Memories came to visit

November 2, 2013

About two weeks ago we got a call from Phil who had been one of Hubby’s classmates in the police management institute at Northwestern University in 1980/81.


Hubby is on the left, Phil in the middle (obviously in a t-shirt given to him by one of his other classmates!) and their friend Tommy is on the right.

Phil is from New Zealand and retired a few years ago as the number two official in New Zealand’s national police department.

He and his wife Jackie were in the States for a month-long visit and had tracked us down (with the help of Tommy) so wondered if they could “stop by” to see us.  What an exciting opportunity for both of us!  We had never met Jackie since they had married “only” 21 years ago, but we had fond memories of Phil and his sons when they had come to visit us after graduation and before they returned to New Zealand

Image Phil at our house during his visit.

Image  Graham, DD, Nigel and Gunny.

So when Phil and Jackie got here a few days ago, we looked forward to meeting Jackie and renewing our friendship with Phil.

They could only stay a day, so we decided to eat our meals out so that all of our time could be spent visiting, and I have to say we crammed alot of that into a very short time.

Here is where I wish I was as photo-opportunity ready as I used to be because for lunch shortly after they arrived, we took them to a local Italian restaurant that is what we call “a hole in a wall” — a very unimpressive store front in the complex with a truck stop.  But we knew where the food was anything but common.  They loved it, of course.  Then we took a drive out into Amish country, because Phil wanted Jackie to see some of the sights he had seen when he was here before.  We went to the Amish store and the Grabill hardware, but of which they found fascinating, but the best part was that the Amish clerk at the store told us that her two brothers were plowing with horses not too far away (we had told her they were visitors from New Zealand, so I guess she understood they would enjoy seeing that).  We followed her instructions and found two teams of horses pulling plows in a field.  There were eight horses pulling each plow.  They weren’t harnessed straight across but with four following four.  Very impressive and oh how I wished for a camera right then.  But Phil did get a picture with his phone, so they will have something to show back home.

That was really the only sightseeing we took them on, the rest of their short visit was pretty much taken up with eating and talking!


Image  That night we took them to our favorite Chinese restaurant.

Of course, even in so short a time, Jim and Phil HAD to go to the range to shoot.  So we just ate toast for breakfast and they took off for there.


Jackie was such a nice surprise for me.  I don’t know what I expected, but when she left I told Hubby that I wished she could be my next door neighbor.  We got along great.

ImageJackie is a librarian by profession, so while the guys were shooting, we went to a bargain book store and browsed and bought some books for a dollar or less!  A treat for us both.  And we even met an “interesting” woman who was also shopping there who wanted to become “best friends” I guess because we were looking at books too!  After she had just “bent our ear” for a couple minutes, I suddenly noticed that Jackie had casually wandered (or maybe with intent!) and I was left listening to “gabby” — and you KNOW if I think someone talks too much, they really do!

I finally peeled myself away for my new “best friend”, and went and found Jackie wayyy at the other end of the store, enjoying looking at cookbooks.  Who knew she was a little sneaky like that!  That’s when I realized, Jackie would be a great friend to spend time with regularly.

After eating lunch at our favorite Greeks restaurant (yes, in just 24 hours, we had taken them to Italian, Chinese and Greek restaurants.  If they would have just stayed another day, I’m sure we would have gotten them to an American restaurant too!

What a great short visit.  We had the opportunity to re-live some great old memories with Phil, hear lots of interesting things they have done (they are sailors and spent six years sailing around the world — staying a month here and a month there and even flying home once when the weather where they were keep them from sailing for a few months) and making some nice new memories together.



Note to readers:  Now I remember one of the reasons I stopped posting on my blog.  I edited this post just to my liking, but I have worked for an hour for it to accept that new version.  Not happening.  So in frustration I’ve gone ahead and posted the first draft, which is really rough, but it’s apparently my only option!!

Happy Saturday!


Thelma, Louise and Louise!

March 30, 2012

Leaving this morning on a road trip with the other Sandra and our friend Marilyn.

So, for several reasons, that title may be a little inaccurate and misleading.  First of all, it really should read, Marilyn, Sandra and Sandra!  But also, the theme of our trip will be just a little tamer.  We’re going to sightsee, have dinner with a couple nieces, and just enjoy a new experience — all legal!

Oh and by the way, if we see a guy who looks like Brad Pitt hitchhiking, I promise we won’t pick him up!

If there’s room for my computer in the car, I’ll post along the way.  Otherwise, I’ll tell you some funny trip stories when we get back next Wednesday.

Oh, one more difference from the movie … we’re driving a sensible sedan, not a convertible.

See you soon … we’ll talk.

A Fun Lunch in Tulsa

November 7, 2011

While we were in Tulsa recently, Carla from Carla-at-Home and her husband were there too, so the four of us met for lunch.

We had a great time.  I had talked to Carla on the phone so I already knew that she had a soft but self-confident voice.  And then I met her and she was a perfect match for her voice (I love it when things work out that way, don’t you?).  I would describe her as quietly elegant but with a dry sense of humor.  What a treat to finally get to meet and talk to her.  She and Joe still have family in Tulsa so we are hoping that the timing might be right sometime in the future for another lunch.  One lunch just didn’t give Carla and me enough time to ask and answer all the questions we had for each other.

Carla and me.

Joe and Hubby enjoyed talking to each other too and found out that they also have alot in common.

I’m so glad we got to meet you, Carla and Joe.  You are a great couple.  And now when I read posts on Carla-at-home I’ll be able to picture you!

We crack us up … sometimes unintentionally

August 29, 2011

Linda and I were talking on the phone the other day.

Me:  “Did you see the three photos she posted on Facebook of her vacation?”

Linda:  “Yes.  Where is she in those pictures?”

Me:  “She’s in all three!”

There was a moment of silence and then as soon as Linda started laughing, I realized what she had meant and I started laughing too.

Me:  “Oh, I see what you mean … Florida.”

(more laughter)

Linda:  “I see a blog post coming.”

Happy Monday!  May you recognize any opportunities for a shared laugh today.

Which of these is not like the other …

August 10, 2011


Today is the once a month lunch of former co-workers (friends)  from the large trucking manufacturer where we all worked (and two still do).  It is all women over fifty, so we are from the generation in which you dressed nicely for a lunch out with your friends, and we all usually do.  But this time I may stand out in the crowd, and not in a good way.

Today, my social calendar runneth over.  I had an invitation to play golf at 9:30 this morning from a friend who hasn’t been able to play very often this summer because of some health problems for her husband.  I just couldn’t say no.  But it happens to also be the day that our lunch group gets together, and I hate to miss that.

A tight timeline — golf at 9:30 for approximately one and a half hours — done at 11.  Lunch with work friends at 11:30.

So, I’ll be going directly from golf to lunch.

My friend, Linda, is the leader of our lunch group, so I’ll be giving her a call that I might be a little late and please go ahead and order my usual for me.

And, by the way, Linda, you might want to save a seat for me between two of our most hard–of-smelling friends.

It doesn’t happen too often, but once in a while retirement gets really busy!

Myrtle’s Easter Eggs

April 13, 2011

At book club last night our friend *Myrtle told us a really cute story:

When Myrtle’s children were little they were going to have an Easter egg hunt with the neighbors who had four little children of their own.  The adults had hidden eggs all around the yard and were now sitting in lawn chairs enjoying watching the children doing the hunt.

The neighbor’s youngest, about three, was a little young to really get into the hunt, and was just wandering around watching the other children find eggs.  He finally wandered over to where Myrtle was sitting, and Myrtle told him that she knew there were still some Easter eggs to be found and he should just look harder.  He stood there a minute apparently finally understanding a little of the concept that the eggs were hidden and he would have to guess where they were.  So with this new idea of looking for something in a place not expected, he reached up and patted Myrtle’s chest.  Nope, that wasn’t one, so he wandered off to look in other places.

We all laughed long and loudly at Myrtle’s story.

Later in the evening, we were discussing books in general, and how much harder it was to lay in bed and read a book if it was a large, heavy one. Myrtle was lamenting how hard it is to balance a heavy book on your rib cage while lying down.

At which time another friend commented, “And, of course, you want to be careful that the book doesn’t fall over and break your Easter eggs.”

I love my book club.  They not only enjoy reading books and discussing them, but they enjoy laughing together too.

*Myrtle’s name has been changed to protect the privacy of the owner of the “Easter eggs”.

Hubby’s Best Friend

April 6, 2011

Maybe the best friend Hubby ever had was a dog!  His name was E.J. and he was Hubby’s police dog.

When Hubby was a young patrolman on the Sheriff’s Department, he was a K-9 officer.  That meant that he had a patrol car retrofitted with a cage where the back seat would normally be so that he could patrol with a K-9 partner.  When his beautiful Lassie-look-a-like partner, Duke had to be put down because of hip displacia after just a short partnership, he was told that a new dog had just been donated (that’s the way they got most of the patrol dogs) that might work as his next partner. But the trainer warned Hubby that this dog was so anti-social that he might not work out as a K-9 partner.

A little information about the dogs that became K-9 officers back in the early 70’s:  They had to be trainable, yet aggressive.  They were trained in agility, to bite on command (trainers used a thick padded sleeve to train this) and to protect their human partner.  Dogs that showed themselves in training to be fear biters (bit as a reaction to being startled or scared) were immediately washed out of the program because it was important that the officer be able to control the dog with voice commands even in tense situations.  And before they were allowed to actually patrol with an officer, they and the officer had to go through months of rigorous training which included all kinds of agility work.  When you think about it, that makes sense.  If a K-9 is pursuing a suspect, you want it to feel routine to him to jump over a fence, run across a bridge or jump up on or down from a wall.

The K-9 officers mainly worked third shift because that’s when most of the activity that might require them happened.  So a few nights after being told about the new dog, while patroling, Hubby stopped out at the training center to take a look at E.J.  The trainer had been right — E.J. wasn’t interested in having anything to do with this new stranger.  So the next day Hubby contacted the trainer and told him to stop feeding E.J.!  Well, not really make him go without food, but to leave the food where Hubby could get to it, and he would start stopping out at the kennels every night and feeding E.J. himself.  Gradually that worked, and E.J. bonded with him.  And little did Hubby know what a friend he had made for life!  The anti-social E.J. became absolutely devoted to him, while still not really liking anyone else.

E.J. was already intimidating when Hubby’s first met him because he was a big, black German Shepherd.  But during one of their training sessions, E.J. caught one of his canine teeth in a chain link fence, and it was broken off.  And it hurt so bad, that E.J. couldn’t bite the padded sleeve that was used in the training to train the dogs to bite on command.  He was in danger of being washed out of the program!

But before that could happen, Dr. A the vet who took care of the department’s canines, came up with an innovative idea.  He contacted a dentist friend (apparently another outside-the-box thinker) and they came up with a plan to replace E.J.’s tooth.  The dentist made a gold cap for  E.J’s canine tooth and when it was ready, E.J. was put to sleep and the gold cap was put on.  Success!  And, let me tell you, if you think a big, black German Shepherd is intimidating, he’s even more so when he “smiles” and you see that he has a gold tooth!

E.J. didn’t like to be touched.  He tolerated it from his “one true love” Hubby, and surprisingly from our two young children, but he realllly didn’t want anyone else, including me, to touch him.  Hubby always said he thought E.J. must have sensitive skin.  Maybe so, or just an attitude!  He had a bad habit of coming when someone would call him, as if he was going to let them pet him, but when he got close he would instead bite the person.  Not a break-the-skin kind of bite, but just a little firm-grasp-of-your-hand bite to let you know that he didn’t want you to touch him!

Some of my favorite stories about the partnership between Hubby and E.J.:

There was a sliding gate in the cage in the car that opened to the front seat.  When they were patrolling, Hubby would leave that gate open.  And because he was well-trained, E.J. would stay in the cage, but he would occasionally stick his head through to give Hubby a nuzzle or lick on the side of the face, just to remind him that he was there.  And, of course, the reason Hubby left the gate open was because E.J. needed to be able to get out quickly if he was needed.  When Hubby would stop a car, and in the middle of the night who could know what he might encounter when he approached a car, he would leave the driver’s side window open.  That way, if  he called for E.J., he could get out of the car through the open gate then out the open window.

This open door (cage) policy did have one little draw-back for anyone riding in the front seat with Hubby.  Ever his cop’s protector, it made E.J. a little nervous if someone got too close to Hubby.  So, if the person while talking to Hubby would lean toward him in any way, E.J. would immediately stick his head out of the cage to insert himself between the person and his beloved cop.  Hubby said that only had to happen once, and a person got the idea to stay on their own side of the car!  (I don’t remember E.J. ever doing that to me when I would be in the car so apparently, even though he wasn’t crazy about me, he didn’t see me as a threat.)

One night while on patrol, Hubby drove down a country road and saw a young woman walking away up the road and a car stopped on the berm.  Hubby went to the car where the young man behind the wheel said he and his girlfriend had had a fight on their way home from a date and she had insisted he stop the car and let her out — she would walk the rest of the way home.  Well, he said they were several miles from her house, so he didn’t want her to make that walk, but he couldn’t get her to get back in the car.  Hubby agree that they couldn’t let her walk there on dark country roads in the middle of the night by herself.  So he called after her to stop so that he could talk to her.  But she just kept walking, and even started walking a little faster.  So in order to catch up, Hubby started running after her.  What hadn’t occurred to him is how E.J. was viewing all this from the car.  What E.J. heard and saw was Hubby yelling “Stop!” and then chasing someone.  Those triggers told E.J. loud and clear that he should help.  He immediately jumped out of the car and the next thing Hubby knew, E.J. raced past him on his way to “apprehending” the “perp”.  Luckily, E.J. was well-trained, so Hubby  was able to call him off before he got to the girl.  The commotion behind her did make the girl stop and after some conversation among the three of them, she agreed to let her boyfriend take her home.

On another night Hubby and a whole group of other police from several agencies raided a huge party.  When Hubby arrived and walked in the door the officers who had already arrived were announcing to the room who would be arrested and what everyone was expected to do.  The room was standing room only, so when Hubby and E.J. stepped in the door, they were immediately sandwiched in among a crowd of people, some very drunk.  One of those “very drunks” was standing on the other side of E.J.  When he looked down and saw a dog, he reached down and patted E.J. on the head.  Luckily for him, E.J. thought it was Hubby’s pat.  But Hubby said to the drunk “Don’t pet the dog.”  Common sense and drunk just don’t go together, do they?  The drunk looked Hubby right in the eye, and with a loopy smile, patted E.J. on the head again.  Hubby told him again, “DON’T pet the dog!”  Hubby’s raised voice got E.J.’s attention, so just as the drunk deliberately reached down to pat his head for a third time, E.J. looked up and saw the strange hand — and did what was his habit to do with strange hands that got too close — he bit it.  And I suppose because they were working, this wasn’t one of those gentle “don’t pet me, stranger” bites, but one of the serious, “I have to protect my cop” bites.  While the other cops rounded up those being arrested and took them to jail, Hubby took the slightly wiser and more sober drunk to the hospital for stitches in his hand.

And on one night Hubby and E.J. were searching a dark warehouse.  Suddenly a rat ran out of the darkness and it was coming in Hubby’s direction.  I assume it wasn’t going to “attack” Hubby and would have veered off into the darkness again before it got to him.  But E.J. saw it as a threat to his cop and intercepted it.  The result was that E.J. and the rat had a short battle during which the rat bit E.J. on the nose.  The rat, of course, ended up dead and E.J. ended up having to have rabies shots.

One time Hubby and E.J. were tracking a burglar across plowed fields toward a woods.  There had been tracks leading away from the scene to show them which way to go, but Hubby had only seen an occasional footprint as they raced across the fields — he was just trusting E.J.’s nose.  But when they came to the edge of the woods, E.J. stopped and just looked into the pitch blackness.  Hubby couldn’t see anything in there.  Why had E.J. stopped?  Had he lost the scent?  But when Hubby turned on his flashlight to look at the ground, he immediately saw a couple more footprints, so this was the way the guy had gone!  Hubby then squatted down beside E.J. and encouraged him to continue tracking, but E.J. seemed to have his eyes set on something.  So while down there at the dog’s eye level, Hubby peered into the dense woods again but this time on the same line as E.J. was looking, and he almost had a heart attack!  His flashlight had suddenly illuminated two eyes looking back at him from less than a foot away!  He ordered the exhausted burglar out of the undergrowth and he said the guy seemed relieved.  For one, he was exhausted from running, so was glad he didn’t have to do that any more, even though jail was where he was headed.  But probably also because he had seen that big black police dog coming across the fields looking for him and he was glad the dog hadn’t had to “catch” him.  I wonder if maybe he might have even seen moonlight reflected off what looked like a gold tooth in that big, mean-looking dog’s mouth!  And, of course, he had no idea how fortunate he was that the dog didn’t see him as a threat to his beloved cop.

A few years later when Hubby was promoted to a command position and didn’t patrol on the road any more, E.J. wasn’t happy because he wasn’t getting to “load up” in the police car for eight hours a day any more.  So he was transferred to another officer, but it just didn’t work out — that wasn’t “his” cop.  So he was retired.

My husband couldn’t have had a better partner.  And in a willing-to-lay-down-your-life-for-a-friend way, E.J. was probably the best friend Hubby ever had, and for that reason alone I loved him too.

Friends Remembered from Long Ago

March 15, 2011

For the first nine years of my life I lived in Springfield, Missouri.  It just seemed normal at the time but I now realize it was a very idyllic life.  And the friends I made at Boyd School (which was still an elementary school looking very much the same as I remembered it when we saw it a few years ago) were ones I still remember well.  Why is it that I remember those faces and those names almost better than many that I have met during my adult life?

My friend Dana and I were Blue Birds.  She lived just down the block from the school, and her mother was our kindergarten teacher.  This was taken in about second grade, so I guess she and her mama didn’t hold a little misunderstanding on the first day we all met against me.

On our first day of kindergarten, when Mrs. D took us out to the playground for recess, I didn’t understand why we were putting on our jackets and going outside, i.e., the concept of a recess being a play break in the middle of school.  So, I thought it must be time to go home, meaning once we got to the playground, I just kept on walking and went home. (It was only a few blocks so I knew the way and it only took a few minutes.)

Mama was at home probably patting herself on the back that she had finally sent her last child to school.  She had proudly walked me there just a couple hours earlier so she was, of course, shocked to see me knocking at the door mid-morning (Hey, I was a little kid — I couldn’t open that big door by myself!).  And I, in turn, was shocked to see her shock and learn that I hadn’t, as I thought, already completed my first full half-day of kindergarten.  So Mama marched me back to school where recess was still going on and Mrs. D hadn’t had time to miss me.  I don’t remember hearing any conversation between her and Mrs. D, but Mama may have warned her that I was a slippery little devil and Mrs. D should keep a close eye on me, lest she “lose” me again.  That was one of my first school lessons learned — don’t go home until Mrs. D specifically says it’s time to go home.  This wasn’t a big deal back in those simpler times, but I’m sure Mrs. D was embarrassed that I had gotten away.

Some of the Blue Birds on a trip to the zoo.  I know it was on a Saturday because we would never have worn pants to school.  Blue Birds were to Camp Fire Girls what Brownies are to Girl Scouts.  There were two sets of twins in our group — Jan and Joan in the second row on the left, and Claudia and Clarissa who are the two in the middle in the front row.  I was always fascinated by twins.  I think partially because I didn’t have any siblings in my own age group, so having one exactly the same age seemed like it would be an instant, constant playmate!

We went to school together, had birthday parties together (This is some of the girls celebrating my 9th birthday) and many of us were Blue Birds together.

There is only one girl in this picture whose name I don’t remember — she’s second from the right.  It’s funny that I don’t remember anything about her, so I wonder if she was new to the class.  The others I remember first and last names — Betty H. (she wore hats most of the time and at the beginning of our first day of kindergarten she climbed under her desk and wouldn’t come out.  Obviously, that made a big impression on me since I still remember it happening all these years later), Paula S., me, I’m-sure-nice-girl-but-I-don’t-remember-her and Dana D.

Maybe I remember classmates so well because they were my first friends.  Friends are a blessing from God.  And the first of anything good is well worth remembering.

Our days as “old ladies with box cutters”

December 18, 2010

My dear friend Linda at To Behold the Beauty just wrote a post about something that happened while we were working at the Jail. That post got me to thinking about that interesting job and the subject of box cutters quite naturally came to mind.  Box cutters were an integral part of that job.

Terry and Mike were the two guys who delivered the majority of the products we sold to the prisoners.  When they would make a delivery (several times a week), they would bring in cart after cart of products, with the carts piled so high that they couldn’t see over them; they had to look around the boxes to see where they were going.

Terry and Mike would open some of the boxes for us while they were there, but there were lots more that we needed to open as-needed.  So, we all had a box cutter.  Those of us who audited (the usual three were Marie, Linda and me) would keep ours in our desk drawer and just get it out whenever we needed to help re-stock.

But the fillers (there were usually four of them, mostly women about our age too) were constantly needing to restock in between filling, so they would each have their box cutter either laying on the table at their “station” where they stood to put together their orders or in a pocket.  And, as you can imagine, everyone was very vigilant in regard to keeping track of their box cutter — not only because they were constantly needing to use it, but also because it would be a serious mistake if one happened to inadvertently get put in a sack with a prisoner’s order, and then sent to him!

But there were just a couple of times when someone’s box cutter did disappear.  And as soon as it was noticed that it was missing, EVERYTHING STOPPED.  That became the most important mission — FIND THE BOX CUTTER.  Was it in the person’s pocket?  Had it been laid on a shelf when two hands were needed to arrange some boxes?  But, most importantly, could it have been put into a sack along with a prisoner’s order?  THAT was our upmost worry.  So as soon as the search had started, some of us would start dismantling the bags, one by one, beginning with the last bin of orders that had been filled and working back.

After each bag was filled with an order, the top of the bag was folded over and the order slip was stapled to the top of the bag.  So to check an order you had to take out the staples and then dump out the order on the table to make sure the box cutter wasn’t in the bag.   Then you had to reassemble it.  Very labor intensive, but necessary.  Luckily, both times this happened, the box cutter was located shortly and somewhere other than in a prisoner’s order, but it reminded all of us how easily it could happen if we weren’t always vigilant.  A valuable reminder.

I guess it’s no surprise that there were occasional accidents with the box cutters too.  In order to open boxes cleanly and quickly, the blades in the box cutters were replaced regularly, so they were always very sharp.  And the fillers were always working very quickly.  So, another occurrence that would make everyone freeze in their tracks was if someone said, “Ouch!”.  Sometimes “ouch” meant a paper cut from an order form or even from the edge of a cardboard box, but a couple time in the four years I worked there, it meant that someone had sliced their hand with their box cutter.  In those cases, the “injuree” was send to the nearest Redi-Med for treatment.  As I remember, there were no stitches required in either case — just a good cleansing and a butterfly bandage.  But there was another “ouch” involved for me when this happened — all the paperwork I had to fill out because it had to be reported as a “work place injury”.  So, I had an additional reason to encourage everyone to be very careful with their box cutters.

When I was a young woman just starting out my working career, if you had told me that my last and most interesting job would involve having steel doors clanging shut around me regularly, having interesting dealings with inmates in orange jumpsuits and using a box cutter regularly in my job,  I would have thought you were crazy!

Soon I’ll tell you the story of why taking Linda with me to work at the jail was the most valuable contribution I made as Matron.

Thank you, Neighbors!

October 13, 2010

After we left town last week, I realized I had forgotten to leave a note for our mail person to hold our mail.

So, I did what anyone who has great neighbors would do — I called and left a message for our very own wonderful neighbors, Belinda and Mike.  I asked them to put a note in their mail box telling the carrier what days we would be out of town.

Of course they did just as I requested — so when we got back, a bundle of mail, with their note on top, was waiting in our box.

You should all be so lucky to have such great neighbors.  Our house may have an assessed value, but neighbors like these are priceless.

Thank you Belinda and Mike, for not only this but all the newspapers you have put up by the door when the carriers haven’t gotten the message, and the many other ways you add to our lives.