Tuesday, November 30, 2010



(December 2007 - New York City)

Friday, November 26, 2010


We stopped by Ollies Station Restaurant in Redfork, Oklahoma last October. When I saw the model trains on display, I immediately thought of my nephew, JL and wishing I would be able to take him along on our roadtrips. Here is what is written by the owner Joe Gilling, on the official website, "People long for the food they grew up with. That's what Ollie's cuisine is all about. Our food is cooked and seasoned like Mom and Grandma would prepare it. We have a comfortable "mom and pop" atmosphere. The old cafe style is enhanced by the railroad motif. Ten running trains, from G-scale to Z-scale, run the length of the dining room and through scale model cities and towns. Our walls and shelves abound with railroad memorabilia. Ollies is located in old downtown Redfork on a corner that's been here since 1894. Railroads, oil wells, and the famous Route 66 all merge at Redfork Corner to give young and old a touch of history and some of the best food in Oklahoma. Thanks for being our guest!"
My brother, VL, informed me that JL no longer is interested in trains. VL commented that kids grew up so fast. I guess that is a good thing that JL has developed new interests and that his mind has expanded to other things. That is part of growing up and having different views about the world around you.
When I was a kid in Viet Nam, I wanted to be a journalist/teacher when I grew up. Later, after the boat trip, followed with 7-month in the refugee camp, I vowed that after paying off the debts to the people who paid for our places on the boat and getting my family settled in America, I would work as a volunteer for World Vision. I even thought I would go back to Viet Nam to over-throw the communist government. That was me being youthful and full of foolishness!
In 1984, I was inspired by Jean Kirkpatrick (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1981-1985) and by a professor at Hunter College who made arrangement for an internship, I changed my dreams to becoming a United Nations diplomat. In 1987, I met my husband, fell in love, got married and moved to Grand Haven, Michigan. Now, at 50, I "pick cotton" to earn a living and plan my schedule around hockey and football games. So much for dreams and be all you can be!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving to You and Your Family. May this special season of giving thanks bring you blessings of peace, love and happiness.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I thought the above photo showing the scoreboard at the September 30th pre-season game when the Chicago Blackhawks visited St. Louis was perfect for this Monday, November 22. The Blues scored 2 goals, and the time was 22.2 minutes left in the 2nd period. It is perfect for this post on this 22nd day of the 11th month. This Monday post will take the place of the regular feature of the weekly Tuesday Day theme.
You probably ask, "So what is so significant about this post?". Well, being a hockey junkie, I found fascination in everything that has to do with the games. So, that is the significance!
A hockey game would not be exciting without a few punches being thrown, penalties being killed and the possibility of a short-handed goal being scored - life is good!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


While looking at hundred of cookie jars at Bob's Gasoline Alley, Benjamin was flattered to find his face on a jar. It made him feel like a celebrity. As we were walking back to the car, Benjamin was on the phone with the cereal people negotiating to have his face on the Wheaties boxes!
Below is Benjamin trying to keep his hand out of the cookie jar! Have a Happy Day/Week/the rest of November, everyone.

Friday, November 19, 2010


During his senior year in high school and while attending Lawrence University (it was called Lawrence Technical College back then), my husband worked at a gas station around the corner where he lived in Detroit, Michigan. CP earned a Mechanical Engineering degree from Lawerence in 1980. Back then gas stations also served as repair shop and neighborhood places for car guys to hang out. CP became handyman from working there and also learned to fix minor problems, both around the house and automobile from his father and three brothers.
CP still remembered when the owner, Tony, decided to replace the sign, he offered to let CP keep the old Standard Oil Sign with the torch on top. However, a few days later CP could not find the sign anywhere. He was told that it was “accidentally” thrown into the dumpster. (It was probably another employee took the sign, knowing it was given to CP. If only we could find that son-of-a-gun and where he lived, we probably found the sign hanging on the wall in the b@&!@#d's garage!)
Both CP and I had a busy week at work. CP had to take care of a few customers visiting the plant and also getting ready for year-end audit. I kept busy with getting the bi-monthly newsletter published, Christmas Party and Board of Directors meeting in December and other office matters.
This whole week was mixed with warm sunny weather one day and back to chilly and cloudy the next. One evening, after "quitting time", I walked out to the parking lot only when the cold wind hit me, I realized that I left my coat in the office. I look forward to getting a few days off from "picking cottons" during the Thanksgiving holidays. Unless the line was for hockey tickets to the Original Six home games, you would not find me anywhere near the stores on Black Friday. Whatever your plans for Thanksgiving, I hope you will have a wonderful and enjoyable time with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Here is what is written about Bob's Gasoline Alley in a very nice article from Route 66 Pulse magazine,,
“A time-warp forest of signs for brands like Gulf, Champlin and Conoco gasoline are part of the unique private collection of Bob Mullen. He is a Cuba businessman with a penchant for accumulating and displaying old outdoor advertising, the type once seen along 66. His unusual hobby covers the outside walls and insides of two barns, plus a large room addition to his home. Trailers on Mullen’s property contain hundreds of items he has no place to display.
But it was a different type of collection that was responsible for Mullen’s purchase of the farm where his proliferation of signs is on display. Eleven years ago he stopped to buy pumpkins and noticed the owner had miniature horses for sale. “The next thing I knew I went home with four I could not live without,” he recalls. Revealing a propensity to quickly acquire what he likes, Mullen adds, “In a few months I owned 15 horses, plus chickens and turkeys.”At the time Mullen was living inside the Cuba city limits. When he realized he was “running a farm in town,” he began to worry about the odor from his animals, so he purchased land outside town where he now lives. With more acreage, he started buying and displaying old advertising signs.
It is also apparent from his front yard that his interest has expanded to antique gasoline pumps. “When I saw my first gas pump, it ‘bit’ me,” he says. Now 60 pumps, once dispensing brands of gasoline such as Hudson, Skelly, Texaco Diesel Chief, Gilmore and Signal, line the barnyard fence. The oldest is a Mobilgas Special pump from 1904.
Although it is Mullen’s tall signs that attract attention, visitors to Mullen’s home find they are a just a part of his world of collections. Pulling into his driveway, a small barnyard of animal pens is evidence that he is still acquiring unusual animals. Now included are emus (he bought 17 because they were “cheap and ugly”), exotic deer, long horn cattle and miniature donkeys.
The real surprise, however, is what is inside each of his two barns. Displayed along with more signs and pumps are collections of hundreds of neon clocks, thousands of antique advertising thermometer signs and over a hundred antique ice chests. Mullen also has more than 5,000 miniature Die Cast metal cars and trucks. Each is a replica of a model from the 1940s and ‘50s when Route 66 was most heavily traveled. As Mullen’s collections grew, he decided the entire accumulation was large enough to be given a name of its own. About six years ago, after seeing a sign that read “Gasoline Alley,” he began to refer to his acquisitions as “Bob’s Gasoline Alley.”
Remarkably, Mullen has assembled his collections in only eleven years. Every item is neatly displayed and dusted as if each piece had just been purchased and cleaned. Anything electric has been rewired and lights up or runs if it is a clock. “I won’t display anything unless it works,” he says. Even the tall pole signs visible from I-44 are all lit at night. “It looks like a small city,” he says.
Mullen knows he is indebted to his wife Darlene, who puts up with his collections. “She dusts everything and ensures each piece is straight,” he says, adding that many refer to her as “a saint.” As recognition for her help, he had a sign painter add “Darlene’s Diner” onto the first large sign someone sees when they come to his home.
Of course, any collection of Route 66 memorabilia would not be completed without a replica of the Blues Brothers performing their famous act!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


It was another sort-of relaxing weekend. The only activity we had planned was a luncheon meeting with the Missouri Route 66 Association. The event took place on Saturday at Bob’s Gasoline Alley in Cuba, Missouri. We went the Alley before but only looking in from the outside. This time we were able to see all the displays of Bob’s large petroleum related items, old gas pumps, pedal cars, cookie jars, die cast cars, antique clocks, neon clocks, and more.

Here is what written about Bob Mullen's collection "60+ pumps, once dispensing brands of gasoline such as Hudson, Skelly, Texaco Diesel Chief, Gilmore and Signal, line the barnyard fence. The oldest is a Mobilgas Special pump from 1904.The real surprise, however, is what is inside each of his two barns. Displayed along with more signs and pumps are collections of hundreds of neon clocks, thousands of antique advertising thermometer signs and over a hundred antique ice chests. Mullen also has more than 5,000 miniature Die Cast metal cars and trucks. Each is a replica of a model from the 1940s and ‘50s when Route 66 was most heavily traveled. As Mullen’s collections grew, he decided the entire accumulation was large enough to be given a name of its own. About six years ago, after seeing a sign that read “Gasoline Alley,” he began to refer to his acquisitions as “Bob’s Gasoline Alley.”

Since we already attended 4:00 p.m. Mass on Saturday evening, I stayed in the house all day Sunday. I got up at 9:30 a.m. the same time when my husband got back from his golf game. After breakfast, it was time to get ready for Vikings at the Bears game and later watching the Rams losing again to the 49ers. I decided to take a nap so I could stay up late watching Patriots at Steelers game. After last Sunday embarrassing performance (disappointing and painful for fan like me) when the Patriots were beat up by Cleveland Brown (14-34), I was on edge watching the game this week. My faith in Brady was restored, the Patriots won 39-26, sending Big Ben into the lockers crying!

Next week, it will be a treat when the Colts meet the Patriots on Brady’s home turf. Another interesting game is Green Bay Packers visiting Brett Favre in Minnesota. I sure hope the St. Louis Rams get a win out of the Falcons. A weekend with many good match-up football games – life is good

Monday, November 15, 2010


A few weeks ago, we got a new phone, Gravity T (right). We decided to stay with T-Mobile instead of getting the iPhone. With the old phone (left), we used the service to make and receive phone calls, nothing more. Now we are able to get email, surf the internet and send text messages. (I don’t care much for texting, so don’t expect much activity there.) I enjoy the new phone tremendously now that I am able to check NHL, NFL scores and complete schedule to make sure I don’t miss any games. I have to learn how to make the text bigger so I could read without reading glasses. (I do miss Steve Yzerman on the screen of my old phone.)

I still have to learn the touch screen navigation, how to slide the finger at the right pace so the lists of menu items or the phone lists don’t fly around too fast for me to see. My husband wanted to set up Bluetooth in his Mustang but like all men, he hates to read instructions!

As with all smart phones, mine has a camera. I learned how to take photos with the phone but I still prefer the regular camera. My husband prefers to use his iPod for music. We don’t understand games or all the fancy apps, so for now, this is all the gravity we need to keep our feet on the ground!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


During our trip to Oklahoma last month, we made the point to spend more time in Tulsa looking for roadside attractions that we missed from previous trips. Benjamin was so excited because he thought the Golden Driller was his long-lost father. Could you see the resemblance in the photo above?
South of 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at 21st Street west of Yale, stood the Golden Driller, a 76-foot giant sculpture, in front of the Expo Square where the town recently hosted the State Fair. The Golden Driller was created as a tribune to Tulsa’s oil heritage. Tulsa was formerly known as “Oil Capitol of the World”.
An inscription at the base of the statue reads: "The Golden Driller, a symbol of the International Petroleum Exposition. Dedicated to the men of the petroleum industry who by their vision and daring have created from God's abundance a better life for mankind."
I just realized that I should have positioned Benjamin to make it look as if the hand of the Driller was resting on top of Benjamin’s little head – that would have been a neat photo. I will try to remember the next time we stop by Tulsa.
Golden Driller Statistics
· Largest freestanding statue in the world
· Weight - 43,500 pounds
· Height - 76 feet
· Belt size - 48-feet in circumference
· Shoe size - 393DDD
· Hat size - 112 hard hat

The Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth first introduced the Golden Driller in 1953 at the International Petroleum Exposition. It was temporarily erected again for the 1959 show and attracted so much attention that the company had it rehabilitated and donated it to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds Trust Authority. It was permanently installed at the 21st Street and Pittsburg Avenue site for the 1966 International Petroleum Exposition. His right hand rests on an old production oil derrick moved from an oil field in Seminole, Oklahoma.

Friday, November 12, 2010


It was a beautiful sunny day when we took the Golden Eagle Ferry crossing the Mighty Mississippi River.
Plato (was it Aristotle or Heraclitus?) was wrong about a person could not step into the same water twice. We might have crossed the same water when we took the Grafton Ferry and then again with the Golden Eagle Ferry!
Here is what Mark Twain wrote in his book, Life on the Mississippi, "The man they called Ed said the muddy Mississippi water was wholesomer to drink than the clear water of the Ohio; he said if you let a pint of this yaller Mississippi water settle, you would have about a half to three- quarters of an inch of mud in the bottom, according to the stage of the river, and then it warn't no better than Ohio water - what you wanted to do was to keep it stirred up - and when the river was low, keep mud on hand to put in and thicken the water up the way it ought to be."
Tom Sawyer said about Mississippi River that, "It is good for steamboating, and good to drink; but it is worthless for all other purposes, except baptizing." We did not attempt to test the water. We were not thirsty and we were already baptized!

Thursday, November 11, 2010



Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Here is one more photo from Golden Eagle Country Store. The American flags in front of the store are perfect for this week Tuesday Two post.
At the city council meeting last night, I was again approached by a councilperson that I would consider being on the ballot in next year municipalitities election in April. Candidates filing would take place the second week in December. I responded that I would think about it. It was not the first time I was asked. Other people has requested that I would serve on the city council.

The person thought I would be a good "councilman" since I don't have a personal agenda. He added that he has observed my positive contribution when I served on the Comprehensive Planning and how I made decisions based on facts and careful evaluation at Board of Adjustment hearings. I was flattered yet not ready to make the commitment.

I wonder how much changes would come from the outcomes of last week's midterm election. How many legislators came into the offices they were elected without personal agenda and really wanted to serve the people? How many promises were just campaign slogans and would be broken once the election was over? What will it take for regular citizens (like you and me) to step up and agree to be public servants? What will it take to get our country back to be that shining beacon, the respect we earned (not bowing to kings and emperors), prosperity from our hard work (not handouts from the government) and individual responsibilities?

Monday, November 08, 2010


Regular readers probably wonder if I am getting commission from the Grafton Chamber of Commerce or the Tourism Bureau there since I have been writing so much about the town. We really enjoyed our visit and you could tell we like taking the ferry across the Mighty Mississippi River. Last Sunday (October 31st) after we got off the Grafton Ferry, we drove to Golden Eagle (what a wonderful name for the town) and took the Golden Eagle Ferry to St. Charles, Missouri.
We stopped by the Golden Eagle Country Store (the cute little post office next to the store was closed at the time) before getting on the ferry. Step inside the store and you would be transported back to the past. The soda fountain in the middle of the store serving homemade ice cream (only three simple flavors, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla – no 36 flavors here). Merchandise (many items are stored in wooden barrels) scattered around with limited quantity (no piling up to the ceiling as in giant retail stores). In the back, a restaurant with lunch counter and about three tables, just enough to serve the local folks.
After a busy month of October, we decided not to plan any activities for the first weekend of November. We also wanted to relax before the holiday rush. CP still went out early to play 9-hole golf, then took care of blowing the leave, cleaning the yards and getting items out from the shed, ready for the winter. We turned the clock back but did not feel the extra hour producing additional rest to our aging bodies. After Sunday Mass, we visited a parishioner in the hospital. The lady was sleeping when we arrived. We wrote a note to let her know we were there.
I could not resist capturing the image of this person (I asked for permission to take his photo and he agreed) on a motorcycle, the American flag on the backpack, a sticker on the front of the bike reads “John 3:16” "For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Friday, November 05, 2010


From, "To those who lived through the Great Flood of 1993, the Lighthouse is a symbol of hope, gratitude, community and perseverance. This symbolic lighthouse on the Grafton Riverfront was erected after Grafton, the town of 650 made national and international news in August of 1993 for being nearly washed away.”
"The lighthouse is not a functional guide for barges that travel the Mississippi River — it has no light on its roof, and the would-be doors are sealed with bricks. Its "purely symbolic” nature is a reminder to new and old Grafton residents that the flood nearly wiped out the town.
Floodwater saturated the town from March to October 1993, with the highest levels coming in late summer. More than 260 structures were damaged, and emergency roads had to be carved out of hills to gain access to the city.
Grafton has since become a tourism center during the spring through fall. On Saturday, the streets were again filled with a mix of out-of-town vehicles, motorcycles and regional tourists."


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