Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

Each year leaves us with things to remember and things we’d rather forget. 2011 was no exception.

We lost those we loved - Dearest Betsy, Dan, Spencer, Miss Daisy.

We gained new family members - Joe and Kelli.

We traveled to new places (Cambodia and Vietnam) and to old (Fort Morgan, California)

We had good things happen - weddings, parties, homecomings, connecting with family, young folks starting off on new directions in their lives.

We had some bad things happen - hospital stays and ER visits; Pat Summit with Alzheimer‘s.

So now, although the days and seasons continue seamlessly, the calendar starts over. So we’ll see what 2012 brings.
Breadfruit tree in Vietnam.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What a mess!

What a mess!

You know what happens when I set out to make soup or lasagna or meatloaf. I go into assembly-line mode and get down and dirty about the whole thing.

Yesterday and today were no exceptions. I started to make the huge pot of chili yesterday. That part went pretty well - got everything cooking and starting the seasoning. It was in the 30s last night, so John put the pot (16-quart) out on the porch to cool down overnight.

This morning, he brought it back inside. I corrected the seasonings, and we started to bag it up to go in the freezer. This is usually the messiest part - using the wide-mouth funnel and pouring the soup into the bag and getting it zipped closed - without getting too much on the outside of the bag. But we soon had 7 bags ready to go in the freezer. We’d cleared some space, and John started putting the bags on the shelf.

I had started bagging the rest of the chili, when disaster struck. One of the bags came open in the freezer. While John was trying to get hold of that, another one came open. Now there was chili all over the freezer, the bags, John, the floor, the carpet. !@#$$%%^^&*&***&^^%$$## We managed to salvage a lot from the opened bags. And then there was the floor and everything else to clean up.

Finally we wound up with seven bags (quarts) total. We’ll wait until everything is frozen solid, and then we’ll defrost and clean the freezer. Life does get messy sometimes.

This photo of chili is from Google images, but it looks pretty much like mine.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A quiet Christmas

A quiet Christmas in Hillsboro.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays!
Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, whatever.
Best wishes for the New Year.

I'm going to be taking a break from the blog for a few days. See you in 2012 (if not earlier).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

At least it's not snow.

Check out this blog for today. Life Philosophy 101 for the Squirrelly Senior Citizen has some hysterical cartoons.
I met Vicki for lunch today. That was fun, as always. I hate it that we aren’t able to get together as much as we used to. At least the rain held off until after I got home. In the last two days, we’ve had almost 2” of rain. At least we haven’t had any severe weather.
Farming on an island in the Mekong River (Vietnam)

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice!

The swimming group’s Christmas party was this morning after class. I didn't get there. I had a physical exam this morning, that had been scheduled for six months. I didn't get out of the doctor's office until 11, and figured most of the gals would be gone by then. I knew John would be. He loves these gals, and always enjoys being around them - plus they're great cooks. But he doesn't do well with a lot of noise and hubbub and, of course, that's always part of such a gathering, too. So he ate and enjoyed and came home.

Everything was fine with my physical. The doc said all my meds seemed to be doing what they were supposed to be doing - thyroid okay; total cholesterol a bit high, but offset by excellent good cholesterol, so no treatment there; BP was okay. She did a pap smear (hadn't had one of those in ages, because I had a total hysterectomy umpteen years ago, so no parts left), and gave me a prescription for my mammogram. I'll set that up for next month sometime.
Today is one of my favorite days of the year - the winter solstice - the day when the minutes/hours of daylight start increasing. This is called the official first day of winter, but it is also when the days start getting longer.
A rural "street" of the Mekong River in Vietnam.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Educated puns

John's cousin sent these, and they're just too good not to keep sharing.

1. King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates, the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan.

Croesus said, "I'll give you 100,000 dinars for it."

"But I paid a million dinars for it," the King protested. "Don't you know who I am? I am the king!"

Croesus replied, "When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are."


2. Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. Unfortunately, all the Swiss league records were destroyed in a fire, ...and so we'll never know for whom the Tells bowled.


3. A man rushed into a busy doctor's surgery and shouted, "Doctor! I think I'm shrinking!" The doctor calmly responded, "Now, settle down..You'll just have to be a little patient."


4. Back in the 1800's the Tate's Watch Company of Massachusetts wanted to produce other products, and since they already made the cases for watches, they used them to produce compasses. The new compasses were so bad that people often ended up in Canada or Mexico rather than California. This, of course, is the origin of the expression -- "He who has a Tate's is lost!"


5. An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk rawhide and gave it to the chief, telling him to bite off, chew, and swallow one inch of the leather every day. After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. The chief shrugged and said, "The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on."


6. A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register. His wife insisted on complaining to the local civic official, who apologized profusely saying, "I must have taken Leif off my census."


7. There were three Indian squaws. One slept on a deer skin, one slept on an elk skin, and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin. All three became pregnant The first two each had a baby boy. The one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys. This just goes to prove that... the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.


8. A skeptical anthropologist was cataloging South American folk remedies with the assistance of a tribal elder who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the elder looked him in the eye and said, "Let me tell you, with fronds like these, you don't need enemas."
Along the Mekong River, everything moves by boat.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pictures only

Before and after pictures of the two biggest trees that we had taken out. And a slightly out-of-focus picture of Jesse.





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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Welcome home, Jesse!

It was great to see Jesse. He looks fine. (pictures later) His next tour will be shore duty. He doesn't know yet where it will be - but should within a couple of weeks. When he finds out, he decide if he wants to re-enlist. He's planning on going back to Norfolk on Christmas Day. We'll probably go over then. Today, Margaret had roasted a turkey, and the usual gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, pinto beans, cornbread, plus whatever dishes others brought. Lots of great stuff, as usual. We got home fairly early - about 7:30 ET. John drove both ways, and he's already gone to bed.
Happy Birthday, Flo Jean & Eva Jane!
Live along the Mekong (note the cell phone tower

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Friday, December 16, 2011

An evening out

We had a nice evening. The exhibit at the Hunter Museum of American Art is of photographs by Dorothea Lange and others taken during The Depression (1930s). They are powerful images, and definitely worth looking at - more than once (we‘ll go back). The head curator of the museum talked about Lange and the photographs.

We went out to dinner afterwards to one of our semi-favorite restaurants. The place was started by a Katrina refugee who decided to stay here. It’s primarily Cajun seafood and is always delicious. The only reason we don’t go more often is that the service is so slow, and we wouldn’t go at all if the food weren’t so good. We talked about it on the way home and figured it out. The owner/chef is a great cook, and has wonderful recipes. But obviously, he isn’t very good as a restaurant manager. Oh, well…
White Angel Breadline, by Dorothea Lange

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

All about me

This morning, it was all about me. I had a massage and then had a pedicure. I went really wild - and even let them put polish on my nails. Those of you who have had the misfortune of seeing my bare feet know how wild that really is.

Jesse got home yesterday, and there’s a party for him on Saturday. Margaret asked me to bring some stuff, so I made another stop at the store. That’ll keep me busy tomorrow.

Our Lady Mocs played Belmont tonight, and won handily, 75-42. Every gal on the team got to play, and all but one scored. Tough on Belmont, but good for our team.

It's just started raining here, and I think it's supposed to keep it up all night.
Folks working on their boats on the Mekong River in Vietnam.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Finishing up with the trees

The tree guys are mostly finished. All the trees are down and the pieces hauled away. They still have to come back and repair the broken window (next week sometime). And they have said they're going to spread some straw (with grass seed) over the yard to help mend the bobcat tracks and divots from falling trees that were left. We shall see.

The trees seemed to be mostly healthy, although one was dying at the top. That doesn't help when some of those tornadic winds come through, though - and they'd still fall in our house or the neighbor's house. So we're glad they're gone. John's going to plant one of the Tennessee state trees in the back yard. It’s called a tulip poplar here because of the shape of the leaves. It's also called a yellow poplar. They're fairly fast growing, and make a nice, tall, well-shaped tree.

John worked more on the back steps this afternoon. He had gotten some non-skid strips and applied them to the stair treds. The steps have always been slippery when they were wet, so this is a good safety move for us.

I've made my pot of split pea soup for the winter. We got it bagged up (13 quarts) and in the freezer. That’s always one of our favorites, and it’s good to have a supply.
Dry season housing along the Mekong River in Vietnam

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A trip to the post office

After my visit to the post office this morning, I’ve come to think the USPS is really trying to cut costs and make the service more user friendly.

I went in to mail a 1st class padded envelope, going to a local address. I knew it wasn’t going to cost much, but I did think it should be weighed. There was a line, so I figured it’d take me 15-20 minutes or so.

A postal employee was standing in the lobby asking people if their transactions could be paid for with a credit or debit card. I hadn’t planned to do that, but - hey, I could go with that.

Did you know there was a machine in your post office lobby like the terminal at the airport where you can print your boarding pass? I didn’t. There’s a built-in scale where you can put your parcel, and a touch screen. The prompts are very easy to read and the directions simple. Then you put your card in the slot, and Voila! It prints out your postage sticker. Put it on your item and put it through the slot. Couldn’t be easier - and it took less than 5 minutes.

Give it a try the next time you go to your local post office.
Tree update: Nothing happened today. The guy came by, waited a while for his helper. The helper didn’t come, and he had gotten off yesterday with the key to the bobcat. So nothing was accomplished today. Sighhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
The Vietnamese dancers have very expressive hands, too.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Tough day

Not one of my better nights last night - went to bed at my usual 11:30 or so. Then I woke up about 2:30, and that was it for sleeping. And today was more than the usual busy Monday. Swimming and WalMart, then bridge. The Lady Mocs played a great game and beat Kennesaw State 76-39. I’ll finish off the TV schedule and then head for the bed.

The tree guys came this morning and carried off all the debris from Saturday. They had told John they'd probably finish up today, but didn’t quite make it. They did get all the trees down, but the cleaning up is going to take a bit longer. When we got home from bridge, they had managed to break a window (probably a very small thing in the scheme of things). They tried to get it fixed, but the replacement had to be ordered and it’ll be next week before it gets here.

Probably more difficult will be repairing the damage to the yard. Granted our “lawn” is pretty meager - not something we spend a lot of time or money on. But their “bob cat” machine left some pretty substantial tracks. And there are a couple of huge divots where the ends of the trees landed when they fell. We’ll just have to wait and see how this all plays out. John’s planning to hold back some of the payment until it’s all done to his satisfaction.
Lovely Vietnamese dancer.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Simply Sunday

Waffles and bacon; CBS Sunday Morning; laundry; Lady Vols on TV; mostly sunshine; hot dogs for supper. Just another simple Sunday.
Comic relief with our Vietnamese guides (the fellow on the right was the guide for our group).

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Slow Saturday

The guys came to work on the trees in midmorning. They got the top out of the biggest tree, but still have lots to do. We don't know if they're coming back tomorrow (Sunday) or not - forgot to ask specifically.

John did a safety goodness for us today. He added a second handrail to the outside stairs from the deck down to the carport. He also got some non-skid strips to put on the stair treads, but that'll have to wait for another day. The temperature has to be over 50F to do that, and our high today was only in the upper 40s. Oh, well.....
This is at the dock on the Mekong River in Phnom Penh.

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Friday, December 09, 2011

Back up and about

John decided on someone to take out the four trees that need removing. They’re supposed to be starting first thing in the morning. I’m sure John’ll be out watching the process and taking pictures. We really hate to have to cut down trees, but it’s certainly better than having them fall on the house.

After completely zoning out yesterday, I had to get out and about today. I didn’t go to swimming, but did make it to coffee. From 10-1, I substituted for a friend and worked the book store at the library this morning. Fortunately nobody bought anything, so it was an easy shift.

From there, I went to get a massage. This therapist was recommended by a knowledgeable friend, and I was very pleased with her. I’m sure I’ll be going again. I do think that’s beginning to do some good with my back.

Haircuts were next. Our regular gal at Great Clips is out on sick leave for a while. We decided to try the GC that’s closer to our house until she returns. John went this morning, and I went after my massage. We were both very happy with the cuts we got.
The border crossing on the Mekong River into Vietnam

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Thursday, December 08, 2011


How miserable can you feel when you have a full-blown cold? Pretty yucky! I even skipped going to the chamber music performance at the Hunter Museum tonight (John went by himself). Tomorrow HAS to be better - I've got too much scheduled.
Two final pictures of Cambodian children.


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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

RIP Colonel Potter

John’s still limping today, but doing much better. He did his swimming exercise today - and I’m sure that helped him a lot. And I’m afraid I’m getting a cold.

The sun actually came out for a bit this afternoon - even though the temperature dropped steadily during the day. John called several folks to come look at the trees we need taken down, and to give us estimates. It’s sound like, by accident, he found the right time. These folks are quoting him prices that were lower than he had expected, and are wanting to do the job before Xmas. Guess everybody needs some extra holiday money.
Harry Morgan, the wonderful Colonel Potter on M*A*S*H died today, at age 96. What a wonderful character he played and how much pleasure he gave us.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A rainy Tuesday

For being a rainy Tuesday, we did a bunch of stuff around the house.

I did some painting today - getting some pieces started - always a good feeling.

John went to his spin class this morning and came home with what is hopefully a leg cramp, but may be a muscle sprain/strain of some sort. He took a muscle relaxant, and has used heat. I did some massage on the spot (upper calf, almost to the “knee-pit”), and he got a good nap It‘s still bothering him tonight, but I hope it’s better by tomorrow.

He got on the phone to get some estimates for taking the trees down. Two guys came by this afternoon, and I think a couple more or coming by tomorrow. Seems John’s waiting to call may have paid off after all. These folks seem to want to get a job to do between now and Christmas, so they can get some extra holiday income. We can work with that.

I’ve had a pretty scratchy throat since this afternoon. One of the guys at bridge yesterday was very hoarse. I hope I didn’t catch something from him.
Got our first Xmas e-card today. These good looking folks are Sue’s family, taken at the San Diego wedding.

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Monday, December 05, 2011


Our swimmers honored one of our group on her 75th birthday on Saturday. It was a great party, with good food, good fellowship, and lots of laughs. This always seems to happen when this special group of folks get together.
John and Margaret went to Knoxville Sunday to watch the Lady Vols beat the University of Texas. Basketball season is really underway.
Regular Monday stuff today - swimming, coffee, Aldi, WalMart (gasoline $2.92/gallon - the lowest we’ve seen it in a while). Bridge was fun, as usual, but I had some really awful cards. Oh, well - surely that will improve sometime.
We’ve signed up for an Adventures Afloat program with Road Scholar (successor to Elderhostel). The Voyage to Antiquity from Venice, through the Adriatic Sea, around the Italian peninsula, along the Riviera, ending up in Cannes. This is a part of world where we haven’t been. Obviously, we need to remedy this, and get a chance to see all that wonderful art and architecture and history.
These Cambodian children are schooled in the traditional dances from a very early age. And they are SO gorgeous and graceful.


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Sunday, December 04, 2011

Silence is golden

I've always said if you don't have anything to say, the least you can do is be quiet. Guess today is a day to be quiet. Silence is golden (the dancer, too).

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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Sunday Stealing

Cheers to all of us thieves! from Sunday Stealing

1) If the whole world were listening to you right now, what would you say?
I’d have to quote l’empress and say “We live in a diverse world, and we lose too much if we segregate ourselves because of our differences. I have come to believe that the greatest hope for humanity is to embrace our similarities, even as we continue to honor our traditional values. “

2) If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be?
Right now, I think it would be Pat Summitt - she’s one tough lady.

3) You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?
I’d take a round-the-world tour, with lots of stops.

4) What do you think about most?
Nothing exciting - just the day-to-day living stuff.

5) You have the opportunity to spend a romantic night with the music celebrity of your choice. Who would it be?
Jimmy Buffett; Tony Bennett or Johnny Mathis or Harry Belafonte in their prime; maybe Harry Connick, Jr.

6) You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?
Not my past, but it would be Vicki’s grandson’s death in Afghanistan last year.

7) What's your strangest talent?
Being able to read knitting patterns?

8) What would be a question you'd be afraid to tell the truth on?
I hate telling anybody my weight.

9) Ever had a poem or song written about you?

10) When is the last time you played the air guitar?
Can’t say that I’ve ever done that.

11) Do you have any strange phobias?

12) What's your religion?
No religion - I dislike labels, but maybe humanist/agnostic/atheist.

13) What is your current desktop picture?
A color topo map of the back side of the moon, captured from an Astronomy Picture of the Day.

14) When you are outside, what are you most likely doing?
Going to or from the car.

15) What's the last song you listened to?
The Happy Birthday song.

16) Simple but extremely complex. Favorite band?
Any symphony orchestra; Jimmy Buffett

17) What was the last lie you told?
I rarely lie, other than a white lie about somebody’s hairstyle or accessory that I don’t really like.

18) Do you believe in karma?
As in “fate”? Not really.

19) What is a saying you say a lot?

20) What is your greatest weakness; your greatest strength?
Weakness - overeating; strength - consistency, evenness.

21) Who is your celebrity crush?
Mark Harmon is as close as I’d get to a celebrity crush.

22) Give me the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word: heart.

23) How do you vent your anger?
I have been known to throw things, along with a string of expletives.

24) Do you have a collection of anything?
I don’t actively collect anything, but we do have collections of owls, penguins, flamingoes, original art, Navajo rugs.

25) What is your favorite word?
Unfortunately, probably “s..t!”
Student dancer.

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Stopping treatments

I saw the chiropractor again today - I think the 6th visit. The treatments have felt good , but neither one of us feel there has been any improvement. The deep massage I had felt good, too, but didn’t do anything for my back.

The doc was disappointed that she hadn’t been able to help, but we agreed to stop the treatments - at least for a while. She asked me to increase the fish oil I’ve been taking, and to get a massage about once a week for a month or so. And, of course, I’ll continue with my water exercises.

It was an interesting experiment, if nothing else. We’ll see how it goes.
A student dancer.

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