Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday Writings from Pam

Not long ago, Pam over at Country Mouse, City Mouse posted this picture on her WordlessWednesday page. She had us all wondering what on earth it was. Turns out it is a picture of a kiln at the cement factory in her hometown. I was fascinated with the picture and decided that I would write about it. That thought led me to commit myself to Wednesday Writings from Pam. We'll see how it goes.

The Kiln

I wake early in the morning, just as the sun is peeking over the horizon and for a minute or two I am happy, peaceful even. It's only when I get out of my bed and go to the window that I see it, and my heart and soul are filled, once again, with dread.

I wonder, will I ever be free of the haunting sight of that specter of death? My friends say, "Petra, it's only a kiln. It is nothing. I can't hurt you. It's a kiln, nothing more. You must get over it. Put the past behind you. Move forward with your life."

The words come easily to them. I know they love me; care for my well being, want the best for me, desire my happiness. And in my head, I know what they say is true. It is just as they say, a kiln, a drier for the cement factory. The factory that supports many families in this town. It is not a bad thing, it is not evil. It cannot hurt me. Every day my head tells me to turn away, to smile, to see it for what it is, a cement factory kiln. That is my head. My heart and soul is another thing.

You see, my friends didn't live in the camps. They didn't watch as the soldiers separated crying children from their mothers. They didn't stand by as the guards beat the old and lame who could not walk fast enough or work hard enough. They didn't go to sleep hungry in the lice infested straw of a freezing barracks night after night. And most of all, they didn't see the hopelessness in the faces of the hundreds of human beings as they marched to the furnace where they would soon become the smoke coming from the ovens of death.

Today, I'll try again. I'll look out that window and say, "Petra, forget it. Put it behind you. It's only a cement factory kiln." And who knows, maybe today will the day I can really begin to believe it.

I hope you'll forgive me it this little writing seems heavy. I think I posted before that Jim and I have just seen the movie Defiant. It is still very much in my thoughts and when I saw this picture, this is the story it conjured up.

Have a wonderful day. Next Wednesday I'm thinking of something lighter to write about.

~Hippo Hugs~

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Musings

I know, I know, it's been forever (well a week really) since I've posted. I really had good intentions, but then life just got in the way. By way of excuses, I'll post a little about the "week that was".
Of course, you all know that Tuesday was a big day for citizens of the United States, with the inauguration of President Obama. Here in our little corner of the world, we had a celebration of our own. All during the presidential campaign, Jim and I have been joking with the couple who sit behind us in church about doing a write-in campaign to elect me for president. Well, as you all know, it didn't work. I am not the 44th president of the United States. Nevertheless, we invited my only two supporters to join us for coffee on inauguration day. We had a "loser's celebration."

Later in the day, Jim and I went to the movies. Tuesday is our favorite day to see a movie as it is "$1 popcorn day". It used to be free popcorn, but I guess the economy is catching up with everything. We saw the movie Defiant which I highly recommend. It is the true story of three Jewish brothers in Belarus during WWII, who saved over 1200 Jews from the Germans. I can't say it was an easy film to watch, but it was sure an eye opener.

Wednesday found us preparing for a visit from our friend/pseudo daughter, Heather, who was bringing her new beau to meet us. She is really close to three families from our church and circle of friends so we decided to have a dinner party at our house. Linda and I shared the food preparation.

As you can see, we had a really fun evening. We always manage to have lots of laughs when we get together.

As much fun as the evening was, I ended the day with some health concerns. Enough so that I decided to call my cardiologist on Thursday. That call lead to a doctor's appointment, which led to a stress test, echo cardiogram and EKG, all revealing nothing. Although both the cardiologist and I agree that this is probably related to some gastro problem, he scheduled me for a nuclear stress test later today. No big deal except that I couldn't have coffee this morning and you all know how I moan, groan and pout if I'm denied my coffee. That's okay, Jim's going with me to the appointment and will take me out for coffee and a muffin as soon as the test is over. What a great guy.

Since the week was pretty much a wash, we decided to see another movie on Friday. Movies are in the theaters for such a short time these days, you need to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. We really wanted to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button before it leaves the theaters, so off we went on Friday. Again, we really enjoyed the movie and would recommend it. We both cried at the end.
Our weekend was cold, cold, cold. After temperatures in the 40's on Friday (I managed to wash the car after the movie), we woke up to single digits on Saturday and Sunday. Other than going out to church and breakfast, we pretty much stayed in the house. We did venture out yesterday afternoon to take the recycling to the roadside.
Now that I've covered the last week by way of excusing myself, I will move on to something I've been remiss in taking care of. I have been given some awards. I do appreciate these awards, but have been slow to acknowledge them. I'm going to post them with thanks to the friends to passed them on to me. I am, however, not going to pass them on to anyone in particular. Just know, that I think all of you are wonderful and deserve awards and kudos galore.

From my British friend, Winifred, this Friends Award. Let me say that I can't believe how many wonderful friends I have made through blogging. Thank you all for your comments and friendship.

Also from Winifred is this Million Dollar Friend Award. She awarded this to me some time ago, but I just didn't get around to posting it. You are all worth millions to me.

And from Leslie, one of my newest blog buddies, this One Lovely Blog Award. Isn't it beautiful?

I think you all know that I love blogging. I love reading your blogs. It's a whole new world full of interesting people with interesting lives. Thanks for being part of my world.

~Hippo Hugs~

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Musings and Two MeMes

What a day this has been. Sounds like the beginning of a song doesn't it? Well, it has been a perfectly delightful day. Jim's hand is doing really well so I decided to leave him at home and have a day out and about.
Yesterday afternoon I discovered some fruit flavored marshmallows left over from Christmas. I use these to make my favorite "cathedral window" cookie. Knowing I should use the marshmallows up as they will be stale by the time we return from Nevada, I made some cathedral windows. Now, you need to know that I dare not have these in the house or I will nibble at them until they are gone. I just cannot leave them alone. So, I decided to deliver them to some of our shut-ins from church.

First stop was to visit my buddy, Larry, who has a defibrillator like me. We have had fun comparing notes since he had his implanted in November. Larry has several heart problems and has been under the weather for several weeks. I stopped in with cookies and had a great visit with him and his wife. I also got to meet their adopted greyhound, Emerald. What a fun way to start my day.
From there, it was on to see Ernie. You may have read my post about the death of Ernie's wife, Lena. We all miss Lena and are concerned for Ernie living alone after 71 years of marriage. When I arrived at his house, I found four of the five generations of his family there. His granddaughter, great granddaughter and his great, great granddaughter were visiting him. What a nice day for him. I only stayed a short time. It was good to see him with his family.

Another friend from church, Marilyn, has been diagnosed with ALS. Her husband has been in poor health for quite some time. As you can imagine, this diagnosis was quite a blow to them. They had to give up their home and move to a Senior Citizen Assisted Living community. Marilyn has also had to give up driving and Jack hasn't driven in quite some time. You might think they would be depressed and feel sorry for themselves. Just the opposite. They are so determined to praise God and make the best of their situation. I spent a wonderful 45 minutes with them. I was so uplifted and encouraged after the time with them. They do have a lovely apartment and are well cared for. I was blessed to be in their company.

I finished my visiting by going to the nursing home to see Florence. I found her sleeping, but she woke up and smiled at me. I fed her a cookie which she said was delicious though she couldn't eat it all. It was good to spend some time with her.
Along with all my visiting, I managed to go to Lowe's and buy a folding table, stop at JoAnne's and buy some thread, pick up some travel books at AAA and have a quiet lunch.

I got home just in time to go with Jim to the MLK Day ham dinner at church. This dinner is put on by the youth groups to help pay for their trip to a nearby Christian camp for Snow Camp. This is always a time of spiritual renewal and just plain fun for the kids. The food was good as usual and the service was superb. These kids outdid themselves.

The dining hall was pretty full.

The kitchen staff.

Fellowship time

Tired youth group leaders.

My post title included memes. I have been tagged for two and thought I'd include them today. The first one came from Pam at Country Mouse City Mouse who tagged me with this pet meme.

1. What is the first pet you remember. My first pet was a cat named Shine. He was a black kitty with a white spot under his chin. He wasn't the friendliest cat in the world, but he loved me and I him. He slept with me every night. He was killed by a car. I remember my friend saw him dead by the side of our street and my Grandma carried him home in her apron. Our neighbor buried him for us.

2. How many different pets have you had. Five.

3. What was your strangest pet? I think probably the turtles that my aunt gave me for Easter one year. Back then, they painted the poor little reptiles. They died pretty soon after I received them and I buried them by the side of the house. I was about seven years old and I dug them up once. I guess I was just making sure.

4. What is your dream pet? I don't think I have one. I have always though I'd like to own a cocker spaniel.

5. What is your nightmare pet? Cujo?

6. What is your best pet story? I have several but I think the best one would be about my cat Timmy. He was the most spoiled cat in the history of the world, and could get himself into much trouble. He loved to get into my grandmother's crochet cotton whenever he could. One day we went to town. In those days, no one ever locked their doors. When we arrived back home we couldn't get in the front door. My grandmother sent me around back. When I managed to get into the living room, there was a whole skein of my grandma's crochet cotton wrapped around chair legs, tables, lamps and finally, the doorknob with Timmy tied up, all four paws. When I stopped laughing, I got some scissors and cut my way to the door, freeing Timmy and letting my mother and grandmother in.

7. What is your saddest pet story? It would be the loss of my dear dog Frazier. If you have been a reader of my blog, you know how dear that dog was to Jim and me. It is still hard for me to talk about it. Without going into all the details, it is my belief and that of the Vet that he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. I spent the night with him downstairs in the living room. He couldn't climb the stairs. I had to carry him outside to do his morning business. We took him to the Vet and she said there was nothing to be done. We held him while she gave him the shot that allowed him to go to sleep. I am crying as I write this. I miss him more than I ever thought possible.

8. Do you have a scary animal experience? Yes. My aunt had German Shepherds who were not friendly. She had them penned on another aunt's porch and I didn't know they were there. I came running up the walk and steps to be greeted by them jumping and snarling behind a baby gate. I was afraid of all dogs for years after that.

9. What was your favorite pet? My boy Frazier.

I never get tired of posting his picture. Isn't he handsome?

10. Do you have anything you want to tell that doesn't fit in any of the questions. Only that Frazier didn't like us to leave him alone. Our punishment was to find a tissue from the waste basket laying in the middle of the hall when we returned. When we traveled, our friends, the Haaks, would keep him. One day I called them to see how things were going. They had been out to the movies and when they came home found a tissue laying in the middle of the floor. They felt they had arrived.

The second meme comes from Faye at Dutch Gramma. Hers is a photo tag. Here is how it goes.

Go to your pictures. Go to the sixth folder. Go to the sixth picture. Post that picture and the story that goes with it. This is fun.

This is a picture of our daughter, Gretchen, Jim and his brother LaVerne. This picture was taken in February of 2006 in Pahrump, Nevada. If you know anything about Nevada, you know that Pahrump is famous for more than its winery. It was a fun day.

So ends my Monday Musings. Thanks for dropping by and sticking with me. Hope this is the beginning of a perfectly delightful week for everyone.

As for the tags, I won't tag anyone in particular. If you want to join in, please do and let me know so I can be sure and read what you post.

~hippo hugs~

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tagged Again

Actually, I haven't really been tagged for this me-me. In fact, I asked Cheryl to include me in this one. Here's how it works, the tagger gives the taggee a letter, then the taggee {I know spell check is going to go nuts about these words} lists ten things she loves/likes starting with that letter. My letter is F. My first reaction was, "F! What will I come up with for the letter F?" But, guess what? I like so many things, it was hard to limit myself to only ten. So here goes:
Family - With the letter F, I didn't need to limit myself to any particular member of my family. Of course, I love and adore my immediate family, Jim, Paige, Gretchen and Brian .
Then, of course, there is Jim's mom and his brothers and their families. I am so happy and grateful to be a part of this wonderful family. Now that I am the only member of my family living, Jim's family is all the more important to me.
My wonderful mother in law.

Brother in law, Verne and his friend Kathy. I don't seem to have a picture of Dale and Carolyn,which doesn't make them any less precious to me.

Nieces and nephews.

And my own dear sister in law and niece, who are so very dear to my heart.

There are also my aunts, uncles and cousins who bring joy to my life.

Frazier, my dear departed dog who I miss every day. I have also been tagged to do a pet meme and will be going into much more detail about my boy in a later post. Suffice it to say, he still occupies a special place in my heart.
What a handsome boy.

Funky Socks. They just make me smile. One can never have too many fun socks.

Friends. What in the world would we do without our friends? My life is enriched daily by the joys of friendship. I decided that I couldn't post pictures to cover all the many people I count as friends. There are those I see almost daily, those I see occasionally and those who I rarely have a chance to see. There are my friends from work, from church, from Blogland, through email. New friends and old friends. Forever friends and sometime friends. The list goes on and on. I thank God daily for His grace and mercy in giving me friends

Flannel Sheets. Oh the joy of climbing into bed on a cold night and snuggling into flannel sheets. We have the most comfortable bed in the world, enhanced by flannel sheets.

France. I love travel to all places at all times but for the purposes of this post, I have chosen France. I do love France {not especially the French} and particularly, Paris. What a city of romance and beauty. I still remember the thrill I felt the first time I saw Paris. Hey, wouldn't that make a good song title? LOL. I've been to Paris twice and am just waiting for a chance to go again. I told my niece, Kacy, she should take me there when she graduates from college. I don't think she was particularly enamored of the idea. Fine wine. Or not so fine wine. I've found some fairly inexpensive wines that were really quite good. I'm not so much a lover of reds but at a recent wedding had a really good Cabernet. Wish I had asked the brand. Whites are my favorite, just so it isn't Chardonnay which I think tastes like perfume. Jim always asks when I last drank perfume. What a wise acre.

***!!!Fireworks!!!**** The child in me will never grow out of the awe and wonder of watching a good fireworks demonstration.

Fiction. Not just any fiction, but good, well written fiction. What could be better than escaping from the hum drum of everyday life into a world of exciting fiction. Once again, one of the greatest gifts bestowed on me by God is the ability to read. My most recent read was "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society". I highly recommend it. Not only was it a good read about WWII in the Channel Islands, it was also a great travelogue. Now I want to travel to the Channel Islands.

Flowers. Flowers, like funky socks and sunshine, make me happy. Almost everywhere I go, I stop to take pictures of flowers. If I were to post all my flower pictures, well, I just couldn't. I'm planning a project where I'll do a whole scrapbook of flowers. It should be such fun.

New York Wild Flowers.

Desert wild flowers in Nevada. Aren't they lovely?

Well friends, that makes ten things that I love that start with the letter F. I have had such fun putting this post together. Sorry for the length, but I just couldn't write about these things without pictures. Have a Happy Thursday.

Like Cheryl, I won't tag anyone, but if you want to play, let me know and I'll give you a letter.

~Hippo Hugs~

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The "Dreaded" Procedure

Well, it's come and gone and I have survived the dreaded procedure, my colonoscopy. If any of you read "Jump Start" in the comics, you will have been reading about one of the characters being goaded, nagged and threatened into having a colonoscopy.

It never took any of those things to encourage me to have my first {or any of the following} colonoscopies. I had a friend die of colon cancer that advanced to her liver. It never crossed my mind to try to weasel out of the test. My doctor first suggested it at age fifty-five. I had another one at 60 and my third one yesterday.

There is really nothing to the test itself. If the preparation doesn't kill you, you're sure to survive the procedure. LOL.

The torture starts the day before the test when your last meal is to be taken before 9 A.M. In my case, I skipped church so that we could go out and have a hearty breakfast. Now, once I've had my Sunday special breakfast, I usually don't even think about food again until 6 P.M. Not this week, I swear I was starving by noon. Believe me, jello and broth don't do much to fill the empty void in your tummy.

At 3 P.M. the fun begins. You begin drinking the above combination of elixirs. Since my test wasn't until yesterday afternoon, I got to drink half of the potion on Sunday and the other half Monday morning at 7 A.M. I have a particularly sensitive stomach. Getting the liquid down wasn't a problem; it was making it stay down that worried me. It wasn't easy, but I did manage to get it to stay down, both times.

I did my best to stay away from poor Jim during this time of preparation. To say the least, I wasn't a very fun date. But I managed to survive and the test itself went off with out a hitch. My dear hubby took me out to eat after we left the surgical center, and did his best to keep me from falling asleep in my soup. I spent the next fifteen hours sleeping and woke up to a full body rash this morning. Guess maybe it didn't go off without a hitch after all.

Okay, I'll admit it wasn't fun, but the peace of mind I have as a result of 24 hours discomfort is worth it all. If you are over 55, please do yourself and your loved ones a favor and schedule your colonoscopy.

Oh yes, did I mention I have to go back for an endoscopy in two weeks? Poor Jim.

~Hippo Hugs~

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Catching Up on Tuesday

Where does the time go? What did I do today? Those are questions I ask myself often. I thought I would have so much time, accomplish so much when I retired. Not so. I do think I waste more time, dream more, move more slowly than I did in, let's say, my forties and fifties, but nevertheless, I just have so many things I want to do, and so few really get done.

I guess that's okay in a way. Jim and I have a "Bucket List" and we are chipping away at it. His friend, George, says that's good but to remember to add something for everything we do. We don't want to end up with nothing to look forward to. I doubt that could ever happen to us.

All this said to underline the fact that I haven't posted in a few days. I've had good intentions, but just haven't made it. You will notice, if you click on my picture link, that I am keeping up with my "picture a day" commitment. Of course, I know, it's only been six days, but all the same I'm doing okay.

We're in the process of solidifying our travel plans for "Westward Ho!" or should I say, "Southwestward Ho?" There is much to be done before we can leave; much of it by way of doctor's appointments, blood work, and in Jim's case, surgery. He will have carpal tunnel surgery on his left hand next week. So, I guess that's where some of my time has gone.

And some it has gone to fun and games. Yesterday, in spite of an early morning Dr's appointment, I was able to fit in a lot of fun time. Linda went with me to the doctor's office. She read while I, well, we won't say exactly what I did. Anyway afterwards, we went to bother Sandi at her store. She was able to take a break and we went to Starbuck's for a half hour of serious girl talk.

Linda and I proceeded to the mall where we had a lovely salad for lunch. Then it was on to....

My daughter, Paige, called me on Christmas day and raved about this movie. I am not big into animation and said so. Jim, just refuses to go to animated movies. Paige said this had the best message of any movie she had seen in years. She said it is a tale of redemption and forgiveness. And it is.

It didn't take a lot of imploring to persuade Linda to go with me. We both enjoyed it tremendously, albeit while freezing to death in the theater. I highly recommend it (the movie, not the freezing) to everyone, no matter age. Not only is it a delightfully told and animated story, with great stars, it is truly a tale of love and redemption.

Today, after sleeping in until a decadent hour, I had lunch with my pals from Walworth. I got to know these dear women while I was filling in for the Walworth Library Director last year. Not only did I enjoy the job at Walworth and make some mad money, I was blessed to make some new and fast friends.

Stay warm, Jane and Dorothy. I'll see you in April.

Add to a late rising, lunch with friends, a haircut, an hour browsing in the library, 45 minutes on the phone with daughter, Gretchen, I guess I DO know where the time goes. Now, I hear Jim in the kitchen so it must be time for dinner.

I won't be posting again until Saturday as we are off to Pennsylvania to play with our relatives there for a couple of days.

~Hippo Hugs~

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Congratulations Emily and Kwami

Congratulations to Emily and Kwami, married December 27, 2008 in Ghana, Africa. Our love and prayers for many wonderful years as husband and wife. I believe Emily's traditional African wedding dress was sewn by her mother-in-law.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy Hogmonay

Well, here we are on the first day of the New Year. It's always a day filled with hope and promise for me. After lots and lots of snow, we are having a beautiful day of blue skies and sunshine on the snow. What a wonderful way to start the new year.

We had a fun evening with our friends Rick, Sandi, Jason and Linda to bring in the new year. One of the great blessings of my life, whatever the year may bring, is the company of our friends. They are such an integral part of my happiness and well being.

I thought to start the year, I'd take a look back on the year past. Our friend, Cheryl, had a neat idea using numbers for her Christmas card. I am borrowing from her {as I often do} and using numbers to highlight the year 2008 in the life of Hippochick and Hubby.

  • 62 - Jim turned 62 and began to draw his social security. Not only that, but because he is now drawing, I got a raise. How about that?
  • 40 - Years of marriage. What a ride it has been. We are having the time of our lives.
  • 4 - Weddings. Three beautiful weddings, all very different, which we were blessed to be able to attend and one in Africa which we only attended in our thoughts and prayers.
  • 6 - Delightful weeks in Henderson, Nevada. We are looking forward to eight weeks this winter.
  • 94 - Mom's 94th birthday was a real celebration. She is an amazing woman.
  • 45 - Combined pounds lost by Jim and me.
  • 23 - Combined pounds gained back by Jim and me. :(
  • 2 - Hand surgeries for Jim.
  • 1 - Successful surgery for Jim. PTL - His hand gets better every day.
  • 7 - Fun weeks working at the Marion library while they interviewed and hired the "Terrific Tracy" as their new director.
  • 34 - Per cent. That's what Wall Street says we lost on our investments in 2008. Isn't it great that we had something to lose?
  • 365 - Days of God's grace.

I think it's appropriate to share the following item which hangs on our refrigerator all the time. It was printed in the bulletin of the Green Valley Methodist church on June 11, 2006. It keeps our lives in perspective.



this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week.


the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.


in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world.


in the bank, and spare change in a dish somewhere, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.


this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all."


P.S. Stop by my "Year in Pictures". I'm really going to try to stick to it this year.