Saturday, March 26, 2016

Something to Chew on

What a sweet face!
This morning while I was in that zone between sleep and awake I heard Ray say, "What are you chewing on?"  That probably should have given me a shot of adrenalin to awaken me into action.  But instead I continued with my slumber.  It wasn't until later in the day that I found out what happened.

My friend, Rae, had the kind of stylus that you can click and it becomes a pen.  She used it all of the time because the chemo treatments had caused her finger tips to be numb.  After using hers, I realized that I'd like a similar stylus and so I ordered a few on line.  They are really inexpensive, so I got the variety pack with different colors.
Here is the variety pack.  There should be a
bronze color one, too.  Ary probably
has dragged it to his chewing den.

Back to today:  Ray asked me if I had heard Ary chewing on something this morning. 

"No, but I heard you saying something about chewing and I just thought it was part of a dream," was my reply.

"Well, I hate to tell you, but Ary chewed your stylus...broke it into pieces."

"At least it was not your glasses like he did last time.  The replacement cost is nil compared to your weird prescription eye glasses," I replied.

Ary has chewed the stylus to pieces.

You can see the teeth marks.

I was able to repair it!

 Ary, our cat, the one we adopted a year ago along with his sister, Molly......Ary is a chewer.  He likes plastic items, but his favorite chew toys are eyeglasses.   We first found this out when he chewed Ray's glasses beyond fixing and we had to fork out over $400 to replace them.  We try to keep all glasses tucked away, but sometimes he finds my reading glasses.  Those are no problem because I have a number of pairs in various places and replacement cost is not bad.

I have had puppies that chew, but never a cat.  I guess I should be thankful that Ary doesn't like to chew on leather or wood.

Ary in his cat tunnel bed showing no interest in the stylus he had chewed earlier.

Friday, March 25, 2016

When You're Smiling....

Smiling Susan
Today I am going to continue a project that a friend of mine began a year ago. Each day for a year Susan Keeker has posted a picture of a smile on Facebook.  I am not sure what she expected, but she had quite a following, people looking forward to seeing a smiling face. When she posted that she was going to end the smiles, I considered taking over. I did not say anything because I was timid about taking over such a successful project. (It was similar to the feeling I had when I was asked to take over the spelling bee because the seasoned and winning coach was ill. Bee Serious)  How can I ever make it as positive and fun as Susan has?

But, as last days of the week clicked off, I decided to ask Susan if it would be okay if she handed me the smiling torch and I would do my best.  Of course, being the kind and positive person she is...Susan accepted my offer, saying, "I'm honored. Please, do."  So now, the pressure is on.  Let me just write a few comments she has received about her smiling pictures. 

"You know I have loved your smile project, we have talked about it, there were days when I wasn't sure I could reach in far enough to find a smile within me and bring it out, on those days I could depend on your project to get me there. Thank you my friend for that!!"

"In a world filled with so much negativity, seeing your daily smiles was uplifting. Facebook tends to be filled with so many negative people who do not appreciate what they have - life. I tend to scroll quickly through posts to avoid the negative, but always stop to look at the smiles! Thank you for taking the time to post them!"

"I don't want you to stop!!!! Your smiles were beautiful, comical, stress relieving, joyful, fantastic, inspiring, and a reminder of how contagious they really are!! I loved seeing them every day!!!!"

" I too loved starting my day with your smile posts. My favorite smiles were from the random people you stopped and asked to pose for you. I imagine you made their day and they went on to tell others of their experience. Powerful stuff!"
" One day stands out in my mind when you had had a particularly bad day yourself and didn't feel like posting a smile, but then SO many friends and family commented on your post with smiles of their own to share with you in the hopes of cheering you up. That was an amazing moment to witness! It really showed just how much your smile project has meant to so many of us, and how much you mean to so many people as well."

There is not enough room for all of the comments but these give an idea of how so many people appreciated that Susan took the time to post a smile each day.  I have big shoes to fill, don't I?  I will take the leap and see how it goes.  My fist smile will be one of Susan.  She has touched so many lives and hearts.  Thanks, Susan.

Sit back everyone and view this kickoff  video for The Smile Project begun by Susan and continued by Jackie! You're Never Fully Dressed without a Smile

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Mid-Way Meeting

The three of us
When I moved from Columbus to Toledo I wondered if I would lose contact with the many friends I made in my 40 plus years in Columbus.  That is one reason I like Facebook.  I have been able to keep up with so many people, seeing family pictures, reading about what is going on in their lives.  But Facebook doesn't fulfill meeting friends and spending an afternoon chatting.  That is what a few of my friends and I try to do a few times a year. 

Two friends, Bambi and Pottsy and I meet a number of times a year at Henry's restaurant in Kenton, OH.  That is about halfway from my house and theirs.  Yesterday, was one of those times.  We like to meet there because the place is big enough to where we don't feel crowded.  We always sit in one of their big booths...the kind that at least three people can sit on each side.  There is always something to celebrate like birthdays and Christmas.  Yesterday was my lucky day.  To my surprise, I was greeted with two gift bags as belated birthday gifts.  It seems most of our meetings celebrate a belated birthday because we never meet close to any of our birthdays.
Thanks, Henry's for being a great place for our mid-way meetings.

There are always specials, but we are not too adventurous and usually
get some sort of hamburger...and I get the onion rings.  Yummy!

Our server, Joanie, has been there many times and knows that we will be staying most of the afternoon.  She keeps our water glasses and soda filled and allows us time to chat without being hovering.  She is a great server and we appreciate her.  In fact, everyone we have had there has been accommodating and friendly.

We have two small traditions we make sure to follow.  One is, someone always brings a few lottery cards. There is always a lottery card tucked in the gift packages....but everyone likes a chance to win so there are always a few lottery cards for everyone.  At that time there are a few moments of quiet as we scratch the cards to discover we have won a dollar...or maybe five.  Until our last meeting, Bambi had never won anything, but last time she had a lucky five dollar winning card!  Yesterday I was the big winner.  I won $50!!!   It just occurred to me that I should have offered to pay the tab for all.  Hmmmm, sorry, Bambi and time I will.

Bambi and Pottsy scratching off the lottery tickets.
The other tradition is that we each pick three Animal Medicine Cards.  This is from the deck of cards where each card has a picture of an animal with a short message.  The messages are always good advice for anyone to follow.  I started this tradition many years ago at our school district.  It was a fun way to take a break from the stress and check to see what your message was.  We decided to begin each year by each of us picking three cards.  We made copies of these and hung them near our desks as reminders to begin each day with a positive smile.

Bambi and Pottsy checking out the Animal Cards

An example of the advice given on an Animal Card is this.  The Fox says:  Blend in.  Avoid being the center of attention.  Become protective when needed
These were the cards Pottsy picked.
I am so glad that we have kept meeting for lunch at Henry's.  It would be much easier to let the time slip away and suddenly realizing that years have passed.  Thank, Bambi and Pottsy for taking time to meet.  I so enjoy our chatting that ranges from families, vacations and friends.  We support each other in times of loss or stress.  We spend most of the time laughing.  What a wonderful time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Swinging Time!

This one of the orangutans moving from one
tower to another.
Yesterday I wrote about my camera dilemma while trying to take videos of the Andean bear cubs at the National Zoo.  Today I will share some pictures of the orangutans.  The National Zoo has a unique habitat/exhibit for the orangutans.  They call it "The O Line" which is a system of cables suspended 50 feet high from eight towers.  The orangutans are able to climb up and down the two end towers.  They can travel from the Great Ape House to the Think Tank, a total of about 490 feet.  Here is a link that explains it in more detail.  The O Line

I took a number of videos and pictures of the orangutans but am unable to upload the videos, so here is a YouTube made by Bob Kovacs. It is great and shows the orangutans traveling along The O Line. Orangutans on the O Line  It is well worth watching and was taken on a sunny day, so the colors are better.

Here are some more pictures.  I could have watched the orangutans all day....well, after watching the playful Andean bear cubs.  Hmmmmm....can not say which I liked best.

Finally made it to the end!  Now for a rest.
Thanks, Ray, for giving me another title for this blog.  You are the best!




Orangutans on the O Line

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Andean Bear Cub

If you have been reading my posts, you might remember that early into our Flower Power Cruise I lost my camera.  It was my point and shoot camera and it was old.  Ray has often suggested I get a new point and shoot because this one was having a few issues.  The power button needed extra care when turning on the camera.  Some of the pictures looked like something was wrong with the lens.  He had had a camera just like it and gotten a new one four years ago.

The reason I loved this camera was because it had a view finder.  It is difficult to find a point and shoot camera with a view finder.  I like to have the choice  to either use the view screen or the view finder.  Often, the view screen is difficult to see on a sunny day, and I have to just guess and hope that the picture I have taken is what I intended. 

I was lucky to have my big DSLR camera for the rest of the cruise, and also my iPhone...but I missed having that small camera that would fit in a pocket and take quick shots and movies.  Luck was with me!  Ray found my camera in the pocket of my robe.  I must have been taking a shot from the balcony in the morning while in my robe waiting for breakfast.  I forgot to mention in the other posts that Ray had found my camera.

After our cruise, we travelled to Washington, D.C. to visit Ray's daughter, Valerie.  While there we went to the National Zoo.  I will write about that later.  The sad thing....I have decided that I no longer love my point and shoot camera.  I sound like the woman on the insurance commercial who talks about loving her car and that she had even given her car a name...and then got into an accident and the poor car would have to be replaced.  Once she hears from the insurance company she is all happy.  Well, for me, I loved this camera...until our zoo visit.

           Here is a nine second clip of the video I made of these two playful bear cubs. 

Here is a 30 second clip of the same bear cubs.  If you have a tendency to get sea sick, please don't watch this.  If you are ready for an adventure, take a look.

So what happened!!!  I realized later, when we had left the zoo, that when I thought I was recording a video I was actually on standby.  And when I was on standby, I was really recording.  So all of my videos of these two bear cubs were ruined.  I have four other clips of them...well, of what I thought was them.  Now I do not like my camera.  If I had used the view screen instead of the view finder, I would have realized that I was not recording and I would have captured some fun videos.

Here is a still shot.

All was not lost though.  I used Ray's DSLR and recorded two videos of the bears.  Here they are.  You will understand why I am upset for messing up the other videos.  These bears were having lots of fun and putting on quite a show for us.

                                               Here are two more videos of these cute bears.

I think it is time to get a new point and shoot camera.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Gentle Nudge

Ruth and Willie
March 15th was my last post.  I had gotten ill and was unable to keep the March challenge for the Slice of Life.  Each day I tell myself to write a post, to finish the month.  But my energy level was so low, my eyes were burning and watering and the writing did not happen.  Yesterday I received an email from my cousin, Ruth.  Ruth has written a few posts for the Family Trove. The Voyage , The Organ Tuner Man , Footprints in the Snow. She and my mother were first cousins and grew up in the same town. 

Here is what Ruth wrote: 

Dear Jackie and Ray,
         Okay you guys, where are you?  I know you loved your Flower Power Cruise, day l,2,3,4, but what happened from the fifth day on? 
I'm thinking maybe you joined the Buckinghams, or maybe Cy got locked in one of the restrooms on the ship and you're having trouble finding a lock smith.  It isn't likely, but maybe the ship ran out of gas and people are taking turns rowing to shore at Key West.   
I really, really enjoyed the pictures you sent and I can see why you made reservations for 2017.  Looks like everyone was having a fun time on the cruise. 
I'm hoping to hear from you guys letting me know you are home and all is well.
Ruth and ^..^
What a gentle way of urging me to get back to the computer and finish what I have started.  It doesn't matter that I have not completed a post a matters if I finish.  So, Thank You, Ruth.  I will take the time to finish a post every day.  You know how special you are to all of us.  Your quick wit keeps us entertained either through email or when we get to visit.  When I see pictures of you, I also see my mother, Maxine.  You both look so much alike.  It must be those Swedish genes.  Great hair...not much grey.  Here are two pictures of how much you and Maxine look alike.
Ruth, like Maxine, likes to have a Hershey's
snack each evening.
This is Maxine at age 87.  She never colored her hair.  Same
with Ruth.  Don't they look alike!
 Mother told me that when Ruth was born, she was a little jealous.  Ruth was such a pretty baby, everyone was giving her all the attention, and poor Maxine felt left out.  Of course, that was short lived, because Ruth was such a sweet little girl, Maxine fell in love with her, too.

No wonder Maxine was jealous at first...
what a pretty baby Ruth was.

Two more pictures of Ruth and Willie



Tuesday, March 15, 2016


This will be short.  I am so disappointed in myself, but not enough to be miserable. (I have failed to write each day in March.)  After a wonderful week on the Flower Power Cruise, and then visiting our friends, Charlotte and Twink, and then driving to Washington, D.C. for a few days.  We met some friends, Cathie and Mark, went to the zoo...which I hope to write about later.  We were also going to meet Ray's daughter, Valerie.  She had just returned from a trip to Mexico to visit where the Monarch Butterflies migrate.  Poor Valerie had caught a terrible cold on her return, and was just feeling well enough to meet us (with her boyfriend, Al, and a number of other friends) at the final trivia tournament. 

The sad part....I felt my throat getting scratchy while we were at the zoo and chose to ignore it.  When we got back to National Harbor where we were staying, I was not feeling 100%.  Mark and Cathie went for a walk by the harbor and returned with yummy pizzas and salad.   Shortly after our feast I began to feel a cold creeping around me waiting to take hold. 

I chose to go to bed early.  The next morning I felt worse.  No way was I going to be able to take the Metro to the Mall and visit some of the Smithsonian Museums.   I holed up in our room so as not to contaminate Cathy, Mark and Ray.  Fortunately, Cathy and Mark are adventurous and headed out to explore.  Ray decided to stay with me.  I felt no better after a long nap and decided it would be best to miss the trivia tournament and dinner with Valerie and Al.  After Cathy, Mark and Ray left for the evening, I crawled back in bed and hoped the rest would fight off the cold.

Saturday, we drove home.  Well, Ray drove and I sat, sneezing and coughing.  It is about a 7-8 hour drive and when we got home, I went straight to bed.  The poor kitties wondered why I did not stop to play with them, but they were kind enough to join me in a nap.  Sunday I stayed in bed most of the day and the same with yesterday. My eyes are burning and watering and the wastebasket if filled with tissue.  Coughing has drained what little energy I have. I wrote nothing for the blog, even though I have a number of topics.  My energy has about been spent for now, so I will stop and hope that tomorrow I will perk up a bit. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Best Worst Kept Secret

We are traveling from Savannah to Washington, D.C. on Interstate 95.  We have done this before, and always notice the South of the Border signs enticing travelers to stop and spend some money.  We stopped a few years ago for some pictures.  Today, shortly after we left Savannah we passed a sign that said, "Best Kept Secret....South of the Border"....well, something like that.  We flew by too fast to read the whole billboard, so failed to see the whole thing. Remembering how many billboards line the expressway, I thought it funny that the sign said, 'best kept secret.'  

Since I was driving, I asked Ray to take pictures of the signs...just to prove how 'well' this secret has been kept.  My mother, Maxine, was in advertising and often said that one form of getting your name or business recognized was to repeat, repeat, repeat.  Even if people get sick of the ad...they remember the name.  So this is what South of the Border does....but the messages on the signs seem to all be different with funny plays on words.  

I found (online) that there are over 250 signs scattered along I 95 from New Jersey to South of the Border in Dillon,  South Carolina.  The closer to SOB the more signs you will see. I also read that the signs have been changed and no longer have Mexican-Speak as people thought this was not very respectful to Mexican Culture.  I am not sure I have seen those, and am glad the signs have changed.  I like this sign.  I found this on line and think it gives a clear message as to why the signs have been changed.

Add caption

Ray began snapping pictures, but missed a lot and lamented that many of the pictures were blurred or the signs were hidden by trees or passing cars.  What it does show though is that there should be a sign that states: "The Best Worst Kept Secret....South of the Border."

Here are a few of the signs.  I think one of them might still have the Mexican Speak.  Here is a link with lots of pictures of the signs (unlike a lot of ours that may not be readable). South of the Border Signs

Instead of posting each picture that Ray took, I made a collage of them.  Wasn't that nice of him to do for me!  He could have been reading, but spent three hours capturing these sign photos for me!  Thanks, Ray!  Now I have a topic for the Slice of Life today.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lost and Found

I have not used our Garmin in a long time.  I usually use my iPhone for directions.  Yesterday we drove to Savannah, Georgia.  Ray keyed the address of our hotel into the Garmin before we left.  Everything was going well as we began our day's six hour journey.  We did get a text from Charlotte saying that we had left a brush and shampoo, but that was minor.  We laughed at how we always seem to leave something when we travel and visit people.  My sister can attest to that in that she has mailed me items I have left at her place, or sometimes we meet halfway between our houses for lunch and she will return my left item or items.

As Ray is driving on the expressway I picked up the Garmin.

"I don't think the volume is loud enough,"   I said.

"Is it on mute?"  Ray asked.

"No, but I can not hear it.  Why can't I find the volume control?"

"Are you sure it is not on mute?"

"Yes,"  I stated with a sigh.  I had found the menu and tapped the little speaker icon.  It showed that I had muted it.  I tapped it again and it was no longer muted.  Where the heck is the volume control?

"Did you go to the menu?" asked Ray.  I know he is the techie of the family, but I DO know how to check the menu!  Why would he even ask that!

"I have checked the menu and all it does is allow me to mute the speaker or unmute it."  I spoke with a bit of an edge...not through gritted teeth....yet.

"Are you sure the menu does not give you a volume option?"  I could tell Ray was trying to be patient. 

"There is no volume option.  This is really not user friendly.  The volume is just too soft and I want to turn it louder."

I pressed the back arrow.  There it was!  The volume control!  I tapped the plus signs and soon the volume was at a level we could easily hear.

"In six miles turn left on exit 258," Miss Garmin spoke.

 This was good.  I could relax a bit now.  But first I put Garmin back on the map page. 

" Hmmmm....There is a red X here  I wonder what that does?"  I tapped the red X and nothing happened.  "That's weird, why would they have an icon that doesn't do anything?"

"What do you mean, nothing happened?"  Ray sounds a bit frustrated.

"I don't know...just nothing happened.  I really don't know why it was there."

We drove another ten minutes in a 'friendly' discussion about Garmin being user unfriendly and that words might be better to understand than icons.   Like the red X....what did it mean?  At that point Ray noticed that we were on our way to Exit 267 and must have passed our Exit 258. How did that happen?  Why didn't Garmin speak to us?  Why didn't she order us that we were to turn in 300 feet?

Ray decided to get off the exit and take a look.  There was also a Wendy's there for a much needed snack.  I held Garmin and scrolled to the menu again.  It was there I saw a faded white X with the word STOP under it.  I tapped it again and the red X appeared on the map page.  So that's what it meant.  I had stopped the trip when I had tapped the red X.  Easy solution...I re-entered our recently entered trip to our hotel, and voila!  Garmin was back to directing us.  And this new route was easier with a single turn instead of the more complicated original route! 

Ray sure is lucky that I am such a great 'nagivator'!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Our Friend's Florida Oasis

Here I am with Twink and Charlotte

How fortunate we are that our friends welcomed us to their home in Florida after our awesome Flower Power Cruise.  We took a shuttle to their house and dragged our tired bodies and dirty laundry into their place to the scent of a home cooked meal.  We can't thank them enough for their hospitality.  They not only let us park our van at their place while we were cruising, but Charlotte gave up her master bedroom for us. 

Charlotte in Her Kitchen
 While reading posts yesterday, the one from Pelicansandprose talks about the importance of friendship, about how friendships can lengthen life and especially lead to happier lives.  One can be in the best of health and financially secure, but if she has no friends then there is an emptiness, and that can effect quality of life.

Twink on the Lanai.  This is where she grilled pork tenderloin for us
when we stopped to leave our van while we went on the cruise.

So...again, I consider myself most fortunate for the friendships I have gained throughout my life.  Today I thank Charlotte and Twink for opening their place for us.  We were able to clean our clothes and just chill out in their comfortable abode.  Charlotte makes the best chip dip for snacking. She prepared a roast, mashed potatoes, steamed cauliflower, noodles, salad....and later some home made strawberry shortcake.  I know people rave about the food on cruises....but for us, this good old mid-western meal, cooked with love was perfect. 

We spent the evening talking and laughing.  They gave me time to write my blog so that I would not miss a day. Twink has two sweet kitties.  Lady is shy and wary (she was a feral cat) but warmed up to me enough that she allowed me to pet her.  Romeo has the perfect name.  He seems to know that he is quite handsome as he sits regally posing for me to take his picture.  How wonderful to get some more kitty energy.

At first this was all that Lady would let me see of her.

Lady finally appeared from beneath the bed and allowed Ray
to take this picture.  She soon let us pet her and would sit on
the couch next to Charlotte.

Romeo is quite the laid back cat.

Romeo, oh Romeo!

Ray has the van packed (almost) and soon we will be heading to Savanah, GA. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Flower Power Cruise: Day Five

This is our last day!  Again, things have been so busy that I am running late in writing.  We began our day by taking The Old Town Trolley which allows you to hop on and hop off during the tour.  The first stop was the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.  This place is amazing.  There are about 50-60 species of butterflies flitting around.  I have not taken the time to find the names of the ones that remained still enough for me to take a picture, but will post them anyway.

Birds and Butterflies

More Butterflies

After the Butterfly experience we walked to the southern most point in the United States.  Ray had already been there, but it was a first time for me.  Of course, we brought Cy with us so he got  his picture taken with us.
Cy is joining us at the southernmost point in Continental U.S.A.

Cy is sitting this statue of a man blowing on a conch.

Next we visited the Ernest Hemmingway House.  He has never been a favorite author of mine because I am not into bull fights, hunting and war stories.  The reason I wanted to visit his house was to see the cats.  Even though he was a hunter he had a soft spot for cats and had about fifty.  These are cool cats because many are descendants of the white (named Snow White) cat that was given to Hemmingway by a ship's captain.  This cat was a 'mitten paw' kitty or a polydactyl kitty.  It had six toes instead of five.  The cats living there now carry the polydactyl gene and so many have the extra toes...some have all four paws with an extra toe. 

This kitty has six toes.  I think his name was Humphrey Bogart.

This is an old urinal that Hemmingway got from the Sloppy Joe Bar.  He thought
it would make a good watering hole for the cats, but they do not use it.  Instead
they lick the water from the fountain flowing down the side of the vase into the urinal.
At least that is what we were told on our tour.

Hemmingway's wife had this pool built while he was out of the country (with
another woman who later became his wife). 

I think this kitty's  name was Bette Davis.  We were told that she comes to the
master bedroom every morning when the museum is opened, and she sleeps right
in the middle of the bed.  She did not seem bothered at all with all of us tourists
interrupting her afternoon nap.  In fact, she just opened one eye, gave me a
sleepy blink and then went back to sleep.

There were cats everywhere.  Some were playing in the yard, others sunning themselves. A few seemed to pose for pictures and welcomed pats on the head.  We were told we could pet the kitties but not pick them up.  I was so happy to get so much kitty energy since we have left Ary and Molly at home.
Hemmingway's House Cats

Our final concert experience was Felix Cavaliere's  Rascals. As was the case with all the other concerts we saw on the cruise, the performance was excellent. So many songs that we knew and always well done. The audience could sing along and many of them were dancing in the area between the stage and the seats. Ray might have chosen our balcony seats knowing that on the floor he might have been called upon to dance (Horrors!) had we been elsewhere.

There are so many things we did during the cruise that I have not written about.  Hopefully, I will be able to tell about Peter Asher's concert.

 I want to thank Ray for helping me write this post and proof reading all of my others.