Songs and Memories

You're listening to the radio when suddenly "that" song comes on. You know the one was "your" song when you were dating that special person. You stop what you're doing and the memories come flooding back.

I am back in high school, walking down the halls of South High School in Omaha, Nebraska. I remember the joy of seeing my special guy and holding hands as we talked on the way to our next class. Somehow I knew that he was the "one". We dated throughout high school and spent many evenings in his car, parked in "lover's lane" (with about a dozen other cars) and listening to Johnny Mathis, Pat Boone and other crooners of our era.

We've been married for 54 years and that song can still bring tears to my eyes.

My special song is The Twelfth of Never 
by Johnny Mathis.

The Twelfth of Never

You ask how much I need you
Must I explain
I need you oh my darling
Like roses need rain

You ask how long I'll love you
I'll tell you true
Until the twelfth of never
I'll still be loving you

Hold me close
Never let me go
Hold me close
Melt my heart like April snow

I'll love you 'till the blue bells forget to bloom
I'll love you 'till the clover has lost its perfume
I'll love you 'till the poets run out of rhyme

Until the twelfth of never
And that's a long long time
Until the twelfth of never
And that's a long long time

(I'm crying ... this song always does it)

What was yours?

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22 ADULT TRUTHS...admit've done that!

        1 Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

        2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

        3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

        4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

        5. How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

        6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

        7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

        8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

        9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind-of tired.

        10. Bad decisions make good stories.

        11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

        12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

        13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

        14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

        15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

        16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Light than with Kay.

        17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

        18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

        19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

        20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

        21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

        22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

The Grey-Haired Brigade

They like to refer to us as senior citizens, old fogies, geezers, and in some cases dinosaurs. Some of us are "Baby Boomers"getting ready to retire. Others have been retired for some time. We walk a little slower these days and our eyes and hearing are not what they once were.       

We have worked hard, raised our children, worshipped our God and grown old together. Yes, we are the ones some refer to as being over the hill, and that is probably true. But before writing us off completely, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration.     

In school we studied English, history, math, and science which enabled us to lead America into the technological age. Most of us remember what outhouses were, many of us with firsthand experience. We remember the days of telephone party-lines, 25 cent gasoline, and milk and ice being delivered to our homes. For those of you who don't know what an icebox is, today they are electric and referred to as refrigerators. A few even remember when cars were started with a crank. Yes, we lived those days.     
We are probably considered old fashioned and out-dated by many. But there are a few things you need to remember before completely writing us off. We won World War II, fought in Korea and Viet Nam . We can quote The Pledge of Allegiance, and know where to place our hand while doing so. We wore the uniform of our country with pride and lost many friends on the battlefield. We didn't fight for the Socialist States of America , we fought for the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave." We wore different uniforms but carried the same flag.    
We know the words to the Star Spangled Banner, America and America the Beautiful by heart, and you may even see some tears running down our cheeks as we sing. We have lived what many of you have only read about in history books and we feel no obligation to apologize to anyone for America.     

Yes, we are old and slow these days but rest assured, we have at least one good fight left in us. We have loved this country, fought for it, and died for it, and now we are  going to save it. It is our country and nobody is going to take it away from us. We took oaths to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that is an oath we plan to keep. There are those who want to destroy this land we love but, like our founders, there is no way we are going to remain silent.  
It was the young people of this nation who elected Obama and the Democratic Congress. You fell for the "Hope and Change" which in reality was nothing but "Hype and Lies." You have tasted socialism and seen evil face to face, and have found you don't like it after all. You make a lot of noise, but most are all too interested in their careers or "Climbing the Social Ladder" to be involved in such mundane things as patriotism and voting.        
Many of those who fell for the "Great Lie" in 2008 are now having buyer's remorse. With all the education we gave you, you didn't have sense enough to see through the lies and instead drank the 'Cool-Aid.' Now you're paying the price and complaining about it. No jobs, lost mortgages,higher taxes, and less freedom. This is what you voted for and this is what you got. We entrusted you with the  Torch of Liberty and you traded it for a paycheck and a fancy house.     

Well, don't worry youngsters, the Grey Haired Brigade is here, and in 2012 we are going to take back our nation. We may drive a little slower than you would like but we get where we're going, and in 2012 we're going to the polls by the millions. This land does not belong to the man in the White House nor to the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. It belongs to "We the People" and "We the People" plan to reclaim our land and our freedom.

 We hope this time you will do a better job of preserving it and passing it along to our grandchildren. So the next time you have the chance to say the Pledge of Allegiance, Stand up, put your hand over your heart, honor our country, and thank God for the old geezers of the "Grey-Haired Brigade."
      ~Author, Anonymous, a Grey-Haired Brigade Member

A Very Determined Squirrel

We have an abundance of squirrels in our neighborhood since we have two large oak trees in our yard providing acorns plus neighbors on both sides of us with bird and SQUIRREL feeders.
We feed birds and enjoy watching their antics.  The yellow and black finches are our favorites and we sit on our deck and watch them on the cylinder bird feeder.  We also have a suet feeder, a hummingbird feeder and our newest purchase a decorative feeder that attracts smaller birds.  What falls onto the ground is dinner for the mourning doves, cardinals and robins, plus an assortment of little brown birds that seem to come and go in flocks.  So far the fat little hummingbird feeder hasn’t had any visitors.
But we have a problem with the MANY squirrels climbing onto the previous feeders and basically chewing them to pieces.  This new metal feeder seemed to be squirrel-proof.  It hangs on a 5’ long metal rod attached to the tree limb by a chain and is 6’ from the ground.
This morning I looked out of the kitchen window and saw…..a SQUIRREL hanging on our new feeder upside down, enjoying the corn, saffron and sunflower seeds. I don’t know how he/she managed to get onto the feeder….my thought is that it was investigating the new feeder,  tried to hold onto the metal rod and accidentally slid down to the feeder.   If animals can think to themselves, this squirrel’s first thought was probably  “whoops”.
After taking some photos, I went to find Ken to show him our visitor.  But by the time he came into the kitchen the squirrel was gone.  I am really disappointed that I didn’t see how he got off the feeder…couldn’t climb up the skinny little rod, was too far from the tree trunk to leap, so the only alternative was to drop onto the ground.   

For once I don’t begrudge a squirrel stealing food from the bird feeder….it provided me with a nice morning's entertainment.

Mom Raised Me Right...Thanks Mom!

I was RAISED - I didn't just grow up.
I was taught to speak when I enter a room, say please & thank you, to have respect for my elders, lend a helping hand to those in need, hold the door for the person behind me, say excuse me when it's needed, and to love people for who they are, not for what you can get from them! 
I was also taught to treat people the way I want to be treated! 
If you were raised this way too, re-post this. Sadly, many won't, because they weren't, and it shows~

(This is a family photo our daughter Christine and her family.  Husband David and sons Mason, Connor and Hayden)

Win Prizes at a Carnival or Fair

You CAN win at a Carnival Game
Try these hints at your next visit to the State Fair or carnival.....up your chances against the carnival's odds!  You are aware that many of them are "fixed" in favor of the carnival...right?  They are there to bring in money....not to send you home happily carrying a stuffed animal or plastic bag with a live goldfish in it.
Balloon Dart Throw
The balloons are under-inflated, and the dart tips are dull. Don’t hurl the darts straight for the balloons, loft them in an arc for a better chance. Most people aim for the middle, so the game operators will often hide the "good prize" tags behind balloons on the outside edges.
Milk Bottle Throw
The bottles used in this carnival game are often made with leaded glasses making them very heavy. The secret to winning the milk bottle throw is to aim at the base of the bottom two containers rather then at the intersection of all three bottles.
BasketBall Free-Throw
The basketball is over-inflated, the hoop is smaller than regulation size and often an oval shape rather than circular. The backboard is made of plywood and is very bouncy.   Do not try to rebound the shot. Use a high arc underhanded granny shot.  Ever wonder why so many kids end up with a prize?  Underhanded granny toss.
Milk Can Toss 
Aim for the back of the rim and toss the ball underhanded by gripping the ball on top. Give the ball some backspin as you release it give a little flick of the wrist so the ball starts spinning backwards in the air.  The ball will hit the back rim and the backspin will dump it into the milk can.
Test of Strength…the King of Carnival games
The object is to hit a pad with a mallet and ring a bell.  To “win” aim for the center of the pad. Remember, the center of the pad is the sweet spot. Make sure the face of the mallet hits the pad squarely. Swing the mallet like you were splitting wood.  Have your strongest hand towards the head of the mallet and your weaker hand as close to the handle edge as possible.  Bring the mallet up and over your head and as you swing down your strong hand will slide down towards the end of the handle.  This gives you more control and balance.
Water Guns / Balloon Races 
First clue:  Some guns have better water flow then others, some targets are more sensitive then others, and some compressors have better airflow then others.  The only way to know for sure is to observe a lot of games and see which ones win more often.  
Second clue:  Make friends with  the carnival worker, he can almost assuredly tell you which stations were most likely to take home the prize.

Hummingbird Moth

Our red Bee Balm flowers have gone I read that we should cut them in half so that they stay a nice size.  Well, too late for that, they are 4 to 5 feet tall and are the very favorite flower of a whole bunch of big yellow and black bumblebees. I don't know if bumblebees collect necter from them and create honey like the little honey bees do. I would suppose so, but I'll have to check my favorite "go to" place, the internet.

Yesterday I watched several hummingbird moths sampling the Bee Balm flowers.  At first I thought they were  baby hummingbirds.....although I have never seen hummingbirds in our area.  They hovered over the flowers just like hummingbirds, thus, I suppose, the name, Hummingbird moth or hawkmoth. They are about the size of my thumb and their little wings beat frantically.   I looked them up on the internet and found that there are several species....since this little guy never was still and I didn't have a camera (photo here was from the internet) I don't know what species they were.  I had never seen one before, and between watching the bumble bees and the moth, I spend a good half hour in the garden.

Later I found that they emerge from eggs laid by green caterpillers, probably on the honeysuckle vine which was planted last year.  New vine, new visitors to the garden. 

Ken, Andrew And The Beanstalk Lily

We have a little "shade" garden in our back yard where Ken plants his favorite blooms.  He planted 5 lily bulbs last year and this year they came up like champs!  In fact, one seems to think it's related to the bean in "Jack and the Beanstalk"....its heading for the stars.  Ken is 5'10 and the lily is nearly there now and still growing.  The stalk itself is about 2" in diameter at the base.  I am waiting to see what the blooms will look like (if I can see them from my 5'3" height).  Our four year old grandson is dwarfed by the lily in our pond of the same variety of lily that we have in the shade garden.

We have had a lot of wind this spring and I was sure that the flowers would be blown over, but they are defying the 30+ mph winds that are here nearly every day.  Occasionally the winds approach the 50's....we are constantly picking up branches and twigs which do a number on our mower if we don't.  The stalks of the lilies are very flexible and bend and sway but don't break.  Amazing.

Thank You MENARDS for Your USA Sale

THANK YOU Menards for Being PRO American

March 13 through March 20, 2011 were banner days for America workers. On Sunday, March 13, 2011, our Sunday supplement included a 20 PAGE flyer for Made in U.S.A items...every one!

274 items, all sporting a little America flag....MADE IN THE USA! and even indicating WHERE in the USA they were made.

Since we had been planning to put a new floor in our kitchen, this was the time to do it...we bought laminate flooring (Rustic Allure) made by the SHAW Company in Ringgold, Georgia. I will be proud of my American kitchen floor!

The flyer is crammed full of items that are used every day in every household in the USA...the prices are are excellent and quality is as good or better than can be found in comparable imported goods. But, many of us don't bother to look for American made products ...its takes tooooo much effort to turn over a container or bottle to see where it was made!!!!  And, we just assume that foreign-made products will be cheaper...thats not always true.   This week, Menards was doing it for us!

Its time we quit automatically buying imported items and start thinking about things that OUR OWN American workers make. Sure, it takes a little effort to look at each and every item from canned food to cleaning products....but you live in AMERICA, don't you think you owe it to our American factories and American workers to buy their products?

Someday it may be YOUR job on the line.....

NOTE:  Its now Spring of 2012 and Menards has run this particular advertisement nearly every month since March of 2011.  Diane Sawyer's nightly news program has shown how buying American Made Products has revived some of America's dying businesses.  Now we need, for our health's sake, to look at the labels on CANNED PRODUCTS.  China seems to be very lax in what goes into products for foreign consumption......check the internet...look at how FISH are raised in China...what and how they are being fed.  Orange juice is not always from American oranges and pesticides banned here are used widely in other countries.  My morning Tropicana orange juice is blended with OJ from Brazil....I always thought it was pure Florida orange juice.  Now I know better.

Our Dog, Kuper the Keeshond

Kuper was our 10 year old Keeshond.....he was a ball of fur….in fact, so much of it that I’d often offer to sell a few pounds! I’ve knitted scarfs from Kuper’s combings mixed with raw wool and they turn out beautifully…looks and feels like angora. 

The Keeshond breed originated in Holland and was bred originally as a barge watchdog and ratter. It's origins can be dated back to the 1700's. His job was to sit on the barge and bark at anyone or anything that happens by. If a rat tried to board the barge, Kup's ancestor's job would have been to discourage it from doing so....since they aren't really fighters, they probably barked it to death. 

Keeshond's are known as the "smiling Dutchmen" . Look at Kuper's face...he's always smiling (YES, that's a smile!)  Kees also have distinctive facial markings.....their eyes are circled by dark hairs making them look like they're wearing glasses. How many dogs do you know that wear spectacles??

Kuper was an outstanding representative of his breed, he barked at anything that moved. However, just between us, barking is about all that he would do. I’d never heard Kuper growl or snarl at anyone or anything. 

We jokingly say that if a burglar ever got into our house, Kuper would bound up to him, lick his hand and happily point out where the silver and jewels (if we had any) were hidden. Kup was a very gentle dog and our grandkids crawled all over him.Our granddaughter loved to dress him….although it was not easy putting a dress on top of all that fur!

Kuper's baby picture                                               Kuper all grown up

I'm very sad to say that Kuper died in February of 2012.  He had jumped or fallen from our back deck and damaged his spine.  Our vet said it was severe.  Several days later we went into the kitchen where his bed was, and found that he had passed away in his sleep.  We buried him at our lake cabin where he loved to play and swim in the pond.  I vow that I will never have another pet, be it dog, cat or bird.  My heart has been broken too many times at their deaths, and I can't do it any more.

Audie Murphy - An American Hero

Audie Leon Murphy was born in Texas on June 20, 1924 and died on May 28, 1971 in an airplane crash near Roanoke, Virginia. In 27 months of combat action, Audie Murphy became the most decorated United States combat soldier of World War II. He received the Metal of Honor, the U.S. military's highest award for valor, along with 32 additional U.S. medals, 5 from France and one from Belgium.

Murphy had a successful movie career, including the extremely popular
To Hell and Back (1955), based on his memoir of the same name (1949) and starred in 33 Westerns. Murphy was interred, with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. Audie Murphy's grave is is the second most-visited grave site, after President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Audie Murphy was a true American hero. He grew up on a poor Texas farm, worked hard as a young boy, and enlisted in the army at age 16.

Visit his memorial website at:

A Beautiful Story

This story was sent to me by a good friend. I have no idea who the author is or if it a real incident.. but it is a beautiful story.........
"Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!" My father yelled at me.  "Can't you do anything right?"
Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward  the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another battle.  "I saw the car, Dad . Please don't yell at me when I'm  driving".   My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt. Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts.... dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The  rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do  about him?
Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon . He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess. The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.
Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky... he survived. But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders.  Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.
My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind.
But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it. The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain.  Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article.." I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home.
All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.  I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of  disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black  dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big, too small, too much hair.
As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed.  Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray.  His hip bones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly. I pointed to the dog. "Can you tell me about him?"
The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. "He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We  brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow." He gestured helplessly.  As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. "You  mean you're going to kill him?"  "Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy.. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog."
I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited  my decision. "I'll take him," I said.  I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When  I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of  the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch... "Ta-da! Look what I got  for you, Dad!" I said excitedly.  Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it" Dad waved his arm  scornfully and turned back toward the house.
Anger rose inside me.. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. "You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!"  Dad ignored me. "Did you hear me, Dad?" I screamed. At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly.  carefully, he raised his paw.  Dad 's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw.  Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then  Dad was on his knees hugging the animal. It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne.
Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent  long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the  banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend  Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.  Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years.. Dad's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne 's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night. 
Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind. The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to  the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad  and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It  was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life.
And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." "I've often thanked God for sending that angel," he said.  For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle  that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article...Cheyenne 's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter.. his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father... and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.
Life is too short for drama or petty things, so laugh hard, love truly and forgive quickly. Live while you are alive. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second time. 
God answers our prayers in His time........ not ours

Gandi's 7 Dangers to Human Virtue

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi born October 1869 was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian Independence movement. He pioneered the use of non-violent resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience, a tool to fight for civil rights and freedom for which he is internationally renowned. Gandi is most often referred to as "Mahatma" meaning great soul.

He was imprisoned for many years, upon many occasions,in both South Africa and India. Gandhi strove to practice non-violence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residental community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl woven with yarn he had handspun himself. Ghandi ate simple vegetarian food and took long fasts as means of both self-purification and social protest.

Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist who felt that Gandhi was sympathetic to Muslims.


1. Wealth without work
2. Pleasure without conscience
3. Knowledge without character
4. Business without ethics
5. Science without humanity
6. Religion without sacrifice
7. Politics without principle

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

You have heard many times about the "Tomb of the Unknowns" in Washington, D.C., perhaps you've even visited it. But what do you know about the men who honor the tomb by keeping watch over it day and night?

This must take a special kind of person.

1. HOW MANY STEPS DOES THE GUARD TAKE DURING HIS WALK ACROSS THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWNS AND WHY?  21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.
2. HOW LONG DOES HE HESITATE AFTER HIS ABOUT FACT TO BEGIN HIS RETURN WALK AND WHY?    21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1.

His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

6. WHAT ARE THE PHYSICAL TRAITS OF THE GUARD LIMITED TO? For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5'10 and 6'2" tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30".

Other requirements of the Guard:

They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way.

After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

Their shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone nor watch TV. All of duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who there are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis (the boxer), President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, (the most decorated soldier of WWII) of Hollywood fame.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.


I don't know if you saw this in the news but it really impressed me. Funny, our US Senate/House took 2 days off as they couldn't work because of the expected storm.

On the 2003 ABC evening news, it was reported that, because of the dangers from Hurricane Isabelle approaching Washington, D.C., the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, “No Way, Sir!”

Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930. We can be very proud of our young men and women in the service no matter where they serve.

God Bless them them all

The Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Disaster

Ken and I have taken many cruises over the past 20 years on Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and several others.  The horrible accident that happened to the Costa Concordia has not changed our minds about cruising....the same way that a plane crash has not changed our minds about taking an airplane.  We will, however, be more aware of where we are on the ship, know where our muster station is and how to get to it and I will carry a small flashlight in my purse or whatever bag I carry while on board.
We received this message from Alan Fox, Chairman & CEO,Vacations To Go
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Boicourt,
At approximately 9:30 pm local time on Friday, January 13, the Costa Concordia struck an underwater rock formation off the west coast of Italy, tearing a 160-foot-long hole in the ship's hull. The vessel began taking on water and power outages spread throughout the ship. Almost immediately, the vessel began to list, sending plates, glasses and other objects in the full dining rooms crashing to the floor. Alarms sounded and passengers were informed that there was an electrical problem that crew members were working to fix. It quickly became apparent to passengers and crew members that this was not merely an electrical problem, and those onboard began a frantic evacuation of the ship.

Some lifeboats were launched, but due to the severity of the ship's listing, it soon became impossible to launch more. Some passengers jumped from the ship into the cold water and swam to shore, while others clung to railings or other objects on the ship until the arrival of fishing boats and ferries that responded to the emergency. Some passengers were trapped in more precarious or isolated positions and were eventually hoisted aboard helicopters.

The ship continued to lean until it finally came to rest on its side, about half submerged, approximately 200 feet off the coast of the small island of Giglio, Italy.

There were more than 4200 passengers and crew onboard the Concordia and as of this writing, 11 are known to have lost their lives, dozens are confirmed injured and there is confusion as to the number still missing, with reports ranging from 11 to 24.

Firefighters and scuba divers began search and rescue operations early Saturday morning, and on Sunday morning -- more than 24 hours after the ship first hit the rocks -- two young South Koreans on their honeymoon were rescued from their cabin and a senior member of the ship's staff (see below) was rescued from the third deck.

Earlier today, several holes were blasted in the hull to allow rescue teams to search areas of the ship they had not been able to reach. The treacherous search-and-rescue operation has been suspended at least once due to worsening weather and concern that the ship could slip into much deeper water nearby, trapping rescuers onboard.

The Costa Concordia was built in 2006 at a cost of about 450 million euros (USD $569 million at current exchange rates). With 13 decks, the vessel towered 100 feet above the water and is nearly 1,000 feet long. It carried the very latest navigation and safety equipment, and the obvious question is, "How could this tragedy have happened?"

There are conflicting stories as to exactly what happened and why, but statements from both the cruise line and Italian government officials point to human error. An early Costa Cruises statement reports that "there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship's master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences."

The captain has been arrested and is expected to face charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.

Fortunately, the ship's black boxes contain the technical data and conversations from the bridge that should allow the facts to come out. It may take months to conduct the investigation but I will cover the findings in this newsletter as soon as they are released.

In the weeks ahead, news media will carry the personal accounts of fear and chaos from passengers and crew as they struggled to abandon ship. We will hear of the kindness of the people of Giglio, who opened their homes and schools and churches in the middle of the night to provide food and clothing and shelter to strangers dropped abruptly on their doorsteps.

There will be stories of heroism, including that of the ship's chief purser, Manrico Gianpetroni, who reportedly aided the escape of dozens of people before breaking his leg in a fall. He was found and rescued from deep inside the vessel nearly 36 hours after the ordeal began.

Cruise lines carried more than 15 million passengers in 2011. The industry is highly regulated and passenger safety is the number one concern of all cruise lines. Hopefully, as the cause of this tragedy becomes clear, new systems and procedures can be put into place to prevent an accident of this kind from ever happening again.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the dead and missing and injured, and to their families.


Alan Fox
Chairman & CEO
Vacations To Go



Wednesday, March 29, 2007 Omaha to Chicago to San Juan, Puerto Rico

Lisa, John, Jenny, Austin, Ken and I were up bright and early on Wednesday 3/29/2007.

We left Omaha, NE at 6:17 on United Airlines...the plane actually took off on time. The trip to Chicago was very good, no roughness or bad weather. We were really anxious about flying to Puerto Rico.....its a 5 hour flight and none of had been on an airplane for that long a time. I kept drinking tonic water hoping that it would help with leg cramps....seems as I get older, they are more frequent. Stretching helps, but a long flight had me worried.

After landing in Chicago, we wandered through the terminal looking for the American Airlines area….WHERE WAS IT??? ...on the other side of the terminal of course. (hint: try to stay on the same airline if you're changing planes.....different airlines can be very far apart in the terminal)

We finally found the American Airlines gate and got ready to go ...a trip to the restroom, a few new books, cinnabuns, sodas and anything else we thought we’d need. The flight to San Juan was very long but smooth. We were happy when it was finally over and we landed safely in San Juan. Jenny decided that this would be the last time she was going to be cooped up in a plane for nearly 5 hours. She doesn’t know that her dad is already thinking of next year’s cruise.

In San Juan, we stayed at the Wind Chimes Inn. We had found it on the internet and were a little concerned about what we were getting into. At first glance it looked small and we were not sure we had made a good choice. It was completely enclosed by a white stucco wall—we had to buzz the reception area so they would open the door. The people were very friendly and helpful and we settled in.

Our accommodations were not quite what we expected. Both of the rooms were small and NOT like the photos we had seen on the internet. However, we had a "standard" room with a queen sized bed...costing $99.00 per night at the discounted high season rate. But, they were clean, the beds were good, the shower worked and had hot water plus a working TV set . Obviously this was an old establishment but we were satisfied.

Ken and I had rooms on the patio a few steps from the small swimming pool. The pool had a tinkling little waterfall on one side and just sitting in a lounge chair enjoying the sun beside it was Heaven!

A raised patio with chairs and tables was near the pool. There was a Inn room under the pool.....I don't think we would have been pleased to be renting that one
Lisa, John, Jenny and Austin were in a room around the corner from us….very handy. We could walk out our doors to the patio, swimming pool, lobby and Tiki Bar. The Tiki Bar served food and drinks....the kids loved the pizza and we were satisfied with whatever we ordered.

The Inn was fairly quiet, and the only tourists we met were several older people, a young couple and two girls from New York who were spending their vacation in San Juan. Our kids, Jenny and Austin were the only children staying there. We didn't spend a lot of time at the Inn, preferring to wander around San Juan and take in the "atmosphere". We did see more adults gathered at the Tiki Bar....just talking and enjoying the beauty of the flowers and atmosphere of the Wind Chimes Inn.

As soon as we settled into the Inn, we walked to the beach, about two blocks away. The surf was too rough for swimming---big, big waves. So, we just waded and walked along the beach picking up shells and looking the area over. There were several large hotels and condominiums on the shore. Later we were told that the water wasn’t safe for swimming due to the undertow. The beach itself was nice but if you plan to do any swimming, check it out with the locals. We didn't see anyone who was in chairs or anything. Just a plain ole beach.

That evening, we went to Fuddruckers for dinner. We all had hamburgers – no adventurous eaters in our group. The food was good, the French fries were very, very spicy…but the malted milks were wonderful!

click on for the entire story


Thursday 3/30/07 Our day at the beach!

We decided that, since the surf on our beach was too rough for the kids to be in, we’d go to a another beach that was more "sunbather and swimmer friendly". The desk clerk gave us instructions how to find a nice public beach in Isla Verde. She said that we should save cab fare by taking the city bus…it costs $.75 cents and "you’d better have the exact change because they won’t accept anything else." Although San Juan's currency is the American dollar, we had to find a bank to get change for the bus. We didn't have to go too was right on the bus line!

San Juan has very narrow streets in this area, and cars park just about any direction they want to. It wasn’t uncommon to see two cars parked front to front on the “wrong” side of the street.

San Juan drivers zig and zag through the streets like crazy and we were happy to leave the driving to the San Juan bus company. But, we had a driver who drove like a potential Indianapolis 500 candidate! It was unbelievable; he started like a rabbit, sped through the traffic, and slammed on his brakes when he came to bus stops. Considering that this was a BIG bus, that was no small feat.

Once when we turned a sharp corner, Jenny was positive that we ran over a bicyclist who had been riding alongside of the bus….but, since we didn’t see a body in the street behind us, we figured he knew how to ride in this crazy traffic. Another car cut in front of the bus while we were making a left turn…..the bus driver barely slowed down. There wasn’t ONE car in San Juan that didn’t have at least one good-sized dent in the fender. Seems if you don’t hit someone, someone will probably hit you.

Isle Verda was a nice place but not a tropical paradise beach either. It was surrounded by tall apartment buildings and the usual assortment of Marriott, Holiday Inns and Sheridan Hotels. The surf was milder here but still pretty rough. Austin and Jean were tossed head over heels by a big one that they weren’t prepared for….we didn’t realize how strong those waves were. Another good one caught Ken and knocked his sunglasses off, probably the first of many sunglasses that would be lost this trip.

The day was cloudy and according to the San Juan natives, much cooler than normal. It rained a little but with no thunder or wind, the sky just opened up and the rain poured out. We had some sprinkles of rain at Isle Verda, which was only a 15-20 minute bus ride from Wind Chimes Inn. When we arrived back after the day at the beach, we learned that they had a really hard downpour. Water was everywhere and dripping off the trees and bushes. But, our rooms were nice and dry.

Jenny has an eagle eye for TACO BELLs and managed to find one near the beach. Our 2nd meal in San Juan….again nothing brave about our eating habits. We had a little problem at this point.....the TACO BELL staff couldn’t speak English, and we couldn’t speak Spanish. But, it's their country so we did the best we could.
I ordered a chicken sandwich by pointing at the photo on the wall which was labeled #2….well, I got my order alright…2 chicken sandwiches!
Rather than try to explain that I only wanted 1 sandwich which happened to be a #2 on the menu, I kept it. Its a good thing Jenny was hungry because she ate her taco and one of my extra chicken sandwiches. She's a growing girl!

We also did some souvenir shopping in a small drugstore/souvenir/miscellaneous store. Austin bought a boogie board figuring that he would be able to use it somewhere during the trip. We stocked up on snacks, sodas and candy to get us through the day and early evening.

We caught the bus back to the Inn…again an adventure in bus riding. But we arrived safely. And, it was time for supper! After being at the beach most of the day, we were hungry! The desk clerk at the hotel suggested a nice Puerto Rican restaurant, but when she started talking about beans and rice and some foods that we had never heard of, we chickened out. John and Austin were willing to go to the Puerto Rican restaurant but was outvoted by the rest of us…..Ken is iffy about eating strange foods, Lisa and I were concerned that we’d come down with “Montezuma’s Revenge” and Jennie’s feeling again was “If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t eat it!”

We decided to explore San Juan in the hopes of finding a restaurant that everyone could agree on. A few blocks down the street was an Old Chicago restaurant …. do it yourself pizzas for the kids, good ole American Style pizza for John and Lisa, fish for Ken and chili for Jean.

Friday 3/30/07 The Hunt for a beautiful beach and a visit to the Rain Forest

John and Ken left the Inn at 8:00 am to pick up a mini-van for the day. John couldn’t find a tour or anyone to take us on a tour for less than $90 apiece (WOW!) so decided that since he has had lots of driving experience in different cities, he would be the designated driver. No problem with that….he was willing and worked cheap!

Wednesday and Thursday had been cloudy, but today was sunny and hot. Yesterday we all got a little bit tanned, but today will definitely be a sunburn day.

John rented a new mini-van and we drove to the El Yunque National Forest, formerly known as The Caribbean National Rain Forest. El Yunque is less than an hour's drive from San Juan and John did an excellent job of avoiding collisions with various people who obviously didn’t know how to drive. Once we were out of the city (?) and onto the highway, we just rolled along.

Then, up in the middle of the highway, we saw a big tent with 20 or 30 Puerto Rican policemen and women lining the highway…standing there with their guns and night sticks ready.....great. At first we thought it was an accident, but it couldn’t be an accident since they probably wouldn’t have erected a big tent over the wreck.
Then we realized that it was some type of protest .......on one side of the highway were a group of people waving flags and on the other..... the police who were lined up on the other side glaring at them. I had visions of “Americans go Home” and being hit with tomatos or something, but got we through it without a scratch.

Later we found out that the highway had recently been completed and this was the ceremony to name or take credit for it. The protestors were there because their Puerto Rican political party, which had been voted out of office, had originally drawn up the highway plans and began work on it. Then an election was held, and another party was voted in. They did a little work on the highway and then it was their turn to be voted out. Finally the newest party completed the highway and they were claiming all the glory of the finished highway. The protestors were from party #1 and party #2 who wanted recognization for beginning the whole thing in the first place. Sounds logical to me. We were out of there before we found out who won....the 1st, 2nd or 3rd party...and who the highway was named for.

Several miles on, we were slowed by a group of horsemen following a white hearse. The horses were beautiful Paso Fino horses....the Paso Fino horse reflects its Spanish heritage through its proud carriage, grace and elegance. It has a lively but controlled spirit, natural gait and presence and responsive attitude and when we saw them, we knew right away what breed they were. (we're from Nebraska, we KNOW good horseflesh!) I’ll have to tell Jim Yeck about them, he owns a gorgeous white Paso Fino mare.

We were told that one of the San Juan Paso Fino horse club members had died and these riders were his honor guard. Paso Fino horses were originally bred in Puerto Rico and the people are very proud of them.

(to be continued)



The El Junque Rain Forest was about an hour or so out of the city and the road to it wasn’t very well marked. We took a couple of wrong turns before finding the way to the forest. No one was particularly concerned about getting lost except Lisa, who thought John should have been watching the road signs. (wives have a bad habit of blaming the husbands for getting lost)

However, we were not exactly lost, just off the beaten path and ended up in a little village, which turned out to be in the direction we had to go anyway. Personally, I think Puerto Rico could do a better job of marking their highways and roads, especially if they expect tourists to find anything. Luckily, we were in between rainstorms. They told us that it really pours and thanks to the narrow roads, etc. can be really dangerous. Obviously they don’t call it a “Rain Forest” for nothing.

After looking around the Welcome Station, and finding nice, clean restrooms, we drove to the top of the mountain to visit La Mina Falls. We wanted to see the falls, and also wade in the pool at the base of the waterfall. After parking the van, we, and several hundred other tourists, made the 30-minute walk down to the falls. The path was narrow and had steps made of concrete and stone. Down we went, one step at a time. These were not little dainty steps, they were made by men FOR men....big steps! I'm getting way too old for this kind of sight-seeing!

It took us 30 to 40 minutes to climb down to the falls…the pool was not very big and there were probably 50 others who were there. On the way down, Jennie had slipped off the path and turned her ankle on one of the rocks. We were worried that she might have sprained it but after soaking it in the cool water of the pool, it was still a little grouchy but not badly hurt. Austin and Jen had a great time in the pool, but the rest of us just watched.

On the way down we had seen little gazebos along side of the path and thought that it was very nice of the park rangers to provide a place for people to rest on the way up and down the path. Later we learned that they were shelters in case it started to they say "when it rains it pours" and water rushing down those steep paths would have swept you right along with it. When we left the parking area and headed for the path to the falls, we were told to remember the way we went down so that we would be sure to take the same path back up.

There were some paths branching off from the main one, so it was good it was brought to our attention. I imagine they all eventually lead back up to the top of the mountain, but somewhere in the jungle may be a little band of tourists who took the wrong path....and are will wandering around.

Going back up the path did not seem as bad as going down. Going down gave you the feeling that if you stumbled, you’d roll clear down to the bottom of the trail. Going up was just a matter of climbing and climbing and climbing. Remember those BIG steps! We (the adults) are expecting to have stiff and sore leg muscles tomorrow. Of course, Jenny and Austin just hopped up with no trouble.

We got back into the van and started down the road towards civilization. On the way down, we stopped at the Yokahu Tower, a 69 ft observation tower. The tower was made of stone, and the stairs wound around the inside. From the top we had a wide view of the north side of Puerto Rico from coast to peaks. We thought it was built to watch for pirates, but it was too far inland…later we were told that it was a weather observation tower but there were no instruments up there, so it must have been a visual observation tower.

Our next stop was to be the beach at Luquillo, but couldn’t find it. John was given instructions to “the prettiest beach in San Juan” but after an hour of driving through low rent and very poor districts, we gave up. Everyone was getting anxious about the area we were in. The only nice beaches were those affiliated with hotels, and were fenced in.

That evening we had dinner at a Chinese fast food restaurant…at least John, Ken and I did. Lisa and the kids opted for Subways.....the place was right next-door. The Chinese manager gave us the "evil eye" when they walked in with Subways but since the three of us had ordered food, and all of us ordered drinks, he didn’t say anything.

Our orders turned out to be biggest plates of Chinese food I’ve ever seen…Ken and I would have been stuffed with food had we ordered one dinner and shared it. But, we had our two-legged garbage disposal with us! Austin made a good dent in all of our dinners….a little rice here, some chicken there, a couple of hunks of broccoli….but, even he couldn’t eat it all!

When we got back to Wind Chimes, we began to pack our luggage and check our room to be sure we didn’t leave anything behind. Later on we played UNO for a few hours on the back deck of the Inn. It was a really neat place and close to food and the Tiki Bar. We played and relaxed, and then it started to rain....really rain. There was no thunder or lightening just buckets and buckets of rain. Gradually the deck started to take on water from the awnings and Lisa said, “My feet are getting wet!”

Yep, water was accumulating on the floor....time to head for home. We all got soaked running through the rain to get to our wasn’t far, but we couldn’t avoid the raindrops. (we sang the B. J. Thomas song "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" as we zigged and zagged across the courtyard.)

Tomorrow we board the Golden Princess.

(to be continued)