Sunday, December 27, 2015

Back to the Y

After a few days hiatus, I'm heading back to the Y in the morning. I'll have to skip Wednesday, and Friday is New Year's Day, but one day is better than none.
I haven't lost any weight (may have gained some; I'll get on the scale tomorrow), so after the first, I'll start getting serious about my eating habits. More vegetables, fewer cookies - that should help!

Mañana

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Exercise class

I've joined a "Fit for Life" class at the YMCA. All the members I've met so far are ladies my age, but I don't think it's restricted. The first class was stretching, and the second was aerobic. They meet Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, but I haven't been able to attend the Friday classes so far. That should change. It seems to be partly social, too; they're planning a Christmas party this Thursday (I have a prior commitment.). I'll get into the swing of things soon.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fitness progress continued

I'm on my own now; I had only hired a trainer for 10 one-hour sessions, and that ended this week.

I took a 1 1/2 mile walk yesterday, and today I used my stationary bike for 10 minutes, and did a few reps with a 2-pound weight, and some walking.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Fitness progress

It has been two weeks since I started working with a trainer. It's going well, I think. I can do everything he asks me to do: lift 5 pound weights, hold the weight while standing and sitting rapidly, stepping on and off a step rapidly, walking the treadmill both level and slightly inclined, pushing a "leg press" (I think that's what it's called), pulling weighted pulleys and also a thick rope. I don't do all those things every session, but he gives me a variety of activities to improve my heart rate, as well as to strengthen the muscles in my knees/legs and shoulders. He also is working on my "core" muscles.

On days when I don't see him, I walk a mile and a half to a mile, usually in my neighborhood, and also do the sitting and standing and the stair-stepping at home.

My stamina has improved. I feel tired, but not exhausted after a workout.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The YMCA

I had lost about thirty pounds following my knee surgeries, but since then (little more than a year ago), I have slowly been gaining. I haven't quite gained it all, and don't want to! So, I have joined the local YMCA.

I talked to the personal trainer by telephone just now, a young man (college student) named Travis. I will meet with him tomorrow, and he will get me started, as I don't know where to start.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Little Chocolate

Below is a link to a very moving video by HUMAN, that I saw on Facebook. A short account of a Holocaust survivor's experience in Bergen-Belsen. I have watched it several times in the last two days. Brings tears to my eyes every time.

Francine Christophe

Monday, September 21, 2015

Are You Really Pro-Life?

With permission from the blog author, Traci Schmidley, I am linking to her blog post about genuine pro-life values:

Are You Really Pro-Life?

This is a very thoughtful article on the subject. I hope you will read it, and let me know what you think about it.

Home at last!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Grandparent's' Week!

My granddaughter is in second grade this year (7-8 years old), and that means that Grandparents' Day is a big deal! There is an annual assembly Friday with an art show, for all grandparents of children Kindergarten-6th grade. For second graders, the grandparents are invited to come into the classroom on a separate day and share with the children, an experience, a story, or a family treasure. In addition, Pawpaw and I had "homework" - we filled out a form asking questions about our childhoods, favorite memories, what we did for fun, etc.

G'daughter is all atwitter with excitement! She told me Friday that they read our papers in class, and everyone laughed at Pawpaw's memory: seeing a family of wild hogs near his grandfather's beach home. I guess the idea of pigs (hogs) at the beach was surreal to them! :-)

Tomorrow is the big day, when we go into her classroom and share. I'm taking a story book (it's already in the car), and Pawpaw will tell more about his grandfather's place at the beach. I have my clothes ready and I'll set the alarm so we won't be late!

Grandparents Day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Forty-seven years

Forty-seven years!

We have celebrated our 47th anniversary! The time has passed quickly, but sometimes it seems like we've been married forever. We're still in love, still get mad at each other, but always forgive, kiss and make up! We laugh together, weep together, work together, and play together. We are there for each other, taking care and giving support as needed. We are blessed beyond measure, and hope that in some way, we can be a blessing to other people.

(Photo taken by our server at Charles Anthony's at the Pub, a special restaurant that we like for special occasions. I had a pork chop, sweet potato and salad; he had fried shrimp, asparagus, and sweet potato. We both took home portions of our dinners. They gave us ice cream for dessert, for our anniversary!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Confederate flag controversy

The battle flag of the gone-but-not-forgotten Confederate States of America is to many a symbol of pride, and to many others a symbol of hate. Pride in our southern heritage, in ancestors who fought for the "Lost Cause" in America's Civil War ("There was nothing civil about that war!"). Tears come to many eyes, and goose pimples rise on many arms as the Stars and Bars is flown and "Dixie" is sung. Thoughts come to mind of dirt country roads, pick-up trucks with open backs, fishin' holes and swimmin' holes, cotton and watermelons and fried chicken.

The flag and the song bring to some a feeling of fear, of images of burning crosses, white-robed strangers, and unspeakable violence done to friends and loved ones. Of years, decades, of injustice, of Jim Crow, of dogs, firehoses, and four little girls in a church, and nine adults in another church.

The Bible tells us, "29 Jesus answered, “The greatest is, ‘Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’✡ This is the first commandment. 31 The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’✡ There is no other commandment greater than these.” " (World English Bible, public domain)

If we love our neighbors, we want to do good to them, and not evil. We want to show them we love them, not hate them. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught that everyone is our neighbor. We should not give them feelings of fear and distrust because of our own "Southern pride." (Pride is a sin, after all.)
Therefore, the Confederate flag does not belong in public places, on official state or city property, on T-shirts or belt buckles, on auto tags, decals, or bumper stickers. This is my opinion; many will and do disagree. That is their right. I am not personally offended by anyone's display, but I am sad that they have no consideration for the feelings of others.

Where, if anywhere, does the Confederate flag belong?
I see nothing wrong with including it in a city seal, representing one of many governmental entities that have ruled over that city, such as Mobile, Alabama. The City Council just voted to change the seal, removing all the flags but one, the American flag.

Here is the "old" seal: />
Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

I also think it is appropriate to place small Confederate flags at the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers in Civil War cemeteries. After all, it was the flag that those soldiers fought under. This is being legislated against in various places, including the U. S. Park Service.

Image courtesy of Religion News Service. This image is available for web and print publication.

What do you think? Do you think the Stars and Bars should be flown everywhere, nowhere, or some times and some places? Why?

(Edited to remove large image of Confederate battle flag at top of post. I disliked seeing it there, especially on Facebook.)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Praying for Charleston

Just a few days ago, I enjoyed reading a "Love Letter" from a friend to her beloved adopted home town, Charleston, South Carolina.
Low Country Love Letters

And last night I was shocked and dismayed by the terrible news from that city; a young man attended a prayer meeting, and shot and killed nine church members as they were gathered in prayer at the church. It appears to have been a racist hate crime. The suspect is now under arrest.
CNN article

Words cannot describe the horror. My thoughts and prayers are with Charleston, as well as with Mother Emanuel AME Church, and the families of the victims. I have visited Charleston, a lovely city, historic and diverse, a friendly city with a rich heritage.

Please read my friend's blog post in response to this tragedy:
Darkness Comes to Charleston

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Walking

I used to walk. I've had a long history of walking, but I still haven't made it a constant part of my life. I have to make the decision every day: walk, or be lazy?
Sunny morning

In my 20s, when I worked downtown, I often walked during lunch hour, with a friend or by myself, having eaten a sandwich at my desk, thus having more time to walk.

When my children were babies and I was a stay-at-home mom, I took them for long walks in the neighborhood in their stroller, or walking with me, or riding a bike. When we got a dog, I walked the dog almost every day, with or without children along. (We had a large fenced backyard, so the dog could go outside without being walked.) The dog, Scrappy, loved her walks, and could hardly contain her excitement when she saw me putting on my socks and sneakers! As she aged, she developed arthritis, and could no longer enjoy her walks. I continued walking for my own exercise, but closed the door before changing shoes. I felt bad about leaving her behind.

When we moved to south Alabama, I continued walking on the semi-country roads alongside our house, getting up to three miles! There was a riding stable down the road, and cow pastures along the back road. I could hear a rooster crowing, too. It was very nice!

Then we had our accident with our RV trailer, and a vertebra in my neck was cracked.
blog post about accident here
I was wearing a brace for 3 months. I was afraid of injuring it more if I walked, so I didn't. The arthritis in my knees also slowly but relentlessly grew worse. My weight also climbed, putting even more stress on my knees. I did not return to walking for exercise for several years.

Last year, I had both knees totally replaced, one 8 months after the other one.
Blog post about knee surgery here
After surgery and rehabilitation, I was doing very well. No more pain! So, last fall I started walking again, in my neighborhood. We've moved again since those country roads, and now we live in another semi-rural subdivision. The lots are large, with some grand homes on them, along with barns, stables, and a few horses. No cows, no chickens. Lots of birds singing as I silently sing praises to God. Many of the lots also have ponds which attract ducks and geese. As the weather has gotten warmer, I've had to walk earlier to avoid the heat of the day. (Temperatures in the high 80s-90s Fahrenheit, and humidity 80% and higher).

I used to sleep until 7:30 or 8:00, and it's already hot by then. Now most days, without even setting my alarm, I wake up between 5:30-6:00, and am wide awake! So, I dress, leave the house after locking the door, and take my phone with a fitness app. It records the number of steps and miles as I walk. I return a half hour later, start the coffee, and sit down to my morning devotions, with a Bible Gateway app and a Facebook friend who posts the daily reading from Jesus Calls every day. At 8:00 I wake my husband, and we have breakfast together.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New blog

My "Book Reviews" tabbed section of this blog was getting unmanageable, so I started a new blog for book reviews. You can link to it from the right sidebar of this blog, "Fancy Horse's Thoughts about Books". (Sort of an awkward sounding title; maybe I'll come up with a better one)
*Edited to add: I did think of another title: "A Reading Horse"*

I'm beginning by copying and pasting the reviews from the "Book Reviews" section here to there, one at a time, so they will be pretty much in order as I read them. (I hope.)
*Edited to add: I am also copying and pasting my reviews from Bookcrossing.com, slowly but surely.*

Anyway, if you're a reader, I hope you'll follow me there, and add your own comments, especially to those books that you've also read.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Third piece of public art commemorating Voting Rights March, Montgomery, Alabama

The third Voting Rights March sculpture

I finally found the third sculpture! In a deserted intersection called Five Points, near downtown Montgomery. No wonder I had trouble finding it!
Back in the day, 1965, it was on the route the marchers traveled from the City of St. Jude to the State Capitol.

If you compare this to the sculpture at St. Jude, you will see this is the "cut out" section of the other one. It is polished to reflect the person or persons looking at it, to put yourself in the scene, so to speak. (I stood to side as I took this, so as not to capture my reflection. I did take another one with my reflection. It's on Flickr, if you must see it.)

I will now edit the original post, Thoughts on 50th Anniversary to include this photo.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mystery Trip

The senior adult group, "Forever Young" occasionally goes on a "mystery trip," a one-day trip led by the senior adult minister. He told no one where we were going, not even the bus drivers! (Well, he probably told someone in case of an emergency, our pastor, or his wife, or someone.)

We met at the church bright and early, had a prayer and boarded the buses. Our first stop was for breakfast in Clanton. Then north up I-65, through Birmingham and on into Cullman County. The guesses were rampant: Ave Maria Grotto, Ala. Music Hall of Fame, Ivy Green, Space and Rocket Center. We were all wrong.
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015
Stopped briefly at a rest stop on I-65

Were we surprised when we pulled off the road into a field with a few horse stables and large silos!
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015

Then we saw the sign, "Rattlesnake Saloon." A saloon! A group of Baptist retirees at a saloon! What's the world coming to?! We piled into the back of the "saloon taxi" - a pickup truck with bench seating - and drove down (literally down!) a steep, curvy dirt road to a cave with tables and chairs and a small building on the side.
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015
In the "Saloon Taxi"

Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015

Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015

This was the Rattlesnake Saloon. The food was simple but good, with extremely large servings. (Pepsi and sweet tea to drink, for us) I don't think anyone was able to finish their meal. Everything was cowboy themed, and we were entertained by a singer (country/western). Back up the hill, we looked around a bit. The saloon is a part of the Seven Springs Lodge and is located in 20,000 acres. There are campsites for RVs or tents, facilities for guests' horses, and miles of riding trails. The large silos are "cabins" with comfortable looking beds and furniture, attractive rugs and pictures on the walls. The lodge office was decorated with cowhide and snake skins and taxidermy specimens (a wolf and otters and beavers.) There is a carving shop and a Cowboy Church. It was a very interesting place!
Rattlesnake Saloon/Seven Springs Lodge

We weren't finished yet; we had one more stop before heading back home. Again we were totally surprised when we turned off onto a road called Coon Dog Road, and marked by a sign pointing to the Coon Dog Cemetery! Coon Dog Cemetery

Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015
Forever Young senior adult "mystery trip" April 9, 2015

It was time to start heading back home, south to Montgomery, about a four hour drive. First, we stopped at a Love's Truck Stop for fuel (and rest stop). In north Jefferson County, just before reaching Birmingham, the buses in front of us unexpectedly pulled off the road and onto an off-ramp. Blown out tire! We don't think it was a coincidence that a state ASAP (road rescue) vehicle was within sight! After considerable effort, he was able to get the tire changed and to check another tire that had been worrying the driver. So, we then made it through Birmingham and into Shelby County (still in the B'ham Metro area) before pulling off the road again (!) What now?? Another blown tire on the same bus!! We got to a gas station with a mini-mart. This time they had to call AAA for the bus, and all the passengers made supper from hot dogs, crackers, chips, ice cream and doughnuts. (I had a couple bites of a bratwurst "dog," a container of chocolate milk, and a Klondike (ice cream) bar, and husband had a 1/2 bag of pork rinds, a diet Coke, and the rest of my "dog" as well as a couple bites of my Klondike bar.) People were getting tired and a little cranky, but some still had their humor. One lady was celebrating her birthday that day. I sarcastically wished her a "happy birthday" at the gas station, and she said it was one she will never forget, "it was a real blow-out!"
We were all grateful to God that these mishaps were nothing worse than a frustrating inconvenience, and not a tragedy. We all arrived safely at home about 11:00 that night, except the two ministers who stayed with the ailing bus until it was fixed. Each of the other 3 buses took 3 or 4 of the passengers.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trayvon Martin, a tragic event

(This entry was first written last June, but for reasons I have forgotten, I failed to publish it then.)

I admit I haven't been keeping up with the case closely. I was not there; I don't know the details and I did not hear the evidence presented to the jury. 

I will say I was saddened that a man could shoot and kill an unarmed teenager and leave the court a free man. He may have thought he was shooting in self defense, but he did fail to follow police orders to stay in his car and let them (police) handle the situation. I believe George Zimmerman should be held accountable. 

There are pictures and stories going around the internet that show Trayvon Martin as practically a gangster, with dreadlocks and a history of drug use and dealing. I don't know what's truth and what's rumor. I do know that it is not against the law for a teenage boy to walk from the store to his father's house, even if his hairstyle is dreadlocks and his clothing choice was a hoodie.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Thoughts on 50th anniversary of Voting Rights March

Bridge crossing sculpture
(One of three artworks in Montgomery, Alabama commissioned to honor the Voting Rights Marches of 1965)

This month we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

There were three marches; the first took place on Sunday, March 7, 1965. John Lewis and Hosea Williams led a few hundred civilians from a Selma church, Brown Memorial AME Chapel, to the Edmond Pettus Bridge, with the intention of crossing the Alabama River and marching to Montgomery, the state capital, for the purpose of demonstrating the injustice of being denied equal right to vote. They were met by Alabama State Troopers who demanded that they turn back and return to the church. Before they could respond, the troopers began beating them with billy clubs, spraying them with tear gas, and running into them on horseback. It was a dreadful scene; photos appeared in newspapers nationally and on TV news. Later, this event became known as "Bloody Sunday." It is a miracle that no one was killed, but several were severely injured.

Video from Los Angeles Times

The second march took place two days later. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a group of pastors from around the country. They marched to the bridge, prayed, and turned back to the church when met by troopers.

Meanwhile, the Federal court issued an order that the peaceful march would be allowed, and the marchers would be escorted and protected by federal militia. On March 21, the third march began in Selma, which is in Dallas County, through Lowndes County, and into Montgomery County and the city of Montgomery, Alabama, a trip of 54 miles. Twenty-five thousand people arrived in front of the state capitol on March 25 to hear a stirring speech by Dr. King. The Voting Rights Act was passed by Congress and signed into law on August 6, 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

(Along the way, the marchers, 300 strong, marched in the rain and camped in muddy fields. Their final campsite was on the grounds of the City of St. Jude in Montgomery, an organization of the Roman Catholic Church which at that time included a school and a hospital. Now it is used for social services and has apartments for senior adults on the grounds. The photo above is of one of the three sculptures in Montgomery commemorating the marches. This sculpture is on the campus of St. Jude.)

Mural commemorating Selma Bridge Crossing
(This mural is on a building on Montgomery Street, downtown Montgomery, AL.)

The third Voting Rights March sculpture
(This sculpture is in the center of an intersection near downtown Montgomery called Five Points, at the intersection of Montgomery Street, Clayton Street, Mobile Street, and Goldthwaite Street. I couldn't find it until several weeks after I wrote this entry, and am editing it to include the photo.)

About the Civil Rights sculptures “The one at the City of St. Jude,” said Barrett Bailey, “will be made to look weathered and rusted. It's meant to show the difficulties and struggles the marchers faced. As people make their way closer to the State Capitol, the other one will be shiny. It's meant for people to be able to see their reflection, to see themselves in the footsteps of the marchers.”

Eyes on the Prize, from Public Television's American Experience
Selma to Montgomery Marches, Wikipedia article

What has changed in fifty years? We are very different; because of the struggle for civil rights and subsequent legislation to ensure it, Americans of all races and colors now attend school together and hold jobs in every sector. Americans of every race and color are elected to public office and hold high and not-so-high positions in local, state, and federal government.
However, there is still a great deal of poverty and crime, and educational skills are generally lower among African Americans than among whites. The public schools have been desegregated, but resegregated by default as many white parents have moved out of cities into suburbs (although with equal housing, wealthier African Americans can also move) or are enrolling their children into private schools (which do accept children of color, but there are few of them). So, instead of white and "colored" public schools, many areas have predominantly black inner city schools and predominantly white private and suburban schools. Recent incidents throughout the nation show that prejudice and discrimination still exist, not only in the south but nationwide. We still have a long way to go.

There has been some talk in favor of changing the name of the Edmond Pettus Bridge. Edmond Pettus was a Brigadier General in the American Civil War for the Confederacy and later became a leader in the Ku Klux Klan. Many feel that his name should not be honored along with those who suffered for the cause of equal rights for all. I say that the name "Edmond Pettus" no longer stands for hatred and bigotry, but for freedom and justice. I daresay that most Americans today, when we hear the name "Edmond Pettus Bridge," think of Bloody Sunday, the Selma to Montgomery March, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Is it cold? Is it snowing? School closed?

Stock photo: snowstorm-red-fox
(Picture of fox in snow is a stock photo from the internet)

Enjoy this video from Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, USA

School Is Closed

And for another take on "Frozen", a fed-up mom snowed in, with her daughter watching and singing for three days:
Day Three

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Missing Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras mask

Having grown up in Mobile, Alabama, home of America's Mardi Gras, I was used to seeing the month of February as a time full of color and festivity and excitement! Valentine's Day just couldn't compete. There were parades, music, street festivals, and decorations in businesses and in homes.

I missed it when I went away to college, and during the 30+ years we lived in Birmingham, Alabama I slowly accepted quieter, duller midwinters. The recent ten years that we lived in Daphne, Alabama, just over Mobile Bay from downtown Mobile, we only went to a handful of parades, but enjoyed the decorations and festive atmosphere. Now that we're upstate once again, we find Februaries eerily quiet. The weeks are long between Christmas and the opening of the first spring buds. (I am almost ashamed to admit that here in south central Alabama, that happens about the third week of February. Not so awfully long; perhaps the upper midwest and northeast US could use a little Mardi Gras?)

Friday, January 23, 2015

A fascinating look at Vincent Van Gogh's life and art

Vincent Van Gogh's Unappreciated Journey With Christ

I came across this via a friend on Facebook and thought it was very interesting! I did not know that Van Gogh was a Christian. He is one of my favorite artists. I thought some of you might enjoy reading it, too.




Threshold of Eternity, by Vincent Van Gogh, a public domain JPG image, www.wpclipart.com