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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

 


Help Wanted

April 27, 2013

 

Hubby has many talents, but one of the handiest of those is his ability to judge whether a left-over will fit into the refrigerator container I have picked.  Our routine is that after we eat and he is still sitting at the table, I will start cleaning up, including putting leftovers in the fridge.  Sometimes (many times, actually) when I look for a container to use, it is very hard for me to judge whether it will fit or not.  So I will ask Hubby whether it will fit and he is right 99% of the time.   What a handy talent!  And, of course, it means he has no trouble at all picking the container, if he is the one cleaning up.

I have never thought of this trait of Hubby’s as “marketable”, but after receiving an order from a national store chain the other day, I think he could have a second career in their shipping department.

This box arrived yesterday.

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I knew what I had ordered, but I could not believe it was in this huge box.

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When I opened it, it was packed full with brown paper packaging.

And when I removed all the packing…

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… the items I had ordered were in the bottom.

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Six placemats.

I couldn’t find anything on the package that said how much the company paid for shipping (it was free shipping for me), but I have to believe that there is some waste, both in postage and man hours, because of this overkill in packaging.

I hope their shipping department pays big bucks, because I’m sending them Hubby’s resume today!


A ticklish situation

February 18, 2012

School was new to him.  His school didn’t have a kindergarten so he was having his first school experience in first grade.  So far he was enjoying it, especially the recesses where he had the opportunity to play with lots of new friends.

That was many years ago but he does still have a couple of vivid memories from that time.

Like his first experience with store-bought milk.  He lived on a farm where they had dairy cows, so fresh milk was what they drank.  He remembers that the first time he drank the homogenized milk at school, it was so different from what he was used to that he threw up.  But he soon got used to it, and found out that he really enjoyed the lunches at school.  Thus began a long tradition of him making friends with the ladies who did the cooking in the cafeteria. They liked him because he was a good little eater (and I assume just a likable little boy) and he liked them, well, because they made him lunch every day!

His other memory is one in the classroom.  They were having a play time in their classroom when the teacher stepped out the door a minute.

He and some others decided to play hide-and-seek.  The kid who was “it” had already started counting so he quickly looked around for somewhere to hide. There was a cubby hole that he could climb into … perfect.  He crawled as far back as he could into the cubby hole and sat perfectly still in hopes “it” wouldn’t find him.

But suddenly everything changed when the teacher walked back into the room! She told everyone to return to their seats and she walked to her desk and sat down.

OH-OH!  He was trapped in the cubby hole of the teacher’s desk!  And then she kicked off her shoes!  Well, he was just a little kid and even though it had surprised him to get trapped under there, he wasn’t so worried that he could resist what came naturally to a fun-loving little boy — he gently tickled the bottom of one of her stockinged feet.

Well, that got a response!! The teacher shrieked and jumped up!  Then she looked under her desk, fully expecting to see a mouse but just saw a sheepish little boy, who wasn’t sure what to do next.

As soon as the teacher realized what had happened, she laughed out loud so, of course, the whole class laughed too.  And the little “tickler” was just relieved he wasn’t in trouble.

In case you haven’t guessed, the little boy was Hubby, and I’ve repeated this tickling story many times because I think it is so cute.  But what made me think about it recently was when a story was on the national news about a first grader who was suspended from school because he told his teacher she was cute!  That makes me sad and to long for the days when little boys weren’t punished for doing innocent things that come naturally to little boys.


My Hero

September 29, 2011

Our huge recycle bin was collected yesterday, so it just has a few things in its bottom now.  And this morning while putting glass containers in the dishwasher that I had used yesterday while baking (with a failing oven — a whole other post!), I realized I had accidentally thrown the lid to a glass jar that I was going to save for a specific purpose into the recycle bin in the garage.

When I realized what I’d done, I went out there and tried to reach it, but my arm wasn’t nearly long enough.  So when Hubby came into the kitchen still sleepy-eyed and just interested in his first cup of coffee, I told him my dilemma and that I was hoping he could reach the lid.

So, after Hubby ate his breakfast, he went out to the garage to retrieve something that I’m sure he was wondering why it was so valuable to me.  When he hadn’t returned in a few minutes, I went out to see how he was doing.  There he stood, seconds from success, using a very long pair of needle-nose pliers and a golf club from his near-by bag to accomplish his mission.  Wonderful!

I asked him what the golf club was for and he said he stood the lid on end with it, so that he could get ahold of it with the pliers.  Very creative thinking.

I am thankful for a husband who will do all he can to achieve a goal that is much more important to me than him!  Just one of the many reasons he is my hero.


Calling his bluff!

August 9, 2011

Recently when the kids and grandkids were here I cooked alot on the first day, so when Hubby and I got up on the second day, we had the following conversation:

Me:  “I have bad news:  The cook is tired of cooking.  We will either have to eat leftovers today or eat out.”

Hubby:  “Maybe I will just have to fire the cook!”

Me:  “Well, before you do that, I should warn you that she and the laundress are really close.  If you fire one, I’m pretty sure they will both leave.”

Hubby:  “Okay then.  Where you do want to go out to eat?”

The man knows when he’s on thin ice.  He could survive for a while without a cook, but as soon as I got home from Rehab, he “forgot” how to do laundry again, so he definitely doesn’t want to lose the laundress.  And, besides, they both make him laugh and tell him which colors go together.  He’d better keep them both around.


My Fathers’ Day

June 19, 2011

My dad has been gone for over 20 years, but I still have great memories of him.  When I was very little I can remember him standing in a doorway and bracing his arm against one side of the door sill so that I could swing on his arm.  I remember his arm felt like wood, it was so solid.  I remember us walking uptown for malts. And I remember being awed when he and I would lay in the hammock and look at the stars with him pointing out the different ones to me — they looked so close!  I didn’t know about good dads or bad dads he was just my dad.  But now I know how fortunate I was that I had a dad who loved his family and worked hard to give us the very best life possible.  I look forward to seeing him in Heaven so that I can thank him for being such a good dad.

Hubby is celebrating two holidays today — Father’s Day and our anniversary.  So it gives me a chance to thank him for being a great husband for 46 years, but also a great father to our children.  Thank you love of my life, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my life or raise my children with anyone else.

My Heavenly Father needs to be especially praised on Father’s Day too.  He gave fathers an example of good parenting — love them unconditionally but let them suffer the consequences of their actions.  I am so thankful that, as much as we love each other here on Earth, He loves each of us even more.

On this Father’s Day I am thankful for the three fathers who have blessed my life.


A Calming Memory

May 19, 2011

For many years as the boy stood at the end of the lane with his siblings waiting for the school bus, there was a man their parents knew named Irv who would drive by on his way to work in his vintage Model T Ford.  Because the boy had a fascination with cars he always watched for Irv and his cool car.

Years later when the boy was grown and now a policeman he was called to a disturbance at a home.  When he arrived, an elderly man was laying on the floor in a fetal position alternately sobbing and yelling belligerently.  The man’s adult daughter was standing near-by, crying.

When the officer asked what was going on, the woman explained that she and her husband could no longer take care of her father because his dementia was getting worse.  But when they told him an elder care home now had room for him and they would be taking him there that evening, he had immediately become  uncontrollable.

The officer approached the man on the floor, trying to think what he could do to help the situation.  But when he got down close to the man he realized who he was … it was Irv, the man he remembered from his childhood who owned the Model T Ford he had so admired.  He called the man by name and told him he was Art’s son.  And then he began to tell Irv his memories of his early morning waves to Irv in his great antique car.  Irv immediately quieted as he listened to the young officer’s memories of the old car he had restored himself and so enjoyed driving for years.

After a few minutes of reminiscing, the officer helped Irv to his daughter’s car and then left, sad to see a man from his past in such poor health, but glad that the memories he had shared with Irv had helped calm him.

Hubby was a police officer for 36 years so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that he can still occasionally tell me a story from that time that I have never heard before.  He told me this story a couple days ago when something jogged his memory.


E.J. and Me

April 7, 2011

Yesterday, I told the story of the wonderful bond that Hubby and his police dog, E.J. had.  But I also mentioned that E.J. wasn’t crazy about me.

Hubby always told me that it was in my head that E.J. didn’t like me.  And he said he believed the whole root of the problem between us was that E.J. could tell I didn’t trust him and he was reacting to those negative vibes he was getting from me.  Yeah, right.

Anyway, one day Hubby decided that this was the day that E.J. and I were going to become friends.  And we were going to accomplish that through a medium we could both relate to — food.

Hubby cut a hot dog into five or six pieces and put them on a plate on the table next to where I was sitting.  Then he told me to call E.J. over to me … but DON’T PUT YOUR HAND OUT TO HIM.  Of course, he said that because that was how I and others had previously received warning bites on our hands.  So he instructed me to just call E.J. over to me and then to tell him to, “Sit!”.

I did and he did.

Hubby reminded me to not act intimated by E.J.  Okay, I’m sitting there looking straight into the eyes of a not very friendly 200 lb., big black dog and “not being intimidated”.

Hubby next told me to pick up a piece of the hot dog, hold it out to E.J., and then after he took it and ate it, pat him ever so gently on top of the head and say, “Good boy.”

Okay, I could do this.  I held the first piece of hot dog in my fingers and offered it to E.J.  He took it and ate it.  I then patted him ever so gently on top of the head.  “Good boy!”  Hey, it looked like this might be the start of a new warmer relationship between us!

So I gave him a second piece and then a third, patting him ever so gently on top of the head and praising him after each.

I really was feeling more confident.  Maybe Hubby was right.  Maybe it had been me who just hadn’t figuratively reached out to E.J. before!

Then I gave him the fourth piece of hot dog.  Then I reached out to pat him again (eveeeeer so gently, of course) on the head.  Then he grabbed my hand in his trademark not to hard, but firm I-don’t-want-you-to-touch-me bite.  End of experiment.

I gave Hubby my best I-told-you-so look and went to do other things –things I was more successful at like sweeping and doing laundry.  Things that were alot more “fun” than trying to convince a big, black, grumpy dog that he should like me when he was obviously not going to change his mind about me, even when I was bearing hot dogs.

So, E.J. and I never did develop a close relationship, but I did love that dog because I knew that he always had the back of the man I loved.  That was enough.


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.


He said, Me said

February 18, 2011

I was sitting in my chair in the bedroom, reading.  Hubby walked in with a mischievous look on his face.  I know this man well, so I felt a punch line coming.  So I put my book down and waited.

“When did you make that cake in the fridge?”

“Today.”

“Wow!  That’s what I thought.  Where did it all go?!”

“Linda dropped me off after lunch, and I gave her half of it to take home for her and Doug.”

“Oh.  I just wondered.”

I smiled.  He smiled back and strolled out.

As I went back to reading I was still smiling because, obviously, Hubby was suggesting that maybe I had eaten half a cake!

I love it that he still, after all these years, doesn’t doubt that I can do things that will surprise him!  But I’m just glad that this time he was giving me too much credit.