Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the tag “My-Heck-of-a-Guy”

Rough Lot. Smooth Lot. We Get Through and Learn.

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May, May 16. Something difficult in your “lot in life” and how you’re working to overcome it.

So much has changed in my life over the years. Difficulties have come and gone, and I am the wiser and braver for it all.

Now in retirement, I can look back and put the rough patches in perspective. How did that struggle ultimately help me?

Whether the rough patches related to family issues, relationship issues, work issues, or personal/spiritual issues, the result is the same. I made it through.

That is not to minimize the difficult spots. Some were tough. The most difficult was the death of my first husband from cancer. I saw cancer up front, close, and personal, and I didn’t like it at all. Cancer caused a lot of physical and emotional pain for me and my family. But even that pain changed me. I became much more aware of others around me who suffered silently with their own pain. I have tried to develop a more compassionate and encouraging personality.

Here I am now.  I have a lot:

My-Heck-of-A-Guy (my newish husband, Ken) who doesn’t mind being teased and even reads my posts. We met fifty years ago and married eight years ago. (It took him a long time to make up his mind.)

My family. Though my family has shrunk through death over the years, we remain close. We have lost both parents, one brother, and one sister, four nephews, two great nieces, and two spouses. Several members of my family now have serious medical issues. We no longer have the mass holiday parties we used to have, and sometimes we have no party at all. But life goes on. We have grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and friends’ children. We celebrate life with them.

Mom's 90th Birthday-Kroey Krewe Family Reunion

Mom’s 90th Birthday-Kroey Krewe Family Reunion

My good friends. I have lived in a number of places in this world (New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Alaska, Hong Kong) and I have made good friends in each of those places. Moving to new places means some loss of contact with these friends. But now with social media, especially Facebook, I can maintain those friendships with a few words, a picture, or a joke.

My faith. Where would I be without this? It is my foundation and my source of strength.

Time to write. This is the biggest blessing for me. I have always been too busy working to take time to write, even though I loved teaching writing to students. Now in retirement, I can write to my heart’s content. The blogging challenges have gotten me going again, and I have met such good and encouraging writers in the blogosphere.

My lot in life now is good. My only minor difficulties are a slow Internet and changing eyesight that comes with age. I can deal with these.

I know. I am soooo cute.

I know. I am soooo cute.

The Last Meow

Don’t forget us. We have made your life pleasanter, haven’t we? I see you laughing when I do cute things. Wait. You’re not laughing at me, are you? Cause if you are, no more cute things!

Meow for now.  =<^:^>=

Ten Things That Make Me Happy

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May. Prompt 14:  Ten Things That Make Me Happy 

1. Singing with Julie Andrews,”These are a few of my favorite things: Whiskers on kittens…” All kittens as a matter of fact. And all cats, too. Here is a picture of me as a little girl with Thomasoulo, my father’s cat. My Mom told me once when I was a little tyke that I was terribly upset because my little brother, Bobby, was teasing Thomasoula and making him nervous!  No. Not sweet little Bobby! Never. He was Mom’s little angel.

Five-year-old Janice and the family cat, Thomasoulo.

Five-year-old Janice and the family cat, Thomasoulo.

2. Checking the flowers that bloom in the spring. It doesn’t matter what kind of flowers, I love them. I think I take after Mom on this one. She had a green thumb and could raise almost any flower. I didn’t inherit her green thumb, but I still love flowers.

Daffodils on the Appalachian Trail. Photo: Terry Bliss

Daffodils on the Appalachian Trail. Photo: Terry Bliss

3. Singing with the choir at Margate Community Church, Margate, NJ. My husband, Ken, (My-Heck-of-A-Guy) has been singing with this choir for over 35 years. I wandered in with him one day about nine years ago, and they let me stay. We have made some very good friends here.

Margate Community Choir

4. Singing old hymns at church. So many hymns remind me of my growing-up years, sitting next to Mom or Daddy, singing away in the ole Sunday evening hymn sing at Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Mom used to love, “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses.” (“He Walks with Me”) I think of her every time we sing this song in our Margate church. You can listen to it here.

Mom and Daddy, 1952, Long View, TX. at Uncle Bob Ellis's graduation from Le Tourneau Tech Institute

Mom and Daddy, 1952, Long View, TX. at Uncle Bob Ellis’s graduation from Le Tourneau Tech Institute

5. Eating out with My-Heck-of-A-Guy and having Cassie and Mandy join us when they can. Cassandra Heck and Amanda Heck are a barrel of fun with their unlimited imaginations and their playful spirits. This is my favorite picture of the two of them together. Don’t you just want to laugh looking at the picture?

Cassie and Mandy entertaining...

Cassie and Mandy entertaining…

6. Seeing new pictures of my grandchildren posted on Facebook. I just don’t see these grandchildren enough because they live in California, Arizona, and Tennesee.

Grandchildren climbing all over Grandpa Ken

Grandchildren climbing all over Grandpa Ken

7. Walking on the beach and getting sand between my toes, and then later walking on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ

Eating ice cream on the Ocean City Boardwalk with my grandchildren and their cousins.

Eating ice cream on the Ocean City Boardwalk with my grandchildren and their cousins.

8. Watching thunder and lightning storms in the summer. These storms remind me of all the times we sat as kids on our old front porch watching the lightning in the distance and waiting for the heavy rain to start. Something about a lightning storm is magical.

It was a dark and stormy night.

It was a dark and stormy night.

9. Traveling to new places with friends. It doesn’t matter where or when, anytime a friend says, “Let’s go,”  I am ready. Sometimes we have to wait a bit until our money coffers refill, but that’s okay, we still do it.

Christine, Inger-Anne, Jan, Carol in Sienna, Italy, May, 2012

Christine, Inger-Anne, Jan, Carol in Sienna, Italy, May, 2012

10. Looking through old family pictures. I have recently come across a new source for pictures (Ancestry.com, where my cousin, Bill Swartz, posted family pictures from ages ago). I have been posting some of these old pictures on Facebook and playing guessing games with my siblings and their children. Who remembers? This has been a lot of fun.

Grandmother Minnie E. Carlton feeding the chickens at Brewster Road and Vine Road.

Grandmother Minnie E. Carlton feeding the chickens at Brewster Road and Vine Road.

“These are a few of my favorite things…”

The Last Meow.

Of course, I have something to say!  Sitting in the sun is one of my very favorite things! Meow for now.   ={^:^}=001

For Sale: One Aspiring Writer

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May, Prompt 11. Sell yourself in 10 words or less. (long version)


Oh, I guess I shouldn’t take that question literally.

I thought I would put my husband, My-Heck-of-A-Guy (MyHOG), on the spot and ask him to identify my best qualities. That makes good breakfast conversation, don’t you think?

His first answer did not win any stars in my book: “Gee, I’m drawing a mental blank here. Give me a few minutes to think.”

I set out the Big Boggle three-minute timer and turned it over. That added only a puny bit of pressure to his perplexing problem.

Ummm. Sweet.   Ummm. Caring.    Ummm. Intelligent.    Ummm. pretty.   Ummm. Sociable.

These first five were awful slow in coming. I turned the Big Boggle timer again.

He counted the first five qualities on his one hand, then looked at his other hand and calculated how many more he needed. The pressure was building. Five words in three minutes? Wow. Tough task.

Affectionate.   Compassionate.  Strong faith.  Inquisitive.

One more finger to go.

Full of zest. Done.  Oh, one more? Eleven? Bonus!

You sing with golden, dulcet, melodious tones in the choir.

Okay, so he is tone-deaf. It doesn’t matter. I’ll take any compliment, even if it sounds like a bit of philandering purple prose.

He breathed a deep sigh of relief and went back to his newspaper, thinking he was off the hook.

I don’t know. I had to turn the Big Boggle timer three times to get his full answer. Maybe he’ll have to take me out to dinner to soothe my wounded feelings. Ya think?

The Last Meow.

Hey, who is this guy impersonating me, The Great Catsby? He has some nerve.


Check out these other twelve fantastic cat impersonators.  (Imposters!) They’re all there: Nick Cataway, Daisy and Tom Bucatahan, J. Cat Baker, Meyer Catsheim, Myrtle and George B. Wilcat, and even old Cat Eyes. As Zena Wozniak, the originator of this clever report says, “Nothing does coddled upper-class ennui better than cats.”

Meow for now. ={^;^}=

(You may want to check the short version of this post here: My Twitter Bio in Ten Words.)

Fear? Blog Every Day in May, May 7

BlogEverday[1]Post number 7 in the Story of My Life: Blog Every Day in May challenge posted by Jenni at Story of My Life. See list of prompts for the month of May here and here.

Things you’re most afraid of. . .

This is not an evasive answer; it’s the truth: I can’t think of anything that I fear.

Spiders? When I first moved into my new house eight years ago, several large spiders came to visit. Our house is in a newly-developed 55+ community in the sandy pinelands of Southern New Jersey. In an area that once was woodsy, one can expect a few invasive critters. At first, I was horrified at the size of them, but I just yelled for my husband, and he came to the rescue. Ken is My-Heck-of-a-Guy. (Apologies to Leonard Cohen at 1heckofaguy.com.) At this point, it seems as though the spiders have moved back into the nearby woods, and I’m happy about that.


And did you hear about our out-spoken, but lovable, Governor of New Jersey, Mr. Chris Christie? He protected the children of New Jersey from a tiny little vicious spider and got a memo from PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals). Read all about it here and watch the full over-blown event here on CNN national news.  Turns out President Obama and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, did the same thing. It’s all in the CNN news report. That’s what our world leaders do on their jobs, only when they do it, it makes world news. My-Heck-of-a-Guy is jealous!

Heights? True, I don’t like high places. You won’t find me out on the glass platform hanging precariously over the rim of the Grand Canyon. Nor will you find me going up in the new World Trade Center.  And don’t get me too close to the edge of a cliff. I know I will fall right over the side.


Closed Spaces? You won’t find me going up in the St. Louis Arch, no matter what the viewing reward. I just don’t like enclosed spaces. Claustrophobia? Closed spaces make me feel uncomfortable. (I forgot that one on my May 3 post: “A Few Uncomfortable Things.”) 

Speaking to large audiences? I have done that a number of times, and although I was scared witless, I made it through. Public speaking is not my favorite thing, but I have conquered that fear. The secret is to be thoroughly prepared.

What is fear?

But really, what is there to fear in life? I think we all fear the things we can’t control. Losing a spouse or a family member. Getting a major illness like cancer or heart disease. A serious accident. Losing a job.

We can’t control these, but we can’t let fear about these things control us.

For me, my faith keeps me grounded. As a Christian, I believe in eternal life with God. It is hope in this eternal life that keeps me from fear. Other religions bring hope to their believers as well.

Of course, I am not on the frontlines of the war in Afghanistan, in battle areas of Syria and Iraq, or at any other military hot spots. I think I definitely would feel fear there. But I would still have to rely on my faith in those situations. It’s not a que sera sera kind of thing; just a firm belief that our earthly lives are short, and our eternal life is forever.

fear not poster

Grandson Evan and mad cat

Grandson Evan and mad cat

The Last Meow, A Message from A Cat Friend

Put me down. I do not want to ride on that bike. No, I’m not afraid. Do fish ride bicycles? Elsie the Library Cat..riding a bike.No. Well then, cats shouldn’t ride bicycles either.

Now lookee here. Some smart alec is going show me up by riding a bike. So what? I still don’t want to ride a bike. Put me down, NOW!

Meow for now.  ={#;#}=

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