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!

 


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.


Bonnie

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!