Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Beth, Happy Birthday Bertha, Happy New Years Eve

Today was a really busy day for me cuz I was faced with a lot of conflicting priorities that I'd have to figure a way to sort out without getting a arsh whooping.  There were 3 celebrations to attend and I wasn't sure how to do 'em all and still be able to walk.

There were birthdays to plan and attend, and of course I had to get all licqoured up for New Years Eve. 

Here's what happened:  I set the alarm for early this morning and snuck downstairs and made coffee and breakfast.  Ok, I made coffee and grabbed a container of yogurt and dumped some cereal in it.  Then I grabbed Beth's presents, breakfast, and coffee and snuck back upstairs and belted out the "Happy Birthday" tune in the key A-G (that's A through G as I'm all over the place).  I sat her pressies on the bed and her coffee on the night stand and noticed that Ella had licked half of her yogurt up, but I didn't say anything cuz I don't think Beth saw her do it. I just smoothed out the lick marks. 

Beth opened presents with Ella helping and all was going well.  By 6:15 am I'd completed one celebration with two more to go; Beth went back to sleep, I didn't.  Ella did too cuz she was now full.

It was Bertha's birthday too!  Not really birthday birthday, but, if my plan worked out right, today would be the first flight in Bertha - which is the name I've given to my brand new Powered Paraglider (PPG).  She's purty and has a redhead. Rob built the frame for me using aircraft grade manually shaped parts & pieces.

click for a larger view

This is a picture of her after Rob had finished building a custom made SkyBolt II frame for her.  Rob will build you one too!  It's light and very tough. I flew a frame he built while I was training and crashed plenty of times. Just click on his name and send him an email.  

Well my plan worked, and today would be the first day I took her flying, I guess the first day She took me flying.  it was a bit chilly but nothing tooo bad, certainly not as cold as my next flight would be 1 month later. 

I had done what's called a "hang check" in her over at Kevin's place just before coming out to fly to check the angle that I'd be sitting in the harness whilst flying.  I hadn't adjusted the tightness of the leg straps though and I would certainly know it immediately after taking off.   I took off the first time and immediately sank down about 12 inches in my harness and was held up by the leg straps way below where I should have been at.  I immediately killed the motor and floated back to the ground and did a safe and soft two-step landing.  I tightened everything up and set up to go again.

Here's the video of my first "real" flight (excluding flight number 1 which lasted 3 seconds) in Bertha.

Hope you enjoy the vid.

After the flight, I went home still grinning and after a nice warm shower I was ready to welcome in 2011.  We hung out in the neighborhood as there was no since getting tangled up with all the drunks driving up and down the road and hollering and throwin' up and peein' and stuff.  It was a nice quiet celebration and it hasn't given me time to write to ya'll.  Hope you had a wonderful New Years Celebration Too!

Ya'll Be Particular.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

~ Airborne in a Lawn Chair, My First Ten Flights ~

For quite a while now I’ve been wanting to learn how to Paraglide.  Paragliding is a form of aviation in which you take a king size bed sheet and tie a bunch of shoe laces together  to each sheet corner and secure the other end to a pair of suspenders that you can buy on eBay.  You then spread out the bed sheet behind you and run off a mountain top hoping that the sheet opens up and allows you to glide around a bit before you realize you still have to land and begin your descent towards car traffic below and end up crashing into a tree. 
In my case, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to jump off mountains and “free” fly, or use a window fan duct taped to my back to allow me to launch from the ground instead of using gravity to act as my initial launch platform.  After doing lots of research on Facebook, I decided to go with the window fan method because I didn’t want to have to drive to a mountain every time I wanted to fly. I figured this would get me in the air more often and allow me to present you with more frequent spectacular crash videos.
Morgantown Air Force Base - Click Map To Stalk Us.
After spending a week in “ground school” where I learned everything about everything, I met the instructor, Kevin, out at the crash site in Morgantown.  I hadn’t crashed yet of course, but give it 20 minutes and I’ll have crossed that bridge. 
Kevin had had me “kiting” the wing for hours on end which is running around on the ground while pulling the wing above me.  I spent all morning running all over Morgantown and he expected me to be happy about it.  I ran about 400 miles that first day and was as soaking wet as a mountain mule.  The others that were with me didn’t seem to mind as much – those lil narrowed arshed younger pups all probably in their 20’s or something.  Hell, I was ready for a beer just after finally getting tied in to my kiting harness.  Now that’s a contraption. You take this tiny little girdle thing that is about 3 sizes too small and it has these narrow bands that you stick your legs through and they pull up tight around your bidness and make your butt knot up and all.  It really ain’t comfortable wearing one of these things.  Then, you attach a wing to it so when the wind blows through and tries to lift you up, your parts get pulled up over your head and get all numb and such.  I spent the next 30 minutes gigglin’ cuz my pointer had pins and needles and every time I moved it shocked me. After Kevin couldn’t stand watching us run all up and down the country side anymore, he called to me and said to get ready to fly.  I could feel my heart begin to beat faster and bowels begin to aerobicize a little. I was gonna do this today and I didn’t think I could get out of it.  I suited up with every thing I could think of to bring along with me and stood ready to fly.
The plan was to run S T R A I G H T towards Kevin, squeeze the throttle, keep the wing centered overhead, continue running straight into the wind, and pull a little on the brakes when I felt like I was being lifted off the ground. Ok. I can do that.  I’d be airborne before I reached him and would safely fly over him and then I’d expertly fly the pattern and return for a feather lite touchdown and we’d all  celebrate.
I was wearing a headset that was plugged in to a radio so Kevin could give me instruction as the flight progressed.  After I let the engine warm up for a little bit, Kevin gave me the green light to launch. Now it was time to shine.  I took off running and could immediately feel the drag from the wing as it lifted above me.  I could see [kill it] Kevin down at the far end of the field even though I was beginning [Kill It] to arc towards the right.  I could still see him and didn’t understand why [KILL IT] he was running towards me.  I kept watching him and kept running faster and [KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT] and was waiting for the feeling of lift to come to me.  That’s when I realized that I was about to crash right smack into the parked cars.  I never heard Kevin yelling at me on the radio to kill the motor and I just kept running, kept arcing to the right, and kept getting closer to the vehicles.  I didn’t event have time to process what to do next, so I kept running fast, kept squeezing the throttle, and finally felt lift.  I went between two parked vehicles with less than 6 inches of clearance (we later measured it) on either side.  I may have missed Kevin by 120 yards but I sho’ nuff nearly took out his van. Oh, and me too.  I spent the next 5 minutes dropping airborne turdlettes on downwind.
Although I hate to admit it, I totally “froze” and not only did I not register what was being hollered to me, but I wasn’t even paying attention to where I was running.  I had long since made my mind up that I WAS going to get airborne and I WAS going to fly this thing.  I got really lucky that I missed those cars and I know it would have left a mark. Not only that, it sure would have caused a lot of work for a lot of people to get me and the PPG gear out from inside of the van after having flown into it via the hole I would have made.  “Entering” the van with the prop spinning at full throttle would have been about the same as sitting in a running dryer with a chain saw fired up.  Not purty!
My entire first flight lasted about 4 minutes.  After landing, Kevin could have yelled at me but couldn’t talk yet. He was so happy that 1. I wasn’t inside his van, 2. I was Ok, 3. His PPG gear was Ok, 4. His van was Ok, and 5. I was on the ground.
No sense in crying over near catastrophic events, so after a bit of “how not to arc” retraining, I set up for flight number two.

This time, I did stay on course and didn’t come close to the cars. Well, Kevin made us move them all to a different field so the only way I’d come close was if I went on a search and destroy mission.  I didn’t and I wasn’t.  The flight plan was for me to get airborne, fly a small rectangular pattern and come back in for a landing.  The first flight I didn’t remember even getting airborne so this second flight would be like the first flight had never happened. I launched on the first try and held that throttle down for all it was worth.  I could hear and register what Kevin was saying about  a minute after each of his transmissions.  He’d tell me to begin turning back and I’d fly another mile out.  I finally did turn around and start heading back in.

I was more aware of what was happening on this flight and actually had time to even look around.  Nuclear John, who was a student in an earlier class was doing all the videoing and picture taking for me.  He made landing look so easy so I thought I’d follow his lead and softly touch down on this flight and we’d call it a day. Instead, I came in at about 120 mph (or so it felt) and ended up landing (sliding about 20 yards) on my behind again.  This landing on my feet like the others were doing was my next big goal. That, and steering it of course.  I had survived my first two powered paragliding flights and I had met a dream that I’d had from way back in my youth.  Nice!
I came back the next morning to give this thing another go. I’d spent most of the night before rereading from the Powered Paragliding Bible and was ready for flight number three. I had no idea that in 10 minutes time, I would have a skid mark on the side of my head and dirt up both nostrils and in my britches.  I’d had an uneventful departure, except for the fact that I had to run nearly 1300 yards to get airborne in the calm wind.  Preferably, its nice to have a 4-8 mph breeze to make launching less difficult.  I’d have said easier but right now just getting all the gear on without falling over is difficult.
I flew around the pattern for a little bit and could smell the morning and the fields below. Come to think of it, the fields smelled like what I did during my first flight yesterday. It must be that time of the year again to get some of the fertilizer down and keep those fields growing.  Soon I was on final and Kevin radioed me to remind me to cut the engine.  As I progressed, I wouldn’t continue to kill the engine before landing but for now with my affection for parked cars and crash landings, it was best that all moving parts that could be stopped prior to splash down were shut down to avoid dismantling. 
I killed the engine and began an immediate arc to the right.  I still had plenty of left brake available but I entered my take off and landing mode in which nothing processed, nothing registered, and I was pretty much along for the ride at this point.  Kevin radioed to steer left and I watched him fade to the left as my steer continued to the right and the field just south of where I was supposed to land.  If only had I listened, I wouldn’t have the green mark on the side of my head.  Only 10 feet on the wrong side of the border between landing field and bean field.  I pulled my legs up in fear that they would be tangled in the vines allowing my knees to hit first which lunged my face forward to strike the beans hard and soften the blow for the rest of me and my ppg that were in close proximity.  We all ended up in the same hole that my face had plowed.  Kevin radioed to ask if I was alright and I was afraid that if I said anything but Yes, he’d not let me fly anymore for the rest of the day.  It took about 3 minutes to get the wind back inside me and get back on my feet.  When the others started calling me “Sprout” I knew that I had resurfaced with battle wounds from the bean field.  I’d get the last laugh though because since then, they’ve all crash there too. HAH!
It’ll take about 3 days for bean burns to wear off the side of your face, just in case you ever find yourself having bean skidmarks.   I decided to wait until that afternoon before going up again.  I was still looking for my spleen and trying to work all my innards back to where they belonged after that last crash landing.  We broke for lunch and all went up to the Morgantown Sonic and I had Onion Rings made from Vidalia onions and a burger that that was made from a French-fried chicken.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, they do serve 44 oz. cherry lime-aids.  hmm hmmm. 
Flight Four was really cool I think.  I forgot to charge the battery but if I remember correctly, I did some aerobatics, a couple of touch and goes, some advance wing walker maneuvers, and I think I landed softly on one foot with a no errors. Not!
Flight Five came a few days later and with it some counseling from Kevin.  I was feeling kind of good about my new found PPG’ing skills and now that I had a few flights under my belt, I figured I was able to go here and there with ease.  Actually, I almost hit power lines, a silo, and the ground – all in five minutes.  I’m good huh?
Flight Five began and ended quite well; everything in the middle was a bit of a stool squirter.   I launched to the East this time, into the wind and immediately began the “Watts Arc” to the right and headed for the nearest high-tension power lines situated about 150 yards away.  I was a bit closer aligned with the power curve this time, but still getting used to hanging out there in a lawn chair whilst banking to the left and right.  I missed the power lines only to be faced with a big ol’ silo laying straight ahead with impact less than one minute away.  It was time to pull the brakes, either the left or right – but I better make my mind up quickly as I only have about 45 seconds.  I can hear Kevin on the radio the whole time reminding me to look ahead (in addition to left and right).  I successfully maneuvered around the silo and turned to the downwind leg of flight number five.

Kevin asked me about 12 times if I’d successfully gotten seated in my chair, I finally acknowledged after dodging the power lines and a building.  It seemed to me that I spent 4 minutes getting seated only to be told that it was time to get back out of the seat so I could prepare for landing.  I was still damaged goods after the bean event two flights earlier so I decided I’d delay my landing prep for a second and take advantage of the glide down and rest up.  It was a beautiful day and the morning temps of August weren’t actually all the bad.  I was determined to land on my feet this time (and stay on them); all I had to do was everything I’d learned over the week before. Uhm, chances are I was about to crash again, I had 4 flights, 4 crashes, and video to prove three of them. 

I slid back out of my seat and did a descent check to guess which field I would land in.  It looked as though I’d land in the same field I took off from so things were feeling pretty good.  I stretched my legs out and got ready to pull the brakes all the way as soon as I thought I was about to plow into the field.  If I did it right, I’d not even make a dent in me, the gear, or the ground.  I thought it was about time just as Kevin hollered for the 3rd time to flare and pull I did.  I landed on my feet and was tickled to pieces.  I turned around quickly to lower the wing in front of me so the running motor and spinning prop wouldn’t eat my wing. That’s when I realized that I forgot to turn the motor off. I sheepishly press the kill switch and wondered if Kevin had noticed. Certainly he didn’t hear the engine running right beside him, feel the air blowing past him, or see the prop spinning around him, certainly.  That’s when he started counseling me. For the next 2 minutes I relearned what I should have learned a week ago and then learned it again.  Boston John was with me videoing my first stand up landing.
Flight Six occurred that same morning immediately following show (flight) Five. I still hadn’t unstuck my face from grinning from ear-to-ear.  I had landed and stayed on my feet and I wanted everyone to know it.  I told folks I didn’t even know including the young Amish kids that came riding by on a midget horse that was about as tall as Ella, my lil French Bulldog.
Kevin had me do a “fast-taxi” and told me to wait until he gave me the go ahead to launch into the sky.  This was to improve my ground handling ability (boy you should have seen my lack there of) of the wing and make my departure runs more successful.  Instead of running straight into the wind, I took the scenic route and went up the hill, down the hill, and back up the hill.  Put a silent-movie piano tune to it and I would have been the star.  I did keep the wing kinda sorta above me and the second Kevin said go, I squeezed full throttle and ran into the air.  This time I stayed away from all immoveable objects and  really had a nice flight.  When it came time to land, Kevin said it would be up to me this time to determine when to flare.  I began flaring about 200 feet and then unflared, reflared, sudo-flared, kinda flared, and then ended up landing not even in a flare (as observed in the picture to the right). I did stay on my feet though and now had two in a row for successfully landing on my feet and in the same field that I  had launched from.  I was really loving this PPG thing and couldn’t wait to go again.
I had to wait a whole week to get back out and fly again.  I wondered if I’d forgotten everything I’d ever learned about PPG flying but figured I’d remember it in time to avoid hitting something stationary or not moving faster than me.  A couple of things changed for me on this flight and added to the complexity of things in my novice PPG world.  First, I would be flying a different paramotor and second, I had a new camera that my buddy let me use. I had it attached to my helmet and even remembered to turn it on. 
Flight number seven started off by nearly running down my buddy Carl whom had volunteered to video my departure.  As soon as he realized I was about to run him over, he said screw the videography work and took off running for cover.  Luckily the wind steered my departure run (I’d be telling a story if I said I had good taxi skills at this point) to the left and I missed him by at least fourteen inches.  I got airborne and immediately began the “Watts Arc” to the right.  The 2nd picture shows where I’d soon be landing; although I didn’t yet realize it; It only took about a minute to get there.  Picture three shows the scenery that I was enjoying about 1/2 second before the motor quit. By the way, It just quit!  it didn’t say why, or offer any explanations. It just quit.  When it happened, there were too many things going through my mind to remember that this is how I had landed (engine off) the first 5 flights I had made.  The only difference here was I had commanded the engine shutdown on those previous five flights, and secondly – in earlier flights, I was kinda knowing which field I was going to land in.  When the engine quit, I immediately turned into the direction I thought the wind was coming from; the same direction I had departed a minute before.  I took a quick look back at where I came from but knew I didn’t have the altitude to make it back. I picked out a house into the wind and dropped in for an unannounced visit.  I had planned on landing in their back yard but as I got closer to the target area, I realized there were clotheslines in the back yard so I pulled hard to the left and landed in the field just below the back yard.  I landed fairly softly and was kind of proud of myself for not peeing between engine out and touch down, or crashing into the house or landing on their back porch or through their window.  I gathered my wing up and walked to the road for a ride back to the launch zone. My friend Jeff came to pick me and my gear up in his pick’em truck. It turned out loose head bolts allowed the pressure to leak through the head gasket and the engine decided to shut down leaving me and my behind hanging out about 300 feet above the ground with no where to go but down.  I learned much today.
On my eighth flight, I forgot to turn on my new camera so everything I’m about to say could be made up. I took off into the morning sun and ended up pairing up with a herd of geese flying south and…. actually, we did some trouble shooting on the paramotor that I had just had the engine out on and I took off again.  We hadn’t yet realized it was loose head bolts and thought it was an electrical issue.  The engine quit again and I landed much closer this time, able to walk back to the field. This time, however,  we did figure out what the issue was and my next flight would be without shutdown. 
Flight Nine was the first flight that I didn’t take off and immediately land.  It was a short flight but I didn’t just fly a rectangular pattern and land.  As I was turning on to final, the field was full of wings spread out so I continued to fly around a little bit longer before returning.  I was grinning the whole time and know that anyone looking from down below could see my tooth shining in the sun light.  I’m hoping there are wings all over the place next time too so Kevin can’t holler at me for loitering in the sky.  haha.  Look at the hillbilly flying around in a lawn chair.  Look Mama, no hands.  Settle down.
Flight Ten was definitely flown with a bit more confidence.  I flew around the pattern a couple of times and when it was time to land (Kevin gave me a 2 pattern curfew), I decided to come in high above the field and turn the engine off and work out the landing point using turns and descents.   I saw the many wings laid out like they were before and decided that I’d be landing long and would avoid anyone that was getting ready to launch.  Most everyone out there already knew that I was up there and also knew that I had nearly hit everything within reach so they were all so nice and gave me lots of room to work out my final approach to landing.  I landed halfway down the field and was able to stay on my feet.  Boy do I love this form of flying.  Attached below are the youtube video’s of my second five flights.  Flight number eight didn’t have video taken with it due to my own err, but I do hope you will enjoy having a look at the others.  I can’ wait to get out and do some more flying so please stop by often as I’ll be adding more very soon. Thanks!
Here are video’s of flights Six through Ten.  Flight number 8 was not successfully recorded. Hope you enjoy them.
Flight Number OneFlight Number Six
Flight Number TwoFlight Number Seven [HD Available]
Flight Number ThreeFlight Number Nine [HD Available]
Flight Number FiveFlight Number Ten [HD Available]
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Frog Princess


Today we met a wonderful Family.  Today we met a Princess.  Today we adopted a Frog.

Earlier this month, Beth and I began our search for a lil French Bulldog that wanted us as it's Mamma & Daddy.  Beth had recently began volunteering for Cloud Nine Rescue Flights, which is a non-profit organization that fly’s down to kill shelters in the South, rescues the dogs, and fly’s them back up to non-kill shelters in the North.  We're flying buddies with the founder and Chief Pilot  and asked him for some assistance in finding a Frenchie that was looking for us too.

cloud9 Ted reached out to his contacts and within a day we had good leads.  We started our search on two websites:  The French Bulldog Rescue Network and the French Bulldog Village.  Both sites have lovely dogs that deserve a forever family and I just know they'd bring so many smiles to you and your family's faces.  We spent hours and hours reading bio's of these precious "Frogs" (as we learned they are sometimes called).  I'd walk in Beth's office to find a tear in her eyes after reading a tragic recount of a precious Bully's past life.  I wish we were in a position to rescue them all. 

About 12 hours into the search, we came upon a pretty little girl named Miss Eloise who was living in the Maryland/DC Metro area.  We both fell in love with her at first glance.  We read her bio, reread her bio, and then read it again.  I downloaded all of her pictures that were available on the site and began showing her off to everyone I knew and even some I didn't (if I had their email address in our computer).  She was perfect!  I filled out the online application, crossed my fingers, and pressed submit.  Beth and I sat together on the couch and reread her bio, looked at her pictures, and "saw" her playing happily there in the living room with us.  Soon it was time for bed and off we went.  "Good Night Little One, We're Coming Baby Girl".

The next afternoon, after we both finished work, Beth had gone downstairs to do one of those crazy P90X videos where she was kicking her legs up, punching the air, doing 600 pushups, and runnin' round with a Kettle-ball; I was havin' a glass of wine and watching the news.  My phone rang and the number wasn't familiar to me but I answered with a hello and heard the most beautiful words, "Shane, my name is Stacy and I'm calling about Miss Eloise".  My eyes teared up for joy and I lost my breath; I really did.  I tried to speak and ran downstairs to where Beth was and found her in some sort  of Lotus position with her left toe in her right ear or something.  She knew something was up and whatever it was, it was good.  Stacy and I talked for 20-30 minutes and I was grinning the whole time.  I'm sure the neighbors thought I had stuck a clothes hanger in my mouth with such a wide grin that I had on. The more Stacy told us about Miss Eloise, the more we fell in love with her.  Mind you that this was just an interview, but to Beth and I it was a sign that Miss Eloise was one step closer to coming home.

We ended our conversation and Beth and I fought each other to be first getting to the computer to look at this little baby girl again and blow kisses to her.  Beth won cuz she took her lotus foot and stuck it in my eye so I couldn't see which way to run.  Stacy had asked if I had any questions, but during the phone call I couldn't even remember my own name I was so excited!  Does she wear clothes, does she like treats, does she sleep in the bed, does she does she.... yes I had questions, tons of them once I regained a little sense.  "Do you think she'll like us", Beth and I asked each other almost in unison.  Sure she will, we'll make good parents to this little princess and she'll be very happy. 

Ella in Bed, picture sent be her Foster Mom. Beth and I have each had dogs all our lives, but this would be the first one we'd have together.  Beth has had Labs, a ShitsYou, and Isabelle - her daughter Nicole’s' Corgi. I have had English Bulldogs, a German Shepherd, a Boston Terrier, and 2 Chow-Chow's.  We would make good parents and our Frog Princess would be spoiled.  Beth and I later discovered that we'd each been on the internet finding clothes and toys for her even though we didn't know her sizes and likes and dislikes.  We have them as spares, yeah that's it.  By bedtime, we'd ordered Miss Eloise a trench coat, a cheerleading outfit, a polo shirt, stairs (to get in bed), nylabones, leashes, harnesses, a blanket, and a Sunday School dress.   Had we lost it? 

Four months went by, ok ok,  3 days (but it felt like four months) went by and one evening we were sitting down watching My Name Is Earl and my phone rang. Another unknown number!?!?!?!  I answered the phone and this young lady said, "Hi Shane? My name is Christie and I work with the French Bulldog Rescue Network and I'd like to find out when I can stop by for a home visit for Miss Eloise?"  This meant that we'd made it further along in the selection process and I nearly shat a Polynesian Water Fowl!  "Uhm, TONIGHT!!!!!!".  She just giggled and suggested a few dates and times as to not conflict with work.  I was ready to take a month’s vacation if needbe .  Beth knew something was up by the fact that I was doing the "cabbage patch kid" dance in the living room and hoping that it couldn't be heard on the phone by Ms Christie. After nearly hyperventilating from excitement, we hung up and Beth and I wind sprinted back to the computer to reread Miss Eloise's bio and look and her pictures and send out a brand new batch of emails to all our friends and buddies on what had just happened.  We went online and bought some more clothes for her too!

trench"Honey, should we have the house painted, buy new furniture, plant some trees, put up new blinds, resod the yard?"  Beth had to remind me that our home is  new, our furniture is  new, we just finished painting the interior, we have a lovely garden and it really is kept very clean.  I had to chuckle when she brought me back to reality; perhaps I was just a little nervous.  "Uhm, what about Moses?"

Miss Eloise At Christmas, by her Foster Mommy StacyDuring the Christmas Season, the "Trailer Park" (what we call us and all of our wonderful neighbors as a group) had a Chinese Pollyanna, and we each individually had to get a gift (up to $20.00) and put it in a pile. We'd then each draw a number and pick a present, open it, and wait for the next person to either "steel" it, or pick a new present from the pile.  We all had to laugh because when it was all said and done, we ended up with 5 Snuggies and a Fish, as well as a few other gifts.  I somehow got the pet fish and we collectively named it Moses.  I'd forgotten about "Moses" when I filled the application out and now I was wondering if I would be disqualified for failing to declare the existence of Moses, our pet Beta fish.  I would hide him in the woods when Ms Christie came!  SLAP!  Beth must have heard me thinking out loud and made me go apologize to Moses and then bathe him and then wash his bowl. 

When the day arrived for Ms Christie to come out, she called and asked if she could bring along a Foster Frenchie of hers named Hero.  We said “absolutely” and for the next 30 minutes, we peeked out of the blinds waiting for them to pull up.  When they arrived I nearly dove off the top stair rushing to the door.  Hero, Christie, and Josh (Christie’s Hubby)  came up the walkway and Beth and I were just beaming with excitement. Hero was too, as he peed on everything from the time he got out of the car till he got to my foot.  Bless his little heart, we learned that he had been paralyzed and didn't even realize he was tinklin'.  I didn't mind and wiped my foot on the back of Beth's pant leg when she wasn't looking.  SLAP!   Hero got a diaper put on him and inside we went.  You'd never know that he (Hero) had any issues whatsoever as he ran all over the place just as happy as he could be.  We were told that Hero himself isn't even aware that he has any disabilities either, which is a good thing.  We walked around the house and chatted back and forth with Christie and Josh.  Beth, the sane one, answered the majority of the questions while Hero and I played in the living room with a tennis ball.  Since Christie and Josh were Foster parents, I asked them if they were aware of the "Bark-Park" just down the road in the event they wanted to bring their Frenchies there.  They hadn't heard about it so after we finished with the home visit, we all rode down to the Bark-Park and hung out for a bit.  Hero hollered “Wazzzzzup” at some of the other dogs that were playing and they traded hello's and perhaps a few expletives too.  Christie, Josh, and Hero loaded up and headed home; Beth and I rushed back home, ran to the computer to reread Miss Eloise's bio, look at her pictures, email our friends, and buy her some more toys online. 

More months went by, SLAP!, I mean a few days went by and I couldn't stand it so I called Stacy back to see if she had any more interviews to conduct or if she'd heard anything else.  I guess she hadn't started receiving the unmarked $5.00 bills that I'd started sending to her and her FiancĂ©' to "assist" in making the choice as to who would be selected to become Miss Eloise's forever Mommy and Daddy, because she never mentioned it, nor the roses, concert tickets, plane rides, chocolates, dinner cards, etc.    You know I'm kiddin.         Maybe.

The decision hadn't been made yet and Stacy would be in touch when one was reached.  In the meantime, Stacy sent us some more pictures of the little Princess Just Chillin', by Stacy and said she was doing well and excited to soon be going to a forever home.  With no definitive word on if we'd been selected or not, I walked around the house pouting and decided to quit eating and bathing.  I was going to go on a one of them campaign's like when the sportscaster sits on top of a billboard and eats cheesettes for weeks until their team wins a playoff game or something.  Mine would be a little less dramatic though and I just stayed inside until I had to go to work.  Beth made me bathe and eat and then bathe Moses again and clean out his bowl.  I still wasn't gonna eat Cheesettes though.

You ain't gonna believe this dream I just had!  By Stacy The next Monday I was at work and had just finished conducting an energy management simulation on some of our operators when my phone rang showing "Miss Eloise's Mama" was calling.  I walked out into the hallway and nervously answered the phone with a "Hello Stacy".  "Shane, I just wanted to call you and give you some great news".  I must have gotten something in both my eyes,  cuz' they were both shedding tears so much I couldn't see.  I can't remember if I could even talk.  Stacy gave me the news although I'm not absolutely sure what she said as I was on Cloud 9.  She asked for suggestions on when we could meet and I offered to leave work right then to drive down to Maryland - although I knew that was unrealistic because everyone had to still work.  Stacy offered to meet in New Jersey at her Mom's house the following weekend since they would be up visiting.  Actually, I think both Stacy and her FiancĂ©' Ian (also a pilot, nice!) had been traveling for business and Stacy's Mom was caring for Miss Eloise.  The date was set and now all I had to do was keep myself occupied until that day came.  So we went online and reread Miss Eloise's bio, looked at her pictures, sent out more emails (many more), and bought her a raincoat. 

Meeting Day!

lookoutIt's Time to go Shugah”.  Beth opened her precious little eyes, looked at the 1:45 a.m. showing on the alarm clock and told me I was nuts, then promptly went back to sleep.  I hadn't slept a wink and knew I wouldn't be able too.  I went downstairs and put on some coffee, washed Moses and cleaned his bowl.  I rewashed Miss Eloise's bowls and put new bottled water in her water bowl.  I showered, reread Miss Eloise's bio, looked at her pictures, sent out some emails, checked the online map, programmed the GPS, then programmed another GPS, then decided to watch TV until it was time to leave.  There is nothing on except infomercials at 2:15 in the morning.  I drank my coffee then decided it was time to accidently wake up Beth so I stood just outside our bedroom door and started fake coughing.  Nothing.  Fake sneezing.  nope.  So I vacuumed the bedroom and then underneath our bed.  SLAP!  Uhm, Beth's wide awake now! SLAP! SLAPPEDY-SLAP!

It's 4:00 a.m. now and we're both watching the clock and the infomercials and drinking coffee.  "Do you think she'll like us" again we asked?  We knew we'd show her all the love she could handle and that child would never want for anything.  "What if we leave now and just drive slow"?  Beth knew that she had to remain the voice of reason, but I was already in the car with it running before she unrolled her eyes to see that I'd left the room.  We had prepared the back of the car with blankets and pillows and toys and clothes and food and water.  We stopped by the Wawa just up the road and bought another coffee and a breakfast hoagie.  Both were good and we headed East.  Our agreed on meeting time was 8:30 am, but the GPS indicated that we'd be in their driveway by 5:30 am.  I do hope there is a Duncan Donuts somewhere we can wait?  I slowed down took the scenic view right through the middle of Philly.  Perhaps I exaggerated our times a little, but at 7:45 a.m. we found ourselves parking in the Duncan Donuts parking lot just a couple of miles away from Miss Eloise, and her Mom, Dad, and Granny.  We were both so excited! 

When it was time, we drove the last 2 miles and as the GPS lady was hollering that "You Have Arrived At Your Destination", we saw the most precious site. Miss Eloise was being walked out front and her little under-bitten perfect face looked up and I swear I read her lips as she said "DADDY!".  I nearly strangled myself trying to get out of the car before unlatching the seatbelt.  Beth wouldn't let me leave the car in the middle of the street so I had to park it and then I was allowed to get out.  We both approached Miss Eloise with big grins and opened arms.  She was absolutely gorgeous.  Sleep Sitting, by Stacy Nothing about this child I would ever change.  We were in love.    Realizing that I'd been rude and not introduced ourselves, Beth and I exchanged hello's with Stacy and Ian, then we all headed back in to Stacy's Mama's beautiful home.  We met Stacy's Mom Cindy,  whom is also a wonderful lady, and we all sat as Beth and I got to know Miss Eloise.  Ella's Wonderful Foster Family, Right to Left:  Cindy (Grandma), Stacy (Mama), Ian (Dad), and Miss Eloise! They laughed as they told tales of this precious little angel and relayed how much joy she'd brought to them.  I honestly felt sad because I knew they would be after Beth and I left with Miss Eloise.  We learned that they had started calling her Ella and she'd responded well so that's what we call her now too.  I think we stayed for over an hour getting to know Ella and her Foster Family, and then got to the business end of the adoption.  Beth and I are really impressed with the great amount of care that goes in to fostering and rescuing Frenchies.  This is no backyard operation.  They are professional caring and loving people that run and participate in the French Bulldog Rescue Network and I'm very happy that they are this way.  We finished up the business side and then Beth and I went into the living room so Ella and her Foster Family could all say "until we meet again".  It was really sad for all of us and Beth and I quickly wiped our eyes before we were caught crying on the carpet.  Stacy's Mom brought out a big bag full of goodies for Ella and it was just so precious.  These are really really good people.  Not only did Stacy and Ian foster Ella, but they also rescued another French Bulldog a few years ago for themselves.  JoJo is a beautiful little pudgy Frenchie that is precious as well.  While Ella went for a walk with her Granny (Stacy's Mama), JoJo came out and gave Beth and I some kisses and thanked us for taking Ella so she could have her whole house back. haha  On another note, Ella’s Auntie Melanie wrote us a special letter describing the incredible Princess that we were adopting.  Beth and I thought it was very touching what she had written and promise to keep everyone updated with Ella’s adventures.

After hugs and tears and goodbye's, Ella, Beth and I loaded up the car and headed back home.  carridehome Ella sat in Beth's lap and never moved the entire way home.  She looked out the window and watched me each time I shifted gears.  We felt a little sad for her because we knew that she was probably very curious as to what was going on and where her Mommy, Granny, Daddy, and Grandpa were.  We promised that we'd send pictures, video's, and even phone calls. 

About 30 minutes from reaching home, the "Trailer Park" started calling Beth and I asking where we were and when we'd be home.  I guess all the pictures We'd taken and sent from my Blackberry told 'em we would soon be there.  We pulled up and everyone was there to meet Ella.  Ella has a fan club called FOME, for Friends Of Miss Eloise.  The Trailer Park loved her and each wanted to hold this little princess. 

View Friends Of Miss Eloise (FOME)

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We took her for a walk around to stretch her legs and potty after the long trip home.  After a few more minutes and more huggin' and kissin', we introduced Ella to her forever home.  She walked around cautiously at first, smelling every nook and cranny, and then as she got more comfortable, ran from floor to floor, room to room looking all around.  We made sure she knew where her bowls were and offered her food and water but she was too busy exploring.  We wanted her to know it was her house so we didn't get in the way.  Every now and again, we'd see her fly by and she was enroute to another corner, another sniff, another adventure.  She must have done this for an hour or more before she trotted back into the living room and looked out of the window at the passers by.  The grandfather clocked chimed and she tilted her head as she looked at it wondering what it was.

Baby Taking a Nap! We wanted to let her decide when she wanted to come to us and play and cuddle and stuff so we patiently waited. I was going nuts inside because I wanted to hold her and cuddle her and give her kisses.  Beth did too of course, but she is much better at acting sane than I am.  Ellacouch Finally it happened,  Ella walked over to the sofa and jumped up on it and sat beside Beth.  She looked around for a sec and then laid down.  She was home.

Later in the afternoon we took Ella down to the Perkiomen Trail, which is a paved path that sits along the shoreline of the Perkiomen Creek.  We took the camera with us and also the GPS because I'd seen some geocaches in the immediate area that we'd be walking.  We strolled along the walkway and then the GPS pointed down a little unpaved pathway that led into the woods.  Ella Geocaching! Ella was ready, Beth was ready, I was ready and away we went.  Beth was navigating, Ella was sniffalating, and I was as proud as can be of my two princesses beside me.  Beth and Ella were following the needle on the GPS and soon discovered the hidden treasure that we had been looking for.  Ella's first geocache (as far as we know).  Coincidentally, the geocache name was Dog Leg Canal.  We walked for another mile and then headed home after a long day.   

Ellashoppin We cleaned her feet up from running in the dirt and then took her shopping for some more goodies at the Petsmart.  We got her a new Bling Bling name tag, 2 more sweaters, another set of stairs, some extra treats, and a couple more nylabones.  We didn't stay long because the entire Trailer Park wanted to come over to meet/greet Ella in the evening.  We have great neighbors!  Later, everyone started coming over and Ella was the life of the party.  With each new introduction, Ella got more toys and clothes and goodies and now has more assets than Beth and I combined! 

She did this all by herself!I'm guessing the get-together lasted until around 10pm and then it was time for bed.   Beth and I knew we'd offer the bed to her but weren't sure if she'd be comfortable or not so soon.  No word of a lie, Ella ran up the stairs, went to the top of the bed, pulled the covers back, climbed underneath them, popped her little head back out and laid it on the pillow.  We just stood there with our mouth's wide opened.  She is amazing!  We thought that was the funniest thing ever.  I took a picture of her on my Blackberry of her laying down.   Honest Abe, she did it just as I described and was unassisted in every way.  She didn't move the whole night and slept right between us. 

ellabling I can't wait to see what the next days will have in store for us.  We'll take plenty of pictures and video's and keep the blog updated with new events.  We'll be taking her flying soon and will  post a blog entry for that one too.
Ya’ll Be Particular and Rescue A Precious Pup soon!    Shane & Beth

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