Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Story of Maxwell . . .

The story of Maxwell begins on Christmas Eve while Buzz was shoveling a neighbor's walk. Andi (our erstwhile college student neighbor, home for the holidays) called me over to to see the puppy she was watching. And Maxwell, the cute little bugger, plodded up to me licked me a few times, then inadvertently scratched my face with his paws. With that, I went back to shoveling, the scratches stopped bleeding and that was that. . . or so I thought.

Onto Christmas evening when Sidetrack and I attended our neighbor's annual dessert reception. When the topic of the puppy arose, Andi made a call to her friend, and the next guest to arrive was Maxwell.

Apparently, Andi's friend found the little guy wandering the streets of Coralville on Dec. 15th. She placed calls to the police, the dog pound and local shelters... but after 10 days, no one called to claim the pooch. Unfortunately, Andi's friend was/is in no position to have a pet (19 years old, working 60 hours a week, living in an un(pet)friendly apartment).

And so with minimal debate or discussion, and long sappy, droopy, pleading (translation: can we PLLEEEAAASSSEEE keep him?) looks from Sidetrack, I buckled under the weight of holiday spirit. A day later... Maxwell entered our lives permanently.

He's a Blue Heeler mix, about 8-9 weeks old and healthy. Koko almost ate him, Tootsie is annoyed but tolerant, and Truman is curious from a healthy (safe) distance. And so this new chapter begins.

2nd Annual Chi-town Blitz

For the second year in a row, I managed to survive a quick Chicago blitz with the delinquents. We arrived on Tuesday at 4:00 and stayed right downtown. After a brief stroll up Michigan Ave., we dined at Dick's Last Resort where food was decent and service was obnoxious.

After dinner we meandered back to the hotel (along the Chicago River) for a night of cards (Euchre), and a Hawkeye Insight Bowl victory!!!

Breakfast at the West Egg (at Columbus and Ontario) followed by a morning at the Shedd Aquarium. It was a blast to see the fish and water related animals.
We then zipped up to Evanston for a quick walk around on the Northwestern Campus, and a fly-by visit to Uncle Murph's

We grabbed some burgers at "Five Guy Burgers and Fries", then hit the road back to Iowa City. Next Year we're thinking about visiting the Art Institute. That will be another adventure, I'm sure. Cheers!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

It has been an eventful year. The details of most of these events are captured in various posts on this blog, so I won't clobber you with details. We entered 2010 with two homes (mortgages) and we exit with one. THAT has been a welcome relief.

Chalupa had a curved spine and now it's straight. THAT has been a welcome relief.

Somehow along the line we picked up a small retail/manufacturing businesses, Woofables, a gourmet dog biscuit company. This will remain a curious distraction.
We started this year never having traveled to California as a family. Now we can check that adventure off the list.

And one more item [BREAKING NEWS] We started the year with two dogs and a cat (a few fish too), and as of this post,... we're adding another four legged critter to the chaos. Tonight, at 10:00, Max will be delivered. He was found stray... abandoned. We have no clue how old he is, be the best guess is that he's about 4 months. We guess he's part Saint and part mutt. We guess that we've lost our minds. A neighbor found him and he's been visiting a few houses to find a home, and somehow ours seemed right. Kids will find out when they wake up tomorrow. Life as we know it, just got a little bit more interesting.
Here we see Big Dawg on Christmas day... taking a shot of snow to the face. Salute!

At the end of it all, we have our health, we have our friends, we have our shared adventures, we have our faith, and we have each other. We really can't ask for more than that, for these are the things we are thankful for.

We wish all of our friends a Merry Christmas, and wonderful New Year full of laughter, great adventures, wonderful moments with friends and family, safety, warmth, love and happiness.

Cheers to one and all! - The Taylors!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

As tradition would have it, we decorate the house to help celebrate birthdays. Here is what Big Dawg has been able to enjoy for a few days. What you can't see in this picture is the living room which is an eclectic mix of Christmas decorations (tree, lights, etc...) and birthday ballonapalooza. It's all quite spectacular.

So this weekend we turn the corner and make the final push into the holiday weekend. Sidetrack and I are finishing grades for the semester, and the shop is hitting full stride for the last second biscuit buyers (and our growing online efforts), and work is winding down for the season.

Speaking of work, we postponed the start of the the Exec MBA program in Des Moines. We'll crank it up in May rather than January. We simply didn't attract enough students to make it worth while for the University and the participating students. It's a bit of a set back, but should have positive results in the long run.

Kids are all jacked up about having two weeks off of school. We may take a day or two and drive into Chicago to enjoy the lights and sounds and chaos. It all depends on the weather and timing. We'll see. Until then... balloons for everyone!!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nerd and Birthday, Coincidence?

Eight years ago today, Mr. BD Big Dawg dropped into our lives in T triple shock fashion:

1. Labor was all of 22 minutes (no time to really get mentally ready)
2. When he arrived, He was a HE... not a SHE (unusual for us after three girls)
3. And he came in weighing 9 lb 13 oz (the rest of the brood was around the 7 lb mark).

Thankfully the triple shock has worn off and we're kind of getting used to having this heathen around. I think we'll keep him.
On the other hand... there is Chalupa. I am not sure when themed days began in school, but I can say it was after my time. Spirit Days were about it for us. But now they have pajama day, dress up day, sports day and (as Chalupa aptly demonstrates) Nerd Day.

With role models like this... I'm not sure BD Big Dawg stands a chance.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Seasonal Blowhards

Every holiday season, the University of Iowa Tuba Band performs holiday music on the steps of the Old Capitol. This year's event was held Friday afternoon, December 10. The weather could not have been much better. It was 48 degrees and sunny. The whimsy of the Tubas added a wonderful tone to this year's growing holiday spirit.
Unfortunately, the weather was short lived. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for the next 24 hours. We can expect at least 3 - 5 inches of snow and sustained winds of 35 - 40 miles an hour, with gusts reaching 55 - 60 miles per hour. Lovely, huh?

From one blow hard to another... this blows.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Freezing Up

This is the view of the Iowa River looking north from the Hancher foot bridge. That's the Park Road bridge at the top of this picture. During the floods of 2008, water was well over the top of that bridge. So as you can image, the foot bridge from where this picture was taken, was inaccessible.

Anyway, this is my walk to work every morning. It's about a half a mile, up hill (true) to campus. This particular morning it was about nine degrees, and you can see the river is beginning to freeze.

Years ago (prior to 1960's), before the Coraville Damn was constructed, the river moved much slower and froze more substantially. Fred Kent, a local photo historian, took pictures of people (many people) skating on the river. But the flow is too strong for any safe crossings on foot or skate.

At this this time of year, the eagles take refuge along the river banks. Last year during a noon-time run, I counted no fewer than 19 eagles along the river. It's quite spectacular. And it's common to see an eagle sitting in a tree or flying overhead as I make this water crossing every morning during the winter. So with the constant view of river and eagles, there is always something good to be found in Iowa City, despite the frigid winter conditions.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


Big Dawg (below) is ready to roll into the wild winter weather. Our first "significant" snow (less than an inch) fell last night. Still, it's a welcome holiday sight. Now we must mentally prepare not to see grass for 3 more months.
We have some elderly neighbors who previously had their walk and driveway shoveled by other neighbor kids. Unfortunately, those "kids" have graduated HS and are long gone. So the Taylor kids have been approached for this honorable duty. This could mean some early mornings and late evenings of shoveling the white stuff. This morning was the first test. Thankfully, it was only a sweep job, but a healthy pre-cursor for things (inches, perhaps feet?) to come. If successful, this could be a very valuable learning experience in community service and good neighborliness. If unsuccessful, it could mean several more doses of ibuprophen for yours truly.

I fear this picture of Marpy, Peanut, Chalupa, Sidetrack and Big Dawg is evidence of their training and preparation for snow shoveling etc... This does not bode well for me. These couch potatoes have taken root for the winter, I'm afraid their work-effort is dormant until we see green grass again. Ugh! Winterized.