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!


A week like no other …

October 7, 2012

My two sisters and my brother came for a visit a couple weeks ago.  For five days we visited, laughed, ate and played Yahtzee.

Betty is 82 and Martha is 79.  Maybe I’m biased, but I think they look wonderful for their age!

Hubby took a picture of the four of us right after Jimmy got off his plane  …

and a few days later, he took some at home …

but then he told us to look at each other so we would looked more “connected” — and looking at each other made us laugh.  So it did make for a good picture — smart Hubby!

We had a great time.  If you have siblings who are far flung, I definitely recommend a reunion like this.  It was a wonderful experience.

Betty, Jean, Me, Martha and Jimmy — Easter, 1948

The only thing that would have made it better is if our sister Jean, who passed away a few years ago, could have been there too. But she was there in our hearts and in many of our memories —  many of her were about her making us laugh.

Take a Line for a Walk

January 17, 2012

My brother and Page (Call Me Nana tells about my memories of her) have a very talented granddaughter named Alex.  She is a wonderful photographer and artist and is a grade school art teacher.  Unfortunately she grew up on the other side of the country from us, so I haven’t seen her since she was a little girl.  And now she is married and has an adorable little boy, but still lives in the same area … so still far away.  But this is one of the nice things about Facebook — because of it, I’ve gotten to know Alex and her art and have become a fan.

Well, now Alex has started putting videos on her blog, Sabot Studio, which are geared to children, but I enjoy them too.  And I look forward to introducing DD’s daughters to her videos.  I’m sure they will enjoy them too.

Here is the first one of her videos I watched.  I was just totally charmed, so I wanted to share it with you.

I gave this a shot today and it’s no accident that I’m not showing you how my “walk with a line” turned out.  But even though mine didn’t turn out quite as well (ahem) as Alex’, I enjoyed it.  So I’ll try it again with the girls.

Hope you and any children in your life have fun with it too!  And if you go to her blog, you can see her others.

Meat Market Mentors

December 6, 2011

There is a family who have had a meat market in town for several generations.  At one time I think there were four brothers working in the business and now their off-spring run several locations.

When Hubby and I were first married, we lived in an apartment in a big old house just a few blocks from the brothers butcher shop.  Neither one of us had learned to cook at home, making any meal we cooked now that we were married a real adventure!

So we started going to this butcher shop regularly to buy meat … because when we bought a cut of meat the brother who was waiting on us would then tell us how to cook it … perfect!  Although unfortunately, their instructions sometimes didn’t all get remembered when we were actually doing the cooking.

After the first time we bought steaks from them, when we went back the next time they asked us how we enjoyed the steaks.  We told them they were really good, but it was so smoky in our apartment that it took away from the fun of eating them.  Too bad we had apparently missed the part of their instructions about leaving the oven door ajar when broiling!  We are so lucky we didn’t have a fire.  I don’t remember them laughing at us while we were there, but I’m guessing they did after we left.

Our relationship with these butchers continued for the two years that we lived in the near-by apartment.  But after we moved to a house and had a family, and our favorite butcher shop was on the other side of town,  it was just easier to buy our meat at the grocery store.  And I had learned enough about how to cook the different cuts that I didn’t need the detailed instructions the brothers had provided any more.

Well, over the years I’ve become a pretty good cook, and Hubby can put out a meal too, if he has to.  But something has happened recently that made me remember the early days of our marriage and the tutelage of the brothers at the butcher shop.

If we are both in town on Christmas Day, we have a tradition with our friends Candy and John to get together for a meal.  Last year they had us to their home and Candy made a fantastic prime rib, something I had never cooked.  It was wonderful.

So, they are coming here this year, and I told Candy I’d like to try my hand at the prime rib she did last year.  And you know where she directed me?  To the butcher shop of the brothers who taught Hubby and me how to cook meat 46 years ago!  She said they make it so easy — it comes already rubbed with spices and they give you a printed set of instructions on exactly how to cook it.

I look forward to having a perfectly cooked prime rib on Christmas Day because I know from long-ago experience, that family of butchers are very good at instructing those who buy their meat on how to cook it.

I do have to wonder though if the brothers first thought about giving people written instructions after their experience with the newlyweds who didn’t remember to leave the oven door open when broiling and could have burned the building down!

Jean and The Hand-Me-Down Suit

November 26, 2011

I had three older sisters to idolize, but they were significantly older (teenagers when I was born).  Because of that age difference I really never got to be one of the crowd — just the little sister they all babysat for and, well, babied.

Because of our age differences, I was always in a different phase of life than them.  So when I was a young stay-at-home mom with very small children, they were parents of almost adult children and back out in the working world.

My uniform during that time of my life was a sweatshirt and jeans with my hair pulled back in a ponytail (and no make-up).  Beautiful clothes were just not in the cards right then — things our children needed and groceries and household items took priority.

But one time when my second sister, Jean (who was a successful business woman) was visiting, she gave me a beautiful suit that she was tired of (or just saw the sparkle in my eyes when I looked at it).

That suit was probably one of the most impractical clothing items I have ever owned.  It looked great on Jean, but that was when it was accompanied by her great hair-do, perfect make-up and spike heels (suits and spikes were her work uniform).

Being a SAH mom, I didn’t really have a need for such a beautiful suit, in fact, I honestly don’t remember ever wearing the hand-me-down suit.  But I got much enjoyment out of it anyway, just seeing it hanging in the closet, next to my sweats.

The hand-me-down suit was an impractical, never-used, but oh so enjoyed gift from an older sister to her kid sister.

By the way, another gift from Jean comes to mind.  Also during my SAH Mom days, Hubby and I had moved into a little bigger, nicer house and were suffering the to-be-expected financial pains of a larger payment besides all the little unexpected extra costs that frequently come with a move.

Jean came to visit on my birthday and gave me a little box with a device in it that I had never seen before.  I thanked her because I was sure it was something to be thankful for — but then I had to ask her what the heck it was!  It was the control to a garage door opener.  Not exactly a typical birthday gift, but certainly one I enjoyed every time I came home and could push a button and raise the garage door without getting out of the car.


November 22, 2011

Hubby has lots of family in this area and Bonnie was the wife of one of his cousins.  They lived in a town about a half hour away so we didn’t run into them much, but we did always see them at family reunions and, of course, weddings and funerals.

I always liked Bonnie, but I really didn’t realize what a wonderful person she was until we went to her funeral last week.  We had just heard she had a brain tumor not too long ago, so were shocked when we heard she had died.  But this is an excellent reason to go to a funeral.  I now know Bonnie better than I ever did while she was alive, and she obviously inspired many in her life, and especially during her illness, but also many, like me, who heard about her courageous journey through her illness after the fact.

Bonnie kept a journal that the pastor read from during her funeral.  In one entry she talked about working at being thankful for today.  She said she wasn’t going to waste the things she could be thankful for today because she was concentrating instead of what might happen tomorrow.

One entry was about the technician who took the 31 staples out of the incision on her head.  She talked about how gentle and kind he was.

She talked about her husband and children and how blessed she was by them.  The pastor told a personal story of arriving in her room one Sunday afternoon shortly before she died and there was Bonnie and her family sitting around eating, watching football on TV and laughing!

One of the things I found out about Bonnie is that she loved singing in her church choir.  So, of course, they sung at the funeral.  If ever there was a reason we should all join the church choir now, it is that there is no more stirring music at a funeral than the heartfelt songs sung by a choir celebrating one of their own.

We had heard that the end was near for Bonnie and that she was in the hospital.  But the obituary said she died at home — so I had guessed that she had asked to go home to die.

The last entry in her journal was written in the margin of the last page as she was being taken home.  It said, “Almost home”.

Bonnie’s home now.  But I left her funeral knowing that even though she’s physically gone, she has left a wonderful example to all who knew her.

I look forward to getting to know her better when I see her again.


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!

An inspiring 9/11 story you may not have heard …

September 16, 2011

When I saw this video I was shocked that there is any aspect of the 9/11 tragedy and its heroes that I hadn’t heard of before.  But here is a wonderful story that deserves wide circulation.

I am inspired by those who when confronted with unexpected events, step up and do heroic things without hesitation.


two different specialists …

September 15, 2011

When I walked up to the express lane at the grocery, a man was patiently trying to feed a coupon into the designated slot.  After he tried unsuccessfully a couple times, I really looked at him for the first time and realized he was Dr. K, our  family doctor!  He has been a wonderful addition to our lives since we changed to him a couple years ago.  He is not only an excellent doctor but has a friendly warm personality and makes you feel like he is actually seeing you as a person, not just the patient in Room 4.

Anyway, because Dr. K has a great sense of humor, I knew that he would see the humor in his situation, so I stepped up behind him and said in a low voice, “You probably need a medical degree to do that.”

When he turned around and recognized me, he chuckled and said, “Apparently that isn’t enough!”

Just then Diane, one of the most helpful and experienced of the store’s employees, walked by.  She immediately saw what Dr. K was trying to do so she walked over and said, “Let me help you with that — there’s a trick to it.”  She quickly inserted the coupon into the slot and then leaned over and gently blew in after it.  The coupon disappeared immediately.  He thanked her and she smiled and walked away.

When he looked at me and chuckled, I said, “She may not have a medical degree, but she’s very good at what she does.”  He agreed and then said good-bye and left.

What struck me about this incident was that both Dr. K and Diane are very good at their jobs and both deserve to take pride in what they do.  I’m fortunate to be one of the beneficiaries of both their sets of talents.

The Perfect Red Dress

July 14, 2011

Reading the obituaries isn’t always a somber event.  Sometimes I see one that brings up a great memory and even makes me smile. I recently saw one like that.

The mother of a long-ago friend, Eva, had died.  When I saw that I immediately remembered a sweet story that Eva had told me about her parents when we shared an office space at our first employer right after high school.

Eva and I frequently exchanged funny stories about our lives.  And, of course, since we were just out of high school, we still lived with our parents — so they were a frequent source of our stories.

Eva’s dad John worked for the same company we did so I knew him by sight.  He was a short, balding man with a friendly smile.  And Eva described her mom Sophie as a short, slightly chubby, stay-at-home mom.  It was obvious from Eva’s stories that her parents had a great relationship.  So as I remember this particular story that Eva told me, it went this way.

Sophie and John’s anniversary was coming up and he wanted to take her out to a very nice restaurant for dinner.  But it was always hard for him to get her to agree to do that because she usually said, “Oh let’s not go someplace so nice.  I just don’t have anything that dressy to wear.”

So this time he decided he would keep her from making that excuse — he would buy her a dress!

When he got home from “running errands” (really shopping for a dress) on the Saturday he had made a dinner reservation, he showed Eva and her sister the dress he had bought for their mother. It was a straight, bright red knit dress.  It was a pretty dress, but the girls were doubtful about how the dress would look on their  chubby little mom.  Oh, and as an extra little touch, he had also bought her a bright red lipstick the same color as the dress!  He was sooo excited, so his girls didn’t share any of their reservations about how well his little plan would work.  They just wished him luck.

Sophie knew they were going out for dinner that night but she thought it would just be to their favorite family restaurant.  So, she showered and dressed in something very basic like a skirt and blouse.  But when she came down to the living room and said she was ready, her husband presented her with a beautiful box and told her to open it.  She was shocked!  It was a beautiful red dress and he had even thought to buy her a lipstick to match!  He then told her that they had reservations at a very nice supper club, so she should go change.

A little while later, as her family waited expectantly in the living room, Sophia came down the stairs wearing the dress and the matching lipstick.

Ummm.  The girls weren’t sure what to think.  The dress didn’t exactly flatter their mom because, as knits will do, it clung to her chubby-ness in not a totally flattering way.  But she had a big smile on her face, so she must like it.

And their dad.  He just stood there and stared at her.  And then he said, “Oh Soph, you look so beautiful.”

It was obvious that neither parent was looking critically at how the dress fit.  Sophie was seeing it as perfect because her husband of many years had bought it for her.  And John was seeing it as perfect because it was on the woman he loved.  Then they left for dinner and had a wonderful time.

I guess I remember this story so well because it is such a great example of how love and loving acts can color our view of life.  And now that I’ve shared it with you, may the mental picture of that red knit dress on a slightly chubby little lady be a reminder to you too that even if the gift doesn’t fit perfectly, the love that is behind it is always perfect.