Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Fragments

It's another beautiful Friday in the desert with many thoughts bouncing around in my brain.

I woke up this morning thinking about fibromyalgia. That being because I suffer from this odd malady and spent the night waking up with pain. Faye posted some random facts about this condition the other day. One of the fallacies of this condition {which I have always wanted to believe} is that it is better in warm, dry weather. I always say, "Just wait until I get to the desert, I'll feel better." Let me tell you today, it just isn't true. I'm not sure what exactly causes me to have a flare up, but it's not weather.

Faye mentions in her post that stress effects it and that is true. But I couldn't be under less stress than I am here in Nevada, and here I am struggling with pain in my neck, shoulders, ribs and more.
I'm not writing about this by way of complaint. I am so grateful to be able function. I never miss out on things I want to do, I never have missed work as a result of my fibro, I can walk, hike, life is good. So, then why did I even mention it? Good question.

What else is running through this mind of mine today? Oh yes...

The Grocery Cart Phenomenon

This is a collection of grocery carts just outside our condo complex. We pass these carts every morning on our way to walk in the park nearby. These carts will sit here all week, sometimes being joined by others through the weekend. Then, mysteriously, by Sunday evening, they will disappear only to start the process all over again on Monday or Tuesday. Strange, huh?

A Walk in the Park

This is the park where we walk most every morning. Jim has been waiting for me these mornings so we can walk together. Well, I say we walk together when I should say, we walk at the same time. Our paces differ some and Jim walks a little faster than I.

Here he is passing me this morning. He is a very serious walker. His walks encompasses a little over three miles, while mine, much slower is probably about 2-1/2. I bring my coffee along and sit and drink it while he finishes up his walk and then we walk back to the condo together.

Canine friends in the park

One of the things I like most about the park is meeting new dogs. The top picture is two girls I see almost every day. They are very nice, friendly dogs. The bottom photo is of two guys I just met this morning. We tried to get them both to sit, but they were just too excited.

Signs of Spring

There are a few signs of spring coming to the desert. The red flower is blooming in one of the courtyards of our complex. The yellow bush is blooming in the park. With temperatures in the 70's, I'm, sure we will be seeing more flowers and buds soon. I'm really looking forward to the desert in bloom soon.

We had email from our friends, Jason and Linda and it looks like they will be coming to spend a week with sometime in March. We are so excited. The list of things we want to do with them is long. One thing I'm excited for them to see is views like this

The snow capped mountains in the background {we hope to take them up to Mt. Charleston} and the Las Vegas Strip in the foreground {of course we'll visit the strip}.

Monday we're off to California to spend a couple of days in Joshua Tree National Park with Brian and Gretchen. Until next week...

~Hippo Hugs~

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

I've been working on a piece of writing about one of my high school teachers and had planned to post it today, but have decided instead to talk about Ash Wednesday.

It isn't the tradition in my home church to observe Ash Wednesday with the imposition of ashes. In fact, none of the churches I have attended have ever observed that rite. I remember being a little jealous of my Catholic friends because they always came to school with ashes on Ash Wednesday.

So, it was really special for me to take part in the Ash Wednesday worship this morning and receive ashes. When Pastor Lynne put the sign of the cross on my forehead with the ashes of last years burnt palm branches, uttering the scripture "from dust you have come and to dust you will return" I was moved to think about the sacrifice of Jesus for me.

The sermon about Lent and what it should mean to us as Christians caused me to really focus on how much we have to praise God for, what it cost him to make recompense for our sins,how much I fail him each day. Pastor asked us to seek to correct an area in our lives where we know we fall short.

How easy to say; how difficult to do. First of all, to choose just one place is a dilemma for me as I know how often and much I fall short. But the first thing that came to my mind was my devotional life. That is a really easy one, or is it? It's easy to say, "Lord, I will spend more time in prayer and study." But to do it, that's the rub.
I've had these wonderful prayer beads that Gretchen and Heather made for me since November. My intention has been to center my devotional around the beads.

Well, that was my intention three months ago. Today, I plan, with God's help to try to be more faithful in my prayer time, to use these beautiful beads to focus more on the goodness and glory of God in my devotional time. I'll keep you posted.

Another thing Pastor Bob talked about this morning was the discipline of silence. Silence is such a hard thing to adhere to. He challenged us to, along with whatever discipline we adopt for Lent, to try to practice periods of silence. That challenge also caused me to be pensive. I am such a noisy soul. I wonder what a discipline of silence would do for me. Maybe, this Lenten season, I will find out.

Today's Word:

cacophony -harsh or discordant sound

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Musings

The desert never ceases to amaze me. This morning as we were driving down the expressway toward the west, the sky was drab and overcast here in Henderson while off in the distance the sun was breaking over the mountains. There on the top of one of the snow capped peaks was the most beautiful rainbow. I wanted to jump out and take a picture of it but Jim, driving 70 mph down the freeway, thought better of it.

Now, two hours later, the sun is beginning to shine here at The District at Green Valley, one of my favorite places to spend time. Good thing, since this is where I can get free wi-fi.

In spite of the overcast skies this morning the forecast for today is 70 degrees. I had email from my friend, Lonnie, who tells me it is snowing steadily in Upstate NY with a temperature of less than 20 degrees. I guess it stands to reason that I am pretty happy here in the desert.

Friday we had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants here in the District. The Elephant Bar always has good food and right now has a really fine coupon deal going on. I had the shrimp scampi in lobster sauce while Jim had chicken medallions. The special also included $.99 Margaritas if so desired. I so desired. It was a really fun lunch eaten on the patio.

These pictures were actually taken last year at the Elephant Bar, but nothing has changed since then.

Once again, we enjoyed our time of worship at Green Valley UMC. Pastor Bob continued the Grace series, and once again, we were touched by the extent of God's love and grace. Pastor stressed the need to give up our anger and bitterness and allow forgiveness to take it's place. They plan to have the entire series available on CD. I want to take it home with me for days when I find myself doubting.

Our weekly breakfast at the Original Pancake House was as good as ever. We share an omelet and order a side of bacon (the best Jim declares he's ever eaten).

We skipped the Oscars last night. Though we had seen some of the nominees, we felt like we'd missed enough to be a little lost. I did miss seeing what everyone was wearing though. They certainly can look glamorous, can't they?

Hey, the sun is shining here in the District which means it will be shining at our condo. I guess it's time to hang it up and go for our walk. Until Wednesday, so long and

~Hippo Hugs~

Today's Word:Extrapolate-

To project, extend or expand (known data or experience)

into an area not know or experienced so as to arrive at a usually

conjectural knowledge of the unknown area.

OR - your guess is as good as mine (LOL)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's Thursday and I'm Confused

I'm totally upended being in a different time zone, different climate, different geographic location. I'm having trouble remembering what time it is, let alone what day it is. All this to say, I didn't post a Wednesday Writing this week. I have been working on a piece and hope I'll finish and post it soon. I think I've reported that we don't have an Internet connection in our condo. That certainly curtails my reading blogs and posting as well as many other fun things I find to do online. Next to blogging, I miss my puzzle sites most. Oh well, considering that it's 64 degrees today and promises to get a little warmer each day this week, I think I can handle this inconvenience. Especially since we go to Panera's every other day to have coffee and go online. Jim, being the very patient and caring husband that he is, reads and drinks coffee, never putting any pressure on me to hurry.

The weather here has a been a little cooler than usual for this time of year. We've had a little rain in the valley and snow in the mountains. We can't complain as they really need rain out here. The last two days have been beautiful with temperatures in the mid 60's, blue skies and sunshine. I took this picture of the mountains out the car window yesterday on the way to Brian and Gretchen's.

We had an amazing lunch with Gretchen and Brian yesterday. It was a celebration of Brian's promotion at work. Brian had been hoping for this promotion for awhile now. In fact, he was actually doing the job without having official word that it was his. He just found out over the weekend so we celebrated yesterday. Gretchen made her famous tilapia on the grill. It was absolutely outstanding. I can hardly wait to make it myself.

We topped dinner off with cupcakes from the Cupcakery. Cheryl, I thought of you. Talk about wonderful cake, these cupcakes are just out of this world. We sat on the front patio after lunch and talked, ate cupcakes and basked in the sun.

Jim and Brian played with Brian's helicopter until the battery ran down. I know both those boys
had been waiting impatiently for Jim to get here so they could play. I didn't have my camera with me, but I'm sure I'll have a chance to catch them at play again before we leave here.

I'm just so happy to be here. As I said in the first paragraph of this post, everything in my life is so different than it is at home. It's as if we leave schedules and responsibility behind and just enter another dimension. For one thing, I sleep late here, not that I get up at the crack of dawn in NY, but here I often stay in bed until 9 or later...without guilt.

Wednesday, I was up and attem early. Wednesday is Bible Study at the church we attend here. I don't think I had realized how much my heart was yearning to fellowship with these dear ladies until I found myself there yesterday. We are studying a great book, I'm Okay With God. It's Christians I can't Stand". I can hardly wait to read the chapters I've missed. So far, it seems right on.

Jim has been walking about three miles every day since we arrived last week. My cold seems to be gone and I've been walking every day too. I don't quite make it as far as Jim, but I'm doing okay and loving it.

The theatre here at the Green Valley District is a Regal Cinema and has $1 popcorn Tuesdays just like back home. We have seen Taken which we both really liked it, and He's Not That Into You which we aren't recommending. I guess you win some and lose some in the movie business.

So, I guess that brings us up to date on happenings here in Henderson. We are enjoying our time here. If only my buddies from upstate NY could be here with me, it would all be perfect.

Today's Word:
exacerbate - to increase the severity, violence or bitterness of
~Hippo Hugs~

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Musings

Hallelujah! I am about 90% healthy again. I awoke yesterday feeling much better, and managed through the day without any cold medicine.

I was excited to wake up and realize that we would be worshipping, once again, with our friends at Green Valley UMC here in Henderson, NV. Although it was a rather chilly day, the sun was shining and we were in great spirits as we went off to church. I wasn't disappointed. It was a delightfully upbeat service with the Praise Band, Children's choir and a great sermon on Grace. The assistant pastor delivered the first in a series of sermons on Grace and it was really uplifting.

She talked about perfectionism and how it is defeating and debilitating. So many of us have been raised {albeit unknowingly} to be perfect, to earn praise and acceptance. I'm sure no one in my life meant to make me feel that I had to perform at 110% to be accepted, but nevertheless, I spent many years living as if I did.

I think I've come a long way baby, but at times, I still find myself performing. Jim and I talked about it and we both know one of my greatest weaknesses, even today, is wanting everyone to like me. My friend, Linda, who says she doesn't care one whit if anyone likes her, is giving me lessons. I must admit, I'm a slow learner.

I do know, however, that in Jesus Christ we are totally accepted, warts and all. Grace, through faith in Jesus, is total acceptance, freely given with no strings attached. Sermons like yesterday's help me to remember that truth.

It rained in the desert overnight and just a few minutes ago. I'm not especially pleased, as I did some laundry this morning and put it on the drying rack on the patio of the condo. Oh well, it will dry eventually and they certainly need the rain here.

We had a really nice weekend. In spite of my cold, I dragged myself out of the condo on Saturday and we attended a movie. We have a list and Taken was high on the list. It was a real action thriller. I am pretty enamoured of Liam Neeson so I was bound to like it.

After the movie, we celebrated Valentine's day with a nice steak and shrimp dinner at home. We were both happy to be here in the desert celebrating together.

We are having coffee at a local Panera Bread Company, using their free wifi. If the rain stops, I plan to walk again today. Jim has been out walking every morning, but I have been nursing my cold and staying in bed. Yesterday after our regular Sunday brunch at the Original Pancake House at Green Valley Ranch casino and resort, we walked to the nearby park and did some laps. It felt so good. I am determined to get back in the groove.

Well, I guess if I'm going to get to the rest of the things on my list for today, including walking, I'd better close this up and get moving.

Today's Word:
Bucolic - Characteristic of shepherds or flocks;
~Hippo Hugs~

Friday, February 13, 2009

We Have Arrived

Arrived here in Henderson about 11 AM pst on Wednesday. The weather was bright and sunny, about 64 degrees. It felt so good to be out of the car and unpacking. We left Holbrook, AZ about 6:28 MT. We travelled through Flagstaff where 17 inches of snow had fallen just two days prior to our passing through. It was really beautiful. Here is a pic I took of the snow covered mountains on our way through Arizona.

After unpacking the car, we met Brian and Gretchen along with Jim's brother Laverne (who is attending a conference here with his girlfriend) for lunch at my favorite pizza place. We spent a leisurely afternoon getting caught up.
There is a downside to this post though, Jim and Paige were so kind as to share their colds with me. From the way I am feeling, I think I got a double dose from both of them. I have mostly slept and slept since we arrived. I did manage to go with Jim to purchase groceries yesterday and put a meal together last night when Gretchen came for dinner. Beyond that, I have accomplished very little.
We don't have an Internet connection in our condo and I couldn't manage to stay away from contact with my blogging world, so we are here at Panera's having lunch and catching up with the world online.
I'm not sure how or why, but my iPod seems to have died. Like the internet, I don't think I can manage to be without it for long so I think we will stop at an electronics store on the way home and pick up another one. Luckily, I have birthday money burning a hole in my pocket.
Hopefully, but Monday, I'll be feeling like a new person and will have lots of energy and much to post about.
~Hippo Hugs~

Monday, February 9, 2009


I was so very tired last night that I didn't take the time to post the happenings of the day. We left Crystal Lake, IL about 7 AM on a beautiful, sunshiny day. We found the traffic to be surprisingly cooperative and were on our way to Missouri in no time.
We lost our sunshine pretty early on, but didn't run into any inclement weather. It was a long day. We were, however, just blown away by the beauty of the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River crossing. Jim was particularly taken with seeing the Arch and Busch Stadium as we crossed the river into St. Louis.
Missouri is a lot of flat grasslands. But after awhile, we drove into the Ozark Mountains and enjoyed the change of topography. We are constantly amazed at the changes in scenery as we drive across this country.
We had a great room and a good dinner at the restaurant next door. We were both tired and had a good night's sleep, awaking early this morning. Once again, we were on the road by 7 A.M., passing through Missouri, Oklahoma and most of the Texas panhandle before arriving here in Amarillo late this afternoon. We ran into a huge rainstorm early in the morning, but found sunshine soon after. We were buffeted by really strong winds all day long. The forecast is for strong winds and perhaps rain or snow through New Mexico tomorrow. I guess we'll just wait and see.
We have had a really nice dinner at a real Texas steakhouse. It was a really fascinating place with all kinds of Texas memorabilia and me without my camera. It was a fun evening with really good food.
And now, I'm ready for another good night's sleep. Tomorrow is another long day and then Wednesday we arrive in Henderson. Gretchen called today and says she can hardly wait to see us. Ditto for me!
Until we arrive in Nevada,
~Hippo Hugs~

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Another Great Day

Balmy temperatures (55 degrees), sunny skies, good company, good wine and good food. What more could anyone ask for?

It has been such a delightful day for Jim and I here in Crystal Lake, IL with our daughter, Paige. We started the day with breakfast at IHOP. From there, we came back to our hotel so that Paige and Liam could swim in our pool.

Then it was on to my birthday treat from Paige, a wine tasting at a small local winery. It was a really charming place with good wine.
We actually talked Jim into buying an iPod Shuffle for his walks. Jim just doesn't buy things for himself, so this was a cause for celebration.

We had a wonderful fondue dinner at a Melting Pot Restaurant. What fun!

All this and I'm married to this man.

Tell me I don't have a wonderful life!!

Today's Word:
Aggregate - A total considered with
reference to its constituent parts

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's My Birthday!

It is, really! I am 64 years old today. Although 64 isn't quite as exciting as 60, it has been a very good year, and I anticipate the coming year to be even better if that's possible.

We left Maumee, Ohio this morning at 8:30 and arrived here in Crystal Lake, IL about 12:30, just in time to meet our sweet Paige for lunch. How wonderful it is to see her and spend the afternoon and evening with her.
After lunch, we went back to her house and met her dog, Boomer. Boomer is a 120 pound Great Dane. He and Arlo are pretty good buddies, and they both seem to like Jim.

So, you may ask, how did I celebrate my birthday? I'll admit it wasn't my usual style of celebrating. You see, I shared my celebration with Paige's buddy, Liam who was ten on Wednesday. His choice of parties was at the....

That's right, we celebrated with Liam and 25 of his best friends at a bowling alley/video game arcade. After fifteen minutes, Jim turned to me and said, "I know for sure now why I retired." I cannot remember when I've heard so much squealing, giggling and just plain yelling. As you might guess, they had a great time.

Paige and Dad sharing a moment and a slice of pizza.

Paige signing Liam's bowling pin. Each birthday child is given a pin for all his birthday guests to sign. Did I mention that there were four other parties going on at the same time as Liam's? I have never seen a more organized and fun group of people as those who ran these parties. Not only did the kids bowl, they were led in dances like the limbo and the cha-cha. There was a shouting contest, which, by the way, Liam's group won, and other organized activities. When the bowling was over, Liam and all his friends went into the laser tag room to play. I was invited, but wimped out. Gretchen is very disappointed in her mother as she thought me playing laser tag would be a great birthday post.

The birthday boy and girl!!

After the party, we went back home to watch Liam open his gifts and share some wonderful Chinese food and wine.

Tomorrow promises to be a funfilled day with a wine tasting, swimming at our hotel and a fondue dinner. Stay tuned.

Today's word:
Reconnoiter - To make a preliminary inspection of, especially in
order to gather military information.

~Hippo Hugs~

Thursday, February 5, 2009

On The Road Again

I felt better as the day went on yesterday and by bedtime thought I might survive. I managed to finish my packing and get my nails and hair done, considering the way I felt, a great accomplishment.

By 7:45 this morning, the car was all packed and we were ready to leave Western NY. Here are a couple of pics of how it looked out our living room window as we were about to depart.

We went about 1-1/2 miles to the local gas station when I realized that I had forgotten my sun glasses. The pumps were very busy so instead of pulling and getting gas, we turned around and drove back home to get my glasses. Consequently, when we arrived at the pumps about seven minutes later the gas price had risen 6 cents . Can you believe that?

Added to the swirling snow, that wasn't the greatest way to start our day. I'll admit, we were a little concerned about the snow. Driving toward Buffalo, NY and Erie, PA in February can be a treacherous journey. However, six miles down the road we drove out of the snow and into blue skies and sunshine. We had smooth sailing all the way through NY, PA and Ohio. That's lake effect snow for you.

I have a great story about lake effect snow. We usually know the difference between area wide and lake effect snow and are in the habit of saying, "Oh, it's only lake effect." I guess we say it a lot because Paige told me when she was about 18 years old that she always thought it looked like regular snow and and felt like regular snow and couldn't figure out what was different about it.

We arrived in Erie, PA about 11:30, just in time for lunch. My elderly Aunt and Uncle live in Erie and they were able to meet us just off the highway for lunch. They have been such an important part of my life and I love them dearly. It is bittersweet to be with them these days as their health is deteriorating. My Uncle is 84 and my Aunt, who is blind, is 80. She asked me today if I could believe she was 80. My answer was that if I was going to be 64 tomorrow, she had to be 80. She was just 16 when I was born, and happily gave up her position of baby of the family to me. In many ways, she was a second mother to me. It was very precious to spend the lunch hour with them today.

And so, here we are. Tucked in our snug hotel room, me blogging and Jim watching Pat Summit vying for her 1000th victory for Tennessee girls basketball. Jim is really impressed with her. She is an amazing coach.

We had a good meal at Red Lobster and spent a half hour in the hot tub. Now I'm ready for a good night's sleep and tomorrow we see our Paige(y). Can hardly wait.

Today's Word

Hyperbole -a figure of speech in which exaggeration

is used for emphasis or effect, as in this book weighs a ton.

~Hippo Hugs~

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I apologize

I'm still committed to Wednesday Writings, however between a horrible stomach bug which attacked me with a vengeance and trying to pack to leave for Nevada tomorrow, I just cannot muster up the energy to write anything at all.

I'm hoping I might get a chance to post on the road. If not, we'll be in Henderson by next Wednesday.

Until then Hippo Hugs.

Today's Word
Capitulate - To surrender, especially on certain terms.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Musings

Where oh where do I start? I guess we'll go with first things first! That being that our buddy :

Punxatawney Phil

saw his shadow this morning and we will have six more weeks of winter. That is opposed to his not seeing his shadow which would have meant an early spring, about six weeks from now.

I guess that news is second only to the big story in the last quarter of the Super Bowl last night when...

Santonio Holmes caught the winning catch for the sixth Super Bowl title for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game was pretty quiet during the first half, but that fourth quarter was a lulu. I was rather disappointed in the commercials this time. Dorito had a couple of funny ones and, of course, the Clydesdales were charming as usual.

Although we are Pennsylvania born and bred and were rooting for the Steelers, my heart was softened by Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald played some pretty brilliant football. Jim told me that he had seen an interview where he said he hadn't cut his hair since his mother's death. It was a really touching story, thus a place in my mother's heart for him.

Here are a couple of pictures from our exciting Super Bowl party.

Just what can I say about these two guys? We all felt that the 3D glasses didn't quite work for us. Jason kept wearing his in hopes that something would "jump out at him". Jim, on the other hand, put his on his head as he never gets to do that with sunglasses. Again, what can I say?

This weekend was my Scrapbook Getaway. It was great. We go to a local hotel where they give us a special rate and a conference room. Everyone brings food and snacks. I ate entirely too much and won't even consider stepping on the scales for at least a week. It wasn't all eating and scrapping. They had a hot tub so there were times for sitting and soothing too.

These gals are very neat scrappers.

I met some new gals this time.

Some pages were all pictures, some other things. Linda was doing her baby's first birthday, while Laurie was making recipe books for her daughters.

I made cards for part of the time. And then started my flower mini.

I also spent some time organizing some pictures and trying to decide just what I want to take with me to Nevada. Well, I also need to ask Jim just how much "stuff" can fit in the car. I don't want to take up all the space.

Speaking of Nevada, only three more sleeps until we leave. We will spend one night on the road between here and Chicago and then two whole days and nights with Paige. I can hardly wait.

Now, I must leave you and go prepare for my endoscopy which will take place in just two hours. Hope I don't sleep for eighteen hours after this test like did the colonoscopy. I think this is the end of tests for awhile----at least I hope.

~Hippo Hugs to all.

Today's word is:

Auspicious - Promising success.