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Old 03-17-2014, 01:38 AM   #991
pkondz
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So I don't know if this is good news, or bad news.
This was supposed to be the last chapter... but it just got too darn big!
So I've broken it up into two uneven chunks...

Without further ado...



Is my Lightsaber allowed in my carry on?

After dining on Chinese pizza and enjoying the novelty of lying prone all day, it was time to call it a night.

Ruby was convinced that we weren't going to make it out of Venice alive...
I mean, make it out of Venice the next morning to catch our flight.

Mostly to put her mind at ease, but also for my own entertainment,
I decided that I'd try that fad that all the young kids are doing nowadays.

Get vertical.


With a Herculean effort.... I managed to shift onto my right side and wedge my arm underneath me.

What? You thought I was just going to pop out of bed and run around?

Go back and re-read that last chapter.
Let me know when you get back...

...


......





Back? Okay. No more silliness out of you!
"Jump out of bed."
Sheesh.


I managed to slowly (sorry, for a better visual, that's spelled: 's l o w w w w l y') push myself up into a sitting position.

I felt a little dizzy... but hooray! No barfing or unconsciousness!


To this day, I'm not sure if that was a result of the shot in the caboose that the doctor gave me,
(Actually, I'm not even sure if he was a doctor... how would I know? )
(Oh, wait. He had a black bag. Okay, that proves it.)
or if it was the patch I was using, or the drugs I was taking, or just rest.


The next step was seeing if I could stand.

There have been many amazing feats of engineering over the centuries.
The Pyramids of Giza.
The Great Wall of China.
Hoover Dam.

Mere child's play compared with... my attempt to stand on the evening of August 14th.


It began thusly...
The human body, in a sitting position, is identical to that of one on hands and knees...
... rotated ninety degrees on the vertical axis.

I didn't know this then... but I do now.

While keeping my torso as immobile as possible, I began to roll onto my side,
while simultaneously sliding off the bed.
I kept rolling until my knees were on the floor and I was face down on the mattress.

A truly elegant position.
I trust my children have not been unduly scarred for life.


This procedure occupied my attention for a few minutes and was utterly exhausting.

I lay this way, knees on the floor, face in the mattress, for a minute or so,
slowly suffocating to death.

Before I expired like old milk, (well... my mood at this point was a little sour. so it counts)
I brought my arms, once more, underneath me in preparation for the next 'push'.


It was around this time that I thought, "What if this doesn't work? How on Earth am I going to make it back?"

Simple. There was no turning back.

I'm going to stop saying "back" now. Don't wanna jinx it.


I started pushing with my arms, a la 'push ups', while gathering my feet underneath me.

Okay! Now I'm standing beside my bed, bent over, wondering what the heck I'm going to do now.

"Ummm... Ruby? Can you give me a hand?"

She gave me a round of applause.

She might've been distracted by the TV.
Storage Wars was on... dubbed in Italian.
You haven't lived until you hear Darrell open his mouth and a totally different voice comes out... in Italian.


"No, honey. I need your hand. Give me your hand. To hold. To use as leverage."


I'm telling you, Storage Wars... in Italian... weird.


By slowly bending my knees, pushing as far as I could with my fingers, shifting to the side and using Ruby's help...

I managed to stand up!!


Of course, by then I was totally wiped and had to lie down again.


Getting back to bed was pretty much a reverse of the above procedure.
But bathed in the glory of my success, it seemed to go a little easier.

Armed with the knowledge that verticality was a possibility, we decided to wait until morning before making any travel decisions.


-----------------------------------------------------------


The next morning took a loooong time to show up.

Every few minutes, I would have to shift or move and someone would stab me in the back with a pin.
I suspect it was Ruby.

Eventually, though, it was time to get up.
Or at least make an attempt to get up.

Using the same technique as from the previous evening, I managed to stand up again.

I knew, I knew that once I was up, I'd be able to walk.
And I could.
As long as I kept my stride to about six inches.
Hey. It might take a while. But I'll get there.


Would you believe that my next stumbling block was getting dressed?
Oh, brother. The things you take for granted.
I managed most of it, but Ruby had to put my shoes and socks on for me.
I thanked her for not doing it in that order.


Just outside our room, there were two or three steps down.
This was our first test of the new pkondz mobility program.

No sweat.
Really, it was easy.
Elle held onto me and it wasn't bad at all.

Short hallway, then a flight of stairs down to the main floor with a ninety degree turn at the halfway point.

Again. No problem.
It was slow, but do-able.

At the bottom of the steps, there was a small foyer and then the reception.
There was a small, oh, about four inch rise there.

I almost didn't make it.


Note to self: Going down... easy peasy.
Going up?... chicken queasy.

I can't take credit for that one.
I've heard the "Easy peasy lemon squeezy" so often from you people.
(You know who you are.)
But about a month or two ago, I mumbled, "Easy peasy."
And Kay quickly responded with, "Chicken queasy" and I knew I had to use it.


At the front desk, there was a new person.
This woman took one look at me and suggested she call our cab to come earlier than we requested.

Good idea.


I made my way into the dining room and gingerly lowered myself into a chair.
My family served me breakfast.
I think this is something that should continue in the future.
It doesn't.

After breakfast, I wait in the lobby as the rest of the family wrestles the suitcases down the stairs.
I was not happy.
I wanted to help!


We go to check out and cringe as we check to see how much our long distance calls have cost us.

Significantly less than doing laundry in Cologne.
I think it was only something like two or three Euros.


Getting a cab in Venice is not like getting a cab anywhere else.
First off, it's a boat.
Secondly, it doesn't come to your hotel. It can't.
You have to navigate to the nearest canal.


The woman at the desk told us that she couldn't leave her desk since she was by herself.
But she would provide directions on how to get to the cab.
But then she took another look at me and another look at our bags...
And promptly announced that she'd take us... and grabbed a bag!

Ruby and the girls grabbed the other bags and set off in hot pursuit.

I was left by myself to follow along as best I could.


FYI, Ruby manhandled (or should that be womanhandled?) the bag of death and destruction.
Maybe with just the one bag to struggle with it was a bit more manageable.


I knew that the girls had headed down the courtyard and turned right down an alley.
But that's all I knew.
I figured I'd just go along until I came to an intersection and just wait for somebody to come get me.

So while everybody sprinted off, I shuffled along looking like Methuselah on a bad day.

Eventually, the front desk lady came hurrying back.
She paused to tell me to take my time, the cab driver knew I'd be a while and was having a coffee.


It was very nice of her to go above and beyond to help us like that,
and I won't soon forget her kindness.


The alley was fairly long.... actually, maybe it was short and I was just fairly slow.
I don't think I ever did come to an intersection before Elle returned to guide me.
After a few twists and turns, we eventually reach the boat/taxi... and...

I have to step up on the gunwale then down three steps on a rocking boat.

up

rocking


oy.


The taxi driver is a strong looking man.
He doesn't just look it. He is.
He takes my arm and almost lifts me up onto the gunwale and steadies me going down.

Hey! That wasn't too bad!
My sense of self worth rises slightly.


The passenger seats are at the back of the boat.
Here's a picture I googled, just for you:


Notice how the passenger area is covered?
Notice how it's not very high?
Notice how you'd have to bend over to get inside?

I can't bend over.
I sink to my knees and crawl into the passenger compartment.
My sense of self worth sinks back down to a more realistic, self-loathing, level.

I settle in to a seat and breathe a sigh of relief.
The hard part's over. It should be mostly downhill from here.

Once the rest of the family and all the bags were on board,
our taxi driver cast off.

Doesn't that sound cool?
Taxi driver... cast off.
Love it.



We sit back and relax for the ride over to the airport.
Wanna see?

I thought you might. Enjoy.

Click the picture for video.


Arriving at the Venice airport docks, we immediately spot some baggage carts that had split off from the herd.
Improvising a lasso from a lock of her hair, Elle quickly corrals one.


While all this is going on, I manage to exit the boat without dying.
(With the help, once again, of our very nice taxi driver.)


The airport terminal is not right beside the docks.
It's about five hundred yards away.
A plan is quickly hatched.
Ruby and Elle will go ahead with the bags nicely piled onto the cart.
When they get to the terminal, they'll look for a wheelchair and Elle will come back with it while Ruby guards the bags.

It's about a 10 minute walk to the terminal (unless you're going my speed, then it's 10 days).
I don't expect to see Elle with a wheelchair for at least twenty minutes .

I turn to Kay and tell her we might as well start walking.
It doesn't hurt much to walk. I just have to take it real slow.


The pathway is bordered with dark coloured brick.
Kay begins to walk on just those bricks.
She wants to know if I'll make a bet with her that she can't continue without 'falling off'.
I bet her $2 that she can't make it up to a billboard that's about thirty yards ahead.
She takes the bet.
This keeps her occupied for the next several minutes and happy when she wins.


Shortly after, Elle shows up with a wheelchair.
Apparently, when they got to the terminal, there were wheelchairs but you had to pay a fee to use them.
But one had been recently returned and was roaming free.

I sink gratefully into the chair and the speed of our progress greatly improves.


I also got to experience a microcosm of what it's like for people who are confined to wheelchairs.
There were certain aspects about it that I did not expect.


When we arrived at the ticket counter, we immediately saw that there was a long lineup.
It's a good thing we left early! This was going to take a looooong time.

Then again...

An agent sees us arrive and immediately ushers us over to a priority line.
There's maybe one person in front of us now.
I look over at the line of aproximately forty people and, feeling guilty, quickly look away.
I feel like I'm cheating, somehow.
That I'm not really wheelchair bound, so I should be in line like everybody else.
The truth is, though. That I was already completely beat from the little bit of time I'd spent on my feet.
Also, I knew that if I'd been standing, the first person who bumped into me would be my undoing.
There's no way I'd be able to keep on my feet if that happened.
Worse, I probably would be back to being unable to move at all again.

I keep my mouth shut and stay in my chair.
Soon, it's our turn to check in and we're quickly processed.
An airport/airline (I never did find out which) agent will come to guide us through security.
We are told that we'll be met on the next floor when we get off the elevator.

The elevator takes its time.
But we don't have any choice.
We can't take the stairs, so... we wait.

While we're waiting, a family with two or three small children walks up beside us.
They too are waiting for the elevator.

I noticed their young son (maybe five or six years old?) was very excited about Star Wars.
I have no idea what possessed me.
Maybe I just wanted to feel normal.
So of course I did something that I don't normally do.

I made a kind of swooshing/buzzing sound and pretended to draw...
a lightsaber.

Okay. That's weird enough, right? It gets weirder.
The parents encouraged their son to pretend to fight me with his own imagined lightsaber!

I really wonder how many people out there would encourage their pre-school child to play with a complete stranger?
I'm almost positive it's because I was in a wheelchair.
I look pretty non-threatening, right?
Plus we're always telling our kids, "Don't stare at the person in the wheelchair. Just act normal."
Which of course means that you act as abnormaly as possible.
Perhaps they over-compensate?

I'll never know.

In any event, I fenced with the young lad for a minute or so until our elevator thankfully arrived.

Ranks right up there as one of the oddest moments of the trip!


Exiting from the elevator, an agent comes up behind me and takes over pushing the wheelchair.

These things need mirrors! I never saw her.

There's a fair sized line-up to get through security, but we bypass it and go through without a wait.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't wish a disability on anyone, least of all myself,
but there are some things in place that make it a bit more bearable.


We are taken to our gate, where we have a lengthy wait ahead of us.
Well, we've got time, might as well explore a little, right?

There's a gift shop, and if I'm surprised to see some nice shirts.
I buy one.
Actually, as I'm typing this... I'm wearing it!

There are other shops as well, but the only one that I really remember is the Ferrari shop.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!

Things were NOT cheap in there!


It was getting closer to boarding time, when Ruby suggested that I might want to visit a restroom now.
Better now than trying to move around on the plane, right?

So, normally, I don't talk about bathrooms, but something did happen that I found quite intriguing.

At the end of a hallway, there were three doors.
On the left was the men's room.
On the right, the lady's room.
And between them, at the end of the hall, was the bathroom for the disabled.

Men were going in and out of the men's room, but (as is often the case) there was a lineup at the lady's room.

Ruby pushed me up to the door for the accessible... disabled... wheelchair?

Dang it! What do you call it?
Saying "bathroom for the disabled" is way too long.
"Disabled bathroom" sounds like it's broken.
"Accessible bathroom" sounds like you can get in and out easily.
"Wheelchair bathroom" sounds like the chair has to go, person optional.
"Handicap bathroom" doesn't sound PC... or it's got something to do with golf.
"Bathroom for persons with disabilities"... ugh. Too long.

Ruby pushed me up to the bathroom and it was occupied.
To stay out of the way, we backed up about twenty feet and waited.

After a minute or so, a young man with a guitar walked out.


I've asked a few people and gotten various answers.
Some feel that they would never, ever use a bathroom.
Others have said they'd use it if the regular one was full and there wasn't a disabled person waiting to use it.

In any event, as soon as our guitar hero exited, Ruby started forward with the wheelchair.
But before we'd gone five feet, a mother with a three or four year old daughter in tow, darted inside and shut the door.

We stopped in our tracks.... but another woman didn't.
This lady immediately charged up to the door and banged on it three times with her fist.
The door opened and she pointed at me and glared at the mother with a "What are you doing?" expression on her face.
The mother and child quickly vacated the bathroom, while apologizing profusely.

I felt kind of bad, because obviously this mother hadn't seen me and was just trying to take care of her kid.
I could have waited, but I wasn't going to try and explain to her that she could use the bathroom first.
I'm pretty sure she was already embarrassed enough.


Back at the gate, it was time to board the aircraft.
Since I was in a wheelchair, I got to go on first.
While this is nice, the flip side to that is after you land,
you have to wait for everyone else to exit before you can leave.
We have a two hour connection in Toronto, so I'm not overly concerned.

While there are, apparently, specialized wheelchairs that will fit in an airplane row, I didn't use one.
By putting most of my weight on my arms and gripping seatbacks, I was able to manoeuvre to my seat on my own.
I sink gratefully into my chair and... whoa! Is it ever hot in here!
It was about 85F (30C) outside... it was just as hot inside.

As the plane fills with people, the plane gets hotter and the pilot makes an announcement.

"Sorry for the heat back there folks, but the auxiliary ground air conditioner isn't working.
The baggage loading is running a bit behind schedule so you can anticipate a fifteen minute delay.
But once we get the engines running, we'll get the A/C going and it will cool down fairly quickly.
So sit back, try to stay cool and we should be leaving fairly soon."

Okay, maybe that's not word for word... but it's close.
And it hits all the high spots.
Hot. No A/C. Fifteen minutes late.


I know plane speak.
I tell Ruby that it will be at least thirty minutes before the bags are loaded.


Half an hour later, (hah! see?) the pilot comes back on.
"Folks, they're just finishing up loading the last few bags.
I know it's hot back there, but we'll be departing shortly and it will quickly cool down."

Our two hour connection is now down to an hour and a half.
Still plenty.
No sweat.

Fifteen minutes later, the captain comes back on... again.
"Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your patience.
The truck that loads the bags on the aircraft has had an oil leak.
They won't let us depart until the oil is cleaned up.
It should be about another fifteen minutes.
I've asked your flight attendants to open the rear doors so we can at least get some air moving.
Sorry for the inconvenience, we'll keep you advised as soon as we know more."

It might've been a good idea... if it wasn't just as hot outside... with no breeze...
On the other hand, I've never seen so many people holding their emergency cards.
They were using them as fans.
But I bet everyone knew where the exits were.

Hmmm... so we've lost forty five minutes and we've got another half hour ahead of us...

Our two hour connection just got chopped down to forty five minutes.

Doable. With luck.


We look out the window and sure enough. There's the baggage truck.
There's oil.
There's someone dumping oil-dri on it.

Don't forget that tomorrow's a holiday, so there's probably not that much staff on hand today.

Half an hour later, the last of the oil-dri has been shoveled and the plane is released.

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you once again for all your patience.
We're all set to go now and we'll get you cooled off as quickly as possible."


And then there was the sound of a bang and all the lights went out.
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Old 03-17-2014, 10:47 AM   #992
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And then there was the sound of a bang and all the lights went out.
Nice cliffhanger!

Hope your back is better now. And congratulations to Elle on the dance comp.
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Old 03-17-2014, 01:07 PM   #993
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I didn't even need pictures for this update...I could painfully see it in my head. So glad you were able to get upright and still make your flight. Venice is about the worst place on Earth to have mobility issues! Thankfully you met some great folks that made it easier for you!

And cue another cliffhanger!

Jill in CO
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Old 03-17-2014, 05:35 PM   #994
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Score. How sweet.
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Old 03-17-2014, 07:49 PM   #995
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Ponzi, first off, 2 chapters is GREAT news!

But what a painful chapter it was. Well, not the chapter, that was great, but your pain, ugghhh!

Thanks for another great update, I felt right there with you. And thanks for yet another cliffhanger!
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:10 AM   #996
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Originally Posted by dgthree View Post
Nice cliffhanger!
What??? Where?!?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dgthree View Post
Hope your back is better now. And congratulations to Elle on the dance comp.
I'll pass that on to Elle!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jedijill View Post
I didn't even need pictures for this update...
That's good!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jedijill View Post
So glad you were able to get upright and still make your flight.
Not nearly as glad as we were!

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Originally Posted by jedijill View Post
Venice is about the worst place on Earth to have mobility issues! Thankfully you met some great folks that made it easier for you!
That got me thinking.
Where would it have been worse?
I don't think anywhere on our trip.

As for the "great folks". We got lucky.
Or did we?
I think we focus so much on the bad, that we forget that most people are kind and willing to lend a hand.
Either way, the lady at the front desk, the taxi driver and others, were a godsend.


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Originally Posted by jedijill View Post
And cue another cliffhanger!
Where?!?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lisaviolet View Post
Score. How sweet.
Are you referring to the cookies, the girls, or the pets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Backstage_Gal View Post
Ponzi, first off, 2 chapters is GREAT news!


I was a little worried that I'd tick people off, but hoped someone would be happy.

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Originally Posted by Backstage_Gal View Post
But what a painful chapter it was. Well, not the chapter, that was great, but your pain, ugghhh!
"ugghhh" That's the adjective I was looking for!

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Originally Posted by Backstage_Gal View Post
Thanks for another great update, I felt right there with you.
Gee, that's a pretty nice compliment! Thanks!

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And thanks for yet another cliffhanger!
WHERE?!?!??!
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:32 AM   #997
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D'oh!

Yeah, I guess it might help if I said what kind they are....

We got Thin mints, Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs, Trefoils/Shortbread, Lemonades and Thanks-a-lot.

Note! There are NO Samoas!!!

So far, the fave (from Thin mints, Peanut Butter Patties and Shortbread) is Thin mints.

As for dance... stand by. There's possibly been a development.
NO Do-Si-Doh's either?
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:47 AM   #998
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I was wondering mr thumper why I was not included in your road trip at first. mrs t, you know that Coney Island also has a fun wheel?
Well at first I thought I better get the car to Canada as quickly as possible. Then the more I thought about it the better it sounded to make sure the car was running really good. You know, make sure there were no major problems with it. Plus, since I had put a few thousand miles on it, I'm sure a couple a thousand more wouldn't hurt, RIGHT? Thus why I revised my plan.
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:04 AM   #999
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Are you referring to the cookies, the girls, or the pets?
I'm sure all three choices are sweet, at times , but none of them.

I meant Buzz. The thoughtfulness.
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:49 AM   #1000
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NO Do-Si-Doh's either?
Perhaps she intuited (correctly) that pkondz is not a big fan of oatmeal cookies either.

She's a smart cookie.


(see what I did there?)


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I'm sure all three choices are sweet, at times , but none of them.

I meant Buzz. The thoughtfulness.
She really outdid herself.
I'm really not too sure what I did to deserve such wonderful friends... whom I've yet to meet!
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:58 AM   #1001
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Perhaps she intuited (correctly) that pkondz is not a big fan of oatmeal cookies either.
Now I'm not a big fan of oatmeal cookies either, but there's something about the way they make these that you can't even tell that they're made from oatmeal. Oh well. To each their own. Just leaves more for me.
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Old 03-18-2014, 06:33 PM   #1002
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Now I'm not a big fan of oatmeal cookies either, but there's something about the way they make these that you can't even tell that they're made from oatmeal. Oh well. To each their own. Just leaves more for me.
Sooo.... You're saying you're greedy, there, right?
Not even going to share with Mrs. T.

We opened a package of Thanks-a-lot and there's a bit of a problem.
Within seconds, most of them had evaporated or something.

All I know is that they were there for a second, but now they're gone.

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Old 03-18-2014, 08:42 PM   #1003
Backstage_Gal
Let me rephrase the dog stew remark
I broke more than I used
 
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Location: On my couch with my laptop and a glass of wine in Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkondz View Post
Sooo.... You're saying you're greedy, there, right?
Not even going to share with Mrs. T.

We opened a package of Thanks-a-lot and there's a bit of a problem.
Within seconds, most of them had evaporated or something.

Why do you people insist on confusing me so much? What are Thanks-a-lot?

Maybe we should come up with a universal (cookie) language?
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:13 PM   #1004
buzz1121
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Wait, wait wait!

You didn't answer the most important question in the chapter! When you had the fake light saber, were you Jedi or Sith? I mean I suspect Sith because if you were Jedi you would have used the force to heal your aching back. Better you would be in Yoda speak.

Maybe Darth Vader's problem all along was a bad back?

I feel for you Pkondz, but I have to tell you that I was laughing really hard. The herculean effort to try to stand, my goodness, that was something. I wanted to throw up in sympathy for your pain and laugh at the same time.

And in that airplane, with the hot, still temperature, just for a second you longed for the Peg winter temps to blast, didn't you?





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Old 03-18-2014, 10:56 PM   #1005
buzz1121
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisaviolet View Post
I'm sure all three choices are sweet, at times , but none of them.

I meant Buzz. The thoughtfulness.
That's so kind of you to say! That does it, I am seriously contemplating moving to Canada......if I can bring 60-80 degree temps with me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkondz View Post
Perhaps she intuited (correctly) that pkondz is not a big fan of oatmeal cookies either.

She's a smart cookie.


(see what I did there?)
Yeah, that ol Buzz, she is a smart cookie. Actually she doesn't care for the Peanut Butter sandwich cookies either and she had a hunch, with oatmeal being of a consistency similar to coconut, that ol Pkondz wouldn't like them too much either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkondz View Post
She really outdid herself.
I'm really not too sure what I did to deserve such wonderful friends... whom I've yet to meet!
Aww, the meeting is a mere technicality. If what you have said before is true, when we do meet, we need to bring lap tops or ipads as you mentioned you usually tend to be quiet in person. I can see it now, "Hi", "Hi"...... commence to type rapidly back and forth while sitting at same table!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkondz View Post
Sooo.... You're saying you're greedy, there, right?
Not even going to share with Mrs. T.

We opened a package of Thanks-a-lot and there's a bit of a problem.
Within seconds, most of them had evaporated or something.

All I know is that they were there for a second, but now they're gone.

Now aren't you are glad you have a spare carton!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Backstage_Gal View Post
Why do you people insist on confusing me so much? What are Thanks-a-lot?

Maybe we should come up with a universal (cookie) language?
Love it Marita.....universal cookie language!

Thanks-a-lots are a shortbread base with a a chocolate layer on top. They were pretty popular in DD's troop, I got the last two cartons for Pkondz. DD did pretty well with her first cookie sales, remember we live in the country....she/we sold 100 boxes.

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