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Book Review Time!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010
Nick called the other night to chat. Somehow we got on the topic of wondering how some people are able to persevere and reach there goals while some others will drag their feet and never even have goals, let alone reaching them! I told him that I had a perfect example of that with a book I just finished! I went on to tell him about my latest book club read and how people persevered even under horrible circumstances. I told Nick that I LOVED this book and that it was probably one of the best books I've ever read. Mr. Wise-A*% then says, "Mom, every book you read is always your favorite book!" I informed Mr. Smartypants that I do not always love every book that I read, it just so happens that I just finished this book about 30 minutes before he called and I was excited about it. So, Mr. You-Know-What says,"That's why you're so buzzed!"
THAT'S WHY I WAS SO BUZZED???? I just finished a book, not a six-pack!!

Later that night, while I was mixing my Flolan and replaying the discussion in my head, I realized that I do get kind of a "buzz" when I read, especially when I read a good book. I have always loved to read.

When I was a little girl, every day after school I would walk to the public library (10 miles... uphill...both ways...no shoes...freezing weather... ) every day after school and hang out in the children's book section until my mom would come and pick me up after she got finished at work. I would usually run in, return my book and search for a new one. Once I found my new book. I'd check it out and then have a seat somewhere in the library and read. Nine times out of ten, I'd finish that book before mom arrived. So, I would return that book, search for the next "perfect story," check that one out, find a good reading spot, sit down and read. It was not unusual for me to get 3 or 4 books checked out and read before my mom got to the library! I now realize that I could have checked out more than one book at a time, or, sit and read it, put it back on the shelf and pick another one. But, I just loved the idea of checking out a book and "owning" it, even if it was for a short time.

Once a week the "library lady" would have after school story time! I LOVED that time! Since I was already there, I usually got a great spot, right in front! When the "library lady" read, the whole library would turn into the location in the book! It was such a magical time. When I read to my own boys, and then later to my first graders, I always tried to recapture that feeling, wanting them to feel the magic in the written word.

So, speaking of "magic," my new favorite book is written so very well that I "magically" felt I was experiencing the lives of people living in Mississippi in the 1960's. It is called, "The Help."

The story follows three woman in Jackson, Mississippi during a time when wealthy white families had African-American maids/nannies. It was not unusual for one of these nannies to be more of a mother than the children's biological mother. Consequently, their treatment of their "white children" impacted many of those kids in ways they didn't realize until they were grown.

In "The Help" we meet "Skeeter," a 20-something white girl who is an aspiring writer, "Aibileen" a 50-something maid/nanny and "Minnie," a 30-something (I'm guessing here) maid/nanny who is near and dear to my heart......her mouth is always getting her in trouble!

The story gives us insight into what life was like for all of these women who lived in the deep south at a time when the civil rights movement was just beginning to grow. These three women work together to write a book showing a different side of life for these maids/nannies, who give so much of themselves to their "white families." It's so difficult to review a book, especially this book, without giving too much away. I highly recommend this book, but, be careful! Once you start, it's really hard to put it down! I finished this book in record time, but, missed some much-needed sleep!

Obviously it is receiving 8 PUPPY PAWS UP!!

Well, it's Friday night. That is usually movie night for Rod and I. But, we have two graduation parties to attend. We might try to take a movie in this weekend. We'll just have to see.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

I'm surprised that I didn't get punched!!

Monday, May 24, 2010
I stopped at my local Walgreens to pick up a couple of prescriptions. I was in a bit of a cranky mood, no good reason, just my regular old irritable self....

Anyway, when I pulled up I noticed that MY FAVORITE handicap parking space was filled! I love that spot! It's right by the front door. I can grab my oxygen, and purse and in just a few seconds roll right into the store. Since my beloved spot was taken, I had to park next to it. Which, is really no big deal, except that it is on a little bit of an incline and when it's a windy day, it's seems to be a bit more windy there than it is when I get out of the car in MY FAVORITE space. As I was dragging things out of my car, I take a peek at the parking spot stealer. Unfortunately I became even grumpier! I noticed this guy had a gigantic pickup truck that was so tall it looked like someone my height or less would need a step stool to get inside! Plus, the truck was running, (oh I forgot to tell you...it was a diesel!) and inside was this rather large man, sitting at the wheel, smoking like a fool! PLUS in the back seat of this giant truck with this giant smoking man, IN MY FAVORITE PARKING SPOT, there was this beautiful little girl! So, not only did this guy take my spot, was sitting there smoking, he even was forcing a beautiful little girl to have to experience his second-hand smoke! THEN, as I'm trying to figure out which cranky face to show him, I notice that there is no handicap sign hanging from his mirror! The nerve! But, I then realized that maybe he had a handicapped license plate. So, as I'm dragging my crap up the slight incline, looking at this GIANT SMOKING GUY SIT IN MY FAVORITE PARKING SPACE WITH A LITTLE GIRL IN THE BACK SEAT, I take a quick peek at his license plate, and GUESS WHAT?? NO HANDICAP LICENSE PLATE!! I completely lost it! I wave my arm in Vanna White fashion, from the mirror to the license plate, look at his smoking face as he sits in his running diesel truck with a pretty little girl in his back seat and yell, "WHERE'S YOUR HANDICAP SIGN?!?" He looks down on me, takes a big drag on his cigarette and yells.."IT'S ON THE DAMN DASHBOARD!!" How was I suppose to know that? I could barely see the front window, let alone the stinking dashboard!! But, not to be one to admit that she's wrong, I gave him a dirty look and rolled into the store. It then dawned on me that I just yelled at a GIANT MAN IN A GIANT TRUCK ABOUT NOT HAVING A HANDICAP SIGN WHEN HE ACTUALLY HAD A HANDICAP SIGN, BUT I WAS JUST TOO STINKING SHORT TO SEE IT!! So, I start worrying about whether I should go out and apologize or hide in the store until he leaves. I ended up staying in the store for about 30 minutes buying a bunch of stuff I didn't need, just to make sure he was gone. Thinking back on it, I'm absolutely shocked that he didn't hop out of the giant truck and slug me!!

Sometimes I wonder how I've lived this long....
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Thanks for reading.

Horse Thieves!! Actually, THIEVING HORSES!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Last night Rod went over to do the nightly chore of giving the horses a coffee can of feed, filling their water containers, brushing them, talking to them and just generally checking them out to see how they're doing. Imagine his surprise when he goes to the stall where the horse feed is stored in giant garbage cans, and discovers this:

and this:

When he walked outside he found this:

and finally, this!

Evidently, the horses decided they needed a little snack! So, one of them (probably Dude because Doc has a weak lower lip from when he contracted the West Nile Virus several years ago.) reached over the stall door (Doc is demonstrating)

and unhooked this latch!

Once the door was open, they went on into the stall, teased the lids off the garbage cans and started to have quite a feast of sweet feed! Rod figures by the time their binge was over, they ate at least 15 pounds of feed! Now, that's not enough to hurt them, but it is enough to fill them up, give them a little gas and stay very busy in the field (if you know what I mean!)

When I went over to the barn tonight to take pictures of the "crime" Doc,

yes, you, Doc, was very busy making lots of noise and...well...let's just say that it's a good thing we don't have "smell-a-vision" here in the blog world!

I must say that Dude looks very satisfied and VERY FULL!!

OK, I need to get moving so I can get my Flolan mixed and switched for the night.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

We went on a safari in Nebraska!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Nick had an odd situation...he actually had the whole weekend off from work! So, he and Kara wanted to do something with Rod and I to celebrate my birthday. Being "A Markin, " our usual routine for celebrating birthdays is to go out to eat! (Markin + eating= normal routine!) I decided that I wanted to throw a wrench into things and spit in the eye of tradition and do something totally different!! My first thought was, instead of going out to dinner, we would just go straight to the Dairy Queen and get a Blizzard! But, I knew that wouldn't take up an entire day, so I thought maybe we could go to the new exhibit at the zoo, or something along those lines. My suggestion was received with comments and looks that basically said, "Mom, are you nuts? You have Pulmonary Hypertension AND Addison's! You can't walk all over the zoo! You won't let us wheel you around in you a wheelchair if you get tired, so, it's not really going to be much of a fun celebration having you get really tired and very short of breath! Plus, when you get tired, you get cranky, and when you get cranky, the whole mood becomes ugly!!" (Isn't it amazing how I can imagine entire conversations without anyone uttering one word?) But, Nick and Kara had their own idea! I had completely forgot about the Wildlife Safari that is just a few miles outside of Omaha. It's called the "Simmons Wildlife Safari." It is a 440 acre sight in an area called the "Platte River hill country." There is a 4 mile road that you drive your own car on as you go around the park, coming face-to-face with a variety of animals including buffalo, deer, elk, antelope and a huge variety of birds!

Nick is showing me the snacks and wildlife books that he has packed for our safari! If you look hard you can also see Rod and Kara in the car.

There was an entire herd of these "horny little devils" just walking next to our car!

OK, all of you city people!! Do you know what this bird is???

Look at this poor, scrawny little Bambi! It's very obvious that this guy is not a

Here's another quiz for you city slickers...what are these birds? Here's a hint...they are NOT swans!!

I'm afraid that I'm going to ruin a possible trip for some of you that may want to go to the safari park by showing you everything. So, here's probably the coolest and the largest animal we saw in the park!

These guys were just a couple of feet away from the car!

There were many other animals, birds, turtles and such that we saw. But, although we didn't get a picture of it, we all agreed that Rod was mostly impressed with the....
PORT-A-POTTY! After he "visited" the "honey hotel" he commented to us that "Whoever designed those facilities were really using their heads! Everything is made from molded plastic, with great ventilation..." Yes, I did start to tune him out and am not really sure how his "praise to the potty" ended...sorry.

Although this is not a picture of the ACTUAL port-a-potty, I felt that having a visual as you reread Rod's "praise to the potty" would be helpful.

I had a fantastic 54th birthday! Thanks to all who sent beautiful flowers, cards, emails, phone calls and songs! I'm such a lucky, lucky woman. Thank you God for blessing me with another year and such amazing family and friends.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.
The Old (and proud of it!) woman!

Happy Monday!

Monday, May 17, 2010
I hope you all had a nice weekend. When I was teaching, I often wondered if weekends
would be no different than weekdays when I "retired" from the job. The end of this school year will mark 5 years of being "retired." And, for the most part, the weekends are quite a bit different than the weekdays. There are those times though, when it's hard to tell the difference between the two. Don't get me wrong, I like my weekends AND I like my weekdays, but, I would much rather be back in the classroom, teaching first graders and having daily interaction with other "2 legged individuals!"

Yes, boys, I'm talking about you! (And, yes, Asa is carrying around a piece of firewood....you never know when you might need a nice piece of firewood...)

Saturday really didn't "feel" much different than a regular weekday. My dear sweet husband had a morning workout and then had a meeting ( I know, I told him it was Saturday...but...), then when he got home, he headed outside to mow the yard. We have a large yard, and it takes several hours to finish. So, it was really like Rod being at work all day. Please do not interpret any of these comments as whining, because they are not! I'm so glad that Rod goes to these workout sessions. It is one of the very, very few things that he does just for himself. Plus, with his workload, it's a great stress-reliever. I am frustrated though, that I can't help him with the yard. Mowing the yard was one of my many household "chores" before I got sick. As a matter of fact, I mowed for two summers after I was diagnosed (don't be too impressed, they are riding mowers!) But, it became frustrating because after 20 minutes or so, I'd get real sleepy and kind of fall asleep while I was driving the mower! Sometimes, we are really slow in the Markin household and we didn't realize what was going on. I wasn't on oxygen yet, and it didn't even dawn on us that all of the bumping and jerking while driving the lawn mower, was knocking the air around and I was actually "de-satting" which means my oxygen levels would decrease and I was kind of passing out! After I started on the O2, I did take another stab at mowing. I did better, but, I really didn't feel good at all. So, we decided that that chore was to be taken off my list...permanently. Rod did buy a new mower this year, though. I'm seriously thinking of doing another "experiment." I'd love to be able to help out my guy. So, we'll see.

Anyway, because Saturday felt like a weekday, I decided to head on out to a chick flick. So.....


I decided to go see, "Letters to Juliet" with Amanda Seyfried.

It was an absolutely adorable "romantic drama" that would be about the best example of a "chick flick" I have ever seen! Amanda Seyfried is absolutely adorable as a "fact finder" for the "New Yorker" magazine who heads off to Italy with her fiance for a pre-wedding honeymoon. As her fiance heads off on his own to do some work regarding his soon to be opened restaurant in New York, Sophie (played by Amanda Seyfriend) gets in the middle of a decades old tradition related to woman writing letters to Juliet Capulet (as in Romeo and Juliet) asking for her help with a love interest. Some would call this movie "predictable" and "sentimental" but, I would then ask them what they thought they were going to see? Were they expecting a blood-bath with machine guns and rocket launchers? I don't think so!

Anyway, I give it 8 puppy paws up, if you like this type of movie!

Oh my, this post is turning into quite a novel!! I think I'll tell you about my exciting Sunday adventures when I post tomorrow. Just to tweak your interest, I'll tell you it has something to do with buffalo, sandhill cranes, outhouses and celebrating my birthday with Rod, Nick and Kara.

Before I go, I'd like to thank all of you for your cards, notes and well-wishes on this, my 54th birthday!! It's hard to believe that when I was 48 years old, I was diagnosed with a rare disease that was suppose to "do me in" by the time I turned 53. Hah!! I showed them!! Those goofy doctors, they just didn't know how stubborn I really am!!

I'll see you tomorrow.
Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

I'M BACK!!!!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010
Thank you all for your patience with my little "blog vacation." I needed a break from "the outside world" as strange as that sounds. I think fighting whatever bug I have/had (still not sure if I'm over it, but I'm really tired of giving it so much power!) stole a bit of my "drive." The last few weeks I seemed to be completely satisfied with sitting on the couch, watching mindless television and being completely unproductive.

I'm sure that the weather hasn't helped any. I heard someone coin the phrase "Nebraska now has a 5th season...it's called 'SPRINTER!'" Winter really didn't want to give up it's place in the seasonal cycle, while spring was fighting to retake it's rightful spot! I was still wearing my "winter sloppy clothes" up until yesterday! But, today it's suppose to be around 70 degrees and sunny! To celebrate I put on my pink "spring sloppy clothes!"

So, enough whining!! It's time to get back to work!!

I have a couple of updates...

Family Update:
Mother's Day was especially nice this year! Chris sent me flowers that were delivered on Saturday. He was so pleased with himself that he remembered, he wrote "Happy Surprise Mother's Day!" We haven't decided who was more surprised, he or I!

On Sunday, Rod and I got up a bit early so we could go to breakfast before church, hoping the beat the crowds. It worked! After breakfast, we headed over to church where getting up early started creeping into my eyelids. I made Rod promise to poke me if I started to snore or drool! Thankfully he didn't have to do either one! After a significant nap, Rod and I headed over to Kara's folk's house for a delicious Mother's Day dinner with Kara's mom, dad, brother, sister, sister's boyfriend, AND Nick and Kara! I know I've said this before, but, when Nick hit the jackpot by marrying Kara, we also hit the jackpot by "marrying" her fabulous family! Chris even called while we were eating dinner, so, it was almost like having him there with us.

Jeane provided us with our lovely crowns!

Doggie Update

On Tuesday, I did some exciting errands, including stopping at Target to buy some new pillows. I found a couple of very cute and, supposedly durable, dog toys! It was cold and rainy again yesterday, so I decided to break out the "NEW AND EXCITING SQUEAKY DUCK TOYS!!"

Haver, being Haver, decided it was something to lick his chompers for!

While Asa, being Asa, was not really sure what to do with his "NEW AND EXCITING SQUEAKY DUCK TOY!"

Eventually, Haver completely gutted his duck and Asa actually carried his around for a little while. Progress!!

Well, I have much more to share, but I need to get ready to head to a doctor's appointment. Thanks again for your patience and for hanging with me. I'm back for good now!!

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Thanks for reading.


Please know, I'm fine and dandy....just taking a break...

Saturday, May 8, 2010
I've been feeling lots better and am so sorry to be gone for so long....I promise to be back very soon with some great stories and pictures....

Thanks for checking in.