Friday, January 26, 2018

My Lucky Penny

Okay, so you get tired of hearing me talk about my son who died October 29, 2016, but I just have to tell you what happened today! The Blackhawk bus took us to the Mardi Gras Casino and I sat at a machine that had been lucky for me on a previous visit.  A twenty dollar bill was swallowed up by the machine without giving me anything back.  I moved over to another machine and the same thing happened with the ten I put into the slot. That was thirty dollars eaten away and that depressed me. I could hear other machines with bells or loud music that sounded as if they were paying out some money. Why was I so unlucky, I thought.

I moved to another machine and fed it another ten. When I was down to eight-fifty, I pulled my money out and that is when I saw a penny leaning up against the machine. I do not remember seeing the penny when I sat down or while I played the machine, but there it was!  Instantly, I thought of my son. How he used to love to gamble, yet he was more a card player than a slot player. On several occasions we had gone to Blackhawk and he seemed to always win at the blackjack table.

Putting the penny in my pocket I saw what looked like an interesting slot machine. The colorful
machine had a name of Bubble Gum and I could see little round balls bouncing around. Placing the voucher for eight fifty in the money slot and choosing the forty cent button instead of the eighty cents or one dollar or two dollar buttons, I watched the balls move around the screen. A bunch of noise greeted me and the balls jumped around and when everything settled down I had won twenty dollars. I played again and this time won nine dollars. This was good, I was seven dollars and fifty cents ahead!

The machine gave me lots of options to win and before I knew it I had a $55.00 and a $58.00 voucher. When I win, I cash out and then play with another bill. I placed those vouchers in my purse and pulled out another twenty. With this twenty I won $35.00.  Of course, I put the $35 back into the machine and when I was about ready to lose it I hit another small jackpot of $45.00. By the time it was time to come home I pocketed $52 over what I had taken up. I felt like a winner!

Believe it or not, I think my son was watching and helped me out. My luck changed once I found that penny and I knew he was hovering some where near me. I have my lucky penny saved where I save all of my "Andy" pennies.

On this trip to the Mardi Gras, pennies from heaven happened to be a reality to me!

"Pennies from heaven
mean unexpected 
good fortune."

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Showing Cattle

Cats and dogs love to have their bellies rubbed. I have been around cats and dogs who stay still as long as they are petted. Let me clarify, cats only allow petting when they want to be petted!  Dogs will usually stay quiet and relaxed as long as they are petted.  At the stock show, I saw an exhibitor with a long metal rod and I thought it was to prod the cattle to make them move. What a surprise I got when I found out that by rubbing the underside of the cattle, it sooths them.

As the handlers were brushing, washing or blow drying the large animals, one person would be rubbing the underside while another person would be primping the animal. "Why do you rub the belly of the cow," I asked. "It calms him and lets us work on it," I was told.
I found out that the aluminum stick is around 54 inches long and it is also used to move the steer. The pole is used to poke between the hoof so that the steer will backup to be lined up to show. I happened to see an auction with a young girl showing a large steer and it seemed as if the steer was dragging the girl  over the place. She could barely contain him as she showed the steer and the high bid was $40,950. I guess getting dragged and pushed around is well worth it!

Being curious and wondering what to call the large animals I looked on the Internet.

Heifer is female but once she has a calf she becomes a cow.
Bull is used for breeding
Steer is male who has been neutered.

Since all the animals I saw looked like large cows to me, it is interesting to know that there is a difference.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Secret of Regifting

Should I care? Once I went to visit a friend in the hospital and felt odd not taking her a gift, so I ran into the gift shop at the hospital and found a small angel with wire wings. She would probably like this, I thought and I purchased it. When she was coming home from the hospital I helped her pack her things and when I put the small angel in a box of her belongings I again thought, this is a sweet angel and will look nice on a shelf.

A few years passed and it was Christmas and gifts among friends were exchanged. Guess what I received. An angel with wire wings but the poor thing had been broken and glued. I believe that the angel I gave my friend was given to another friend who we both know. The second friend probably thought it would make a nice gift for me and did not know that I had originally purchased the angel.

Another time I received a mug. The mug was a beautiful green but the words were what moved me. You are an amazing woman was written on the side with Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Proverbs 31:21 was written on the rim of the cup. I loved my gift. Then, a few years later, another mutual friend gave me a maroon cup; same size, different color. This one had God bless your Beautiful Spirit on the side and She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy. Proverbs 3:18 written along the rim. There is no way to prove that one friend gave both of her friends similar cups but it sure is suspicious that when the maroon cup was given to me it could have been a re-gift my friend had received from our mutual friend.

Is re-gifting an okay thing to do? I suppose it is, except maybe before giving away a gift received, make sure you do not give a re-gifted present among close friends!

I have no proof, but these gifts I received, sure do look suspicious!

She had a wedding to go to and needed
a wedding gift. Aha, she thought, I have
a monogrammed silver tray from my
wedding I never use, I'll just take it
to a silversmith and have him remove
my monogram and put hers on it.
Voila, one cheap wedding present.
She took it to the silversmith and 
asked him to remove the monogram
and put the new one on.
The silversmith examined the tray
carefully, shook his head and said,
"Lady, this can only be done so
many times!"
Quote from the Internet

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Stock Yard Smell

Growing up in Greeley, Colorado, I never smelled the stock yards. The smell was ever present and accepted. When I moved away from Greeley and I would return, the minute I crossed the LaSalle bridge I would be hit with that stock yard manure smell. How strange that when you are in it you never smell anything but once you leave the area and return, wow, the stench is strong!

Today the Spirit of Christ Catholic Community Young at Heart Group went to the stock show. As we entered the coliseum the first thing that everyone did was to cover their nose. The stock yard smell permeated the large area! We would see bare back riding, bronco riding, cattle wrestling, bull riding, Westernaires performances, barrel racing and lots of horses.

All the animals contributed to the odor wafting around the arena! But, before long, it seemed as if no one noticed the smell as they became engrossed with the exciting rodeo. Fireworks and horses and riders in the dark with identical lights began the rodeo as they sped around the dirt arena. The bareback bronco riders were fun to watch as they seemed to almost lie down on the backs of the bucking horses. We learned that when a horse kicks to the side instead of up and down the rider needs to do his ride over again on another horse.

The cowboys lassoed the calves, knocked them down and tied three legs. That seemed cruel and painful for the calves. The bull riding looked dangerous, the cowboys on the bucking broncos looked painful, and the tandem roping looked difficult as one cowboy roped the calf around the neck while the other one had to rope the hind feet, while the barrel racing was exciting as the girls tried to out race each other without knocking down the barrels.

Things I noticed that were different from past rodeos were cowboys wearing neck braces,  helmets, and having the option of watching the action on three huge screens above the arena instead of real time. If something was missed we could watch the play back making it easier to see what was going on. The announcer explained the action and that helped us rookies understand how points are earned.

Two hours later, the rodeo was over and everyone in the group dispersed to check out the rest of the displays. Five of us went looking for the animals and saw primping being done on sheep, cattle, bulls, goats and pigs. The pigs seem to do a lot of sleeping.
I saw a huge, about five feet tall sheep, and was told that there are still bigger ones. "Some breeds can weigh up to 500 pounds," a young woman cleaning her sheep's cage  explained to me.

A few of the bulls looked like Ferdinand with big eyes and horns. I was surprised that some of the animal's legs were being sprayed with paint to make them all one color.  We saw some mules and looked at a horse and wagon competition. The girls driving the horses were dressed in fancy clothing and hats and competed with the fancy shining reins and bridles the horses had. It was beautiful to see the horses as they pranced around the ring in tune to the music.

What a fun time at the rodeo and seeing the different animals being prepared for showing. Some of the young people seemed to have a hard time holding the animal in place. Yet, those kids are not afraid of the animals and handle them with finesse!

Our group seemed to have had a fun and interesting time at the 2018 Western Stock Show. It also was a learning experience as we saw that there was so much to see and enjoy!

"They gave me the chaps
and hat and everything.
I looked like a real cowboy.
I walked around the rodeo
and thought, I am a real
cowboy and thought
everyone thought I was
a real cowboy."
Michael Biehn

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Importance of Sympathy Cards

When a loved one leaves this earth to go with his maker and we are left feeling alone, bereft of love, hurting, and missing the person who has gone, what is there to make one feel better? Nothing. Words spoken are appreciated but they do not ease the pain. Bereavement is something that has to be done alone with thoughts and memories of the departed one.  Cards flood your life and you read them and set them aside. But, when cards are re-looked at after a year has gone by, a feeling of love, understanding, kindness and awareness enters one's heart,

I received cards with kind and thoughtful words after my son's passing and a feeling of appreciation was felt. Yesterday, I looked at the many cards I had received. To think that many persons were thoughtful enough to send me a card. A warmth filled my heart as I felt a love being sent by those wishing to make me feel better. How wonderful is that? People extending a kind expression of love at a sad point in my life. Even though I had thanked everyone who sent me a card, causing someone to say, "I have sent sympathy cards to many people, but never have I received a thank you card," I wanted to let those kind people know how much I appreciated their kindness. Yet, the full impact of their gesture was finalized yesterday as I looked through the many beautiful cards. The cards had wonderful sayings, but it was the handwritten note that meant so much to me.

Seventy-five cards expressing sorrow at my son's passing. Masses were said, prayers added, and kind thoughts made my heart swell with thankfulness and love. I almost felt like sending another thank you card to let everyone who had sent me a card know that their wishes were greatly appreciated.

Sympathy cards are important and once again for those who sent me a card, thank you ever so much! Even though I would have loved to put all the cards into this blog, there just wasn't room, so I chose a few to add to this blog.

Remembering thoughtfulness of many.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Preparing A Photo Album

Fifteen months ago, my son passed away and ever since I have wanted to make a photo album showing parts of his life. It would be nice to pick up the book instead of going to the computer to look up the pictures.  What I found to be the hardest part was locating pictures to put in the album. There were many pictures of my son as I searched through my computer. I also looked through the albums I had when I used to do scrap booking. I have about six plastic bins filled with large albums. I wanted pictures of when he played soccer since that was his favorite sport, but could not find any. That's when I realized that during his high school and young adult life my photography was in slides and those pictures would not be in the memorial album.

Trying to get the pictures in chronological order was difficult so I ended up calling some pages "Memories" and then it did not matter if they were in order or not. I began working on the project on January 9 and continued another eleven hours on January 10. This morning, I finally sent the information off to be printed after working on it another hour and a half.  Sixteen hours is a lot of  work when I am retired and should be taking it easy!

I did find a picture that I love. I do not remember where or why it was taken but I feel good when I look at it.
When I receive my album in about a week from today, I will be reminded of so many wonderful moments of his life. I will try not to remember anything sad or bad because those thoughts are already fading into the past.

The album ends with a quotation:

"To live in the hearts
we leave behind
is not to die, "
Thomas Campbell. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Record High

This morning when I clicked on my blog, I noticed that 45,000 page views had been reached. I do not know if this is good or bad but every time I check I am surprised that someone is looking at my blogs. It may not really be that many readers, though I do know I have about ten loyal readers!

"In a sense, who you are
has always been a story that
you told yourself.
Now, your self is a story
that you tell to others."
Geoff  Ryman

The Entertaining Bull

The scene in the arena of the Mexican Rodeo at the Western Stock show was two bullfighters and one bull.

The bullfighters were dressed in the form fitting matador outfits. One bull fighter was in yellow with black embroidered top while the other was in gold. They both had pink knee high socks and black slipper-like shoes. The bull was black! Both fighters carried magenta capes that they used to tease the bull. The outfit worn by the bull fighters is called Traje de Luces. (Outfit of lights.)

From what I have read, the bull picked to be in the arena has never faced a human being and he needs to be aggressive, energetic, strong, with stamina and intelligence. The bull did everything I have seen them do; lowered head, pawed at the ground, stared at the bull fighter, and charged at the cape. Pass after pass made everyone yell "Ole" every time the bull missed the bull fighter. Since this was not a regular bloody bull fight but a teaching fight, explanations were given as to what the bull and bull fighter were doing. When the show was over the bull fighters went to the edge of the arena and waited for the bull to go into the chute.

That is when the show began! The bull refused to enter the chute. One cowboy waved his hat in front of the bull and the bull snared the hat and threw it on the ground. Another cowboy kept moving a long rag to get the bull's attention but the bull turned around and eyed the bull fighters leaning against the wall. I noticed they did not make a move but stood quietly and I suppose their wish was that the bull would turn and run into the chute. If the bull charged, they did not have any place to hide.  A lot of snorting from the bull as he went after some of the cowboys standing near the gates. This sent the men scrambling up the side of the fence. Finally, the bull was enticed to enter the chute and right before the gate swung shut, the bull reared back and he was back in the arena. He pawed at the hat and rag while looking around. One cowboy was trying to lasso the bull but the bull shook the rope off. It became a comical scene and everyone was laughing and cheering for the bull! Twice it would enter the chute and then come backing out again. The clowns were no help other than standing around watching to see what the bull would do next. When the bull was partially in the chute, three men slammed the gate on the bull's haunches and somehow got the gate locked. I could see the gate shaking as it was hit from the inside, but it held. The bull continued banging against the sides of the chute until there was silence and the show continued!

That bull loved to entertain and I kept thinking, what a ham!

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Cross

On my living room wall, I have a collection of crosses I have picked up on my travels. Some crosses speak to me and I just have to have it, or I have been given crosses as gifts. Since I am trying to down size I made up my mind to not add anymore crosses to my collection.

Yesterday my decision wavered when I saw beautiful crosses at the Western Stock Show. Unusual and unique crosses drew me closer to the display. I debated with myself on whether I needed another cross. I walked away. I returned to the crosses. I watched other people buying crosses. I decided to move away and look at other displays. Yet, the turquoise cross was in my mind. It was small and it was only ten dollars. One more cross would look great on the wall of crosses. I returned to the booth and purchased the cross!
Not only did I get the leather looking cross which to me represents my faith, but I also received a card letting me know that I should always look ahead, stay open and welcome whatever lies around the bend!  

I love my new addition to the wall. Though seeing the many crosses for sale, I would have liked a few more!

A cross reminds me of a few things. Christ's ultimate gift to me, memories of my travels, and there is a warm feeling as if the two arms of the cross are reaching to hug me.

"Only in the Cross of Christ
will we receive power when
we are powerless. We will
find strength when we are weak. 
We will experience hope when 
our situation is hopeless. Only in
the cross is there peace for 
our troubled hearts."
Michael Youssef

A Different Kind of Rodeo

The title of this blog was going to be Mexican Rodeo but on September 28, 2012, I blogged about a  rodeo I attended in Mexico with that same title. A Different Kind of Rodeo fit perfectly for my adventure yesterday at the Western Stock Show.

Parking free in Lot D, next to lots charging $20 and $30, an RTD shuttle picked me up along with about nine other persons. What a cheerful group as strangers laughed and talked to each other. I wondered if all cowboys were so happy. A young woman sitting next to me told me how she used to show horses but hasn't done it for a while. She explained that she worked with cutters, horses that  work with cattle. It would have been nice to continue talking and learning more from the woman but our bus arrived at the Exhibition Hall where we all got out.

Before going to the Coliseum where the rodeo would take place, I joined hundreds of other people and looked at cowboy hats, boots, farm equipment, food courts, jewelry, leather goods, hot tubs, sauna rooms, massage chairs, rugs, pictures, and western wear. Anything imaginable had its own area and I spent over an hour looking at things!

I walked across a large food court with smoke and roasting smells wafting all around the area. Barbequing pork, beef, chicken and turkey smells competed with each other. Prices seemed extremely high, like $5 for a medium bag of popcorn. At the far end of the eating area, I reached the doors that got me to where the rodeo would be held. My ticket was for Section 109, five rows down and the fifth seat. Perfect seats to watch the Extravaganza but I opted to not go down the stairs and to sit in the handicapped section on cushioned chairs and no steps. The usher checked to make sure a seat was available and I enjoyed the rodeo without fear of falling! I sat next to a lady in a wheel chair. She was from Guadalajara and spoke no English and she was surprised that I spoke Spanish. We had a lively conversation about Mexico before the loud show began.

The mariachi band, the colorful dancers, the beautiful horses and riders, the bull riding and bucking horses were exciting to see. Some of the differences were: 1. Cowboys hold on to a bucking horse with both hands. 2. The Paso de Muerte where a wild horse is surrounded by four riders except one rider is riding bareback. They race around the arena while the bareback rider attempts to mount the wild horse and when he does the horse begins to buck while the cowboy tries to stay on. 3. A sort of bull fight with no blood shed was interesting as the announcer explained the different moves. 4. The young girls riding side saddle were very much like our Westernaires with their maneuvers. 5. A horse pivots around keeping one leg in place as it spins first to the right and then to the left.

"You've got to do your own roping,
no matter how good your Daddy was."

Seeing eight tiny tots ride a sheep was fun to watch because no matter how hard they tried to stay on the fat sheep, the helmeted kids slid off. At the end, all the children received a tall trophy for Mutton Bustin'.

What an exciting afternoon watching the Mexican Rodeo and seeing the Charros with their expensive sombreros, their beautiful horses, the talented riders and the folkloric dancers dancing to the Mariachi music.

"A cowboy is not a cowboy
with out a rodeo.
A rodeo is not a rodeo
with out a cowboy."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Christmas in January

Spirit of Christ Catholic Community had a choir director with the most beautiful voice. How I loved  to listen to him sing. When I die, I want him to sing at my funeral, I thought. Then, he was gone and there went my thought! Last evening I went up to him and told him how I wanted him to sing at my funeral and he said, "I would be glad to sing for your funeral, and what date will it be?"

Not too long ago, another choir director came on board and he also had a voice that made me think he could have been an opera singer. He seemed to sing with his whole heart and once again I fell in love with the music at mass. His children seem to be following in his footsteps because they all seem to enjoy singing. His brother, who also has a beautiful voice sang Oh Holy Night. When it was announced he is in the military he got a standing ovation!

I had read in the church bulletin to bring our own dinner/drink for the performance and last evening, after mass of the Epiphany, the two musicians performed in the Spirit Center. McDonald's, Arby's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and some homemade sandwiches were being eaten before the "show" was to begin.  I saw some tables with bottles of wine.  Dessert was a small dish of M&Ms placed at all the tables. And then the show began. I kind of wished the program could have been presented before Christmas because singing Christmas Carols in January just seemed a bit off kilter. No one seemed to mind as they all joined in with the sing-a-longs.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Up On the Housetop
Silver Bells
Winter Wonderland
Jingle Bell Rock
Jingle Bells
I'll be Home For Christmas
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 
had young people adding their own words to the song.

There were many more old favorites like Deck The Halls, Let It Snow, O Christmas Tree, Rockin' Round the Christmas Tree, Frosty the Snow Man, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Silent Night and ending with Auld Lang Syne.

The sweater contest was fun as all those decked out in their fancy sweaters paraded around the Spirit Center. There were many clever sweaters and the winner was a Young At Heart member dressed from head to toe in her neat outfit!
What a joyous occasion to be with a large group of happy people enjoying an evening of fun! It was great meeting up with friends and singing Christmas Carols on Epiphany! This is the date when in many countries gifts are given to the children and usually when Christmas decorations come down.

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?"

Friday, January 5, 2018

Gone Away

"I don't mind dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens," is what the tall, handsome man, married to a friend of mine, would say. Today. at eleven in the morning, a beautiful memorial took place for him at Spirit of Christ Catholic Community. Close to two hundred people attended the lovely memorial.

A white and gold urn holding his remains was next to the Nativity scene of baby Jesus. A thought ran through my mind, a birth and a death, is that what life is all about? We enter the world as babies and when our chosen task is completed, we leave our loved ones on earth and go to eternal happiness.

The ceremony began with You Are My Sunshine sung by the strong voice of our choir director and followed by readings from Ecclesiastes and Corinthians. The Deacon read the Gospel and gave a wonderful homily.

John 14:1-6 1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going." 5Thomas said to him, "LORD, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" 6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

After the memorial in the chapel everyone was invited to lunch. A long table with his art, pictures, photo book, Air Force uniform, flowers and urn had people lined up looking at his life. He led a busy life and it looked to me that he was a man who enjoyed life. I met him a few times and once he surprised me by showing me his paintings. Beautiful art work in his home. He collected lights from telephone poles and had a room with his ham operator equipment. He and his wife made a beautiful couple and I admired how well they got along with each other. Not only were they a married couple but they were good friends.

I am glad I got to know, although briefly, the man who made my friend happy. May he rest in peace  in the hearts of his family and friend's.