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!


Arlington Cemetery: Touching Tributes

April 11, 2012

It was so interesting to me to see the reality of places which I had previously only seen in pictures while I visited Washington, DC.

One of those places was Arlington Cemetery.  I only remember seeing pictures of Arlington that were of a flat field filled with row after row of white crosses.  A very striking picture and I can understand why that would be an appropriate photo to represent Arlington.

But I was surprised when I saw it in person and realized that it is actually quite hilly.  I found it much more beautiful in reality, with not only a more interesting landscape than the flat I had envisioned, but with trees everywhere I looked, many flowering early because of our unusual Spring.

 One of the facts I learned while I was there was that originally the markers were as varied as any other cemetery.  But at some point it was decided that no matter how rich or poor were the people who had served our country who were buried there, they all deserved the same respect, so from then on simple white crosses were used for everyone.

We were at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to see the changing of the guard.

It was arranged ahead of time that four students from the group of eighth graders we were with, would participate in a wreath-laying ceremony.  I would think that that will be memorable for all of the class, not just those who participated.

If I ever knew, I had forgotten, that the remains of the Unknown from the Viet Nam War have been removed because DNA has allowed the military to identify that soldier.  And I was told that because DNA can now be used to identify remains, there won’t be any more burials with the Unknowns.

The viewing of so many graves was, of course, sobering, as well as the ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but I think the sight that touched me most was this:

Old tombstones with rocks or sometimes coins laid on them.  It’s one thing to look at many graves of men and women who sacrificed for my freedom but whom I did not know, but quite another to look at a tombstone that has been somehow singled out like this.  I could picture a person standing at one of  those tombstones laying a token on it while picturing what the person was like and remembering family stories about them.  It made the whole experience feel a little more personal for me.

If you haven’t visited Arlington, I recommend it.


November 5, 2011
Jay and his shark tooth.
Our grandson Jay has been named the best defensive player of the week for two weeks in a row on his high school football team.  He is a junior and has just recently been made the starting middle linebacker.
We are, of course, very proud of how well he is playing, but are even prouder of how humbly he is handling his success as well as all the hard work, without much playing time to show for it, he had put in during his freshman and sophomore years, preparing for this opportunity.
Good work, Jay.  We are very happy for you and proud of your perseverance.

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.


What goes up, must come down …

July 21, 2011

Susan E., a friend at golf, told me this story last week.

Susan’s young son was a Boy Scout and his troop was going to Colorado skiing.  They were looking for parents/chaperones to go along, so Susan volunteered.  She had skied up in Michigan several times, so she felt she could ski just as well in Colorado. After all it was all skiing!  But she was about to find out that there is skiing and then there is SKIING!

Her first reality check was, of course, how high the mountains.  But just because the mountains were wayyyy up there, didn’t necessarily mean that when you skied you went all the way to the top, right?

Sure, she could tell herself that, but she got a sinking feeling when the ride up the mountain on the ski lift took a half hour!  When they finally got to the top of the run, it was explained to her that the trip down the mountain was broken up by several rest stops, so she wouldn’t have to make the whole run at one time.  Ummmm.  Okay.  Maybe that would work,

But when she got to the first rest stop, she was exhausted.  The inside of her thighs already ached because she was constantly turning her toes in to put on the brakes!  Okay, this was enough of that.

She called the Ski Patrol.  She told them she needed to be taken the rest of the way down the mountain.  They asked if she was hurt?  No.  They asked if she was sick?  Well, no.  “Sorry.  We can’t come and get you just because you are afraid.”

The end of the story is that the Boy Scout Leader, an experienced skier, stayed with her and helped her down the rest of the mountain.  She said when she finally got to the bottom, her legs were so shaky and tired that she could hardly walk.

She didn’t actually say, but my guess is that after that she became a “snow bunny” sitting in the lodge and drinking cocoa for the rest of their stay.

Susan learned the hard way that, when you go up, you must come down, heart in your throat, or not.


a tape recorder, a calculator and a fife, yes … confetti, no

July 18, 2011

Our daughter DD was always a pretty creative kid.  And when she was about 10 years old she surprised me with this little talent I didn’t know she had.

She had been busy up in her room for a while.  Then she came down to the kitchen where I was working, carrying her tape recorder and the hand-carved fife we had bought for her at a local festival.

She plugged in the tape recorder and said, “Listen to this!”  She pushed “Play” on the tape recorder and then put the fife to her lips.  When the song Chariots of Fire started playing, she played along on her fife.

That was very nice, but who was playing the song on the tape recorder and what instrument had they used?

She then told me she had discovered that, because each key on a calculator played a tone, she could play a song on it.  So she used her tape recorder to record herself playing Chariots of Fire on the calculator and then she had the idea to accompany her recording on her fife!  I was much more impressed after I heard that!  What a fun surprise it was that our very young daughter had been so inventive.

DD was a child who loved to treat us to little surprises like this.  I remember another time she came down and asked me to come up to the spare bedroom for a surprise.  When I got upstairs the door was closed.  When I opened it, she “surprised” me by throwing a grocery bad full of tiny pieces of paper she had torn up into the air so that it “rained” confetti.  That surprise ended up not being as much fun for her as she had thought.  After I recovered from the confetti rain, I told her that that was very nice, but she would have to now pick up all the tiny pieces of paper.

When you’re a clever think-outside-the-box little girl, some times when you surprise your family with your creativity are bound to be more successful that others.

I love you DD.  And I loved most of your clever-little-girl surprises, but the confetti, not so much.

Urban Sand Castles

July 12, 2011

I have always marveled at beautiful sand castles that have required alot of creativity and work, yet are soon erased by the tide.

I am reminded of those sand castles when I go to the chalk art show at a local festival.  Last year was the first time I “discovered” this interesting event and I’m so glad I did!  It s fun to get to see people actually creating the art, as well as see the finished product.  But last year, the next day when that street had been reopened and I happened to drive down it, I was amazed at how quickly the art was disappearing as cars drove over it.  I give the artists so much credit for being able to create such lovely art, always knowing that it is only temporary.

























































When I was looking at this one, I happened to notice







… that her sketch that she was referencing was laying near-by.  It was interesting to see what she was working toward.

















I happened to notice after I had downloaded these pictures that this one was done by a young lady whom we have known most of her life.  She is a very talented artist, and even better, a really nice person!




















































































Just a box of inanimate objects until they’re in the hands of an artist.









Because the art itself is temporary, I especially like it that photos, mine and others, keep it from ever being entirely gone.

A Fortuitous Fall?

July 4, 2011

My knees are almost completely healed from their replacement last November … except, they still don’t bend quite as far as they should.

A friend had her knees replaced in May, but has just had an additional little procedure done by the doctor that broke up scar tissue that was keeping her knees from bending as well as they should.

So, that made me wonder if I had missed the boat by not asking about that procedure soon after my surgery.  I was thinking I might make an appointment (I haven’t seen the knee doctor since December) just to see what the doctor  had to say about my flexibility.

Then the other day (a very hot morning) I was watering flowers on the deck barefoot (which I don’t normally do) and discovered that that composite decking apparently really holds the heat, because it was reallllly hot on the bottoms of my feet, so I hurried to the two steps down to the yard to get off the deck.

But being distracted by hot feet and hurrying I missed the first step, lost my balance and fell, huge plastic watering can and all, face-first into the yard.  (The picture flashed through my mind of  people sitting behind windows in homes on the other side of the lake, sipping their morning coffee and chuckling at the free entertainment.)

I can’t decide if having the watering can in my hand was a blessing or not.  On the one hand, it may have broken my fall because it hit the ground first.  But, on the other hand, if I hadn’t been holding it, I might have done a better job of catching myself with my hands.  My knees hit first (oh-ohh) and then I went down on my face.  Luckily the grass somewhat padded the fall.

I immediately got up not wanting to entertain the neighbors any longer than necessary, if they were watching (ahh, vanity)) and was relieved that my knees still worked!  But I was also surprised that while the fronts of my knees had some small abrasions, it was the backs of my knees that really hurt!  So I went in the house, took a couple aspirin, and waited to see if they would get better or worse as the day went along.

They never felt any worse.  In fact, the next day they didn’t hurt at all!  And the big surprise is … they seem more flexible than they did before the fall!

So, I’m thinking my little unexpected fall may have done for me what my friend’s visit to the doctor accomplished.  And my version was free!   That seems to have turned out to be a very fortuitous fall.

zippy at sixty-five …

June 28, 2011

Do you know what a zip line is?  I certainly didn’t before this weekend.  But now I not only know what one is but I have ridden one!

After answering alot of questions about your health and mental capacity, signing a waiver and hearing lots of instructions, they suit you up like this. The picture confirms that I looked just as cute in that get-up as I thought I did.

Next, they put you on a platform that raises you up maybe 20-25 feet?  High.

And finally after they hook you up to the line (with lots of assurances about how many different things would have to fail [4] in order for you to fall) and give you instructions regarding what to do if something should happen that you stop before you get all the way to the other side, they just give you a little push and off you go!  (with Hubby and DD standing on the bridge near-by to take pictures.)

When I got done and put my visor back on, my dear family had a good laugh at my expense before they told me that I had my visor turned up instead of down.

The ride was fun, but not nearly as much fun as it was to surprise my family that I would do it!  It really wasn’t very scary, but I’m not going to tell them that because I want them to believe I’m fearless!!

a drive on the wild side …

June 21, 2011

Recently we were at a reunion on the grounds of the hospital where I had my bi-lateral knee replacement in November.  Naturally, because orthopedic surgery is generally done on older people, most of the attendees were our age and older.  Having never been to this yearly event before, we really didn’t know what to expect, but the invitation made it sound like it would be a fun evening, so we were a little disappointed when as soon as we had had dinner the organizers began that favorite past-time of many seniors, Bingo. So we decided to call it an evening.  There were probably close to 1,000 people there (it was kind of impressive to realize how many knee, hip and back surgeries that huge throng of people represented), so it wasn’t like we would be missed.

We went outside the tent anticipating that there would be a shuttle bus to take us back to the far-away parking lot on the other side of the hospital’s campus, like the one that had brought us from there in the first place.

But as soon as we walked out, a little old guy on a golf cart zipped up in front of us and asked if we needed a lift.  We had seen golf carts being used in the adjacent parking lots, so we explained that we needed to go wayyy to the other side of the campus, expecting that that would tell him that we should wait for a road-worthy bus.

But he said, “Naaa, you don’t need a bus, I can take you.”  Okay, he seemed confident, so I got into the seat beside him and Hubby stood on the step on the back that was equipped with handrails.  And off we went.  Fast.  I didn’t notice, but Hubby may have had bugs in his teeth because his head was above the roof of the cart.  But it was definitely a quick trip, so he didn’t have to worry about that for too long … in fact he may have been so distracted by Old Guy’s driving that he didn’t even notice.

We drove all the way to the other side of the campus on the left side of the four lane paved road!  And either Old Guy couldn’t see well enough to know that the light at the intersection in the middle of the campus was red, or he just didn’t think it applied to golf carts, because we breezed right through it without even slowing down.  Probably much to the surprise of the driver of the car that was approaching on the road that had a green light!  I don’t think I screamed, in fact, Hubby and I didn’t say anything.  I guess we were in shock.

When we got to our car, Old Guy smiled, told us to enjoy the rest of our evening, and sped off into the evening, I’m sure looking for his next victims.

The food was good and we sat at a table of very nice people, but the ride back to our car was definitely the most memorable part of the evening!