Wednesday, September 21, 2011

R.I.P. our little Sprout

This is a picture of a baby field mouse ESM rescued from the nursery hut at the garden center where she works part-time.

He was born in a nest, kept warm behind a mini fridge. ESM found him out in the middle of the floor of the hut on 9/19/2011 and, using her gloves, put him back in his nest hoping his momma would come back to take care of him. ESM found his mommy the next morning when she went back to work, and she had, unfortunately, been killed by an unknown predator. So, he was left all alone.

We rescued him, brought him home and named him Sprout. We fixed a box with holes in the lid and lined with clean tissues for him, and put the box on a towel over a heating pad on low to keep him warm. We fed him half-strength kitten formula through an eyedropper every two hours, including overnight. We rubbed his nether-regions with a warm cotton swab to help him poop, just like his mommy would. And despite all our best efforts, he passed away somewhere between 10am and noon on 9/21/2011. He was laid to rest underneath our peach tree in the backyard, where he can forever bask in the sun and smell the ripe peaches in the summer. He has a marker with his name and the date, so we will not if we ever could.

While he was not with us for very long, he had a significant impact. Some might say in the grand scheme of things, he was very small and insignificant. Why would you care so much for something so small, and so common? I believe when a higher power...fate, God, whatever you wish to call it...places a task like this deliberately in your path, you must listen. All furry creatures deserve a chance to survive. If I am given a chance to play a part in that survival, I will gladly take on that responsibility, knowing full well that by giving and loving with your heart, that also leaves you open to the heartbreak of loss. That's what makes us human, in my opinion.

Even though we were not ultimately able to save him, we did love him and we did all we could to help. It is some consolation that when his end came, he was warm, dry and safe. And in just the brief moment we had him, he became a part of our family. I can only hope he is happy and with his mommy, wherever the souls from this earth go when the body's time is at an end.

My dear little man, I'm so sorry you didn't even get to open your eyes and see all the wonders of this world. Maybe you weren't meant to. The world was certainly not so kind to you. Please know we did our very best to help you, and you did find your forever home. Forever was just not very long. You have left a tiny, mouse-shaped hole in our hearts. And we shall never forget you. Rest In Peace, our beautiful little Sprout.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Godspeed, our beloved "big guy."

Sorry for the delay in posting...with the maintenance issue with Blogger, I was unable to post this until now.

In the midst of the current turmoil in our house (me recovering from my car accident, and ESM working part-time and also trying to start a new business), I must report some very sad kitty news. Mr. Hubbard, our oldest (16 to 18, we’re not sure exactly) and the first kitty we adopted together, made his journey to the Rainbow Bridge Thursday afternoon.

He has been in declining health for some time now, however that decline has been noticeably accelerating over the last several weeks. We finally made the difficult decision that it would be better for him not to suffer any more than he had already. We made the appointment several days ago to allow us some quality time at the end, including both of us taking time off to spend his last day with him. We took lots of pictures and video, to add to the already large collection we have.

For our final act of love, we took him to the vet that has been seeing him for the last six plus years. They have treated him through all his various age-related illnesses, including his cataracts, pancreatitus, diabetes, arthritis in his hips and several other issues. They have been so good with him (and us) over the years, we felt they should have a chance to say their good-byes and help him in his final journey. He passed peacefully from this earth with the vet, his favorite vet tech and his adopted parents by his side at 5:02pm on Thursday, May 12th, 2011. He will be individually cremated, and his remains returned to us on Tuesday.

ESM and I are planning to plant some orange tiger lilies in our yard, in his honor. We wanted something symbolic for us to remember him by (even though tiger lilies are poisonous to cats), and when they bloom each year we will have a beautiful reminder of his 13 years with us.

I know I have urged this before, however you will have to suffer through my urging it again. Please, go find someone you love (furry or not), give them a big hug and tell them how much you love them. You never know when you might not have the chance again.

As part of my healing, I will post again very soon with more about his life with us.

Mr. Hubbard, we love you so very much and you will always be in our thoughts and hearts. Vaya con dios, big guy. We’ll see you again at the bridge.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Apparently, someone somewhere decided that a Mazda5 is an SUV. Don't know exactly how the rocket surgeons at the insurance company came to that conclusion, given the sliding rear doors, lack of AWD and a general mini-van-esque appearance. However, when I went to pick up my rental car from the accident, this was what was waiting for me.

Umm...ok. Small, slightly alien green a great white whale! Interesting. So, I asked the obvious question. Why? Why did they feel this was the correct rental car for me? And the answer was, they wanted to make sure I had a vehicle which was just as capable as the one involved in the accident. Sure, I can see that. o_O

So, after driving it for a couple of days, I have a few observations to share.

1. It is quite comfy to drive/ride in.

2. Gas would have to drop to pre-1970 prices before I could even think about commuting in it. I don't care that it DOES shut off four cylinders when it doesn't need them...16 MPG average isn't THAT big an improvement.

3. I cannot imagine myself ever being in a position to utilize the cavernous interior space...for people or stuff. I got over moving my furniture myself some time ago. That's what moving companies are for. Although, I suppose I could rent out the back to a small Korean family...probably wouldn't even notice they were there.

4. I am reminded of a quote from Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear. " gave me some idea what it would be like to try and park...the moon."

Don't get me wrong...while I have appreciated having wheels while my other car is incapacitated, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I'd rather have the one I had last year, while ESM's Buick was being worked on.

I am doing better every day. My persistent headache is beginning to wane. My sore neck and shoulders are slowly loosening up. Give me another week and I should be back to some semblance of normal. The nasty cold I caught in the hospital is also getting better with each passing day. Yes, you read that right...I caught a cold while in the hospital. Well, that's what happens when you hang out with sick people. Was kind of a case of adding insult to injury, literally.

I should also know what the Mazda's final fate will be tomorrow, but it isn't looking good for repairs at this moment. I'll post when I have more concrete info.

Sundown, Out.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Not the way to start your weekend

If you are making a list of some of the wrong ways to start your weekend, I have an entry for you.

Driving to work Friday morning, minding my own business. Then, WHAM! Glass is flying, metal is crunching, and I feel like I'm suddenly on the mechanical bull at the local cowboy bar. A car I barely saw coming hits the side of my car, throwing it sideways onto the median, hitting a street sign, and ending up back in my lane on the road. Bill Cosby describes that moment as, "First you say it, then you DO it!" Luckily, I didn't DO it, but I did say it!

Then as quickly as it happened, everything stopped moving and it got quiet again. It took me a few moments to fully realize what had just accident.........I've just been in a car accident!

I look around and realize that I'm not bleeding anywhere, that I appear to be mostly intact, minus my wits. My next thought was the other driver, so I went to check on her. She was also in about the same shape I was. Someone stopped and called 911. I somehow managed to call my ESM and tell her I'd been in an accident and where I was. Luckily she had not left for work yet and was only about two miles from where it happened.

Now, to be fair, this was certainly not my "first" accident, however it was very definitely the worst I've been in.

I was checked at the scene by EMS, however I still had a fair amount of adrenaline in my system and it took an hour or two before my injuries started to show up. I ended up going to the ER later in the day with a headache, neck and shoulder pain, and scariest of all for me, a profound sense of unsteadiness on my feet and I had to concentrate to get words together in the right order to say them. When I got to the ER and went through triage, they slapped a neck brace on me, refused to let me walk anymore and began carting me around in a wheelchair. After several hours of tests and laying in a hospital bed watching TV (and good pain meds), I was diagnosed with a form of whiplash, and possibly a mild concussion. No fractures, no other problems they could see at that time. I can't tell you how relieved I was.

So, now begins the process of working with insurance companies, adjusters and such in the little dance of "what happens to me and my car now". Claims are filed, information has been given, now I'm waiting to hear the verdict on my car. Thumbs up, or thumbs down...we'll just have to wait and see.

Overall, the accident could have been much worse. A small change in timing here, a small change in the location there, I would probably still be in that hospital bed even now. And someone else might also be there too. We were both very lucky that day.

If you'd like to see the accident photos I took, feel free to follow this link.

Sundown, Out.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Decisions, Decisions...

No one I've shown my new-to-me vending machine really likes the black color. And not too many are feeling the whole Pepsi vibe. Several people said, "Why not do something different than Coke or Pepsi? Something that hasn't been done so much." Those comments spurred me on a quest for a more suitable theme. So, after much thought and deliberation with my Everlasting SoulMate, a theme for the new vending machine has been selected.

Sing it with me y'all..."Only A&W's got that frosty mug taste!"

Yep, A&W Root Beer is the chosen brand. They never got into the vending machine thing, so this will be a one-of-a-kind unit. I think it will be cool to have a machine with a custom design that no one has ever seen before. Plus, I do love me some rooty-beer! *grin*

Here's a photo of what a fully restored machine can look like, in Pepsi colors.

I'm thinking the body of the machine will be a nice root beer brown, maybe even metal flake to make it look fizzy. The can door and surround will be white, like the photo above. And for the lighted front panel, I'll eschew the current A&W logo for an older one that would have been in use in the sixties, in keeping with the machine's era.

I'm also thinking about adding a large, vinyl logo of the A&W Root Bear to both sides, as I think he's very cute!

I'm already beginning to scour the Internet for the few parts and pieces it's missing. Hopefully I can come up with all I need to get started soon.

I also tried to join one of the larger online forums for soda vending machine owners (, but have been having some difficulty. The site does not allow for automated verification for joining, so a human must be involved on their side to "approve" my account. However, after a week I still don't have an account and I cannot get anyone to answer my subsequent emails about how my account has not been created. How rude! There is a phone number for someone on the site, but I'll only use that as a last-resort.

If I don't see y'all, have a good St. Patty's Day!

--Sundown, Out

Monday, February 28, 2011

Check One Off My List

There are many things I want to do before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Some examples...I want to see Australia by train, I want to sail the inside passage to Alaska, I want to learn to fly, I want to own a classic convertible automobile, I want my own home theater (I'm working on that one as you well know). So far, fairly normal. Then we come to one of the more offbeat ones. I've always wanted my own soda vending machine. Well, I can now check that one off!

I just purchased, at auction, an early sixties Vendo V63 unit, in Pepsi colors. This one is the smallest of the vending machines Vendo made in those years. It has seven flavors, and can hold nine cans per flavor...hence the "63" in the model number. Pictures are at the end of this post.

Now, I'll answer the questions I get in the usual order.

What did you pay for it? $160, plus a normal buyers premium from the auction house.

Does it work? Yes, it does. Well, in the most important ways, yes it does. The coin-op unit is original to the machine as far as I can tell, and needs a bit of TLC to fully function. However, you can put coins in and operate the dispensing mechanism. It needs some cleaning inside, and bit of general repair. However, when you plug it in, the compressor purrs like a kitten, the unit cools inside very quickly and shuts off like it should, and it holds the cold for quite a while before the compressor has to run again. All the pieces which are expensive to fix work very well.

What are you going to do with it? Restore the outside to something resembling its original colors and condition, recondition/replace the insides so everything works reliably, then put it in my home theater, stock it with soda and beer, and use the snot out of it! Duh. *grins*

Are you going to charge people or make it free? The jury is still out on that one, however I'm leaning towards setting it up to charge 10 or 25 cents, and making the appropriate coinage available to anyone that wants a cold drink. There is something visceral for me in the act of depositing money and letting the unit operate as it has for the forty-something years since its birth. From my research online, that amount of money is pretty close to what a can of soda would have cost from the 1960s to the 1970s as well.

So, here I go...embarking on another of my projects, although this one is a bit more mechanical in nature than some of my tech projects. But hey, it's always good to get your overalls on, roll up your sleeves, and tackle something with a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and some good old elbow grease. Wish me luck, and I'll keep y'all posted on my progress!

Sundown, Out.

There she is! I don't like the black.
I think it will end up Pepsi blue.

Inside the service door. It's missing
the coin box, but that's easy to get.

Dispensing systems don't get much easier
than gravity!