You can email me at clanhanna62@gmail.com My blog archives and post labels are way down at the bottom of the page.


Monday, December 31, 2007

Gone Walkabout

I’ve been asked by a few as to where I have “gone walkabout”. So below is a list of the places I’ve been. It’s the highlights, especially with the US places as I’ve been to many more areas than I listed.


Outside of the US:
Canada – a week in Kinburn with visits to Ottawa, 2 days Victoria BC

Mexico – 10 days in Celaya, day in Guanajuato,

Russia – 3 weeks in Chelyabinsk, 3 days in Moscow

Germany – day in Frankfort (gotta love those long layovers!)

Hungary – 10 days Budapest

Bosnia – 10 days Lukavac, with trip to Sarajevo

Tanzania – 10 days Morogoro and Dar Es Salaam

Ethiopia – 10 days Debre Zeit and Addis Ababa

Kenya – 30 days throughout SW of country

United Arab Emirates – day in Dubai


In the US (highlights, major stops):
Alabama – Tuscumbia, Huntsville

Alaska – Ketchikan

Arizona – Petrified Forest, Meteor Crater, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley

Arkansas – Hot Springs, Crater of Diamonds,

California – Mojave Desert, Sequoia, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Bodie ghost town, Mono Lake, Manzanar, Death Valley

Colorado – Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak, Mesa Verde, Leadville, Royal Gorge

Florida – Orlando, Daytona, Cape Canaveral, St Petersburg, Key Largo, Key West, Everglades, St. Augustine

Georgia – Atlanta, Stone Mountain, Savannah

Illinois – Chicago, Champaign

Indiana – Indianapolis

Iowa – Onawa, West Branch, Dyersville (Field of Dreams), Madison Co. (Bridges of…),

Kansas – Wichita, Lawrence

Kentucky – Lexington, Louisville, Mammoth Cave,

Maryland – Baltimore

Michigan – Mackinac Island, Petoskey, Saugatuck, through Upper Peninsula

Minnesota – Minneapolis, St Paul, Winona, Austin, start of MS River,

Mississippi – Natchez, Tupelo, Vicksburg

Missouri – (grew up in MO) St Louis, Kansas City, and many others

Nevada – Las Vegas, Hoover Dam,

New Jersey

New Mexico – White Sands, Valley of Fire, Albuquerque,

New York – New York City, Watertown,

North Carolina – (lived in NC) Asheville, Raleigh, Wilmington, Blue Ridge Parkway

North Dakota – Bismarck, Minot, Fargo, Grand Forks, Medora

Ohio – Dayton

Pennsylvania – Gettysburg

South Carolina – Charleston, Myrtle Beach

South Dakota – Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Deadwood, Sturgis,

Tennessee – (Live in TN) Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Lynchburg, Gatlinburg

Texas – San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, Fredericksburg

Virginia – Shenandoah Parkway, Bulls Run

Washington – Seattle, Tacoma, Auburn, Mt Saint Helens, Mt Rainier park

Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Door Co., Madison

Wyoming – Devils Tower


“High Points”:
Missouri, North Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Fine Christmas

We had a grand Christmas this year. Tho the visit was short, we went up to my parents home in MO for a few days. Got to see my sister twice.

Christmas day was a good family visit. Sis (and the dogs) made it over late morning and we opened the gifts. Most of what we gave were picked up on our travels; such as jams and jellies, handicrafts and so on. And we received things that were either practical (like a new microwave) or fun (like my ice cube snowman – which will look great next to my purple Christmas tree!). Even the pets get presents. (That's Jack in the picture stationed in the middle of the gifts!)

Then we were treated to a Christmas dinner worthy a 5 star restaurant. Mom fixed a scallop and shrimp sauté AND a wonderful roast, wild rice, oven roasted Brussels sprouts and more. All of my favorite things!

That was followed by an evening of visiting.

A very nice Christmas indeed!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Our Angel Tree Child

Mid-November Himself and I headed off to Wal-Mart to finish out shopping for our Christmas Child shoeboxes. Since it was raining, he dropped me at the door first then parked.

While I was waiting for him I amused myself by looking at the tags on the Salvation Army Angel Tree. On the tags the kids listed 2 “wishes”. Most were wanting bikes, IPod players, Game Boxes, etc. Then I saw one little guy (7) who wanted Transformers and a Bible. Can you believe it?!?!?! He wanted a Bible!
Guess who we came home with?

I had so much fun shopping for young Jacob! The first week of December, we went to LifeWay store to pick out a child's Bible, one with lots of good pictures and easy text. Then on to Wal-Mart to go Transformer shopping. I was guided by the Pirates over the cell phone as to what was a "cool" (i.e. desirable) Transformer, since apparently there are Transformers that are on the minus scale in the cool factor. As we exited the toy section a few things for a stocking jumped into our cart. Couldn't fight them off! In the clothes section we picked up a pair of jeans, a couple of shirts, a hoodie and a warm coat. Then one more thing jumped in the cart...a pair of Transformers" pajamas. I used to get a new pair of PJs for Christmas Eve (I'm sure so I'd look good for the pictures the next morning!) and I wanted to do this for Jacob. Last stop was to the Dollar Tree to finish out shopping for stocking goodies. Gotta have stocking goodies!
All this stuff we packed into a giant Christmas bag and carried it over to the Salvation Army office.

Have to back up a moment here. Earlier we decided we would like to provide a Christmas meal for a family. Shortly after that, I received an "honorarium" check for a missions presentation I did at a church in another county. So we are using that to get the meal fixings. Question was...who to do the meal for!

We were so pleased with Jacob that we decided to ask at the Salvation Army if his family would like to be the recipient of the meal. As their reply, they handed me a sticky with the contact info for the family.

OK...that was a little strange! I expected them to make the contact and we bring the food to the office for the family to pick up. So I placed the call, tho it made me feel a bit weird. Here I am a stranger calling and saying "I want to buy your family's Christmas dinner fixings".

I introduced myself as the person who had put together Jacob's "angel gift" and immediately "Mama Jacob" started saying how much she appreciated it...everything was perfect...she had wanted to send a thank you but the Salvation Army wouldn't give her our address (which they don't have!)...and so on.

'Mama Jacob' told me that one element of my gift had been straight from the Lord. Those PJs! The kids sleep in a T-shirt and unders, and don't have real pajamas. Well, Jacob's grade level at school had "Pajama Day" where the kids could wear PJs to school. He really wanted to do it...but he didn't have any PJs and they could not afford to get him a pair. Then they picked up the Angel Tree bags and she found in Jacob's bag those Transformer PJs that had jumped into my cart! She said he was so happy.

Once I got to the reason for my call -- Christmas dinner -- she started crying. We talked over a menu, and I found out that Jacob's favorite thing is 'mashed potatoes and gravy'. And we planned a time for us to deliver it. I contacted a few of my girlfriends with kids/grandkids and asked what would be some special things for a kid to have at Christmas. Got some fantastic ideas...refrigerator sugar cookies and a variety of sprinkles to make as a family, several suggestions of boxed mac & cheese, pig-in-a-blanket munchies, jelly cranberry sauce...and others.

We delivered the food today. It was a wonderful visit, and we were invited to their church tonight to see Jacob in the Christmas pageant.
And so we went. It was a simple presentation of carols by the children who were dressed in "Biblical" costumes. Kids squirmed, forgot their lines, waved at parents, played with their costumes...in other words, it was a lot of FUN!!!

And the most important thing, they were celebrating the birth of Christ!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Twelve Days Of CHRISTmas


On the FIRST day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…A child free from bondage

On the SECOND day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage

On THIRD the day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…A Three year old baby elephant.
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage

On the FOURTH day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…Four walls for a family in crisis
…A Three year old baby elephant.
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage

On the day FIFTH of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…The Five from the Texan “Wild Bunch”
…Four walls for a family in crisis.
…A Three year old baby elephant.
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage

On the SIXTH day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…Six shoeboxes for OCC
…The Five from the Texan “Wild Bunch”.
…Four walls for a family in crisis.
…A Three year old baby elephant.
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage

On the SEVENTH day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…a Seven year old wishing for a Bible
…Six shoeboxes for OCC
…The Five from the Texan “Wild Bunch”.
…Four walls for a family in crisis.
…A Three year old baby elephant.
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage

On the EIGHTH day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…Eight sponsor children
…a Seven year old wishing for a Bible
…Six shoeboxes for OCC
…The Five from the Texan “Wild Bunch”.
…Four walls for a family in crisis.
…A Three year old baby elephant.
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage

On the NINETH day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…A Nine yr old “Explorer” in Carolina
…Eight sponsor children
…a Seven year old wishing for a Bible
…Six shoeboxes for OCC
…The Five from the Texan “Wild Bunch”.
…Four walls for a family in crisis.
…A Three year old baby elephant.
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage

On the TENTH day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…Ten boxes of school supplies to Afghanistan
…A Nine yr old “Explorer” in Carolina
…Eight sponsor children
…a Seven year old wishing for a Bible
…Six shoeboxes for OCC
…The Five from the Texan “Wild Bunch”.
…Four walls for a family in crisis.
…A Three year old baby elephant.
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage


On the ELEVENTH day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…an Eleven item meal for a needy family
…Ten boxes of school supplies to Afghanistan
…A Nine yr old “Explorer” in Carolina
…Eight sponsor children
…a Seven year old wishing for a Bible
…Six shoeboxes for OCC
…The Five from the Texan “Wild Bunch”.
…Four walls for a family in crisis.
…A Three year old baby elephant.
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage

On the TWELFTH day of Christmas my True Love gave to me…
…Twelve writing buddies
…an Eleven item meal for a needy family.
…Ten boxes of school supplies to Afghanistan
…A Nine yr old “Explorer” in Carolina
…Eight sponsor children
…a Seven year old wishing for a Bible
…Six shoeboxes for OCC
…The Five from the Texan “Wild Bunch”.
…Four walls for a family in crisis.
…A Three year old baby elephant.
…Two “Pirates” plotting
…And a child free from bondage


*Samaritan’s Purse http://www.samaritanspurse.org/

*David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/

*Salvation Army Angel Tree child

* Child sponsorship programs through:
Compassion International http://www.compassion.com/
Kenya Kids In Need http://www.galileeschool.org/
His Hands For Haiti http://www.hishandsforhaiti.org/

*Through Army friends sponsoring a school



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It's The Thought That Counts?

It is said that “it’s the thought that counts”. And it’s usually said when an act is done or a gift is given that is totally fouled up, rushed, ill-prepared or otherwise insufficient.

“It’s the thought that counts”.

Oh, really??

Over the past 4 weeks I have processed two gift-giving projects that have had many people participating. Both projects have had extremely specific written rules on what cannot be given and how the packages were to be prepared.

In other words, a semi-trained monkey could have done it correctly.

I have processed almost 500 parcels to date and only about 10% have done it right as far as what’s inside, how it’s packed and when it’s to be turned in. And I have seen some very disturbing “gifts”. Highly used (stained, torn) clothing, broken toys, huge bags/boxes that were nearly empty, items that were on the “NO” list and therefore had to be removed, and so on and so on.

It’s the thought that counts?

If that is the case, I’d really like to know what certain people are thinking. Were they thinking? Are they just dumb and don’t get it? Are they arrogant and think the rules don’t apply to them? Are they brown-nosers who are trying to make folks think they are a big spender as they carried it in?

But just as I’m ready to go screaming into the night, I will come across a parcel that reminds me of why I fool with this in the first place. A box that is so lovingly prepared that you know that the sender really cares about this person far away who will receive this gift. A person they don’t even know, yet much time and thought was spent to make a perfect gift.

THAT is the thought that counts.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Time to pack the boxes!

Today was box drop off day for the Christmas Child shoeboxes. This year we collected 345 – 6 of which were mine.

We made it a bit easier on ourselves this year. Instead of stuffing hundreds of individual shoeboxes of all shapes and sizes into our truck and Brenda’s van, we rented one of those small U-Haul trucks. And we got some cartons from the drop-off point to put the shoeboxes in. Twenty three cartons on a dolly were easier to deal with than all those little boxes!

Himself and I had our “packing party” last night. After some hot chocolate and a donut, we sorted the items we’d collected thru the year. For the shoebox we use a boot box size plastic container. This year, instead of lining them with wrapping paper we lined them with extra large bandanas. The bright colors are festive and there is absolutely no waste as every part of the parcel can be reused many times.
To the box we added a new T shirt, a cap, some toys (kid meal prizes, cars, ball, etc), hygiene items (toothbrushes, tooth paste, soap, tweezers, nail clippers), a pair of ‘cool’ sunglasses, music makers (a plastic recorder and a harmonica), school supplies (paper, pencils, sharpener, erasers), hard candy and a couple small stuffed toys. And it was topped off with a Christmas card and a photo of us.




Monday, October 15, 2007

Guess Who Came to Dinner?


We had a bit of excitement last night in the form of an unwanted guest. Caught this old possum sneaking around in the back yard, probably trying to steal Tsion’s dinner. Mr Possum was quickly shoved into a large dog crate and given a change of address out to a wooded area a long way from our house!

While possum are interesting from the scientific point of view…the only marsupial in the US, the land mammal with the most teeth in the US (50 of them), and of course the way they “play possum” – feigning death to make predators seek a more appetizing meal, they certainly do not win any points in the attractive or intelligent scale. Nope…they are just ugly and dumb!

A few year back I went with some girlfriends to dinner at a restaurant here in Tennessee, and one of my friends brought a guest who was from New York City. Somehow the dinner topic turned to...rats (don’t ask me how they got on that subject)! The guest exclaimed in her Bronx accent, “I don’t care what you say about New York City having big rats, they are NOTHING compared to what I have seen since moving to the South!"

This stopped all the conversation. We were trying to figure out what she was talking about since the South is not known for large rats—whom this person said ‘were everywhere’. All of a sudden I realized she was talking about...possums.

Much laughter followed.

We tried to explain what a possum was, but all she said while shaking her head (and I quote), “I don’t care WHAT you call them down here, they are just a damn big RAT!”

Hmmmm...she might just have had a point.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's Starting to Feel a Lot Like Christmas...



...which means I'm working on my Operation Christmas Child boxes!

If you don't know about Operation Christmas Child, check out:
http://www.samaritanspurse.org/OCC.asp?MPGID=1

Every year I do six boxes and I start collecting at the beginning of the year with the Christmas clearance sales! From there, I load up on whatever clearance sales and loss leaders I find. Nail clippers for .40c, cute plastic cups for .10c, toothbrushes 2 for $1 and so on. I get friends to give me the toys out of kid meals they get (since a lot of us buy them for the smaller portions). Back to school sales in August are a gold mine. And it's usually pretty easy to talk an event coordinator into giving you a few leftover T shirts when you say why you want them. (And I give them a pamphlet for Operation Christmas Child too!)

I save coins to pay the requested $7 a box processing donation and to buy the one thing I don't cost cut on...sturdy Rubbermaid totes with locking lids. I figure the box should be part of the gift. And this year, I'm going to make some simple tote bags of denim just the right size to carry the box, with a handle long enough to sling over their shoulder.

An underbed box in the guest room stashes my treasures until early November. Then I pull out the stored goodies and have a wonderful evening of box packing. We have hot chocolate and cookies as we sort, pack and close each box.

The final thing we put in is a letter to the child who will receive it, with our picture and our prayers and wishes to them. All of our boxes are made for boys in the oldest age level, as that is what OCC receives the least of.

We have been fortunate in that we know where two of our boxes have ended up. One went to Sudan. It was pictured in the annual report for that year! I was SO excited! The other went to Jamaica. The boy who received it wrote us back and sent his picture! What fun!

I wonder where my 2007 boxes will end up?

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Reason Why


I just recently was asked why my sponsor kids and writing buddies and nephews & nieces of the heart are so important to me.

I thought about it for a while and it occured to me why I do this...the reason my kids are important to me, is that in this scary, screwed-up world they bring me HOPE and a feeling that maybe, just maybe, I can have a wee role in making it not so screwed-up.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

A day for quotes


Having just been to Madison County Iowa a few weeks ago, I've been thinking about the book that started all the hoopla over the bridges in Madison County.

I've read just about all of Robert James Waller's books...not so much because I really like the story itself but because I really enjoy the way he turns a phrase.


From "Old Songs in a New Cafe"...

(regarding the death of the last Duskie Seaside Sparrow)...
"But the day Orange Band died there was a faint sound out there in the universe. Hardly noticeable unless you were expecting it and listening. It was a small cry, the last one, that arched upward from a cage in Florida, ricocheted along galactic highways and skimmed past the scorched parts of an old moon rocket still in orbit. If you were listening closely, though, you could hear it...'I am zero'.
Extinct. The sound of the word is like the single blow of a hammer on cold steel."
--"I Am Orange Band"
-------------------------------------------------

"For me, I'm content with Waller's Second Conjecture: Existence takes on meaning only when you give it meaning by making it meaningful. And how do you make it meaningful? By listening to those almost-secret voices within you that, at certain critical times, whisper, "This is me".
In those moments, it's important to consciously note what you're doing and to do more of it, a lifetime of it, in fact."
--"The Turning Of Fifty"
-------------------------------------------------

"There are Yaqui drums in high plains arroyos and ship engines north of Cairo I have not yet heard. There are beaches where you can still run naked at dawn and visions within a yard of my house that I have not yet seen through the lens of my Nikon."
--"The Turning Of Fifty"
-------------------------------------------------

And, if it's all right with everyone else, I think I'll skip the midlife passage involving gold chains and Porsches and suntans.
Instead, I'm lacing up my twelve-year-old Red Wings, loading the cameras, putting new strings on the 1957 Martin flattop, getting ready to go where egrets fly. Like an old rider of the surf, I can already see the next wave coming. It looks fine and fair. It looks worth the effort."
--"The Turning Of Fifty"
-------------------------------------------------

"And Arabia came along. On Themari Street in Riyadh, the old ways endure. There is gold, and women with covered faces and men with covered intentions."
--"One Good Road Is Enough"
------------------------------------------------

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Beale Street’s Blues


It’s been about 8 years since I’ve made it to Memphis. So when my Mom and sister proposed a mid-week “chick trip” to the Home of the Blues, I jumped at the chance. I eagerly anticipated an afternoon and evening on Beale Street listening to Memphis jazz and blues.

Fun, cool and smooth were how I used to describe the Beale St experience. But those words escaped me as I made my way into the downtown area. Stadiums? Boutique restaurants? Hard Rock Café? What has happened to the Beale St area?? Even the stately Peabody has sold out the grab-a-buck culture with a high-rise mall where their parking lot used to be.

As I walked down Beale, there seemed to be as many rock and alternative clubs as there were blues clubs. The Hard Rock Café sits like a bloated toad on the third block of Beale. And the WC Handy Park thrummed with the sound of Metallica.

But then I heard it. The low slow sounds of a soulful sax backed up by guitar. There at the corner of Beale and 4th, past the normal tourist flow were two old-timers playing blues the way they should be done.

I had to wonder…was their song for the loss of Beale Street’s uniqueness?

Friday, March 9, 2007

Those who travel...

There are the "sight seers". The "see 16 countries in 2 weeks" tours were made just for them. They've been there, done that. Have the T-shirt and post cards to prove it. You can spot them by their loud voices, bad attitudes and constant critical remarks.

Then there are the "tourist". They have come to see something in particular and have made preparations by studying up on whatever that is. There is appreciation for a culture different than their own. You spot them on local tours (one hosted within the area) and in the historic areas, and they are usually are a fairly happy lot. They bring home objects that remind them of the places they saw.

Finally there are the "travelers". They come to be a part of the culture - to know it for its people, its history, its food, its everyday life. They learn a bit about the base history of the area (to be able to hold a conversation with someone they hope to meet) but they keep their mind open to what can be taught by each person they meet. You usually DON'T spot them as they blend in with the locals or at least look like they belong there. They bring home gifts given to them by the people they have met and shared with (and to whom they have brought gifts for - because they *knew* they were going to meet someone fascinating on the trip).

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Reason for the journeys


Now in my 40s, my life list is about me. It's things I want to experience. Things I want to become part of my soul.

There's a quote I've heard that has embedded itself in me "But do you know what the Sistine Chapel smells like?" I don't know what the Sistine Chapel smells like (yet) but I do know the smell of an African savannah and have seen lions living free. I have stood in the spray of Yosemite Falls and felt the vibrations it causes. I know the dead and hopeless feeling of a town who has seen too much hate and killing (in Bosnia). I have ran my hands along the wall of a place I was taught to fear when growing up (the Kremlin Wall, Moscow Russia) while standing beside my Russian friend. I have tasted Navajo fry bread, made just for me inside a hogan in Monument Valley.

These are all part of me now. And I want more. So much more...