Hope’s Happy Birthday

I have been silent for over a week now, both on my blog and in my “real life”… I have been laid low with what I thought at first was just a cold, but it quickly transmogrified  into the flu. Blahhhhh… I did get my flu shot, so I am certain that is why I got the flu, right?  😉

That said, just a couple days ago, The Mrs posted Her Movie on YouTube! It is a real live indie feature length movie that she wrote, directed, starred in, edited, copyrighted, and released. It is titled,


You can also read more about the film at the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) HERE

The movie was filmed in Illinois (Springfield area) and Texas (Austin area).

I was going to do a summary , etc, but am still not feeling well, and just want to nap… maybe when i feel better…

Thursday Door – Day Late, 1 Door

I was just too busy yesterday to post my Thursday Doors offering. Doing…. ummmmm… nothing???!  Ah well, so for my door this week, I have a door from a small little lane on the lake south of our lane. I drove down this lane last week while I was driving around in our area looking for a lost dog. Didn’t find the dog, but did see this neat door. I really like the echoing of the arches in the windows, doors, and roof lines…


Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Visit Norm 2.0 for more doors and details. When you get to Norm’s site, look for and click on….

The Blue Frog, and only the Blue Frog….


The Stars and Me

I love this poem! It is cheerful, optimistic, and just darned fun!!!


Victoria has us repeating ourselves over at d’Verse Poets Pub
I’ll Say It Again (and Again and Again)

The Stars and Me

I thought I saw the stars wink at me
As if they knew my secret
I thought I heard the stars whisper
As if they might be gossiping
I thought I felt the stars hopping
As if they could share my joy
I thought I whiffed the scent of stardust
As if the stars were blooming
And so I turned my face up
To the sky and blew the stars
A kiss

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Eagle Ice & Fish Heads

I just asked The Mrs if she was familiar with the song, “Fish Heads”, by Barnes and Barnes. She immediately started singing it, which truly surprised me because she is not normally so well versed with 70’s & 80’s music, especially the quirky stuff like, well, Fish Heads! This is the link to the original short movie from 1978

If you have noticed my banner photo for the past week or so, you may have noticed that it is two Bald Eagles sitting on the ice just east of our dock here on Lake Springfield. I took that picture on December 28th. A couple days later, the temperature outside got warm enough for the ice to melt. This past week, the temps dropped again close to 0 degrees F, and the lake froze again. Two days ago, the young eagle was back again, this time flying over a flock of geese , looking for injured or sick ones. All the geese were healthy, so the young predator flew off, headed back (I assume) to what is affectionately called Bird Island. The eagles have a huge nest on the small island. It is illegal for humans to go onto the island in order to protect the variety of birds that nest there.



So…after the ice melted the first time around a couple weeks ago, I was down by the shoreline taking Lester (the cat) for a walk, and we both were surprised to see a catfish carcass lying in the rip-rap, mostly eaten.  Of course, I stumbled down to the water’s edge, grabbed the fish (head), and carried it up to the back deck and positioned it so it faced in towards the living room window in order to impress The Mrs…



I put the soda can next to the F-H for perspective, not cuz dead catfish are particularly fond of diet root beer…

The next morning, the fish head was lying on the deck under the table, totally devoid of skin or meat of any sort. Raccoons… And the following morning, the F-H skull was gone, never more to been seen. The Mrs, I’m certain, was very disappointed!!!



and per se AND…

I have loved reading & writing since, well, since I was learning to read via “Dick & Jane“. Not only did I love learning the words that were made by the infinite combinations of letters, but it was, hmmmmm, tactile! I loved feeling the words forming on my tongue & in my throat, & later feeling the creativity of my hand forming words on paper.

I attended a Catholic School (St. Mary’s) for grades 1 – 6, & we had a very strong readin’ writin’ & ‘rithmatic background. I transferred to the public junior high for 7th & 8th grades, & my language arts teachers for both grades gave me accelerated work to do cuz I already knew the stuff they were teaching the other kids. I was introduced to the poetry of ee cummings. WOW!

In high school, I was bored in my english class most of the time, & in my junior year I was failing at midterm. I had the worst “teacher” I had ever experienced… She was tenured, old, worn out, & would stand in the front of the classroom everyday blabbing on about stuff we had learned or read in grade school. My Mom made a deal with me… Bring up my grades in the class (“You could be teaching this class, so just PASS the damn tests!”) & she would let me take night english classes at the junior college nearby! I agreed, passed junior english with a C, and started taking college classes. I always got A’s in my college english classes, btw. (yay for me!)

I initially planned to study journalism in college (I worked at a radio station for 2 years in the news department during my junior college years). But when I transferred to Northern Illinois University, the journalism we were “learning” about was a bit different than what I had done in the field, so I changed my major to psychology because I found the field interesting & it came easily for me… Except I had to take Statistics. I tried 3 semesters, & dropped it 3 times. Then changed my major to History, with a strong minor in Psych. Well, the more history classes I took, the more papers I got to write! I was thrilled! Only thing I struggled with was the fact that most of my profs got their PhD’s from the Columbia school of historical interpretation via Marx. Except my Russian/Soviet history prof… He escaped his home nation of Georgia during the Stalin purges, and was not very impressed with communism/socialism.

I worked in the university library for a year & a half after getting my BA before I started a career in law enforcement, & it was fantastic! I was surrounded by books, I got to read on my breaks, & had started working on a master’s in library science. Once I became a cop, my focus changed, although during my career, I did spend a total of 6 years assigned to the state police academy. I taught, tested, supervised, & tutored cadets/recruits. I supervised Academic Development, Instructor Development, Curriculum Development, Legal Training, Testing… & a bunch more stuff. I oversaw the revision of all the academic/legal training curricula into a standard measurable Goals & Objectives format. & I taught Report Writing. & Remedial English. I taught these college graduates how to write a sentence. I taught cadets how to write a police report in first person, making sure they knew how to use correct punctuation. & I was working on finishing my Master’s in history through the University of Illinois at night. & I discovered three of my all-time favorite books during this time: The Transitive Vampire – A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (Karen Elizabeth Gordon); The Well-Tempered Sentence – A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (Karen Elizabeth Gordon); & Writing Down the Bones – Freeing the Writer Within (Natalie Goldberg).


Which brings me to…. and per se and. TRIVIA ALERT!!!!! This was the 27th letter of the english alphabet into the mid/late 1800’s. It supposedly originated with Roman scribes in the 1st century AD who, when they wrote the Roman word “et” (and) in cursive, they would use “&”.

According to Dictionary.com: “The word ‘ampersand’ came … when ‘&’ was actually part of the English alphabet. In the early 1800s, school children reciting their ABCs concluded the alphabet with the &. It would have been confusing to say ‘X, Y, Z, and.’ Rather, the students said, ‘and per se and.’ ‘Per se’ means ‘by itself,’ so the students were essentially saying, ‘X, Y, Z, and by itself and.’ Over time, ‘and per se and’ was slurred together into the word we use today: ampersand. “

MORE TRIVIA!!!! The “&” is, therefore, a MONDEGREEN!!!!  A mondegreen is a word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of another word or phrase that we hear… You know, “There’s a Bathroom on the Right”… by Three Dog Night…

Final thought…. I love books & reading. This past year I downloaded the Kindle application to my computer & started reading on my laptop. For Christmas, The Mrs, her Mom, Sis, & Bro-in-Law chipped in to buy me an iPad so I could read on that. So now THIS >>>> 068

is gonna replace this>>>>>>

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Lapsang Souchong… oh YEAH!!!

It has been described as:

  • A campfire in your cup! This remarkable tea has a crisp character with the heady aroma of pine and oak wood fire.
  • The Tea of Mystery – The entrancing, smoky character of this tea is achieved by an elaborate process. The hand-picked leaves are smoked over pinewood embers, for a distinct and mysterious cup.
  • Lapsang Souchong, also referred to as smoked tea, is one of the worlds’ oldest and most distinctive black teas.
  • Lapsang souchong is the tea of campers who like to position themselves in the direction of the campfire smoke. It’s intensely smoky and also a favorite of bartenders, thanks to the layer of sultry nuance it adds to the glass.
  • The flavor is very assertive and appeals to those looking for a bold cup of tea. In recent years, Lapsang-Souchong has begun to grow in popularity and has become the favorite tea of many who also appreciate single-malt Scotch whisky and fine cigars. It was once known as a man’s tea but more and more women are drinking it as well.

All that … what more can I say? Oh, yeah ~ I introduced The Mrs to Lapsang Souchong way back in 2004 and it has been our collective Favorite Tea ever since. Now for the sad part of the story.  A couple years ago the flavor intensity of the available LS in our area diminished most dishearteningly (dang that would be a good Boggle word!). We tried some from a nice little tea shop in Champaign, IL, home of the University of Illinois. No go. We tried importing it from England. Nope, still too mild. We bought Stateside via Amazon.  Same thing, no smokey flavor to encircle the palate.

And now the Happy Part of the story!  Just yesterday (Nov. 22nd), the blogger sustainabilitea,  published a post, and in it she mentioned that she worked part-time at a tea shop, SereneTeaz, and gave a link to it. I, of course, clicked the link to check it out, and they sell Lapsang Souchong tea!  I emailed the tea shop and inquired about the intensity of their LS. I had a reply within an hour, and based on that reply, I placed an order right away.

Here is what hooked me, “It’s very strong, you can actually use it as a marinade if you wanted to cook with it. If you’re looking for a touch of smoke try Russian Caravan. Our lapsang  is very smokey. It stays with you after drinking it. Hope this helps.”

Happier part ~ The LS tea parcel arrived via FedEx THIS MORNING!! As a disclaimer, I will confess that both SereneTeaz and I are located in Illinois, but STILL!!!!!!

Happiest part ~ I opened that parcel of LS tea and took a good loong whiff, then insisted The Mrs do the same. Joint verdict…. good strong fragrance! I proceeded to make a cup for myself to try out the flavor, but none for The Mrs cuz she is caffeine sensitive and does not drink anything with caffeine after 11 or so in the morning.  (Not an issue for me…Caffeine+ is my blood type…) I took a sip after 4 minutes of brewing and insisted The Mrs try it as well. OH YEAH! This is the Lapsang Souchong we have been missing! Thanks Janet and Serene Teaz!!!


Only 2 regrets about this picture: First, my camera phone is not that great so pic is a bit fuzzy. Second, I wish I had a SMELL-aphone so you could enjoy the incredible fragrance of this tea!!!

Spc3 – Nick Hughes


Dad’s funeral visitation/services/mass culminated with his graveside ceremony at the Rock Island Arsenal and National Cemetery . He is now buried next to Mom, and as both are Military Vets, they each have their own grave marker. Due to security procedures, we were not able to visit Mom’s grave. The Army needs advance notice of our visit, and we have to provide authorized ID (ie. Passport…). We’ll go back for a visit after Dad’s marker is set.



Rest In Peace, Dad and Mom. And thank you for your service!

One final spit-polishing…

Last Thursday, November 3, 2016, my father, Nick G. Hughes, passed away suddenly following a brief illness. Hospital attendants were wheeling him along a hallway to take him for an MRI, or maybe a CAT-scan shortly after 7:00 pm when he quietly left this life. I drove to Sterling the next morning and my two youngest sisters and I began the funeral preparations…

Nick volunteered for the United States Army during the Korean Conflict. He was attending pharmacy school at the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago when the war started, and after he graduated and earned his pharmacy license, he entered service and was assigned to an Engineer Unit. After his Engineer Training was completed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, his unit was sent to the Washington, D.C. area to await orders. And Dad got bored. So he volunteered to work in the Pentagon Pharmacy until he shipped out in order to get away from moving and painting rocks, and whatever other really important tasks are assigned to soldiers who have to hurry up and wait… and he (SP3) went to a dance/social gathering and met a WAC who ran a typing pool: Sgt. Nancee Hauser. And they fell in love. And left the Army. And got married. And had 5 children and 4 grand-children. And Nancee passed away after a long illness 4 years ago. And Dad missed her so terribly. And he told my two youngest sisters that when he died he wanted to be dressed in his best suit, tie, and dress shoes so he looked his grandest when he met up with Mom again. And they got the suit ready to take to the funeral home, and bought him a new shirt and socks. His shoes and belt were a bit dulled, so when I got to Sterling I offered to spit-shine them because: 1) he loved a good spit-shine polish from his days in the Army; 2) he taught me to appreciate and how to spit-shine when I was just a sprout; 3) the State Police academy gave me lots of opportunity to perfect my spit-shine abilities so it is now an easy task; 4) it gave me a strong connection to both my parents at this time of grief and hollowness.  So here is the spit-shining halfway through from yesterday morning. I took the shoes & belt to the funeral home shortly afterwards and then sat with Dad alone for about half an hour saying my final goodbyes…


Did I mention that Mom was a HUGE die-hard Cubbies fan who would quote stats about all the players and games and opposing teams and upcoming prospects….?! So Dad got to deliver the message of the Cubs World Series win to her personally!!

Dad’s Obituary