Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My best friend

For anyone reading this who has not had the priviledge of knowing him, please meet Mr Buddy Joe Stone, my best friend. (Previous post have talked about his older sister, Brandi, and her medical problems. Brandi actually belongs to Joanne while Buddy is my little pal.)

Buddy is a six year old Minature Schnauzer. He joined our family when he was but six weeks old and could be held in the palm of my hand. Although he has past his sixth year he still has a lot of puppy in him, as anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting him will attest. He also has a great personality and loves almost everyone. He has decided that the earth was populated with people for the sole purpose of petting him.

Buddy loves to travel and makes the ideal motorhome dog. When travelling his favorite place to curl up is on a rug directly beside the drivers seat in the motorhome. He loves to be outside and is very adept at entertaining himself when the rest of the family is busy doing other things.

Next time you see us out and about keep your eye peeled for the neat little silver companion that will, without doubt, be somewhere close by.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The perils of Ms Brandi Jane

Well, Ms Brandi Jane made a trip back to the doctor today. Although she still has her problem with incontinence it is getting better with the medication she is taking.

Her current problem is with pain. Last Friday, after we got settled in back at home she started to complain everytime she was picked up. (Her way of complaining is to squeal and try to bite the hand that is doing the lifting.) She would not go up or down stairs and kept coming into the study and hiding back under my computer chair. As the weekend went on the problem got worse. My first guess of the problem was there was some injury to her front leg joints or shoulders, or maybe arthritis was sitting in with age, since that is where she seemed to experience pain the most.

Until today she had not actually gotten hold of anyone when she tried to bite. This morning Joanne picked her up to take her to the doctors appointment when she yelled out and then bit Jo's finger, bringing blood this time. Later at the doctor's office she bit down again, this time only leaving a bruise on one of Jo's fingers.

Diagnosis turns out is not her joints but her back. Sometime since we got home last Thursday she managed to injure her back. This may have been caused by leaping up and down steps. There are five steps up into our motorhome. Also, in the house the living room is two steps lower than the rest of the house. (We went through this same problem with Buddy about a year ago.)

The doctor gave her a pain killer shot, gave us some pain pills for her and another pill to help heal the back injury. We spent the day driving to Tulsa in the motorhome, to take it to a dealer for some warranty work, and then returning in the car. Each time we stopped she immediately jumped up on one of the seats. It appears the drugs are working.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Where it all began

Farmers Union was originally organized by a group of men, led by Newt Gresham, in Point, Texas, in 1905. The purpose was for farmers to band together to improve their bargaining power in selling their products. Over the years the organization has grown to become one of the largest organizations representing the family farmer in the nation.

Anyone familiar with the Stone family knows of our involvement with Farmers Union. My grandfather, William A. Stone, was very active in the Farmers Union movement while he farmed in the first half of the 1900's. My father, George W. Stone, served as President of Oklahoma Farmers Union from 1956 until 1980 and as President of National Farmers Union from 1980 to 1984. He still serves on the Executive Board of Oklahoma Farmers Union. (The picture to the left is of my parents at the National Farmers Union convention in Orlando, FL, in March 2007.)

I grew up involved in Farmers Union activities and owned an Oklahoma Farmers Union Insurance agency from 1974 to 1986. So, on our way home from Louisiana yesterday we had to make a stop in Point to see the monument, that was dedicated in 2005, marking the 100th year of Farmers Union.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Our Latest Adventure--Louisiana

Travelogue--Day 19

We are at the end of our time in Southern Louisiana. Tomorrow morning we will pack it all up and head north and west for our trek back to Oklahoma City.

We have been playing the tourist the last couple of days. Yesterday we drove over to Lafayette to a place called Acadian Village. This is a place where many original Acadian houses and buildings have been brought in to show what a real Acadian village would have looked like. (Acadians are the original French speaking people who settled here in the 1700's after the British ran them out of Canadian Nova Scotia. These folks are now mostly called Cajuns.) The village was very intersting. Although most of the buildings are original buildings that were built in the 1800's (and later moved to this location) the chapel is a replica built by the local Knights of Columbus organization.

From Lafayette we went to the town of Breaux Bridge. This is a unique little town that bills itself as the Crayfish Capitol of the World. (Seems like most of the towns down here are some kind of capitol of the world.) Breaux Bridge has a neat downtown area but unfortunately most of the shops and restaurants are closed on Monday and Tuesday of each week. As is the case in most of this area the Cajun language is somewhat based on French, as the picture of the street sign indicates.

Today we explored the city of New Iberia. This town is just south of Lafayette. We took a tour of the oldest rice mill still in operation in the country. The Conrad Rice Company produces the Konricko brand of rice there.

We also toured a mansion that had been part of a large sugar plantation. The place is called Shadows-on-the-Teche and is located on the Bayou Teche which goes right through the middle of town. This house was held within the family through four generations. The final heir never married or had children so he transferred it to the National Historic Preservation Commission just before he died in the 1950's.

This evening we drove back over to Rayne for dinner and then went to the Civic Center RV Rally Park, where we had the rally last week. It really looks deserted. There is only one coach parked there now. (We had one of our members suffer a medical emergency last Saturday and is now in a hospital in Lafayette. His family has flown in to help him and his wife and assist in getting his coach driven back to Florida. He should be released this Friday to return home.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Our Latest Adventure--Louisiana

Travelogue--Day 17
The Spring Monaco America Rally is now history. We wrapped it up last Thursday night.

We had arrived at the rally sight well over a week before the rally actually began to help get everything set up and to work with the parking committee in getting the coaches parked in the assigned spaces as they arrived. We set up a small tent at the entrance to the Rayne Civic Center grounds where we could meet each coach as they arrived. Since so many of the coaches were coming in early we wound up manning the tent all day each day. It was hot and humid and I picked up a real tan. This also limited the amount of time we had to do any sightseeing. We did get to go out for dinner with the group. On that first Friday night we made another trek to Thibodeaux's Restaurant in Duson. This time we had a group of 30 to partake of the great food. Only one of our members was brave enough to order a full order (five pounds) of crayfish. Roy made short work of eating them all. We had only given the restaurant about 30 minutes notice of our coming in with such a big group and they did not have time to bring in extra help. Being Friday night they were very busy. They only had one waitress on duty and she had to work the front plus serve us in the group room in the back. She did a bang up job getting all the filled and served in a reasonable amount of time.

We worked very hard on parking and by Sunday evening we had all but six of the coaches in and parked. That evening we had a potluck dinner which was well received by all. As is normally the case with potlucks there was plenty of good food. This gave us some time to sit around and visit with old friends and make some new ones. By Monday evening, prior to the opening kickoff gathering, the last six coaches were in and parked.

During our rallies we have breakfast and dinner catered Tuesday through Thursday. The food is always great and plentiful. We also have entertainment each night. On Tuesday night we had a Cajun Comedian who kept us in stitches. Thursday night we had a local group that did a fantastic job of playing 50's and 60's music.

The Wednesday night entertainment time was used to hold an auction. We had asked each couple to bring either something they had made or something that represented their individual home state. It was amazing how many great items were donated. We had a local auctioneer to help us with the sales and she really knew how to work the crowd. We wound up with around 75 items to auction off and raised over $3600.00 from this endeavor. This money was raised for a local charity. (In addition to the auction money the ladies that attended the Tuesday afternoon Tea had each donated a back pack to be provided to the local school children next school year. The charity group then will use the money we raised to fill each of the back packs with necessary school supplies.) With the funds we raised at the auction and the value the back packs we raised well over $5000.00 for the charity. The city's mayor indicated that it would take the charity group over two years to raise that much money. I was especially proud of the auction results since this had been Joanne's idea and she completely organized it and oversaw it from beginning to end.

Another activity at the rally was a frog jumping contest and race put on by the local Lions Club. Rayne bills itself as the Frog Capitol of the World. The Lions brought several big bull frogs and got some of our members involved in both a jumping contest and then a race. Some of the frogs were livelier than others and some needed some incentive to do the jumps.

During these rallies we have many activities. These usually include a "pet walk" where everyone can bring their pets to show off. Since our little Brandi does not do well around other animals we uaually don't take our dogs to this activity. Many of the folks will dress up their pets to represent the theme of the rally. Since we were in the Frog Capitol of the World the frog theme was evident here. Also a local ice cream merchant parked his trailer in the parking lot and was open for business each day with several flavors of Blue Bell ice cream. Each day at noon a line would form at the trailer.

On this past Friday most of the coaches started pulling out and heading to other sites. Several stayed around to do some tourist things. Four of us couples got together and headed over to the city of Breaux Bridge to take a swamp tour. This was a boat tour through the swamp that took about three hours. We had a great time with Cap'n Norbert LeBlanc giving us a good tour. We not only saw many different kinds of egrets and herons we also saw a few small gators.

Another interesting thing in Rayne is the local Catholic Cemetary. It is listed in Ripley's Believe It Or Not as the only cemetary in the nation that all the graves are laid out north and south. Tradition is for cemetaries to be laid out with the graves running east and west. As is typical in this part of Louisiana most all of the graves are built on top of the ground. This is due to the high water table in this part of the country.

Yesterday evening, Saturday, the few of us that were still at the rally park got together for an impromptu potluck and cookout. We had seven couples join in and sat around and visited until late in the evening.
Today all but one of the coaches pulled out and headed their own ways. Our wagon master is all that is left and they leave tomorrow. We have moved five miles east back to Duson. We'll stay here, at the Frog City RV Park, to do some sight seeing and exploring some of the small towns located south of here. After that we'll pack up and head back north and home.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Our Latest Adventure--Louisiana

Travelogue--Day 6

We are now at the rally site in Rayne, Louisiana. The city has a large grounds around it's civic center where they have laid out almost 800 RV sites. About their biggest industry in this town is RV rallies. Not only is this a major source of income directly to the city for the use of the rally park, the many RVer's that come into town spend a great deal of money with the local merchants. We arrived here on Sunday and have gone out to eat, with a fairly large group, three nights so far.

Sunday night eight of us went to the Frog City Cajun Restaurant for some real cajun food. Monday night we went to Chef Roy's. They serve really good seafood. Last night I lead a group of 16 back over to Duson to Thibodeaux's Restaurant for a supreb meal. This is one of the places we ate when we were down here in January on our way to Florida.

The rally does not officially kick off until Monday evening of next week. Normally at these rallies folks are discouraged from arriving before noon on Sunday. Our club, Monaco America, is different in that area because we start arriving up to a week early to start the fun. By this past Sunday evening we had seven coaches on site and by this evening (Wednesday) we now have about 25 coaches here. This includes almost all of the officers and the key volunteers. The parking committee, which I am serving on this time around, has laid out all the sites, assigned golf carts and are ready to lead the coaches into their sites when they arrive. We figure that at the rate they are arriving that the majority of the 94 coaches coming in will be here by Saturday or early Sunday. So far the parking of the coaches has gone pretty smoothly. We got some major rain Monday evening and some of the coaches leveling jacks began to sink into the ground. We are parked on grassy areas. So far we only have gotten one coach stuck in the mud. My brother, Bill, had his jacks sink in so far he could not get level. He decided to pull the coach a few feet forward to get on firmer ground. When he did he buried his back wheels down to the rims. We had to get a city employee to come over with a big backhoe and chain to pull him out. This is not an unusual occurance in the big rally parks that have grass to park on instead of concrete.

We have not done much siteseeing yet. We have been busy working with the club officers and volunteers getting things set up. Also, we have been to this area before and have seen much of it. We also have made the necessary trips to Wally World for the items we forgot to bring with us. (For you non-RVer's, Wally World is your local Wal-Mart.)

Internet access will be a little hit and miss the next two weeks. The rally park does not have WiFi. They do have a dial up connection in one of the buildings but I have not been able to get my laptop to work on a dialup connection. I am currently sitting in a local McDonald's paying $2.95 for a two hour WiFi session. Future updates of our travels will be added as we get access to the net.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Our latest adventure--Louisiana bound

Travelogue--Day 2

Well, we are on the road again. We left home yesterday mornings, Friday, May 4th, and headed south. Our original plan was to just go down to the Outlet Mall in Gainesville, TX, and spend the night in their RV Park. That would give us time to shop the mall. Well, we got in there around noon, hit the food court for lunch and then did a little shopping. About 1:45 we were back in the coach and were wondering what to do for the rest of the day. We decided to get back on the road. We unhooked from the electric, pulled in the slides and headed east.

At this point we decided we'd drive over to near Tyler, TX, and spend the night in the Wal-Mart parking lot at I-20. When we got there we found they are one of the few Wal-Marts that do not allow overnight parking. By now it was after 5:00pm so we looked at the atlas and saw there was another Wal-Mart at the next major town, about 35 miles east. We got there, pulled off the interstate and drove around the town but never found the Wal-Mart. By this time we were not all that far from the Louisiana state line and the Flying J fuel station where we normally stop for fuel when making this trip. So we just went on east and wound up staying in the Flying J parking lot, along with several other RV's.

Original plan was to spend the second night (tonight) at the Wal-Mart in Alexandria, LA. That is what we did last time we came down this way since it is a good days drive from Gainesville. Since we had gone so far east the first day we were only a little over a hunderd miles from Alexandria and only a little over 200 from Duson, where we stayed on our January trip to Florida. We arrived in Duson around noon today and set up camp in The Frog City RV Park. I then spent the afternoon cleaning the bugs off the windshield and front of the coach. The Love Bugs are out in force down here this time of year and the whole front of the coach was covered over with them. I've got the big windshield clean and started on the rest of the front but then pooped out with the high humidity here. I'll finish it tomorrow while it is still a little cool.

Late this afternoon we drove over, in the car, to the city civic center in Rayne, LA. That is where our club, Monaco America, will be having their semi-annual rally week after next. Another Monaco club has been having a rally there this week and we had some good friends, Andy and Linda Clarkson, who were attending. We got a chance to visit with them for a little bit. We have not seen this couple since our Florida tour group split up after the rallies down there back in February.

Tomorrow we will move over to Rayne to meet up with some other early arrivals to start getting ready for the rally. We are part of a core group that comes in early, prior to the rallies to help set things up and get it all ready for the rest of the rally attendees when they start arriving next weekend.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Update on Ms Brandi Jane

As most of you know Brandi has been having some problems for the past few months. We first noticed that she was urinating in the house. This is very unusual for either of our dogs and we figured there must be a medical cause. The situation got worse while we were traveling to Florida earlier in the year. While in Tampa we took her to a Vet to have her checked out and he said he thought it was a bladder infection and put her on medication. This seemed to help for awhile but then the situation got worse. Most of the time she seems to be unaware of when she wets. She will just get up and a wet spot will be there. This is especially upsetting when she does this while laying in Joanne's lap.

Upon our return to Oklahoma we took her to see her own Doctor. After several test, which included an ultrasound and taking a culture from here bladder, the Doctor has ruled out a tumor. He thinks the problem is incontinance related to her age. This is a common problem with older female dogs that have been spayed.

She is now on a new medication for incontinance and will probably have to take it the rest of her life. Since this new treatment just started this week it is too early to determine how this is working out. To be on the safe side we have "doggie diapers" for her to wear when we are out in the coach. This is what we did in April during the weekend we were out with our local camping club. She is not crazy about them and chews off the sticky tab and steps out of them any time we are not looking.

Jo has been administering the new medicine. The bottle of liquid says to give her .3ML twice per day. That is point 3ML. This morning I was the first up and around since we were taking the car down for routine service and run some other errands. After feeding the dogs I preceeded to give Brandi her meds. With my eyesight getting a little dim I did not see the dot (point) in front of the 3ML on the bottle. Yep, you guessed it, I gave her three mililiters. That is three eye droppers full. Now she is just laying around in the darkest spot she can find in the house, which is up under my chair and desk by the computer. The Vet said to just not give her another dose today and by tomorrow she should be okay. Think I'll go back to letting Jo do the dog doctoring.