Merry Christmas

Out for a walk on Christmas Day

I didn't want to end the year with two posts about wargame conventions, since no one but me is interested in them. Besides, Sandy took some good pictures of Abby this Christmas and everyone is interested in pictures of The Abbster.

Sandy always likes to go home for Christmas but between hordes of holiday travelers and bad winter weather, travel can be a real hassle. This year she came up with a different approach. She went back to Madison the week before Christmas. That way she could spend time with Shannon and with her family but didn't have to have to worry as much about getting there and back.

Or pay as much. Hey, tomorrow she's going to be retired.

Abby and I held the fort. Since I had some comp time coming from working evenings, I worked half days most of the week. That way Abby wasn't locked up at home for ten hours by herself. I did take her to Doggie Day Care twice. We found a new place that just opened near our house - Escape: Canine Retreat and Spa. You have to admit that it sounds pretty luxurious. If you didn't know Sandy and I, you might even think that we spoil Abby.

She actually seems to enjoy going there where she can play with other dogs. One very cold morning when I dropped her off on the way to work the parking lot was covered in ice. She just about pulled me over in her excitement to get in and start playing with her friends.

Abby has her very own ornament on the tree

One of the times that she went in her sister Abby went in as well. They played together the whole time. There are several webcams set up in the play area so you can keep an eye on your dog. I just left the webcam up on the screen of one of the PC's on my desk (I have three). It was entertaining to watch Abby, her sister and all the other dogs. Quite the reality show.

One of Abby's favorite things about going to Doggie Day Care is that they have a salt water pool. She loves the water. The people there say that she would spend all her time in the pool if they let her. They only allow the dogs to go in at certain times but it seems that one of those is late in the afternoon. So both times that I picked her up after work she had just come out of the pool. As always she was glad to see me which meant that she rushed over and jumped all over me. Since she was soaking wet it was only a few seconds and I was soaking wet too. Just the thing in the middle of winter. But it's only a few steps to the car and a three minute drive home, so soon we were home, she was toweled off, and I had changed into dry clothes.

Abby and I managed to survive our week while Sandy was gone. We took a walk every day. One evening I played wargames. Other nights I read or played computer games. (Space Hulk, to be specific. A great computer adaptation of the classic board game that Tim and I used to play years ago.) One night Abby and I stayed up late watching a Rush concert, the Clockwork Angels Tour, on bluray. Usually she doesn't sit with me that long on the couch but she stayed for the whole three hours. There is a standing joke that sons inherit being Rush fans from their fathers. Tim and Mickey certainly did. Girls seem to be immune but I guess it applies to dogs.

Abby poses with her Christmas scarf

While Sandy was gone I also was able to finish my holiday shopping and get everything wrapped. I shipped all my out of town packages in time for them to arrive before Christmas. It was nice being completely ready several days before Christmas so I could relax.

When Sandy came home I only had an easy day and a half left at work. Then I had twelve days off. We didn't have anywhere that we had to go or anything that we had to do. It was a nice break for us to just do whatever we wanted and have fun.

It was even better for Sandy. She had resigned from U of I and finished all of her classwork for the semester. Now she only had a few days before she would officially start retirement - and she was on vacation! Soon she would be a Free Bird. So she could really relax.

When it snowed on Christmas Eve, I'm sure that it made a lot of people happy. It seems that everyone loves a white christmas. Everyone but me, that is. Bah Humbug! I grew up in Wisconsin so I hate snow. I hate driving in it. I hate shoveling it. But since this week I didn't have to commute to work, I really didn't care that much. I was just happy that I didn't have to drive anywhere. I felt sorry for all the people who were driving somewhere to visit relatives for the holidays.

But Abby really liked the snow.

Snow on her nose after rolling around

With the temperatures in the low twenties I thought that Abby might get cold when we took her for a walk. It certainly didn't seem that way. In fact, when we let her off leash she would roll over and over in the snow. It certainly looked like she was having fun.

Sometimes if Abby got bored around the house she would bark for one of us to let her out into the back yard. After a while I would wonder what she was up to and I would look out to see what she was doing. Usually she would be lying in the snow, just chillin' out. Literally.

She is one tough little dog.

We exchanged our presents on Christmas Eve. I got a lot of cool stuff. I got a FitBit from Sandy, so I can do a better job of keeping track of my physical activity. That is a good thing as I want to lose a little weight and stay in reasonable shape over the winter. I want to start hiking right away in the spring and be ready for serious hiking this summer when I finish with work. I got quite a few good books, mostly for my Kindle. I got a couple of good computer games. I got the Rush R40 tour bluray disc. I'm sure that Abby and I will watch it the next time Sandy takes a trip (that will be in February so we don't have to wait long). I got season four of Falling Skies (yes, we're behind). And of course, I got a couple of good wargames. I guess I was good this year. All of that will keep me busy for quite a while.

Watching to see what Santa brought her

Sandy seemed to like her presents so I guess I did well.

It was pretty clear that Abby liked her gifts. Her favorite was a toy octopus. The second that we showed it to her, she grabbed it, went off a little way by herself, and proceeded to try her best to tear it to shreds. The lady at Northwest Pets who sold it to us assured us that it was pretty sturdy and it actually did hold up for a long time. We didn't find the stuffing strewn all over the floor until the next morning. It certainly kept her busy so she didn't bother us the rest of the time that we were opening presents.

Abby also got a furry ball that is even tougher. She is still working on trying to destroy it. I won't be too sad when that happens as it has a really annoying squeaker in it which Abby likes squeeze. Over and over and over.

The rest of the break has been a good chance to relax. The weather has stayed in the high teens or low twenties so even though we haven't gotten any new snow what we have has stayed. But it hasn't been windy and a few days have even been sunny. Actually pretty nice weather for winter. Every day we have taken Abby for at least one and usually two walks. We watched all three of the original Star Trek movies in preparation for going to see the new one. Of course we watched a lot of football games. BSU's bowl game was a lopsided win while Wisconsin won a game that went down to the last second. Very different but both were fun to watch.

Playing with her new toy octopus. Briefly.

Sandy did a lot of sewing projects and even took a cooking course at a local store.

I got in some wargame sessions with friends. I also spent time on my PC playing both old games and the new ones that I got for Christmas. I even have been playing on my Xbox. I got it for birthday last summer but haven't had much opportunity up till now to play. Part of the problem is that I am terrible at shooters, especially with a console controller. But I have used my time over the holidays to practice and slowly getting better. You can teach an old dog new tricks. It just takes a long time. I am finally getting through some levels on the original Halo. Ok, I'm playing at the easiest level but at least it's progress! Since I have the Master Chief collection, I will be busy for a very long time.

I'm not going to be happy to go back to work in the New Year. I will definitely be counting the days until I am done.

Video: Abby playing with her octopus.