Gypsy's Travels

Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy 86th Birthday, Mother

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Check It Out

So many blogs, so many new ideas. Here are some interesting ones I have seen recvently......

Check out this phenomen for women that I saw on oldmanlincoln's blog. Definitely useful for hikers.

Take a look at ABW's Friend for some interesting commentaries!
Check out Petra's Love Story and be sure to follow to the sequel.
Check out the story of Miss Utah and its follow-up.
Most importantly, check out this reminder to get a mammogram! "I Got a Rose Today!"
Thanks for your posts, Friend.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

PhotoHunt - "High" in Italy

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I did not mind walking up this way bacause I knew there was a gelato shop at the top!
More Photos here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

True Tales From the ER - #1

Caring for a patient in the trauma room, I asked what had happened before she came in. She was the driver of a car that ran into a laundromat and half-way into a brick wall.

"I think I blacked out and the gas pedal got stuck," she told me. "I didn't hit the brake until I was in the building."

Wordless Wednesday - "Vintage Triumphs"

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Vintage Triumphs on the way from Houston, Texas, to Rocky Gap, Maryland.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Abs!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Tales From Triage - Take One

When you visit the Emergency Department at the hospital, you must first be seen at triage. The nurse at triage does a quick assessment to determine the acuity of your situation and where you should be seen. I have kept track of many of these conversations over the years and will share some highlights.

I encountered this patient at the triage desk of a large inner city hospital, a Level I Trauma Center......

Me: “What is your emergency today?”
Patient: “I‘m here for a checkup.”
Me: “What kind of checkup?”
Patient: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Who sent you here?”
Patient: “The doctor told me I had low blood and was supposed to come back and get a checkup.”
Me: “Which doctor?”
Patient: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Which floor?”
Patient: “I don’t know.”
Me: “What is your health problem?”
Patient: “I don’t know.”

Odd Shots on Monday - "The First Tank"

The Pancho Villa museum displays exhibits from the time of Pancho Villa’s raid on Camp Furlong, along with artifacts from the Mexican Revolution and the subsequent Punitive Expedition led by General John “Black Jack” Pershing. The raid, which happened on March 9, 1916, has been the only armed invasion of the continental U. S. since 1812. General Pershing led 10,000 soldiers on an 11-month chase after Villa, but never caught him. The raid on Columbus was a pivotal point for the U.S. military because it was the first time mechanized vehicles and aircraft were utilized in warfare, later playing a key role in preparing America for World War I.
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

PhotoHunt - "Metal"

My Dad made this smoker out of an old metal pipe. It worked very well I think it is now smoking strong at the B-B-Q restaurant my nephew opened in Michigan.
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Last Minute Decisions

Sometimes last minute decisions are the best, as when I asked Em if she wanted to stay with me a couple of nights. She had not brought anything with her, but we will make do. Maybe we will even cut and sew something to wear. Em has been sewing pieces of fabric together very creatively; maybe it is time to learn some basics.

Another last minute decision led us to a performance of the Kwahadi Indian Dancers at our local theater. We had front row seats for this dynamic group. They moved and twirled so fast and hard that we had a cool breeze most of the time. Pictured here, Alex chose Em to dance with the group in a large circle. It took a bit of cajoling for shy Em to get up there, but the young man was very persistent and Em had quite an experience.

I have been to pow-wow dances and other Boy Scout dances, but this was one of the best I have seen. I wish I could bottle the energy the kids displayed. Of course, the few "maidens" included in the program were given very secondary roles, but times are changing and the roles have evolved a little. A couple of the girls did join in the Hoop Dance and gave a very good performance.

The "Eagle Dance" was presented by members of the group who have earned their Boy Scout Eagle rank or Girl Scout Gold Award. The guys had long black cloths, edged in Eagle feathers, which extended from left fingertips to right fingertips across the shoulders. They dipped and swayed, moving their arm / wings to the drumbeat, then resting with wings folded around themselves protectively. It was quite impressive and really gave the sense of an Eagle in flight. The girls moved their feet to the drumbeat, swaying to the side occasionally, while holding 3 Eagle feathers in each hand. Well, I guess it is a beginning. There was probably a time when girls were not even allowed to participate with the guys. I do believe all the Eagles I have seen, fly the same. I can't tell a boy Eagle from a girl Eagle in flight, or on the ground for that matter.

There is more to this group's performance than dancing. Throughout the program, authenticity, history, and good decision making are stressed. Children and adults are admonished to believe in themselves, continually set goals and work to make them happen. On top of it all, the costumes are wonderful! It was a stellar performance by a stellar group.

The Kwahadi Indian Dancers have their own theater and museum complex in Amarillo, Texas, the Kwahadi Kiva Indian Museum. They have shows during the year and will be touring the eastern US prior to crossing to the northwest. They were joined last night by the Sahawes, a group from Uvalde, Texas. Plan to attend a performance at your first opportunity!

I LOVE being a Grandma!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Room of My Own

.....and here is the rest of the story....

We had a four bedroom house, not quite large enough for each child to have his / her own bedroom. By default as the only male child, DS had his own room. Kr was older than the rest so she had one, and the two younger girls, Ko & Ki, shared a room. When Ko & Ki were old enough to realize what was going on, the requests for "a room of my own" became incessant. I tried all the usual tactics, including appealing to their sisterly love for each other, and stories of how neither their father nor I had had our own rooms until we were living on our own.

"Please," Ko begged, "I don't need much space. Just let me have a spot in the laundry room, it has a door."
"There is hardly room for the washer and dryer, which gets daily use, much less a bed," I explained.
"We could get a blow-up mattress, and I could keep my clothes in a basket," she countered.

Of course the idea was more than ridiculous but it did drive home her desire for her own space. I knew what she was going through. I once got so mad at my sister when we we shared a room while growing up, that I put a string down the middle of our room and dared her to cross over into "my space" unless she was entering or leaving the room. She did a lot coming and going that day.

"When Kr leaves, then one of you can move into her room," I told them. I felt a twinge of disloyalty. It didn't seem fair that going away to school should deprive one of the allocated space at home. On the other hand, it didn't seem fair to have an empty room while two people had to share. I wrestled with, what I was sure was, an age-old problem.

On a hot, humid day in August 1983, we prepared to take Kr to the airport for her exciting year as an exchange student in Germany. Ko & Ki were happily busy in their room chatting, packing, and moving things around.
"Get ready to go to the airport, girls," I admonished them.
"Oh, we will just stay here," they said.
"No. you won't," I countered.
"But we want to be ready!" they said.
"Ready for what?" I asked.
"Well, you said as soon as Kr moved out of her room, one of us could have it, so Ki is moving into it. We'll do it while you take Kr to the airport."

I don't remember exactly how I handled that. I do know I was mentally trying to deal with the idea that I was sending a, still young, daughter off to a foreign land for a whole year out of arm's reach of our direct supervision, while trying to convince myself that we had done our best in laying the groundwork for her principles and values.

"You will go to the airport with us to see your sister off!" I told them . "When we get back, we will discuss the move."

There was a definite air of excitement in the car as we headed home. We arrived and the two girls raced up the stairs to begin moving Ki into her older sister's room. For several years, Ki had to spend time in Ko's room when Kr was home, as was originally agreed. Eventually, the room defaulted to Ki.

Somehow, activity always seemed to ease the "empty nest" syndrome.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Birthday

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From the Memory Box - "Hurricane Alicia"

From the Memory Box.....

"I remember Ki mopping up water seeping through Kr's window while
she slept......Going for Mexican food that night and sucking on ice cubes out of
the margaritas.......Kr leaving for Germany the next day."

Hurricanes are a fact of life along the Gulf Coast. We lived a tad inland from Houston, so we did not get the full force of the storms, but weathered the side effects. Whether we were on the "clean" or "dirty" side of the storm, depended on where the hurricane "hit." That determined how much rain / wind / damage we received. Hurricane Alicia formed off the coast of Louisiana on August 15th, 1983. She quickly progressed to a Category 3 storm and promptly made landfall on the west end of Galveston Island in the wee hours of the morning on August 18th. Galveston suffered, but was partially protected by the seawall which was built after the devastating hurricane of 1900. Alicia spawned 14 tornadoes between Galveston and Houston as the storm made landfall, and 9 more touched down the next day between Houston and Tyler.

Our house, about 70 miles northwest of Galveston, leaked like a sieve under the heavy wind-driven rain. We mopped around windows and door sills for hours as the storm moved through. All family members were pressed into service, except Kr, who slept through it all. We were fortunate, the only real damage in our small neighborhood was a neighbors patio roof which was spirited away by heavy wind or, we surmised, a small tornado. Our big trees lost limbs and there was a lot of debris, but those were minor annoyances in such times.

More important considerations in the aftermath of the storm, were amenities. We lost our electricity. Living almost in the "country" and not having city utilities, we relied on our septic tank and water well. Without electricity, we had nothing - no water, no bathroom, no refrigerator, no TV or lights. Although candles and flashlights became necessities and we could, in a pinch, cook in the fireplace, it is still hot and humid during hurricane season, so firing up the fireplace was a last resort. Some areas were without power for 2 weeks. We were more fortunate.

Since Kr was leaving the next day for a year-long jaunt as an exchange student in Germany, we had planned to celebrate at our favorite Mexican Restaurant that night. Surprisingly, the restaurant was open. By enforced candlelight, without air-conditioning, we had a great meal for Kr's send-off. It was a tribute to free-enterprise that the restaurant was able to provide meals under adverse circumstances. It was also a tribute to the local people that they accepted what was available and made the best of it. The restaurant was packed with customers and staff in celebration mode.

We put Kr on the plane the next day, and her sisters.....well.....that's another story.

Odd Shots on Monday - "The Kissing Trees"

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I found these near the Brontosaurus. Maybe it is an enchanted forest.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I spy a dinosaur. A Brontosaurus?
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Friday, March 14, 2008


How do we keep up with Gunner while he is in Iraq? It is not easy. As his m-in-law, I encourage him to direct his phone calls and letters to his wife and children. I can get my info from them and he doesn't need to divert his brief opportunities for communication.

My father served in WWII and Korea and one of my brothers served in Vietnam. We lived on tenterhooks in those days of snail mail communication. Onion skin paper for airmail letters that arrived infrequently and in bunches, bore news that was old by the time we got it. Of course, not much news was allowed and the ink almost obscured the writing because Dad wrote on both side of the thin paper. It was enough just knowing he could find a few moments to write and that he was still alive. No TV news in the early years. Mother and I walked two miles to the Post Office twice each day, hoping for a letter. After receiving one, we would rest a couple of days before starting our trek again. Our images came from newspaper photos and MovieTone News. Now, the troops have some access to e-mail and, sometimes, webcams. We watched in awe as we saw the war unfold.

The best way we have to keep up with what is going on now, is through Babcock. Bob Babcock is relentless in searching out pertinent news and passing it on to those of us who must wait behind.

From Babcock's Newsletter:

"...There is nothing on this green earth that is stronger than the US Army, because there is nothing on this green earth that is stronger than a US Army Soldier..."

For the latest news, pictures, and information from 4ID, regularly check:

Baghdad 4 Day weather forecast - beginning March 14:

Fri, Hi - 76, Lo - 60, mostly sunny;

Sat, Hi - 72, Lo - 50, sunny;

Sun, Hi - 76, Lo - 50, partly cloudy;

Mon, Hi - 80, Lo - 54, mostly sunny.

300 From 4th ID 1st Brigade Continue With Deployment
Posted on: Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 3:22 AM
By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Killeen Daily Herald
About 300 Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team left Fort Hood for the Middle East on Monday morning. The Soldiers are set to serve 15 months in Iraq. Soldiers of the 1st Brigade are expected to continue leaving Fort Hood through the end of the week. It was announced in late October that the 1st Brigade's deployment would be pushed back several months. Those Soldiers were originally scheduled to leave Fort Hood in November and December. The change was likely based on the then-current situation in Iraq, and with drawdowns and re-alignments, the Army didn't need 1st Brigade until March, Lt. Col. Steven Stover, a brigade spokesman, said in October.

Friends and Family members who would want to receive updates, send first and last names from the email address they want me to use, and ask to be added to my distribution list. Anyone who wants to receive these direct from me is more than welcome to be put onto my distribution list.

Bob Babcock - "Deeds not Words"President, Deeds Publishing - President, Americans Remembered -
Past President, 22nd Infantry Regiment Society -
Past President, Historian, National 4th Infantry Div Assn - Box 682222, Marietta, GA 30068 - Phone 678-480-4422 (cell)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We Can Start the Countdown

Gunner left today. Of course, it wasn't that simple. He was supposed to leave at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, so we all gathered and hurried to wait, just as Army families have been doing for years, but his deployment was delayed. Then it was delayed again and everyone finally got a couple of hours sleep. Deployment departure finally occurred about 11 a.m today. You will notice there are no women here. This is a combat unit.

Today DD#2, Gunner's Mom & Dad, and I, stood around and bantered for 3 hours. It was decided not to put the children through another day of show-up-and-change, so they were all dropped at school. His Mom & Dad had already taken 1 1/2 days off work and we were still in limbo, so they had to leave. Finally, we went into the gym - troops in one door and families in another. Ribbons of tape separated two areas in the gym where loved ones said their final goodbyes - troops on one side of the tape and families on the other.

Em is old enough to understand now that Daddy will be gone for a while and Abs is close to that age. Of course, Dad is gone a lot - to the field, CQ all night, training in another state, and now his 3rd tour to Iraq. Gunner is sad to go but is well-trained for his job, has lots of equipment, and reacts automatically. Jr. slammed a drawer behind Gunner's head this morning and Gunner dropped to the floor. While our soldier has been waiting, he has been mentally preparing.

A conversation with Em told another part of the story when she lamented that her Dad would be leaving again.
"Well, he has been home a long time now and it is time for him to go and let someone else come home. He has been home 15 months. That's a long time," her mother explained.
"But he will be gone a long time," Em cried.
"Only 15 months," her mother said, "that's not so long."

Well, time is relative, isn't it?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Odd Shots Monday - "Boots & Bus"

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These were taken in Seoul, Korea.

See more Odd Shots

Here is another photo and the explanation.
It is difficult to see the boots all lined up under the bus in this shot. The men standing to the side of the bus have on tennis shoes and appear to be taking a break from whatever they were doing. One saw me and pointed me out to the others while another held up his hand in the classic signal for "stop." I don't know what they were doing. They have "winged" symbols on their caps and are standing in front of a gated area which might have been a military or police compound. Thinking I might have breached some sort of security, I hurried on my way, dodging a barrage of unintelligable Korean comments.

So there you have the rest of the story . What do you think it means?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Memory Box - "Backyard Wildlife"

DD#2 keeps bugging me to draw from the Memory Box. I have to admit, I am a little slow about it sometimes because it can bring a torrent of memories and I have to deal with them before I can draw again. This morning, however, I did draw one....

" I remember the one squirrel that appeared in our yard and you took a whole roll of film of him."

While I admit I was enamored of the creatures that were reluctant to move out of their homes to accommodate our intrusion, and I was prone to try to document our lives by photography, I do think "a whole roll of film" is a bit of an exaggeration.

We had moved from a suburban area in Australia where screeching galahs and cockatoos flew overhead, while laughing kookaburras perched on the brick fence in back of our house. We had moved to a treeless plain in Texas that had previously housed grazing cattle belonging to a local farmer. The seasons were defined by the bird population on our 1 1/2 acre yard - a sea of yellow and gray meadowlarks singing in the summer, a snow-like ,white covering of honking snow geese migrating through in the winter, and robins drunk on fermented pyracantha berries in January / February.

Killdeer laid their eggs in nests built on the ground, exposing their potential progeny to being ravaged by one of our many cats, while the mockingbird swooped down to attack any unwary feline. Ground squirrels appeared from their underground homes, sometimes accompanied by babies which were, temporarily, abandoned close to the entry hole. I agonized over the possible fate of those mewling toddlers as their parents demonstrated a form of "tough love." The red wing hawk watched from above.

Most of these populations wisely moved on as the surrounding rice fields and farm lands succumbed to encroachment by builders who left sturdy rooftop dwellings in their wake. There were too many humans and domesticated predators for the local wildlife.

With the advent of trees and landscaping, the rare pheasant and sage hen gave way to ducks from our neighbor's pond. The leader led his harem daily to visit our yard, looking for bugs as they waddled their way to our pear tree. They feasted on fallen pears, then headed home chattering happily. Sadly, they disappeared one by one, to grace our neighbor's table.

We planted fruit trees, pine trees, a palm tree, crepe myrtles, and two pecan trees. It was when the trees began to gain height that the squirrels arrived. It was a smorgasbord for the squirrel community. Fortunately, it took them a while to find us. Thus, a squirrel was a real novelty. A cute, little, furry critter that would bide his time from a distance, skitter in to reap the best of the harvest, then scamper away with a twitch of a feathery tail just to let us know who was really in charge of the area. Is it any wonder I took a few pictures?

There was not a huge influx of squirrels before we moved, but there were probably more around than we were privileged to see. Little trees popped up in the most unusual places, planted, I am quite certain, by squirrels trying to stock a winter larder. They are certainly more plentiful now. Peeking from the branches of the tall trees, scudding over the telephone wires, and wantonly racing cars across the road, this symbol of suburban wildlife is no longer a novelty in the area. Thanks to the wonders of digital photography, I don't have to use a "whole roll of film" to photgraph a squirrel.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Monday, March 3, 2008

Job Opening

Three medieval towns in the Kathmandu valley worship pre-pubescent girls as the living embodiment of the goddess Taleju.

There is a job opening for a Kumari (Goddess) in Bhaktapur, a town near the capital of Nepal. Sajani Shakya, age 11, has just retired from the post so the committee is searching for a new Goddess. Qualifications were not posted but can be gleaned. Sajani was chosen when she was two years old, a fact that indicates there might be some age discrimination. Also the position calls for a pre-pubescent female, that leaves out the guys. Applicants can count on early retirement, mandatory at the onset of puberty. There is no mention of whether or not this is a "Royal Kumari" position. Such a position would require the chosen one to bless Nepal's king once a year and be confined to a crumbling, ornate palace in the historic heart of old Kathmandu.

In Bhaktapur, the local Kumari goes to a local school and lives with her family. She is paraded for worship once a year during the festival of Dasain. Not a particularly stressful schedule, but there is no mention of reimbursement for relocation expenses.Sajani caused quite a stir and lost her job for a while when she visited the U.S. Typically, Kumari are not allowed to travel. After much controversy, she underwent a "cleansing ceremony" and regained her status as Kumari.

Now there is a job opening. Sajani's family opted to participate in another traditional ceremony that prompted her retirement. Last month, Sajani was married to a fruit.

Sajani's father explained,

"In Bhaktapur, we have a tradition to get our girls married to a Bael (Aegle marmelos), a fruit dedicated to Lord Shiva, around the age of 10 or 11."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Visit with the the Refugees

I visited the refugees again yesterday, taking DD#2 and Em with me.
The unrelated, young woman who is now living with the mother and 2 children, had arrived the night before. Apparently, it is typical for non-family members to be taken in so everyone seemed quite comfortable with the arrangement. The young woman is 20 years old and exhibits a maturity beyond her years. Both her parents "were killed."

I had a mission. A parishioner had donated a vacuum cleaner and it was still in the box when we left after setting up the apartment. There was no reason to believe they had ever seen such a machine, so education in its use was my primary goal. Thank goodness DD was there. It took both of us to finally get the vacuum cleaner put together. I had always thought those machines came out of the package ready to use, but this one required a few screws. We found a screw driver in the toy we had brought for the son. After putting it together, I picked the unit up by the handle to move it and it fell apart.
"Aha! That's where those extra screws are supposed to go!"

Finally, it was running. I explained, using exaggerated sign language and the minimal interpretive skills of the family's neighbor, how to work the machine. The mother skittered to a corner when I turned the vacuum on. I handled it and showed her how it worked, then enticed her over, nearer the perceived monster. Gingerly, she took the handle and watched with awe as small bits of leaves that had blown in through the door, were lifted and sucked into the tornadic insides of the see-through canister. I wonder if she will ever use it.

The neighbor-who-spoke-minimal-English related the mother's experience from the night before. "She heard a humming noise in the kitchen and was afraid. Then she discovered the noise was from the refrigerator. She had never had (seen?) a refrigerator before."
I'll bet she gets accustomed to it very quickly!

Em had taken equipment to share a couple of crafts with the 14 year old. They were joined by the 20 y/o, and all the neighbors who were visiting gathered around. They wove hot mats on a small loom using cotton loops, made friendship bracelets from embroidery floss, and Em showed them how to use the "Shrinky Dink" materials. The girls seemed to be delighted to have something to do with their hands and I think Mama joined in after we left.

We gave the boy a wooden airplane kit to construct, some marbles, and a plastic dart set. He was delighted. I think his favorite was the airplane. On questioning, I was told the boy was in kindergarten because there was no dedicated school in the refugee camp. That's a lot to catch up on.

Mama gave me a lovely black top with bright embroidery. She said her aunt had made it. They come from an area where the women are known for their weaving, done on back strap looms. I did not want to take the garment since they came here with so little. At the same time, I did not want to offend. I am not sure what I should have done in that situation. I decided to accept it graciously and I have displayed it with some informative materials in the church foyer.

The family lives a fair distance away, which makes it difficult to visit very often. There will, however, be other opportunities to help / interact, I am sure. I look forward to it.