6pm tomorrow so I stayed in the line for the Delta counter, hoping for a better deal... silly me.

Eventually, B had to leave me - because the flights seemed to be cancelled arbitrarily, I was concerned about whether or not he would be able to switch to a flight later in the day, or even tomorrow, so I sent him on his original flight. Nearly 2 hours later I was finally at the desk and the ticket agent informs me that I have been rebooked on a flight to Vegas on --- wait for it --- TUESDAY!! WTF?!? I not-so-calmly explain to her that I am on orders and as of 0800 tomorrow, legally speaking, I will be AWOL. Tuesday was totally unacceptable.

She hemmed and hawed but I refused to give in and she grudgingly put me on a flight leaving at 11:30am tomorrow -- OUT OF GREENSBORO!! Now here's another problem!! Greensboro is an hour and a half away... I can drive my car there, but my return flight is to RDU... so, what then?? I asked her how I am supposed to make this work when I have no car to transfer over... and she told me it was my problem. As was the dilemma of what to do with myself tonite. "It's the weather, ma'am; we have to make arrangements to take care of ourselves". I really HATE it when someone uses the familiar like that, AS IF they are in the same situation and can empathize!! She was very rude and really pissed me off (in case you hadn't picked up on that already). The only good thing she did was to refer me to the USO Club... of course, it was in the other terminal and I had to walk over there with all the luggage, but the volunteers were really great... I was so furious by the time I got over there that I was crying, and they gave me a drink and the ladies hugged me... They kept my luggage while I went down to the Southwest counter to see if they could help me.

The agent at Sourhwest was fantastic and tried her hardest... she did find me a flight this afternoon to Baltimore, but it would still involve an overnight on my dime plus a very real possibility that I would NOT be able to recoup the $700 for the ticket. In the end, I decided to rent a car, drive to G'boro, get a room and get some sleep!! I've had approximately 5 hours of sleep since 6:30am on Thurs (something like 56 hours ago) and I'm just whipped!!

Back up to the USO Club I went, where one of the volunteers called around until she found me a rental car... I guess with so many flights cancelled, everyone is renting cars... She had to call around to find me one!! I got the shuttle over to Avis and picked up a real POS Hyundai, sub-compact and absolutely bottom of the line, but still somehow cost me $80!!! Don't you just love it?

I finally made it to Greensboro, though I felt I was really fading there at the end, and am checked into the airport Marriott... the hotel and the room are really nice, even if they DO charge $.49/min for Internet... guess it's TV tonight for me!! LOL. The room cost about the same as the freakin' car! Room service has been ordered, including a Foster's, and I'm chillin'. I don't think I'll last much longer tonight.

I need to keep reminding myself that tomorrow HAS to be better!! It just HAS to be!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's been a long time

since I've posted anything; not that nothing has been happening - more that I just have lacked the energy to make the effort to write anything down :(

We lost Fifi on February 2nd; it's no secret that she and I only tolerated each other; the younger boys were even getting tired of having to deal with her constant messes - and I had noticed, the last time First Born was down here, he excluded her for the most part, very unusual for him as he and Fifi had this strange mutual adoration going on - every bit as intense as the dislike she and I shared, but a totally opposite emotion.

The boys were at their dad's; B was out somewhere; I was fighting over the phone with the idiot salesman at the Audi dealership in NY -- I finally hung up on his (for the second time) and decided to let the dogs out as Elvis was pacing around the kitchen and the clack-clack-clack of his claws on the flooring was driving me bonkers. I called Fifi, she didn't come - not surprising as we've felt for some time that her hearing was significantly impaired. I called again, and again nothing. She was curled up in her usual spot - between the sofa and coffee table in the living room - I prodded her gently with my toe (yes, it WAS gentle because, despite the fact that I didn't adore her, she would bite if the prod was anything BUT gentle!)... suffice it to say that she was something less than pliable at that point. I have no idea exactly when it happened; she was lying there when I got home that morning, but I let her be because she had already peed and pooped on the floor in my absence, so I saw no reason to make her go outside. I did some things around the house, including cleaning up her mess, took a shower and then got on the phone with the guy in NY... the rest, I've already talked about.

I packed her up into a box until I could talk to First Born and see what his desire was for her remains. He elected to have her cremated so I called a guy that used to work with me at AUC - he owns a crematorium. He met me the next morning to gather her body; the cremains will be returned to Chris in about 2 weeks. Chris also asked for her leather "Biker Bitch" vest and her doggles. I found her Harley hat and a good picture of her in the leather attire, perched on the seat of J's Harley - I have those gathered up for him. He was very upset, obviously - and his FB status the next day said something to the effect that he was at work, desperately trying not to think about his dog.

For my part, I feel like shit about it. As I've already said, it's no secret that we didn't like eachother, but now that's she's gone, I don't feel the relief that I expected - I feel guilty - for not pampering her, for harsh discipline, for whatever... even though she didn't like me, I feel bad for not trying harder...

And, Elvis, who I have had since he was about 8 weeks old, and who is now about 12-1/2, is slowly wasting away in front of my eyes, and there is nothing that I can do about it. He has totally lost his appetite and I struggle daily to get any food into him. He's eating 2-3 times per week at this point and getting thinner daily. I'm very worried about him starving to death, but I will say that his attitude is good he's still relatively active; about "normal" for him with his hip dysplasia. He is just a bag of bones wearing a fur coat at this point and I'm very frustrated and confused... B and I are leaving on Saturday and will be gone for a week - my parents are coming down to watch Baby Girl; with my mother just having lost her mother last month, she's not in any state emotionally speaking, to have to deal with Elvis' condition. It would tear her to pieces to have to make the decision to euthanize him in my absence. So, I am considering, if I cannot find something, anything, that he will eat at least once a day, euthanizing him before I leave this weekend. I don't want to... truly I don't; just the idea brings tears to my eyes; but at the same time, I really don't want to allow him to or watch him starve to death, which is where we're currently headed.

We've tried just about everything... we've totally abandoned his dry dog food; the canned food interested him for a week or so, but he won't eat it any more. I've bought the natural stuff as well as several varieties of stuff that looks like it would be appropriate for human consumption. He will eat, small amounts, at least once, but then turns away from it the next time it's offered. We've tried cooking for him, with the same results. I guess it's just getting to be his "time" but it sure is hard to make that call!!

For now, I'm going to take a nap; I've got some type of bug - started right after I got the damned H1N1 vaccine - not sure if there's any correlation, but I was not the only one in my unit to have this trouble. I've come across several people who seemed to get the flu after getting the flu vaccine!! This is why I didn't want the stupid vaccine in the first place!! Oh, well...