Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Musings

It's a little chilly here in Henderson, so we decided to delay our walk until this afternoon. Here we are at Panera's having our coffee and muffins. We could go to the library for free Internet access, but as Jim says, "They don't have muffins and coffee at the library.

You won't believe that in the middle of doing this post, I lost everything but the first paragraph. Jim says that why he doesn't do computers, he would lose things and then be frustrated. Well, now the question is do I continue/backtrack or give up and chuck the whole thing. Not one to be deterred by little setbacks, I will continue/backtrack.

As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted, Louisville being defeated by Michigan State, I am in a quandary about who I will be rooting for in the Final Four. Given those still in the running...

Jim says that although he will continue to root for a Big East Team, he thinks North Carolina may take it all. I, on the other hand, have no real feelings one way or the other and have opted to keep rooting Big East and have chosen Villanova. Now, we'll just wait and see. For sure, we will be tuned in to the Big Dance next Monday.

Other than being glued to the TV watching basketball, we had a pretty quiet weekend. We did attempt to get last minute tickets to see one of our old favorites, Neil Sedaka, in concert last night. Alas, we waited too long and it was a sold out crowd. We were not terribly disappointed as we had seen him twice before and we have seen two really fabulous shows this trip.

Well, we've already had our muffins and coffee as well as some samples of an egg, spinach, bacon and cheese souffle and a blueberry scone, and it's almost lunch time. I guess I'll close for now wishing everyone a Happy Monday with

~Hippo Hugs~

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Fragments

Oh, can it be Friday already? Not only Friday, but Friday, March 27. That means that we have only 16 days left here in Henderson. I cannot believe that time has gone by so quickly this winter. I have really mixed emotions about this wonderful sojourn coming to an end.

There are lots of fun things waiting for us at home; projects to finish; decorating of the upstairs bathroom (which I have been contemplating all winter), friends and family to reconnect with. Lots of good things. But on the other hand, it means leaving Brian and Gretchen, saying good-bye to our church here in Henderson, leaving this gorgeous weather.
Isn't life interesting? There is always good and bad mixed together and we need to learn to roll with whatever comes along, I guess.
So, fragments for this Friday.

Welcome to Miss Charlotte Rose Stringer who arrived a week ago today. Her arrival makes our friends, Bruce and Shelly, Grandma and Grandpa. Congratulations to all. We are anxious to see this little miss when we arrive home.

Good News: I finally finished my flower mini scrapbook. Of course, I now have tons more flower pictures, but for now, this will have to do.

These are lilacs on either side of our house.

The rhododendron in one of our front gardens.

My Frazier Memorial Garden.

Some beautiful desert flowers.
There are many more, but the library closes in 45 minutes and I must needs hurry.
My last Friday Fragment is about March Madness. We (Jim) are died in the wool Big East supporters. Now, I personally, have always had a real soft spot for Duke and Coach K., but this year, Coach opened his mouth and said some disparaging things about the Big East. Big mistake where Hippo Husband is concerned. SOOOO, last night found me rooting for Villanova. In all honesty and fairness, I really do believe Duke was outclassed by Villanova and the win was well deserved. So now, as of this writing, we have three Big East Teams in the Elite Eight, with the possibility of 5. I really doubt that Syracuse will make it (SOB), but stranger things have happened. I'm sure I'll have a new outlook by Monday.
Good luck to all of you and your teams.
~Hippo Hugs~

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Zion National Park

Jim and I went with Gretchen and Brian to Zion National Park Monday and Tuesday. It was an outstanding trip. Both Jim and I said that although we had been to Zion previously, we forget just how awesome it is.

We arrived Monday afternoon to a little cooler weather than we had been experiencing lately, as evidenced by the hiking gear. The wind was pretty strong and chilly.

We chose to hike the Angel's Landing trail, marked strenuous. After about twenty five minutes I decided that the title was apt. This was the one that got away.

Looking at the mountain from the trail head

Looking back from the spot where I gave up. I went slowly back down the path, enjoying the quiet and beauty of the mountain. I took a short side trip to the bank of the Virgin River. I so love being near water. Oceans, rivers, lakes, all give me a sense of peace and tranquility.

I made my way back to the car where I did my crossword puzzle and relaxed while I waited for them make their way back. Jim was really happy he made the trip. This failure has made me more than ever determined to lose more weight. And, I have decided to go back to Curves. I just don't have the endurance necessary to do the things I'd like.

On Tuesday, Gretchen and Brian decided to hike to Observation Point, an eight mile round trip which Jim and I opted to take a moderate hike to a lovely overlook.

This might just be the Christmas card this year!

Mount Carmel Highway from the overlook.

Standing in the cleft of the rock.
These pines just grow out of the sides of the mountains.

Jim and I had lunch at Wild Cat Willie's Bar and Grille. Loved the decor. The sign applies to some people I know, how about you?

As You can see, we had a great time. Hope you are having a great day too.

~Hippo Hugs~

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Rest of the Trip

Halfway through my post yesterday, I realized I hadn't downloaded the rest of the pictures from Jason and Linda's visit. So, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, "Here's the rest of the story".

I think I left off on Sunday. We were so pleased to introduce L&J to our church here in Henderson. Jim and I have been made to feel so welcome here, and we are so fond of the pastor. As usual, the service was a blessing and Jason and Linda seemed to enjoy it. As is our habit, we went to the Original Pancake House for breakfast/lunch/dinner.

After a brief afternoon rest, we decided to venture to The Strip to see the beautiful spring flowers in the atrium at the Bellagio.

Oh yes, they also have a greenhouse just filled with butterflies.

We also took a little trip to the Flamingo Hotel to see their animal habitat.

The flamingos are absolutely fascinating. I could stand and watch them all day. What unique and beautiful creatures they are. We went back to the Bellagio to see the fountains and were treated by seven different performances. They are just breathtaking.

Monday we met Brian and Gretchen for lunch at Sweet Tomatoes which is a salad bar. Jim and Jason can't figure how they ever make any money. The price is really reasonable and the food is plenteous. We had enough lunch to hold us until ...

after the show. Remember, Monday night was Jersey Boys. Oh What a Night! It was an outstanding show. Linda and I wanted to see it all over again. It was all the tunes we remember from our youth with the Four Seasons. Of course, the music was fabulous, but the acting and the voices were also amazing. What a wonderful show. I highly recommend it. If there was a negative, it was some of the language which was pretty rough. I know they were pretty tough kids and probably talked like that, but it still burned my ears.

Although we thought we would never eat again after Sweet Tomatoes, by the time the show was over, we were hungry. We had a really nice meal (with warm chocolate chip cookies for dessert) at the Grand Lux Cafe just outside the theatre.

And then it was Tuesday, how did that happen? Jim and Jason had been chomping at the bit to get out to Hoover Dam and see the progress on the new road that will bypass (actually go over) the dam. So they were off to the dam while Linda and I went shopping and out to lunch with Gretchen. Gretch was so happy to have some time to catch up with Linda. We have always been so close to each other's children. It was a real treat for both L&G.

So, that was it. We spent a quiet evening together and by 9 P.M. we were off to the airport. It's quiet here and a little lonely now that they are gone. But, we have some great pictures and wonderful memories as well as plans for what we might do next winter. Of course, there is also all the time in between when we will have lots of fun and make many memories. Aren't we blessed?

~Hippo Hugs~

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gone Home

It's hard to believe that six days can pass so quickly, but here we are all by ourselves again. Linda and Jason left at 11:45 PM yesterday and have arrived safely home. We had such a delightful time with our perfectly precious friends. I thought I'd do a little photo journal of the short time we had together.

They arrived Wednesday evening in time for dinner with Brian and Gretchen. It was really nice to have a meal with B&G. They love Linda and Jason.

Thursday we went out to Lake Las Vegas to show them how the other half lives.

Thursday evening found us at The Beatles' Love show. Jim and I have seen this show three times and still find new sights to astound us. Linda and Jason really enjoyed the show. Brian gave us a backstage tour after the show which really added to the fun of the evening.

Friday we were off to a spot near the Colorado River to see the river and some desert flowers. It was a perfectly delightful day. We stopped at a country store/museum in the little town of Nelson and then went on to lunch in boulder City.

On Saturday we dragged them off to Valley of Fire State Park. This place is just outstanding, full of wonderful rock formations and brilliant colors.

Exhausted from our day in the park, we went to Elephant Bar for dinner and ate ourselves into a stupor.

I've just discovered that I don't have any pictures downloaded from Sunday - Tuesday. Rather than post without them, I've decided to stop here. Besides, Jim, patient dear love that he is, is getting a little antsy. We still have to go grocery shopping before we go home to dinner.

I'm sure you can see that the week was wonderful. There is nothing like sharing good times with good friends. And I wanted to share these times with you, my good friends.

~Hippo Hugs~

Monday, March 16, 2009

We're (Mis) Behavin'

Not much time to blog today. Linda and I are having a quick coffee and checking our email at Panera's while the hubbies exercise. Not that we don't need the exercise, we've been eating very bad things, but we chose to check out the internet instead.

We're off to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch with Brian and Gretchen and then tonight it's Jersey Boys. I can't believe how fast the time is going. Needless to say, we are having much fun. I plan to post some great pics on Wednesday. I'll have to do something to ease the pain of their leaving.

Until later....

~Hippo Hugs~

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

They're on their way

Although their flights have already been changed three times (very typical for them) Linda and Jason are on their way to Vegas. They have the absolutely worst luck int he world with airline flights. We always say that if we want to fly smoothly, we should never plan to fly with them.
We are so excited about their coming. Gretchen and Brian plan to join us for a late dinner so as to see L&J. Brian will go to the airport with Jim to pick them up while Gretchen and I work on dinner. We plan to have some yummy cupcakes from the Cupcakery for our desert. Linda had a birthday in February so we are celebrating tonight.
We have a long list of fun things we want to do while they are here. Way more than we can possibly accomplish. We will have to pare the list down after they arrive.
I will probably be away from blogland for several days. Until next time....
~Hippo Hugs~
P.S. Linda just called me from Cleveland and said they think they will be on time now. She said she is misbehaving already and Jason wants to trade seats so he won't have to sit by her. I told her to behave, but I don't have high hopes. After all, we are very similar in many ways. LOL


Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday's Musings

I've been trying to talk myself out of this since yesterday, but I just can't and so I'm going on a rant. I hope I don't offend anyone reading this post. I will say up front that I hope this doesn't apply to any of you. Having said that, here goes:

The Rant

There appeared on the front page of the Las Vegas Journal yesterday an article about, of all things, foreclosures. The accompanying picture was of a woman, perhaps in her late 50's, leaving her home with her heart medicine, her dog and her young grandson. Another picture showed some family friends loading their cockatoos onto a truck to take them away from the foreclosed property.

The poor woman (according to the article) didn't blame the constable who was just doing his job. No, the villains in this story were the unscrupulous lenders who talked these people into buying a $500,000 home when they (the buyers) kept telling them they couldn't afford it.

For just one moment, my sympathies were turned toward this woman. "But wait a minute." I said to myself "is there more to this story?" And, of course, there was. This woman, with a heart condition who wasn't employed, and her husband who earned $39,000 a year bought a $500,000 home on which mortgage payments were $4,500 per month. Now, I'm not a math genius, but it didn't take me but a minute to see that there was something wrong with this picture. When the buyers said they couldn't make that kind of payment, the lenders said not to worry that in six months they could refinance and the payments at 10.5% interest would be lowered. And the payments were lowered, to $3,800 per month. Oh! Oh!

The constables said that when they came to evict the family from this five bedroom, three and one half bath home, they found lovely plush carpeting, like new furniture and the family firmly ensconced in their lair.

When my husband made $39,000 a year we lived in a four bedroom cape cod ( and, oh yes, we still do) that cost us $23,000 and we didn't have anything new in our home. This morning as I washed my hands with liquid soap from the dispenser, I recalled how I wanted to buy liquid soap for my bathroom like some of my friends, but decided we couldn't afford it.

So here I am ranting. This woman in the newspaper thinks, that by some miracle, their home will be saved. She really thinks they are going to move back into their home and live happily ever after. And I say, "I don't want to pay for this." Sure there are unscrupulous lenders, no one denies that. Sure, people were led astray and the housing market is largely responsible for the economic problems of today. And, sure there are some people who legitimately should be helped to stay in their homes. But I ask you, "Where were their brains? Where was the common sense that should tell you that if you make $39,000 a year, have only $50,000 in savings (which you plunk down as a down payment), you cannot afford a house that is valued at half a million dollars?" It totally baffles me.

End of Rant!!

On a lighter and happier note, only two more sleeps until Linda and Jason get here. We talked to them yesterday afternoon and we are all so excited. We have a long list of things we want to do which will definitely have to be pared down. Some of the things we are planning are:

We have tickets for this Cirque du Soleil show. This is the show our son in law, Brian, works for. Jim and I have seen the show twice and are awed all over again each time we see it.

Also, Jim and I drove to the strip on Saturday and went to the Pallazo to pick up tickets for Jersey Boys. Linda and I are particularly smitten with these guys (the original 4 Seasons, that is) and their music. Jim and I have adopted their You're Just Too Good To Be True as our song as it was popular the summer we got married. So, you can see, we are really looking forward to the upcoming entertainment.

I do so love being here in Henderson, enjoying seeing Brian and Gretchen, basking in the warmth and enjoying the beautiful clear skies, but I miss my gal pals from NY. Linda's coming is a real boost for me. I can hardly wait.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday and looking forward to a good week. Let's all join Cheryl in performing acts of kindness every day.

~Hippo Hugs~

Friday, March 6, 2009

Joshua Tree - Day Two

Day two began with a hike to the 49 Palms Oasis. This three mile hike was listed as moderately strenuous. Admittedly, I felt it was pretty strenuous while I was hiking, but once we reached the oasis and started back, I was reinvigorated and felt it was, maybe, just moderate. Whatever, my hubby and kids are really good to me and praise me for all my little accomplishments. Being the oldest of the group, I really appreciate their consideration of me. At one point during the hike I commented that I was happy that my kids took good care of me. Brian countered with, "Well, if we take such good care of you, how do you explain the broken wrist last May?" That, my friends, was ALL my own fault
I thought this was an odd little flower growing along the path.

One of the many rock formations we saw in the park.

When we arrived at the top of our first climb, which I thought was fairly gradual, this is the sight that greeted me. Everyone said, "Oh, Mom it's all downhill from here." All I saw was that if I went down there, I had to climb back up. I prayed all the way down that path that God would give me the grace and strength to make it back up. And, I was very quiet, worrying about my ability to succeed.

And then, an hour into our hike, there they were, 49 Palms. We didn't actually count them, but we are pretty sure there were at least 49 of them. It was amazing to see them all growing out in the middle of nowhere, in that dry and unforgiving desert.

We left 49 Palms and drove to the southern section of the park. Here the flora changes abruptly as we passed from the Mojave to the Sonora desert. Joshua trees were replaced with Cholla cactus and ocotillo plants.

At the Cholla Garden we walked through hundreds and hundreds of these prickly, very painful cacti. These plants are do not reproduce and are all clones.

This calico cactus is one of Brian's favorites as well as mine.

Our last hike of the day took us to another oasis of palms. This one was fairly close to the road. We did hike about a mile out from this oasis where we saw - nothing. We hiked back and rested while Gretchen and Brian continued on for another mile or so.

Although we were a little early for full desert blooms, we did manage to see a few lonely blossoms.

As you can see, we had a delightful sojourn in Joshua Tree, a wonderful trip made even better by being able to share it with our children.

Please continue to pray for our friends,
Matt and Erin as they mourn the loss
of their sons, Abel, Benjamin and Caleb.

~Hippo Hugs~