Tag Archives: visit

6/28/16 A Trip to Texas, part 1

Hi, this is Liz. Before I begin, I’d like to thank everyone for hanging in there while we took a week off for Jamie to compete in the MATE International Robotics competition. I know a lot of people like posting their vacation stuff, hence announcing to the world that they are gone and their houses are unattended, but I’m not like that, being made of more suspicious stuff.

I would secondly like to say that Maggie is sleeping a lot and healing up slowly from her adventures of being boarded. She is due to get the little staple out of her snout on July 5. Maggie was nice enough to lend me her blog so I could tell all of you about our trip.

Where to begin? We flew out a day earlier than the rest of the Robotics team. I personally wasn’t up to the grueling task of awakening at 2 a.m. to be at the airport by 4:15 and then have all of us – teachers, students, family, and fans – trying to get through TSA. So, instead of flying Southwest with the group, we booked our own flight through Spirit and got down there a day early.

Spirit was a cramped flight, but OK.  The pilot had been worried about a storm in Houston, so after we left the gate we actually turned back around, fueled up some more, and then took off. I think the pilot was concerned if we had to circle around the destination airport, so he erred on the side of caution and got more gas. It turned out to be an unnecessary precaution, but I for one was glad he took it. The Spirit staff was really very nice.

We landed and got our gear and rental car, and I texted cb (www.contrafactual.com) to let him know we’d arrived. I was excited to meet cb (Chris) after a two-year friendship on this blog. We agreed to meet at the hotel, and off we went.

BOOM! Into the arms of a pelting down rainstorm. Jamie nervously watched from the back seat as Jim white-knuckled it on the expressway. I was the extra set of eyes. Which was a good thing, because the rain was so hard we could not see 3 inches in front of us. I’m the one who spotted the stopped car with his hazards on, in our lane. We barely avoided an accident, and then suddenly, the rain stopped.

We were all glad for the sudden stoppage in downpour as we then had to ascend a very high, roller-coaster like, bridge. Jim exclaimed that it was the biggest, tallest, longest, bridge he has ever seen. I responded, “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” and, from a driving standpoint, that is true. On an aside, we noticed little differences, like the lack of through streets (at least where we were staying) and how to get from one side of the street to the next, a “U” turn was necessary. The police here in Illinois would absolutely have a field day with that!

We all were starving so we quickly hit up a Sonic and then on to the hotel. cb was waiting for us in the lobby and I recognized him immediately from his blog picture, even though he was missing his “cat beard”. We all headed over to the Hilton Garden Inn to scope out where we would be registering as a team for the competition the next day, figured out the logistics and shuttles, and got something refreshing to drink. Goes without saying, it’s hot in Texas, and humid, too, since we were by the Gulf. Something we Illinois-ans are used to is humidity, but it hadn’t been that hot at home yet, so it did take some getting used to. We hung out for a while, talking, and getting settled in. cb is a really nice person and we had lots to talk about.

cb recommended some places to get good Texas BBQ (“It’s hard to get bad BBQ in Texas”) and we went our separate ways. cb was right; we went to Rudy’s and enjoyed some delicious local flavor.

We all met the next morning and registered for our event. Jamie had a couple of meetings with his team, whom had arrived that morning, and it was discovered that one of the pumps on the ROV (remote operated vehicle) wasn’t working. The mentors of the team (Mr. Mostyn and Mr. Gamboa) made a quick run to the hardware store and the boys were off and tinkering with their ROV, the Edmund Mark 2.5, readying it for the next day.

After that, we had the rest of the day off, and Jamie suggested we head over to the DMC, or DeLorean Motor Company (see cb’s blog, http://www.contrafactual.com/Run-DMC).

The DMC was located on a back road that we first overshot. We got on the right track, and were not sure at first if we could even enter the building. Much to our delight, we were welcomed amongst the beautiful DeLorean autos:


(from left, Jim, Jamie, and Chris)

Of course, no tour would be complete without a pic of the flux capacitor:


Even more surprising, the CEO of DeLorean Motor Company was on hand to give us a personal welcome and took some pictures with Jamie. His name is Stephen Wynne, and he’s very, very, cool. As you can imagine.


This is getting long, so I’ll stop for now. Next blog will be about the competition and the NBL (Neutral Buoyancy Lab) at the Johnson Space Center. Thanks for reading!

Your friend, Liz






1/1/2014 Happy New Year to All!

Thank you to everyone for the good wishes over the holiday!  I’m trying to get caught up with all my comments and have been at the Reader until my eyes are about to pop.

I’ve written this blog to tell the story of how I came from a shelter to be with my new family.  And, through writing, I have found even more NEW family.  Vanessa (farfetchedfriends@wordpress.com) and her Young One came up from Arizona to visit with us.  Although I’ve spent some time in the crate while the humans ran around Chicago, we had a wonderful time.  The Young One always played with me, and I had lots of tug-o-war and other fun games.  Vanessa walked me and gave me lots of petting.  She brought me treats from the RunAMuck Ranch.  Yummy!

The humans had a fun time too:  The Morton Arboretum to see Christmas lights, a trip downtown to see The Bean, Michigan Avenue, State Street, a stop at The Pacific Garden Mission to be in the audience of an old-fashioned radio show (sound effects made in person!), a walk in the woods that started with beautiful scenery and ended with a pack of coyotes yowling.  Food was sampled:  Chicago style pizza, hot dogs (gotta have that celery salt!) as well as tons of other food.  (Mom and Dad started their diets today).

The humans stopped at the Sears Tower (called The Willis Tower only by tourists) with a view from the top.  I saw a picture of all the humans standing on The Ledge and believe me, I’m glad I’m a dog.

Cutest thing ever:  Jamie saying to Vanessa, “You and my Mom met kind of in a weird way.  Can I just call you Aunt Vanessa?” and I wagged my tail in hearty agreement. 

This 2014, remember that family is what you make it and sometimes, whom you make it.  And I love the new additions to my family!

Here’s that view from the top:


Wishing you all a happy, healthy, prosperous 2014.  Sending you out Woofs, tailwags, dogsmiles and face licks!

Love, Maggie




10/8/13 The Therapy Dog

Today, I had my first session as a Real Life Therapy Dog.  And I must say, it was wonderful!

Mom has a friend who lives about a mile away; I will call her Mrs. F.  This woman is only 61 but has had a number of health issues.  She has Type 1 diabetes, which robbed her of one eye and the hearing in one ear.  She has had a kidney transplant and open-heart surgery.  She fell twice in the last two years, breaking her hip and causing her to have limited mobility.  She suffered a stroke about a year and a half ago.  Last week, she had fluid buildup in her lungs and was hospitalized. 

Mrs. F. came home from the hospital Sunday.  Today, Mom took me on a “therapy visit”.  She brought Mrs. F. a bouquet of flowers and – me!  We visited outside, on the front porch, in the sunshine.  Mom put the prong collar on me so that she only had to tug gently and I would not jump.  It would be very bad if I jumped on Mrs. F. so, I sat like a good girl, and gave lots of tail wags and kisses, then lay down on the cool cement, patiently.  Mrs. F. was delighted with me, and pet me, and told me I was good, and beautiful, and a nice size.  Mrs. F. complimented on how well I behaved and said that it was lovely to see a Pitbull as a therapy dog.  She laughed that I have one black spot on my tail and sat in the sunshine and took off her jacket.  We enjoyed the breeze and the birds singing.  When we left, I felt great.  I know I made Mrs. F.’s day.

Mom took me over to Jamie’s school and put me through my paces on the lawn of the church.  But first, she let me take a nice long sniff around.  She said I deserved it.

I know now that I will try harder in Obedience School because I want to be a licensed Therapy Dog and go to the hospital and nursing homes.  I want to make people like Mrs. F. smile, even for just a little bit.  I want to be the four-legged sunshine.

Woof!  Love, Maggie


6/15/13 Grandma, and the Rainy Day Rocket

Grandma is here for another visit.  Even though I was very happy to see her, I didn’t jump.  Well, to tell the truth, I would have jumped, but Mom was holding my collar.  But soon I calmed down and got a treat for not jumping, so it all worked out for the best.

Dad says Grandma has “dementia”.  That’s a big word for a dog, but I’m pretty sure that’s the reason why Grandma acts like a young pup one minute and an old dog the next.  It makes Dad and Mom very sad to see.  I try to cheer them up.  Mom says Grandma is from “The Greatest Generation”, and I know that has something to do with history from Jamie.  Jamie knows all about “The Greatest Generation” because he loves history, and always has his snout in a book about it.

Speaking of Jamie, I can’t jump on him, either, because he slept on his pillow funny last night and now he is walking around with his head on crooked.  I’m afraid to go near him.  This is one of the reasons I do not sleep on the humans’ beds.  You just never know what’s going to happen up there, and what if you have to make a dash for the front door and get tangled up in blankets and stuffed animals?  I know a Greyhound once who was sleeping on a human bed and fell two feet to the floor when she rolled over.  Nearly broke a leg.  Now Jamie is walking around all slouched to one side.  No, sir, beds are horrible places.  The middle of the kitchen floor is much safer.

Today was cloudy, wet, and rainy, so naturally I was feeling my most energetic and mischievous.  I guess I kind of turn into a rainy day rocket.  First, I sneaked around and chewed every pair of shoes I could find.  Then, when Mom opened the back door to let some cool breeze in, I bolted out the screen door, ripped around the yard a couple of times right through the mud puddle next to the swing set, then a clear shot back into the kitchen, knocking three magnets off the screen door and sending them flying every which way. 

Unfortunately, my paws were wet, and as I came into the kitchen at max velocity “hairy bullet” style, I lost my footing, smacked into a kitchen chair, sending it skidding across the floor, and bumped my head – hard – on the table leg.  Dazed, I shook myself, and drops of water flew everywhere.  Mom felt sorry for me, even though I got her wet, and felt my head all over for lumps, then gave me a treat. 

The middle of the kitchen floor is looking pretty good right about now.  I think it might be time to calm down and take a breather!