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Photograph of Robert Bruce Thompson Barbara Fritchman Thompson Diary

Week of 17 January 2005

Latest Update: Sunday, 23 January 2005 1:40 p.m.

Monday, 17 January 2005

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If you had today off as I did, I hope you enjoyed yourself. We awoke to very frigid temperatures this morning with a low in the 20's and 10 - 15 mph winds.

I left around 9am to take dad's lawn mower out to the Deere place then to a short cut over to Wal-Mart and Lowe's Home Improvement Store.  Back home, I started breaking down all the cardboard boxes we had piled in the unfinished area of the basement with the clean up. By the time I was finished I had filled the back end of the Trooper with the seats folded up. I drove the load of cardboard over to the recycling bins at the fire station than came back home.

After lunch I went back down to get all the trash and foam board inserts from the boxes broken down to put in trash bags. Once I cleared up all the trash I stacked the stuff that needs to go to Goodwill and a box of books for the used book store off to one side. I can deliver that stuff another time.

I had the Guys out back playing a few minutes. While it was cold and windy with the sun shinning I was fine in my sweatshirt and stocking cap for ten minutes or so to let them play.

The temperature did not rise above freezing until late this afternoon almost at dinner time.

After my shower I spend the remainder of the afternoon working on the computer until time to fix dinner. Bob turned on the gas logs to warm up the den.

<>Last night I finished up the Laurien Berenson, Hush Puppy. While I have enjoyed all her books so far I really like this one. Melanie is recruited to assist in planning a spring pageant for the school after a new drama teacher is hired. To get some ideas she starts a project of organizing all the personal papers in the basement storage room boxed up from the founders of the school. On her first day down in the basement she discovers the caretaker of the school arguing with a young teenage girl named Jane. From her dress and demeanor, Melanie knows she is not a student. Several times over the course of the week Melanie keeps running into Jane in various places in the school. Suddenly the caretaker was found dead and Jane is the one who discovered the body. In the meantime, while Melanie is attending a weekend dog show her fiance Sam's ex wife shows up. As weird things continue to happen at the school Melanie finds her and Sam's relationship being threatened by the ex-wife.

As Melanie continues to discover more and more clues behind the murder of the caretaker she gets more involved with trying to learn why Jane hangs around the school rather than being in school somewhere. And, of course, Aunt Peg gets in the mix of both the murder investigation and Sam and Melanie's relationship.

Even if you are not a dog lover, you should read this series. They are funny without being ridiculous, well written, and have great characters. Berenson does a pretty good job of dividing the plot line between the dog show stuff and developing the mystery. Most of the time, either her dog or Aunt Peg's dogs have some bearing on at least one or more characters in a very positive way.


Tuesday, 18 January 2005

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Duncan went back to the vet's this afternoon for more poking and prodding. He was not a happy camper to say the least. The vet took urine and blood samples to send off to the lab to see if we can find out why his hair is not growing back over the bald spot. The antibiotics seem to be working on whatever infection he has in the urinary/prostate area.

Otherwise, the cold weather is really the only other news. I bundled up this morning and took my usual mid-morning walk. It was not really bad. Toward the end my legs were a little cold even though I was wearing corduroy pants. I don't think the temperature made it to freezing again today with lows tonight to be back down in the teens.

As a departure from my usual mystery reading last night I started a book recommended by my friend Betsy. I don't think I have ever read a book she recommended that I did not like. Summer Guest by Justin Cronin
tells the story of an eccentric entrepreneur Harry Wainwright who wishes to buy a fishing camp located in Maine. The story starts out telling readers how an injured WWII soldier and his wife bought the camp just after the war. His son Joe, who  married his teenage sweet heart Lucy whom he met at the camp. Their daughter, Kate, has gone off to college hopefully to continue on to med school. In the last few years Joe and Lucy spend their winters in Florida running a fishing business. Jordon, camp guide and outdoor enthusiast, lives at the camp year round.

Harry, who visited the camp for 30 years learns he is dying of cancer. He has two wishes. One, to buy the camp from Joe and Lucy to protect it from future developers, and two, visit to make one last fishing expedition.

Before I started reading mysteries, I read a lot of books constructed like Cronin did in Summer Guest. Each main character in the story tells his or her part in the plot, in this case, how they grew up and became associated with the camp. From WWII through the Vietnam era when Joe goes off to Canada to avoid the draft, Summer Guest spans the time from 1946 to 1994.

Cronin writes very well, tells a good, story, and describes the camp in Maine so well I can picture every detail of what it would be like to live there. Each character moves the plot along with the reader getting the feeling something lies behind the story that will be revealed by one character at the very end.

I have enjoyed the book the first 80 or so pages I read last night and am enjoying a break from the mystery reading.


Wednesday, 19 January 2005

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It is still cold down here for the South. We had snow flurries today but nothing like what our friends to the north of us have on ground. Like Marcia, I too love snow. Everyone at work was making fun of me today because I went for my usual mid-morning walk. Yes, it was cold but I enjoy being out in the fresh air that comes with winter. It seemed to me to be colder today than it was yesterday but that be because the sun was not shinning and the wind was blowing a little harder.

By the time I left work the sun was out and it had warmed up a lot from this morning. I think we have snow flurries in the forecast off and on for the remainder of the week but no accumulations at this point.

Bob and I went to the library so he could stock up on books then on to dinner. I have a sizable TBR pile already between the Berenson and Tremayne series I am working on.

The vet called back while we were out to dinner. They were closed by the time we got home. He said he had some blood work back to talk over with us. I will give him a call in the morning.


Thursday, 20 January 2005

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I finally made it to the gym to try out my new MuVo mp3 player. As I suspected, I enjoyed having the small compact device and not having to fumble around with changing cassettes, etc.

This morning I talked to the vet. We really don't know a whole lot yet other than Duncan has some elevated enzyme levels in his blood and white blood cell count. Some infection from either his urinary tract, bladder, or prostate and possibly some kidney or bladder stones. His thyroid was normal which still leaves us in the dark as to why he has the bald patch. For now, we are going to finish the course of antibiotics he is on, then go back for another urine sample and blood work then take it from there.

For the first time in a while he is acting more like himself with a lot of energy.

Guess that's about it for now. We are still getting falling weather forecasts for tonight, tomorrow, and the weekend. They change hourly, so who knows?


Friday, 21 January 2005

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I finished reading The Summer Guest last night. As Bob would say, it's a "chick book". But, very well written. If you have a wonderful father/daughter relationship as I have with my dad or you enjoy reading books along these lines, I highly recommend this one.

Other than that, I am glad it is Friday. I am not sure why these short weeks always seem to be longer. If the weather forecast holds true we will be staying indoors this weekend. I think Bob has a system we can build and I, as always, have plenty of chores.

Hope you have a great weekend.


Saturday, 22 January 2005

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I just came in from being outside with the Guys. So far all we have seen in the way of falling precipitation has been light freezing rain and drizzle. There is a little accumulation on the grass but none so far on the trees. For the past 24 hours plus the outdoor thermometer has been stuck between 29 and 32 degrees.

I doubt we get anything in the way of snow. This system is not a snow maker for us. We get out big snows when we have moisture from the Gulf and cold air from the north. Predicting the exact nature and amount of precipitation is very tricky for us here in the Piedmont being surrounded by mountain chains to the west and north. It all depends on how the moisture comes across and what happens with the temperatures as to what happens with the weather the rest of the afternoon and evening.

This morning we did the usual house cleaning and laundry. This afternoon I am working on various projects at my desk while being on hand to help Bob build a PC for an article. And, as I mentioned, I took a break to take the dogs out to play some ball. That pretty much covers what the remainder of the day will look like at least up until dinner time. Afterward, we will spend the evening reading and relaxing. Last night I started another poodle mystery by Berenson.


Sunday, 23 January 2005

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IT IS COLD! Yep, I am very warm natured. Cold weather does not bother me. But, it is cold today. Temperatures in the low 20's with winds at 15-25, gusts to 30mph. The wind chill is 9 degrees right now. As I sit in my office I can hear the wind howling around the corner of the house.

I know it is a lot colder north and west of us but for this area of the country these are cold conditions. The dogs have been out twice with a walk up and down the street but that will be the extent of any outdoor activity today. Tonight is to be more of the same with temperatures dropping down into the teens and the continued winds at 10 - 15 mph.

Bob finished putting together the PC this morning. I have spent the entire day working at my desk. For one, I have about six or eight observing log sheets dating back to last summer to enter into my cumulative spreadsheet. This is tedious work. I always save doing this for weekends just like this when I have the time to work on them. While out in the field we use a paper log sheet for recording time, date, place, weather conditions, object, description, etc. I copy this data into my spreadsheet which gives me one place for keeping a compilation of all my observations.

I also need to pay some bills and get my 2005 spreadsheet set up. This morning I worked on trying to learn GnuCash the open source version of Quicken. After an hour or more I finally bagged it as being too frustrating. I may give it another shot later on today. In the meantime I will set up my basic spreadsheet I have been using for several years to get me started for the new year.

Last night I finished up the Berenson book. Each book in her series get better and better. Guess I will get back to work. I have a couple of online catalog orders to get taken care of before getting back to work on my spreadsheets.


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