Thursday, December 31, 2009


As my last post of 2009 I thought I would re-post a line or two from each month of 2009. It is an interesting exercise to review the year and remember where we were.

January 1, 2009
I knew before his dad took him to the Urgent Care center Sunday what the diagnosis would be. He had all the classic symptoms of diabetes. When the lab report came back his blood sugar was 1100, about ten times the normal level. He spent the next three days in Children's Hospital while trying to get his sugar under control. The doctors say he will be on insulin the rest of his life. DQ will need to make some major life style changes to get this disease under control.
(Update: DQ has had his sugar under control for many months, controlled by diet and one pill daily.)

February 11, 2009
Happy birthday, Charles Darwin. Thank you for making so many people think.

March 16, 2009
I have never moved a mountain. I have prayed fervently for something that seemed so right and so good and not received the answer I sought. In my pain and anger I have yelled at God and questioned why bad things had happened. And like Job I have found that I can only trust that God is smarter than me and that God's plans are for my good.
“I do believe; help thou my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

April 12, 2009
Our trip was wonderful. Sedona is truly a beautiful place.

May 16, 2009
Graduations are always emotional events. I can't count the number of graduations I've attended, but this morning's event was one of the proudest moments of my life. My son Paul received his Master of Education degree.

June 17, 2009
Today is our forty-eighth wedding anniversary. We were young and in love. We didn't know what lay ahead. We just knew we wanted to be married, so we began life's journey together.

July 26, 2009
I just watched the space shuttle/space station fly right over my house.

August 24, 2009
It was lovely to wake up to an empty, quiet house today. Our Disney vacation with the boys was wonderful, but it is nice to be home to my quiet routine.

September 15,2009
I am grateful that our laundry room is not equipped with a surveillance camera. It might have recorded an ugly sight last night.

October 25, 2009
We are packed and ready to go. Tomorrow night we will sleep in Egypt.

November 24, 2009
Tomorrow will be his last work day. Monday he will go collect signatures from a large assortment of people as part of the official sign-out procedure. He will turn in his badge. Then he will come home.
The adventure of retirement lies before him. We are excited about what the days will bring.

December 5, 2009
I am officially in the Christmas spirit.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas was wonderful. I got the gift I most wanted, my family sharing the day together. We laughed, opened gifts, ate far too much food, played silly games, talked late into the night, and felt the wonderful gift of a family who loves each other. We are indeed blessed.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Gift

It has been a wonderful party. The food and drink were wonderful, the company was even better. Before you all head out into the snow I want to give you the wonderful gift I got for you. I only bought one so you will have to share. In honor of all of you, my blogland family, I bought a water buffalo from Heifer International. A water buffalo can help a poor farmer to increase crop production as much as four fold. These mighty animals help to plow fields and they provide nutrition milk to hungry families. A farmer in a developing country will keep care of our water buffalo, and he said to tell all of you thank you.

When you hear my friend Larry the Cucumber say, “Everybody's got a Water Buffalo,” you can nod and say,” Yes I do.”

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Party On

I am so glad you all arrived here before the big snow storm came. We are buried in the snow and more keeps falling, over 2 feet so far. It looks like northern Idaho out our window. The birds are feasting at our bird feeders and we have more than enough to eat here at our party. The jellied moose nose doesn't seem to be a favorite , but the ribs are wonderful and our sweet tooth has lots of yummy favorites. Since it looks like we are going to be here until the storm is over, just sit back with some wine, or a little more Kahlua. I arranged some entertainment for us. The entire Bowie Senior Chorale has come to perform a few songs for us. (Unfortunately blogger won't let me upload the video so you will have to imagine how wonderful they sounded. They sang everything from the Grinch to the Hallelujah chorus.)

Tomorrow I will give you the wonderful gift I bought for all of you to share.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It is time for my annual Blogland potluck Christmas party. The house is decorated. I've made a rum cake and a gumdrop cake. I'm fixing a big bowl of eggnog and I think I'll make some yummy sausage balls. I've bought you all a wonderful Christmas present this year. It's an open house. Come anytime between now and Christmas. We'll tell some good stories and remember lots of good times together. What will you be bringing to fill out my table and make the party more merry?

I look forward to seeing all of you. I'll give you all your amazing gift after everyone is here.

Monday, December 14, 2009


In 1960 I was dating a cute Cal Tech student. One evening he came over all excited because he had access to look at the computer that Cal Tech had just acquired. He wanted me to come with him to view this wonder of new technology. He was thrilled to be able to get up close to this machine that filled the entire room that housed it. This wonderful new machine was filled with vacuum tubes and was programmed with punched paper tape. It looked like a bunch of over-sized filing cabinets to me. I was not too impressed. He was in awe of it's 24 kilobytes of memory that served the entire Cal Tech campus. That computer cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In 1980 that cute student had become my husband. We had four children, a mortgage and just enough money to pay most of the bills. He wanted to buy a computer. I said there was no way we could afford the $4200 a computer would cost. We fought about it, but he finally convinced me that this was something he really needed. He would be able to use it to do contract work and earn extra money. We took out a loan to purchase this wonderful machine with it's 128 kilobytes of memory. Later he framed a copy of the first check he earned using that computer. He wanted to demonstrate that the computer really was a good investment.

Today we have a home office. In this office we have a network of three computers, each having over 600 gigabytes of memory. My husband also owns a laptop with a memory of more than three hundred gigabytes. Each computer cost a few hundred dollars. I long ago quit arguing about whether or not we need a new computer. I love my computer. I love the world wide web and the access it gives me the world.

Can you imagine living without computers?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Where did the time go?

It is Friday. Where did the week go? I felt busy all week, but I am having a hard time remembering what I did with a week of time. I went the pool a couple of mornings. I always feel better after a bit of swimming. My retired man even joined me in the water.

Tuesday I heard a very inspirational talk. I listened to a brave woman explain her journey through cancer. She is about to enter hospice, but is still smiling and teaching others how to cope. Some of the things that have helped her on this painful journey were prayers of thanksgiving for the good things in her life, looking for the small joys in each day, and finding something to laugh about each day. She inspired me to live my life with a renewed sense of joy.

One evening I enjoyed hearing my granddaughter sing in her holiday concert. The next day I enjoyed singing in a holiday concert at the senior center. I went to bell practice and worked on the music we will be playing during the upcoming holiday at church. Music makes my life so much richer. Life would be boring without music.

Getting ready for Christmas has taken a lot of time. There has been shopping, wrapping, baking, addressing cards and decking the halls. I do love this time of year and all the happy traditions that fill the season.

One of the gifts God gave me was being a good listener. I have spent a lot of time listening to people this week. Many people need someone to listen to their story. I can't do much to heal their hurts and fix their problems, but just having someone to listen seems to help. I hope all of you have someone in your life who listens to you.

So here it is Friday night. I think this week-end I will try to get organized.

Monday, December 07, 2009

In 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Thousands were killed. Our nation was stunned. A long, hard war was fought against Japan while another was being fought against Germany. The wars ended. Japan and Germany are both now our friends and allies.

In 2001 another enemy attacked our country. The towers fell. The pentagon was seriously damaged. Our nation was stunned. Thousands were killed. A long hard war is still being fought. Do you suppose that one day our grandchildren will consider the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq our friends and allies?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas Spirit

The first snowfall of the season is covering my world with soft puffy blankets of white. The house is filled with the cinnamony smell of gumdrop cake. The lights twinkle on the tree. Silent Night is playing on the radio. Three Christmas cards and my order from Amazon arrived in the mail.

I am officially in the Christmas spirit.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Retirement Living

Retirement is such a big life change that you would think it would make an enormous difference in how life feels. Dennis has been working full time since he was teenager. He has been retired for three days. So far retirement just feels normal. Obviously it is still a very new thing, but it just feels so very normal so far. He is sleeping a little later and has taken a couple of naps He has worked in the yard and put up Christmas decorations. He has worked on the computer. He visited a friend in the hospital. He has gone to the gym and even joined me in a water aerobics class. We went out to lunch one day. We are both curious to see how this retirement living will all work out, but so far it is just comfortable.

Life is good.

We feel blessed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Tree

Sue: “Mommy, it's the prettiest Christmas tree we ever had!”
Mom: “Yes honey, it is.”

Mom: “ It's the prettiest Christmas tree we ever had!”
Sue: “Oh Mom, you always say that.”

My children: “Mommy, it's the prettiest Christmas tree we ever had!”
Sue: “Yes, it is.”

Sue: “Children, it's the prettiest Christmas tree we ever had!”
My children: “Oh Mom, you always say that.”

My grandchildren: “Gramma, it's the prettiest tree we've ever had!”
Sue: “Yes, it is.”

Sue: “Grandchildren, it's the prettiest tree we've ever had!”
My grandchildren: “Oh Gramma, you always say that.”

Sue: Whispering heavenward, “Mom, it's the prettiest tree we've ever had!”
My mom: Smiling from heaven, “Yes honey, it always is.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Dressing

I stirred and stirred. My mom kept telling me I had to keep stirring the dressing until it tasted good. She would come and taste it often. Sometimes she added a little more of this or that. I stirred until she declared it tasted good. The dressing was an all important item for our thanksgiving meal. I loved it then. I love it still.

I was twenty-two years old with a young family of my own when we moved across the country. It became my job to fix the dressing. I was filled with trepidation at this all-important task. I called home crying that I didn't think I could fulfill this great responsibility. Mom assured me that I could do this.” “Just make sure you stir it till it tastes good.” I made the cornbread and prayed for success. That first thanksgiving on my own I had to re-make the cornbread after mice nibbled their way through most of the first pan. I protected the second batch from the mice. The dressing was good, but not as good as Mom's.

Today my daughter is doing the cooking. I am looking forward to eating a big plateful of dressing.

Here is my mother's recipe for dressing. It is wonderful. You just have to be sure to stir it.

Turkey Dressing
By Gramma Byrtle
             Make a big pan of cornbread. Then add about as much stale light bread as you have cornbread. Crumble all into little, tiny pieces.
            Cook neck, gizzard, etc. of turkey till good and done – use plenty of water for stock to pour over the bread. Cut this meat up (some of it) & add to the dressing – save enough giblets back to put in gravy.
            Beat up about 6 (maybe 4) eggs and add to dressing & add salt & pepper to taste – also a small amt. of sage – too much makes it a mess - about a tsp. I think
            I cook quite a lot of celery & a big onion (cut up fairly good) in pan of water separately & dump all this in dressing too. (a chicken bouillon cube may be used too if you want) (or poultry seasoning may be used instead of sage.)
            Taste till it’s good –I like it kinda moist – not too dry. Stuff into bird just before roasting – a danger of spoiling if you put it in ahead. Left over may be baked in pan separately. Big Mama used to stuff a cloth bag of extra dressing & bake it along side of turkey. I hope you good luck, Sue!
            (This letter is the recipe sent from Mom to Sue in 1965 - our first Thanksgiving in Maryland. I tried to follow it for several years, but could never get it to taste like my Mom’s dressing. After that I used Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix.)


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

He Is Really Doing It

In early September my husband came home and said something I never expected him to say. I am still stunned by the decision he made that day. He looked at me and said, “It just isn't much fun any more. I think it is time to retire.” My astronomer has always loved his job. He got up each day looking forward to going to work. He loved figuring out the problems of the universe. He looked into the far reaches of the heavens and could see what he called the light left over from creation. Few men found such joy in their chosen career. He has been blessed. He says it is now time to do something else. He is so interested in so many things that he could not do because of his NASA obligations. He wants to have time to work on some of those things. Among other things he wants to write a book about four dimensional geometry (I have no idea what that is). Of course I have a long list of honey-dos to keep him busy and we will probably do some more traveling. He will not be bored.

Yesterday he was given a retirement party by his friends in the lab where he has worked for so many years. I had never seen this place where he spent so much of his life. It is not easy to get onto the NASA campus with all the security they have now. For this occasion some of our children, grandchildren and I went through security and joined the festivities in his lab. This place which all his co-workers refer to as Dennis's Lab is just a big room full of computers and people. It is a place where he is greatly honored and loved. I was told that he is the heart and soul of the lab. When he leaves the sparkle will will be gone. Everyone was given a bolo tie and a fake beard so we could pose for a picture with this bearded, bolo tie wearing, beloved astronomer.The party was just right.

Tomorrow will be his last work day. Monday he will go collect signatures from a large assortment of people as part of the official sign-out procedure. He will turn in his badge. Then he will come home.

The adventure of retirement lies before him. We are excited about what the days will bring.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Full Week End

I spent most of Friday in the church kitchen. There was a memorial service that day for a much loved lady. She was remembered with laughter, tears, good stories and beautiful music. Her ashes were spread in the memorial garden to feed the beautiful flowers and plants growing there. Her friends then gathered to remember, to share, and to eat. These moments seem like such sacred times in life. I feel blessed to be able to help in these moments. I am served far more than I serve.

Friday evening was stargazing night. We gathered with friends on a small, quiet beach on the Chesapeake Bay to enjoy the night sky and the company of good friends. My astronomer brought his telescope. Through it's lens we could see mountains and craters on the crescent moon. It looked like an exquisitely carved ivory tusk. He readjusted the viewing field and there was Jupiter with three planets circling around it. It was an impressive sight. Later we lay on the beach snuggled into warm blankets and admired God's beautiful sky. We saw the great square of Pegasus, and watched as Orin rose above the horizon. We could see the faint spot that is the galaxy of Andromeda. Pondering the immensity of the universe tends to make the world seem to a more manageable size. I saw a great, beautiful shooting star. The cold finally became too much and we had to come home, but it was a lovely evening.

Bright and early Saturday morning I joined more than forty volunteers to help run an H1N1 flu clinic. The public health department and our church joined forces to vaccinate over two-hundred people. It was so well organized that there were no major problems. People began lining up about an hour before we opened and waited patiently for their turn. The weather was sunny and warm and people chatted and visited with neighbors as they waited. I can't say that all the children were thrilled to be getting a shot, but their parents were quite happy and thankful.

Today is Sunday. I do love being a part of a church family and being able to worship God together with people I love. This morning the bell choir played. Playing the bells is one of my favorite things. We shared a big pre Thanksgiving dinner after church. This time I stayed out of the kitchen and just enjoyed the food and the fellowship. I took a nap this afternoon.

Next week will be full of good things.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Good Reads

Two long airplane rides and some peaceful afternoons floating down the Nile gave me time for a lot of reading. I enjoyed several good books while we were on our vacation.

The first was Dan Brown's new novel, “Lost Symbol.” If you enjoyed “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons,” then you will enjoy this thriller too. Brown takes an impossibility and turns it into a scary reality with lots of unexpected twists that make the book hard to put down. The fact that it is set in Washington DC with it's familiar locations made the story made it seem even more real. It is a good read.

“Sea Glass” by Anita Shreve was a much quieter story. Shreve is so good at making her characters feel real that I felt like I was part of this story about people in a small mill town in New England. The background of this story is the fall of the stock market in 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. This story brought tears to my eyes several times as people struggled through great hardship and pain. Life can be very hard. This was a good read of a different sort.

Mitch Albom has a new little book out called, “Have a Little Faith.” It is a beautiful written story of two very different men from two very different communities. One story is about Reb, a devout rabbi born into a long history of faith. The other is Henry, an inner-city back man who grows up in a crime-filled neighborhood. He becomes a drug-addict and commits all manner of crime. He spends many years in jail. Eventually Henry finds Jesus and becomes a minister to others who are lost at the bottom of society. In this book Albom demonstrates the great comfort in believing in something bigger than yourself. I found it to be very inspirational. I'm glad I read it.

What have you been reading? Do you have any recommendations for a good read?

Monday, November 16, 2009


We had such a pleasant, interesting trip on our Nile River boat. It was a comfortable floating hotel. One evening we enjoyed a fun Egyptian costume party. (Doesn't Dennis make a grand-looking Egyptian?) After a week though it was time to leave and fly back to Cairo for our final two days in Egypt.

Cairo is a big, crowded, noisy city. Twenty million people call it home. There are huge modern office buildings, small old-fashioned shops and open-air markets. The traffic is unbelievably terrible. Cars and trucks crowd five lanes of traffic onto a two lane road and honk constantly. Mixed among the millions of cars are donkey carts and bicyclists balancing baskets on their heads piled high with bread. The skyline is dominated by the great pyramids which are at the edge of the city. Mixed among all this loud confusion are some very interesting, historical sites.

Cairo, like all of Egypt, is a predominately Muslim community. There are large populations here, though, of Christian and Jewish communities. In an older part of the city we saw the oldest known Christian church building in the world, the oldest synagogue in Egypt, and the oldest Mosque in Egypt. It was interesting to see these ancient places of worship in such close proximity. As our guide explained these faiths have much in common. They all worship the same Almighty God. They all trace their roots back to Abraham. We are all known as people of The Book. Wouldn't this world be a more peaceful place if would celebrate our common heritage and respect our religious differences?

The most beautiful mosque we visited is know as the Alabaster Mosque. It was built by Mohamed Ali (not the boxer) in about 1800. It is a magnificent, awe-inspiring building.

The oldest Christian church building was built in the third century. It is know as the Hanging Church. We visited while a service was in progress. This is a Coptic (Eastern Orthodox) Church and the service was conducted entirely in the Coptic language which is only spoken by the priesthood. It is an ancient language understood by very people today.

The courtyard of the church was filled with beautiful mosaics depicting scenes from the life of Jesus.

Just down the street from the Hanging Church is the oldest synagogue in Egypt. It is said that the site of this building is where the holy family hid from King Herod and the slaughter of the babies.

Our last afternoon was spent in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It is filled with an amazing treasure of antiquities. The most spectacular were the wonderful treasures found in King Tut's tomb. No cameras were allowed inside the museum so I cannot share pictures of those wonders.

Then it was time to pack and get ready for the long journey home. We were filled up with wonderful memories of our journey through Egypt, but our hearts were turning toward home.

We celebrated our last meal in Egypt at this world-famous international restaurant.

It is good to be home.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Each of the ancient sites we visited was unique, fascinating and interesting, but after two weeks they did begin to meld together in my brain. Egypt is so full of well preserved temples that it just boggles my brain. These ancient people were great builders and artists who left us such a treasure of beauty to ponder. I'll try to show you just a few of the many sites we saw.

One of the most fascinating places was the Valley of the Kings, the burial ground for many pharaohs. These tombs were hidden in the dry rock and sand of the desert for thousands of years. They were hidden because the ancients had discovered that great pyramids invited tomb robbers. These tombs were also discovered and robbed, but the carvings and paintings remain. The art work is stunning. It was here that the famous tomb of King Tut and all it's treasure was discovered. Alas, the Egyptian government forbids any cameras in the valley so I cannot show you it's beauty.

Luxor has two great temples. Karnac was amazing with it's hundreds of huge columns and obelisks. The man in the center of the picture is our guide, Hatem. He was a wonderful, knowledgeable Egyptologist who helped us understand what we were seeing.

The sacred lake of Karnac is here. This small body of water was thought to be the site of the beginning of all life, sort of like the Garden of Eden.

The great Karnac temple is connected to Luxor temple by a great causeway several miles long lined on both sides by sphinxes.

Luxor temple was also filled with beautiful columns and hieroglyphics. Ramses is present almost everywhere.

One of the more common pictures seen on temple walls was that of the god Set, the fertility god of ancient Egypt. The story goes that the ancient gods all went off to war and left Set behind to protect all the goddesses. When the gods returned from battle they found that all of the goddesses were pregnant. Set's great prowess was greatly honored. The black area on the wall is from the hands of women tourists who feel compelled to touch Set's greatness.

The temple at Dendera was new by ancient standards. It was built by the Greeks who ruled as the Ptolemies, the last pharaohs of ancient Egypt On one wall there is a carving of Cleopatra and her son by Julius Caesar, Caesarean.

Hatsheput was a female pharaoh. Her temple was built just outside the Valley of the Kings. From a distance it looked more like a modern office building than an ancient temple. There is still a lot of restoration that still needs to be done here. It was 105 degrees the day we toured here which made climbing all those steps very difficult.

A crocodile-headed god was worshiped a the temple of Kom Ombo. The walls here contained a hieroglyphic calender which depicted the three seasons of ancient Egypt, flood, planting and harvest.

The temple well at Kom Ombo was not an ordinary well. It was used as a nursery for baby crocodiles. When they were big enough they were used in temple worship. Mummified crocodiles were buried all through the temple.

The one temple that was like no other was Abu Simbel. This great temple honoring Ramses the Great was built in the far south of Egypt, at the Nubian border. It was built there as a reminder to the Nubians that they had been conquered by Ramses. This massive temple was carved out of a mountain, from one huge rock, so it could never be torn down. Amazing to think about it. The other amazing feat was that it was moved. The entire mountain that contained it was moved to protect it from rising water when the high dam was built at Aswan. It is a stunning sight.

There was so much more that we saw. We were overwhelmed by the wonder of it all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Along the Nile

We left crowded Cairo and flew 500 miles south to Luxor where we boarded our boat, the Miriam. For the next week this would be our floating home as we cruised up the Nile. I loved sitting on the deck and watching as scenes of modern Egypt slipped by. It looked liked pictures from somewhere long ago and far away.
We saw many small farms where the people worked the fields with hoes and spades. Farm machinery was a rarity.

We watched fishermen in small boats throw out nets along the bulrush covered shoreline.

The sand and rock of the Sahara was never far away from the fertile Nile valley.

The villages looked like peaceful places where life appeared more simple and more peaceful.

I don't think these mud-brick homes were all that poor. If you look you can see satellite dishes on most of the roof tops.

In this Muslim country there were minarets visible everywhere. All day on Friday, which is their sabbath, we could hear prayers being sung from these tall towers. I found it to be a peaceful, holy sound.

The sunsets were beautiful.

There was one very obvious sign of something less than peaceful along these shores. There are many highly visible well-armed guards everywhere. The Antiquities & Tourism police guarded the docks and all the tourist sites with a heavy presence. At night a machine gun was placed on the top deck to protect us. We never left the boat without a well-armed escort. I never saw any sing of trouble and I couldn't decide if this armed guard made me feel more or less safe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


All my life I have wanted to see the pyramids. I just couldn't believe that I was really standing here in front of the great pyramid of Egypt, the real deal built by old Pharaoh Cheops almost 5000 years ago. It is huge! Until just a hundred or so years ago it was the biggest structure in the world. It was built with over two million stones that weighed more than two tons each. Next to it are two slightly smaller pyramids built by his son and grandson and several queens' pyramids.. The precision workmanship is just astounding. I feel overwhelmed at it all. The great sphinx sits just below the pyramids, standing guard over these ancient tombs.

After seeing the pyramids we visited Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt. All that remains there are a few broken statues. The ancient Egyptians worked very hard to build places to spend eternity, but very little remains of the houses and places where they actually lived. Life was temporary. Eternity was forever, so they spent their life preparing a place for a happy afterlife. Here is a fallen statue of Ramses II, Egypt's longest ruling pharaoh, were it fell in Memphis.

We then crossed back over to the west bank of the Nile to see some even older pyramids. In ancient Egypt all the tombs were built on the west bank, toward the setting sun. The cities were all on the east bank. We saw the red pyramid, the step pyramid and the bent pyramid. These are several hundred years older than the ones at Giza. They were built while they were still figuring out the best way to make a pyramid.

We entered two ancient tombs near the step pyramid that had been prepared for ancient noblemen. The low entry required us to bend over as we walked through a tunnel about a hundred feet long. Inside the walls were covered in hieroglyphics and colorful paintings. I wondered what all that writing said. The paintings were beautiful depictions of everyday life - fishing, feeding ducks, writing, chasing butterflies. Just amazing!

Of course no trip to Egypt would be complete without a camel ride. This was really a lot of fun.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Today I woke up at 4AM, wide awake and ready to go. It will take a while to adjust to the eight hour time change between home and Egypt. We had such an amazing and wonderful trip. My mind is swirling with memories I want to share. I will try to sort them out so you can make sense of the awe and wonder I felt seeing this ancient, far away land.

Our first touring day was Tuesday, October 27. We walked out of our hotel to board a bus to Alexandria. I looked across the street and there, right in front of me was the great pyramid. I felt completely awed by the sight, but we would have to wait a day to see it more closely. We headed north for a two hour drive through the desert. This part of the desert has been reached with some irrigation, so there were plants growing along the way. It reminded me of the California desert, with palm trees, oleander bushes and eucalyptus trees. We passed grape vineyards and a banana groves.

I loved Alexandria. It is a big, modern, vibrant city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The streets are narrow and crowded with cars and donkey carts and beautiful people sharing the roads. We saw crowds of Muslim school girls, men in sidewalk cafes smoking their water pipes, and old women in black head coverings shopping in the many small open markets. There flocks of sheep in the middle of downtown. Bright laundry hung from the windows of most apartments looking like colorful banners decorating the city.

Mixed int the middle of this modern city are the ruins of the ancient civilization that made this place famous. The great library of Alexandria has been replaced with a modern building that only reminds us of the ancient library Alexander built.

Alexander the Great built a lighthouse here that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was destroyed long ago by an earthquake. A citadel stands there now that was built by a great sultan in the ninth century.

This causeway was built by Alexander the Great to connect the city to the great lighthouse.

Dennis was fascinated by all the wells in Egypt. Here he is posing by the well at the Citadel.

My friend Sharon and I standing in front of the Citadel

We visited the Alexandria Museum and saw many old artifacts, including a mummy in a sarcophagus.

Recently the ruins of an amphitheater were unearthed that had been built during the time of Roman rule. I could imagine Roman soldiers and maybe even Cleopatra and Antony enjoying a performance there.

Our last stop was at Pompey's Pillar flanked by two sphinx that were placed there by Cleopatra to honor her two great loves, Julius Caesar and Antony. It made me realize that these were real people, not just characters in a movie.

Egypt kept on reminding me that all these famous ruins were built by real people, not that much different than us.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


We're home.The trip was wonderful beyond our wildest expectations. We've been traveling for the past 25 hours. Very tired and happy. Pictures soon.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


We are packed and ready to go. Tomorrow night we will sleep in Egypt.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


This morning I went to see my twelve year old granddaughter perform in the operetta, Brundibar. I went to see her dance and sing. I went to applaud for this talented young girl that I love. I was not prepared to watch a show that tore my heart out. Brundibar is the powerful story about children of the Holocaust. It is a story of horror and fear. It is also the story of hope , survival and triumph. This morning's show was divided into two parts. During the first half the children read poems written by children who had lived in Terezin, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. The set was the dark walls of the camp. The young performers looked gaunt and hungry. Poem after heart-wrenching poem was recited. At the conclusion of the first half the audience set in stunned silence. Applause seemed inappropriate after what we had just heard.


Today the ghetto knows a different fear,
Close in its grip, Death wields an icy scythe.
An evil sickness spreads a terror in its wake,
The victims of its shadow weep and writhe.
Today a father's heartbeat tells his fright
And mothers bend their heads into their hands.
Now children choke and die with typhus here,
A bitter tax is taken from their bands.
My heart still beats inside my breast
While friends depart for other worlds.
Perhaps it's better – who can say? –
Than watching this, to die today?
No, no, my God, we want to live!
Not watch our numbers melt away.
We want to have a better world,
We want to work – we must not die!

Eva Picková, 12 years old

The second half of the performance was the operetta Brundibar. It is the story of children who overcome the evil organ-grinder, Brundibar. They win a victory over this evil man who is obviously Hitler. The show was performed fifty-five time in Terezin. At the conclusion of today's performance the girl who had played the role of the cat went into the audience and returned with an older lady who joined in the concluding victory song. This woman with sparkling eyes and a great smile sang the song in Czech. As a young girl she had been in all fifty-five performances of Brundibar. Of the 15,000 children under the age of thirteen to go to Terezin, she is one the 100 who survived. When this woman happily joined today's young performers I cried. This woman has survived horror with a vivacious spirit of hope.

After the show I purchased a book she had written about her life. She signed it for me. Her inscription reads, “Remember me and my friends”
Remembering is important.

I am glad I could meet and hear Ela Weissberger.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Rant

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Christian. I am overwhelmed at God's amazing love and grace. I see God in the life of Jesus and try to live my life by the example of how Jesus lived. When I see people behave in hateful, selfish, and judgmental ways in the name of Christ I become sad and angry. Some folks who call themselves Christian seem to have missed the meaning of “God is Love.” Jesus says to be merciful and to seek peace. He commands us to love both our neighbors and our enemies. He tells us not to judge others while ignoring the sins in our own lives. When a woman caught in adultery is brought to him, Jesus treats her with gentleness and rebukes the self-righteous trouble-makers who brought her to him. Jesus befriended sinners and told them about God's love and mercy. Jesus became angry with church leaders who were so interested in making people obey a list of rules that they forgot love, mercy and gentleness. They forgot that God's name is Love.

Recently I have seen people yell ugly epitaphs at others. In the name of Christ they yell through bull horns and make hate filled signs. They throw rocks and even kill other people because they do not agree with them . These folks have judged people by their own narrow, closed-mined interpretation of scripture and found others guilty. They seem to think that ,“Judge not,” does not apply to them. I suppose I too am being judgmental here of those who have a list of “bad” sins that they deem to be worse than their own. It just makes me so sad. When I say I am a Christian I want to explain that these hate filled folks do not represent me. They do not represent the God of love that I see in Jesus.

The way I understand it, Christianity is not so much about keeping a set of rules as it is relying on the amazing grace of God. Christianity is loving God with all my heart and soul, and loving my neighbor as myself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mouse Story

This morning several friends were laughing about our escapades with mice. This is my mouse story.

I was large with child, about a week before the birth of my second daughter. Shortly before bedtime I went into the kitchen to ice a cake I had baked earlier in the day. My husband was in the bedroom getting ready for bed when he heard me scream. He came running into the kitchen, wearing only his white briefs to see what had caused my shriek. I was pointing to the corner of the cabinet yelling, “Mouse! There's a mouse behind my cookbooks.” Being my brave knight, minus the shining armor, he quickly put a table leaf across the doorway into the living room to confine the scary creature and told me to wait in the living room. He then grabbed the fly swatter, crept to corner, flung the books out of the way and swatted at the mouse. The quick-footed mouse ran, leapt over the carefully placed barrier and ran straight toward me. I climbed into a chair and the mouse ran down the hall and into the linen closet. Standing up in our rocking chair I pointed toward the closet as my brave husband chased after the mouse. He carefully opened the closet, but could not see the critter. There was blanket lying on the floor which the mouse was obviously cowering under. With fly swatter at ready he quickly reached in, flung the blanket out of the closet and swatted with a mighty swing at the empty closet floor. The mouse had crawled into the folds of the blanket. Mouse and blanket were now flying straight at me and I was screaming. The stunned mouse hit the floor and seemed to hesitate. The hesitation was just long enough for my mighty hunter to hit him with the fly swatter. The mouse went to its great reward and my husband went to bed. When I went again to try to ice the cake I noticed a corner was missing and little foot prints trailed across the cake. I threw out the cake knowing my little mouse had gone to heaven with a tummy full of yummy chocolate cake.

Do you have a mouse story?

Friday, October 09, 2009

5 Words

My fellow blogger Paul sent out a challenge to write about five random words selected by him. I decided it would be an interesting exercise and accepted his challenge.

The five words he assigned are holiday, satisfaction, mark, encourage, and proof. I tried to use them in a sentence, but they just don't seem to go together very well. I came up with things like, “It is a mark of the holiday that it it encourages satisfaction and gives proof to its meaning.” Or maybe, “The holiday marks a proof that encourages us to satisfaction.” These sentences did not satisfy me, so I was encouraged to write about each word individually to mark their meaning with more proof. The effort does not feel like a holiday.


A holiday is a special day set aside to remember and honor someone or something. There are religious holidays. Those of us who are Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter to honor Christ and celebrate the good news that Christ has given us. There are national holidays like Fourth of July and Veterans Day that let us celebrate the pride we feel because we are Americans and to honor those who have helped to defend our country. My favorite holiday combines both our faith and our patriotism. Thanksgiving is an American holiday that gives citizens of all faiths the opportunity to stop and give thanks to the Almighty for the blessings we have in this nation. For the past several years we have attended in inter-faith service on the eve of Thanksgiving. We celebrate together the blessings of being Americans. The rabbi, the imam, and the minister and many congregants from various faith traditions share our patriotism and thanksgiving together. It is a moving, meaningful time. Of course my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the love, laughter, and lavish banquet that our family and friends share around our big table.

What is your favorite holiday?


I think of satisfaction as that sense of fulfillment and pleasure that comes after finishing a task. Sometimes it is just a small pleasure like the one that comes when you put the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle. It is so satisfying to see the completed picture. Sometimes it is a bigger sense of gratitude and joy. I think of the Christmas night long ago when I was lying with my little boy as he fell asleep. He kept repeating the list of good things that had happened that day. He'd say,”Big firetruck,” and just smile. Then he would say, “New books”, and smile some more. Finally he said, “Mommy, I'm happy.” I lay there by him overwhelmed with a deep satisfaction knowing that the day had been perfect for this child of mine. When I was working I would face a huge pile of charts that had to be dealt with each day. Sometimes the pile was nearly as tall as me. There was a very tired sense of satisfaction that came at the end of the day as I filed away the last chart and I knew I had completed the day's tasks.

What is something that brings you satisfaction?


There are multiple meanings for this word, but for me I think of Mark as a name.There is Mark, the writer of the second book in the New Testament. He was the first person to write about the life of Jesus. Matthew, Luke and John looked to Mark when they wrote their books. I have a good friend named Mark. Our families grew up together. We have shared a lot of life. My daughter's sweetheart is named Mark. He is an important part of her life which makes him an important part of my life. He is a good man.

All of the Marks in my life have left a mark on me.
Is there a Mark in your life?


To encourage is to fill someone with the courage they need to continue on. It is a bit like being someone's personal cheerleader.

I observed an excellent example of how to encourage in the locker room at the pool recently. A swim class for young children had just dismissed, and mothers were bringing their little ones into the locker room to get them into dry clothes. I cringed at the dialogue between one mom and her child. The little boy was crying as his mother berated him. She said, “I paid good money for this class and you wouldn't even try. You're just a worthless scaredy-cat. You embarrassed me with all your crying.” Another mom came in with her child and I heard her say something entirely different. “You were so brave out there! You almost put your face in the water. I bet next week you will be even braver than you were this week.” The child stood tall and smiled at his mom's praise and encouragement.

Which child do you think will learn to swim first?

Who has been an encourager in your life?


This word is not proving itself easy for me to write about. Proof is like evidence in a legal proceeding to convince the jury that something is or is not true. It is a good thing to have a lot of proof before convicting a person of some awful deed. I do like to find proof to back up what I believe, but I think I live mostly on emotion and instinct and don't need too much evidence if it all feels right. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing, but it is just the way I am.

Do you need a lot of proof about something to decide if it is true or not true.

This exercise was harder for me than I anticipated, but it was fun. If you need a subject to blog about, just check with Paul. I'm sure he will be happy to provide you with five random words.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Ten Happy Things

This morning I received the third of three shots in my knee that are meant to relieve the pain. The doctor said it would take about three weeks to be completely effective. In three weeks I will be in Cairo, Egypt. Hearing that my knee won't hurt made me happy.

Walking into the pool this morning I could smell the newly mowed grass. It smelled clean and fresh. That made me happy.

I worked up a sweat in the pool during my water exercise class. It felt good to be able to work out. That made me happy.

I came home to find that the cleaners from my son-in-law's company had been here. My house was neat and tidy. I admired the pattern left in the carpet by the vacuum cleaner. That made me happy.

I love peanut butter & banana sandwiches. I had a peanut butter & banana sandwich for lunch. That made me happy.

This afternoon I wrote the checks and paid all the bills. We had enough money to pay everyone. That made me happy.

I finished re-reading a book I first read when I was fourteen years old. It is a novel about King David that made me always love the Bible story of King David. It was still a good story. That made me happy.

Our son stopped by for dinner. He is working very hard to lose weight. He has lost more that twenty pounds. That made me happy.

Tonight I enjoyed good conversation and laughter with friends. That made me happy.

I will sleep tonight beside the man I have loved for almost fifty years. That makes me happy.

What makes you happy today?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


We leave on our long planned trip to Egypt in twenty-five days. To say we are excited would be a great understatement. I have always been fascinated by stories of ancient Egypt. It is hard to believe how very old it is. The Great Pyramid was ancient when Moses lived there. I love thinking about those people who lived so very long ago. Were their lives really that much different than mine? They have left us much to make us wonder about the lives they lived.

I am anxious to see the great temple at Abu Simbel. It is the one in the picture with the colossal statues. One of them lost it's head in an ancient earthquake and inspired Shelley to write a poem about the folly of fame. This Temple was carved out of a solid cliff in the thirteenth century B.C. It was built to honor Rames II, who was probably the pharaoh we read about in the Moses story.

There is more to see than the two weeks we will be there will allow us to see.What would you want to see if you were traveling to Egypt? What shall I bring you as a souvenir?

Monday, September 28, 2009


In just one month we will cross another item off our bucket list when we travel to an ancient land and see the statue that inspired this poem. We are very excited.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” -- Proverbs 16:18

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Friday, September 25, 2009


I am sitting here in my husband's much too big office chair. He loves this chair. I often see him sitting here, leaning back with eyes closed as he meditates on life. This chair is way too big for me. My legs aren't long enough to reach the floor and I can't sit back and relax because I'm too short to reach the back of the seat. I feel like a little kid in a grown-up's chair and I don't like it.

So why I am I sitting in this uncomfortable big chair?

My computer died. I mourned for it all day, but it could not be resuscitated. Inside my dead computer there is much information that I need. It holds our financial records, pictures of my life, addresses of friends and relatives, and of course the record my exciting and interesting blog. It is gone and I sit here in my husband's big chair so I can use his computer and share my loss with you.

I will recover from my mourning quickly because I have the good fortune to be married to my very own in-house IT guy. He came home last night with a brand spanking new computer for me. This week-end he will do his magic and somehow retrieve all that wonderful information from the hard drive of my dead computer and transfer it to my new machine. I don't know how he will do that. I really do believe there is a bit of magic involved. I am grateful to have married someone with skills. I love a man with skills.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

School Teacher

Today is my mom's birthday. She would have been 104. The photo of the two of us was taken in1945. I miss my mom.

Mom was a school teacher. She often entertained us with stories about her early days of teaching. She was a great story teller.

She began her teaching career in Texas in 1924. Her first contract to teach in a public school there contained clauses that not many would sign today. It stipulated that she would never use tobacco, drink spirits, play cards, nor “keep company”on school nights. It also required that she attend church services every Sunday. One final requirement was that she would quit immediately should she ever marry. She signed without hesitation, happy to have a job, and thinking there was nothing unusual in the contract.

My favorite of her many teaching stories concerned a light bulb. She had grown up in a home without electricity. Electric lights were a wonder to her. She considered light bulbs to be very valuable things. One day there was a fire drill at her school and the building had to be evacuated. She hurriedly sent her students down the outdoor fire escape. She then looked around the room to see if there was anything valuable that she should save from the fire. She saw that wonderful electric light bulb hanging above her desk and knew that it should be saved. Quickly she climbed onto her desk, reached up and unscrewed the bulb. Before climbing out of the window and descending the ladder she thew that bulb to safety on the ground below where it shattered into a million piece