Saturday, February 22, 2020


Nephew Brian in the middle with fellow Peace Corp Members at Easter

Village where Brian served in the Peace Corp

Brian with his host family and friends before he rented his own apartment

Host mother and other relatives

My nephew Brian and his sister Christine, my brother's children, have both served in the Peace Corp.  Christine served in Nijer, Africa, while Brian was assigned Armenia.  Both are really excellent at languages.  Both can speak Spanish like a native.  Brian learned German and Russian and French.  Christine knows French, Arabic and several others.  In addition to being in the Peace Corp, Brian spent six months overseas doing an accelerated program with languages. He wanted to do International Business, while Christine has been accepted into the Foreign Service.  In August of this year, she will be assigned to Muscat, Oman. Christine's study is in Third World Health Care.  Both enjoy traveling.  This week we're going to visit Armenia through Brian's pictures and notes.  

Armenia is located in the southern Caucasus and is the smallest of the former Soviet republics. It is bounded by Georgia on the north, Azerbaijan on the east, Iran on the south, and Turkey on the west. Contemporary Armenia is a fraction of the size of ancient Armenia. A land of rugged mountains and extinct volcanoes, its highest point is Mount Aragats, 13,435 ft (4,095 m). (Not to be confused with Mount Ararat in Turkey)
Map of Armenia

First up..
Mount Ararat, in Turkey (Noah's ark is supposed to have been discovered on the left)

Mayor of Gugark, Brian's village, Brian and friend Sarah

A trainee holding onto St. Mesrop Mashtot's finger. (Marshot is the inventor of the
Armenian alphabet.It contained 36 letters այբուբեն (aybuben).

Village Square of Gugark, Armenia

Another shot of Gugark

Church on a hill outside Gugark

Close up shot of the Church on the hill-doesn't look used and it has graffiti on the outside!

This is a shot from the camp they stayed at when first arriving in Armenia

A morning shot from the camp

Group met at an ancient sight at Yerevan, Armenia
A road shot of the countryside 

Another road shot of the countryside

A morning shot of the countryside--Can you see the mountains in the background?

City square of Vanadzor, Armenia


Landscape in Southern Armenia

Eating salt with bread, an Armenian tradition

Couldn't resist taking this picture on one of their road trips.  See the cow in the car?

Brian and friends drinking coffee on a hillside in Armenia

Aren't these poppies?

Gyumri in the background

An old bridge
More flowers, Brian giving the thumbs up sign.  I call him the
gentle giant as he's 6' 7".  Kids and aunts love him to death.  When he gives a hug, he wraps his arms around you like a bear! My head comes to just below the third button from the top of his shirt.

I included the shot of Mount Ararat, located in Turkey, but it was closed on the Armenian side. He was unable to go and see it up close.  Though, I believe there was a window of time three of his friends were able to go and climb it.  There were certain areas that he couldn't visit as he could have been arrested and jailed for  being there.
Brian's apartment, they do have snow!
A winter shot of his apartment

I hope you've enjoyed this brief visit to Armenia.  

Friday, February 21, 2020

Have you ever smoked Rabbit Tobacco?

Judy's May 2006

I belong to this writing group where each week we write a short story.  In trying to improve my writing skills it's very exciting.  Usually I write the birth, childhood, life of my character in a story.  This is a skill I find I need to work on, that of taking one subject out of the story and making it the short story, rather than trying to write a short novel.  I find this is hard to do!  It's easy outline the full story, but it's hard to expand on one subject.  I think the hard part is to keep on finding words to describe one scene!  The short novel is come up with plot, proceed, end and then it's over.  The short story is subject, how many threads to the subject, not really an ending. Take the following short short story:

Have You Ever Smoked Rabbit Tobacco?

     I think we get so caught up researching our Great-Great Grandpa or Grandma that we forget about our stories and history.  To our kids and grandkids, this is more relevant than way back when! Have you ever sat down and thought about when you were growing up? The funny situations you sometimes found yourself or what about your siblings?
      Here’s a story worth saving for you children. We were living at Big Woods on the mountain above Trenton, Georgia, about 1960 or 1961.  Its fall when the plants are drying up and the leaves were turning and preparing to fall off. We were crossing a field, swinging sticks, talking when we spotted the Rabbit Tobacco. This isn’t the technical name, but it’s what we called it. I'm not sure who suggested going into the house for a brown paper grocery bag, the kind they bagged your purchases in at A & P, a pair of scissors and matches.  My brother and I cut sections of paper about the size used to roll cigars, then pulled the dry leaves from the plant.  We rolled the leaves back and forth between our hands until it was the size of a cigar.  We then placed the tobacco at one end of the paper and rolled it up, like we'd seen our Dad, uncles and aunts do, into a huge cigar! I think rolling it was half the fun. I don't remember my sisters doing one, as they were only seven and four. We each took a match and lit one end, then took a puff off of it. Now think about that dry paper bag and those dry leaves! Talk about a coughing spell! I'm surprised we didn't suck fire into our lungs! I can't say the taste was very good either.  I don't remember if we did smaller puffs and smoked the whole things, or just held it with the tips of our fingers trying not to breathe in any more smoke. I can say, it wasn't something I ever did again.

Now I'm trying what to do with the story, any story. I've managed to send in one story since I've retired and it was rejected. How to choose where to send and which to send is sometimes overwhelming. Actually, this is a true story.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

I Cannot Use A Weed Eater OR It's Alive!!

My yard in Center Point during a rain

Lilies planted in my yard at Center Point

     A weed eater weighs from 12 pounds to 25 pound, anyone should be able to use it, right, even kids. That is so very wrong! My brother gave me his old electric one 16 years ago. All I had to do was plug it in and press the button. First off I envisioned the wire cutting off my legs right above the ankles. Then I am supposed to cut it just right, so I spend my time raising and lowering because I can't control it at the right level. Oh and I don't want to talk about changing the wire (I never was able to change the wire, it kept coming off) so I threw it down, put the weed eater back into storage and used my lawnmower or pulled the weeds up by hand. 
     Last summer I bought a new Snapper, thinking surely there are new updates and it will be so much easier, especially if I buy a gas one! Well, In June of this year (I waited a year because I wanted time to think about it), I finally decided to try it. 
     I have decided it's alive, laying in storage waiting to attack me. Did you know you can't use the same gas for a weed eater that you use for your lawnmower or car? You gotta buy this small bottle of "something", then measure out exactly 1 gallon of gas ( you know how hard it is to find a useful container, I lost a good tea pitcher) and mix. Not only that, it weighed 30 pounds.
     I'm finished trying to use a weed eater! Anyone want to buy a barely used weed eater?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The first year of being Sixty-contd

My daughter and grandkids 2008-when I turned 60

To continue from yesterdays post, there were other positive results from having knee surgery, besides being able to walk, such as having my daughter and grand kids come from Oklahoma and stay with me two weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed having them around. Even with all that child energy popping about! They've reached that age where they will sit and talk a while.

Jennifer, my daughter, is my best friend. She's a great cook, much better than me; truth be told, I hate cooking, I can, but it's not up there with things I really enjoy doing. When she was growing up, I had to work full time, it was just her and me,so we ate a lot of canned and frozen foods, rarely did we have cooked from scratch meals. I have a feeling I owe my sister Susan and my sister-in-law Nancy for Jennifer's love of cooking. They both are really good cooks and enjoyed teaching her. Since she does love to cook, the two weeks she was taking care of me while I recouped from the knee surgery, I had DELICIOUS  meals! She made this Mandarin orange and pecan salad that was to die for!

She, Shelby and Sean arrived on Sunday the 22nd of December after I had the surgery on the 17th. They were able to stay until January 3rd. One of Jennifer's many good points is that she's a caregiver.

Shelby, Jennifer and Sean 2008 OSU Campus

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Sixty is just the beginning Or so I keep telling myself!

By Judy 1995

On October 21st, 2008, I turned sixty. I really didn't think much about it, I mean, just another day. My health had been good, I had a good job, my daughter and grand kids were fine. So what if I turned sixty.

Just goes to show that life can get back at you or God really has a sense of humor! On Friday I was fine, then on Saturday I helped my niece load a piece of furniture onto her truck, turned around to go back into the house, when the most awful pain ran through my left knee. I thought I had twisted it, nothing more. But as the days went by it reached the point where I would have to hold to the wall to walk, and I didn't read the Aleve directions, just thought Aleve is like Ibuprofen, I could take two every four hours. Not so, you are only to take two a day! Needless to say, the pills upset my stomach one night to the point I thought I was having a heart attack. I waited until the next morning, then I drove myself to the emergency room, just in case it turned out to be my stomach and I wouldn't be embarrassed by calling an ambulance. Of course my brother got upset with me, he said "What if I had passed out or something while I was driving?". My response was that I'd still end up at the hospital. He didn't think it so funny. Though driving myself to the hospital probably wasn't a good decision. Isn't it strange how people deal with not embarrassing themselves? Now my sister and brother would have handled it totally different.

Have you ever had a drug induced stress test? That's one of the tests they did on me to determine the condition of my heart. One minute I'm sitting there talking with the doctor and nurses. One starts injecting a fluid into my IV, when suddenly, I couldn't breathe. The doctor said, "Hang in there, it will be over in a minute, pat your right foot up and down!".

I asked, "What does patting your foot up and down do?"

She said, "Nothing, but it takes your mind off what's going on."

I looked at her and said, "Well, you can stop telling people to do that because it doesn't work!"

Have you ever had a sonar of your insides? It is so cool! Everything looked good except they discovered two gallstones in my gallbladder. They weren't near the opening, nor could they tell how long they had been there. But unless they gave me a problem, they wouldn't do anything as the only solution would be to take my gallbladder out.

The hospital gave me a clean bill of health, except no one checked out my knee. So for another two weeks I hobbled around until I couldn't stand it any more. My regular physician sent me to an orthopedic doctor, his name is Dr. Tim Cool. I had several x-rays, then they sent me to a room to talk with Dr. Cool. He showed me the x-rays, the cartilage or cushion was completely gone, it was bone on bone. His answer, total knee replacement! What I heard him say about what he would do in surgery and then recouping afterwards was nothing like the real thing! But I knew the second step I took the morning following the previous afternoon's surgery, that it would be worth it! I had the surgery on December 17, 2008, at times now I forget that I ever had the surgery. It was painful at first, but I hung in there with the physical therapy and now the only pain I have is when I travel down steps and it's not really a pain but a stretch. Doing the physical therapy and having a great doctor is the answer to having a successful knee replacement. I've talked with others who had the same surgery, but quit their therapy once they were able to walk about and drive. They ended up not having full use of their knee. At work, we have an exercise room with weights, such as lifting weights with my knees and pressing a plate with my feet (my favorite, it makes my back and legs feel good after I stop).

It's time for bed, so I'll continue my year on the next post.

Monday, February 17, 2020

JUST ABOUT TODAY IN MY LIFE-Two Ships Passing in the Night

My ship is the Fantasy on the right!

You ever heard the expression "Two Ships passing in the Night"?  There's several ways this comment is so true.  One way is just as it sounds, ships passing in the night.  When I went on a cruise in January 2008, sometimes I would wake up and the only sound I heard was the slight throbbing of the ships engines.  It wasn't loud as I was eight decks above the engine rooms, but in the quiet of the night, I could feel it and hear it, that's when I would pull back the curtains on the window and look at at the black sea and sky.  Sometimes off in the distance I would see another ship's lights and watch it glide slowly by.  As I sat there, I wondered about the people aboard.

Another way this phrase fits is blogging friends.  Sometimes you only meet them through one comment they leave.  But that one comment can sometimes give you so much information. Such as where they live, what's on their mind. They leave such a kind comment or an encouraging word.  Just that moment in time, that passing in the night can mean so much.  It's amazing how many people I'v met from all over the world.  The lives I've learned about, just with writing! People are truly interesting!  It's amazing!

Sweetie Pie and BayBay

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Sixty, Single AND Cooking!

Judy's Veggie Bread-08/11

Judy's Veggie Bread First Time

I took a day of vacation today and around ten o'clock after watching Bobby Flay make a pizza on the grill, I became so hungry!

Now, as I mentioned before, I'm learning to like cooking.  Though for one person, sometimes it can be complicated.  I've bought some of the spices, dry, not fresh until I'm sure this isn't a phase I'm going through. Though I'm backing off of Rosemary, I think I may have overused it.  Anyway, I'm hungry and go into the kitchen to see if I have any of the items Bobby Flay mentioned.  I didn't but I remembered seeing another show last week about some kind of bread, seems like it starts with an "F".  It was dough spread out on a pan, olive oil drizzled over it, onions, garlic gloves and grapes of all things.  Well, I had the dough, sort of, pan, sort of, olive oil, onions, garlic and grapes, sort of, and Basil. Here's what I made (see above pictures-looks nice doesn't it?)

1 can of Pillsbury 6 biscuits
1 drizzle of Olive Oil (light for cooking)
1 pinch of Basil
1 qtr cup of chopped onions
8 grape tomatoes, sliced
10 green olives sliced
1 qtr cup of shredded Cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Now, I haven't bought any new pans, because as I've said before, this may be a phase.  So I took a long glass baking dish, about 9" by something, lined it with aluminum foil(pan doesn't brown and easy to clean up).

Chop the onions, slice tomatoes and olives. Now I mentioned gloves of garlic, but I forgot to use, so I'll try that next time. Now be careful on the veggies, you might do like I did and cut too many and have to stand at the counter and eat leftovers, which is okay, but be forewarned!

Open the can of biscuits, roll into a ball.  On counter or cutting board, press out and pull until thin and even or as even as you can, thin anyway without holes. Place in pan, drizzle(I mean a little) light olive oil over dough, then scatter a pinch of dried, chopped Basil across it. Evenly scatter cheese, then veggies.  I then sprayed butter flavored Pam over the veggies. Cooked at 450 for 12 minutes. (Need to watch as some ovens might be hotter and you don't want to burn). Ummm! It is good!

Now if you want it crisper, you might leave off that Pam spray, but I love my end result!