Friday, December 29, 2006

More memories

The holiday season always makes me nostalgic. I find myself yearning for the traditions of my childhood where I grew up in Buffalo, NY. I miss going to church and hearing the mass in Latin. My relatives on my dad's side were Polish, and the schools I attended were run by the Felician nuns who were also mostly Polish. We learned to say good morning, good day, and God bless you in Polish. We would gather together in church in the evenings for novenas to the Blessed Mother and sing the Polish songs to honor her. During Christmas we sang Polish Christmas Carols. I loved going to midnight mass and listening to the gospel that told the story that seem so miraculous and wonderful to me when I was a child. The choir that sang the sweet Polish lullaby every year without fail sounded so beautiful to me. The manger in the church would be empty until midnight when the baby was lovingly placed there. I loved the smell of the incense and all of the ritual that went along with it. I sometimes feel sad that my children missed out on the old traditions that are part of their ethnicity. I do try to tell them what it was like, but the richness of experience is not there. The areas where I grew up were drenched in ethnic culture that was celebrated by making kluski noodles from scratch to the babka's you could order from the bakeries. But now we live far from the home of my childhood, and the world and everything in it has changed. Priorities are different, and everything is automated and computerized. There is a definite advantage in having the information of the world right at our fingertips, but I sometimes long for the time when life was a little slower, when families did more things together, and when traditions like going to midnight mass were followed because they made you safe and secure and warm in the love of your family.


where we had "lawn fetes" in the summer. I went to school here until I was in the 6th grade when my family moved to another part of Buffalo when my mom, despite being hampered by language and having five children, somehow managed to save enough money to buy a home of our own! Until that time, we had lived in the back part of a duplex owned by my grandfather and then my aunt after his death.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Old Enough to Discount

I met a friend for lunch on Saturday at IHOP, one of my favorite places to eat where breakfast is served all day long. After a leisurely meal and lots of good, hot coffee, we proceeded to the checkout where the cashier asked if we were entitled to any discounts. My friend is an active duty Marine, so she got a military discount. I said no. . .but then it dawned on me that I had turned 55 on the 20th; so I said, "Hey, I'm 55; does that count?" Well, it sure does! I got my first senior citizen's discount. I love being able to save money on items, but senior citizen? Hey, who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

No Room



Tyler's preschool class held a play about the meaning of Christmas. They learned how Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem and looked for a place to stay. But, sadly, there as no room at the inn, so the baby, Jesus, was born in a stable and slept in the manger on the night he was born. Tyler was the innkeeper and did a great job remembering his lines, "No room." The kids were all adorable and watching them reenact the Nativity scene in all their innocence was beautiful.

Two-night Stand

I spent the last two nights with one of my new boyfriends. It was our first time alone together, so I wasn't quite sure of what to expect. I'm happy to say that he didn't complain about my having to work for a few hours, and not once did he ever try to control the remote control. He didn't mind my running my fingers through his blond hair as we snuggled on the couch and watched old, sappy movies and chick flicks either. As a trade off I ended up having to play ball with him earlier in the afternoon, but I really didn't mind. When I told him I was going to meet a friend for lunch, he just grinned at me and took a nap while I was gone. When I returned, he made it clear that he was so happy to see me. It's nice to really be appreciated for the finer qualities of my personality for a change. The only slight drawback was that he got tired and went to bed before I did. When I went into the bedroom, I saw that he had hogged over half the bed. I wondered if I should attempt to move him the easy way or the hard way. I opted for the easy way, so I grabbed his ball and gave it a toss; and while he went to get it, I snuggled under the covers. Once I was settled in, Charlie jumped back into bed. I turned out the light, and we both feel asleep while watching an old movie. There's something to be said about a dog that really enjoys sleeping next to you on a bed.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm Spicy but Sweet

You Are a Gingerbread House

A little spicy and a little sweet, anyone would like to be lost in the woods with you.

Counting Down


Holiday Eating Tips


1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a great pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies, apple. pumpkin. mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert-Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips and start over, but hurry. January is just around the corner.

Remember: Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, screaming, "Hoo-yah, what a ride!"

Only four more days 'til C-Day!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Starting Over

It's almost the beginning of a new year and the beginning of a new way of life for me. For the first time in the last 20 years, I'll be living on my own in the house that I'm in the process of buying. It's an older brick, 3 bedroom, two bath home that seemed perfect for me the minute I stepped in the door. The yard is very big, just under a half acre, with a completely fenced backyard. I have a fireplace for those cold winter nights, a deck to enjoy the wonderful spring and fall days, and an office space where I can work at my part-time job without leaving a mess somewhere else in the house.

I don't think I've ever lived alone in my whole adult life except for the seven months when my husband and I were separated in 1999. I'm excited at the prospect of starting over but terrified at the thought of having to meet all of the necessary financial obligations of owning my own home. I'm excited at the thought of planning my garden but daunted by the thought of having to do it alone. I'm finding that there are many things I want to do that I've never tried and many things I've tried that I want to pursue again. It's a new me, starting a new life in a new place but holding onto the things I love that will make my house a real home.

"When I get where I'm going
On the far side of the sky
The first thing that I'm gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly."

"I'm gonna land beside a lion
And run my fingers through his mane
Or I might find out what it's like
To ride a drop of rain."

Brady Paisley

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Holiday Memories




I love Christmas and the tradition of watching Christmas movies. Some of the movies I like to watch during the holidays are "The Bishop's Wife," with Loretta Young, David Niven, and Cary Grant


"It's a Wonderful Life"; "A Christmas Story" with Ralphy and his family being serenaded by the Chinese waiters after the neighbors' dogs eat their Christmas turkey; "A Christmas Carol," where Tiny Tim has a happy Christmas after all.

And, like my grandkids, I love "The Polar Express" because the child in me can still imagine looking at the clock just before drifting off to sleep and then dreaming that I'm awakened by a magic train that takes me to the North Pole where I can see the northern lights shimmering in the night sky.


It makes me think of some of my favorite childhood memories of winter: looking out of a window covered with fern-shaped frost, where my mom had stuffed newspapers in the cracks to keep out the cold wind; going out for a walk after midnight in the freshly fallen snow so that my tracks were the only thing visible in the diamond's glint of the surface; seeing the trees, covered with creaking ice, looking like crystal decorations in a sparkling fairyland. I remember days when we left school early because of an incoming blizzard, having my father waiting outside the school with the sleigh to take me and my sister home while we rode in comfort under a blanket, then getting home and making cut out snowflakes with my aunt while we watched the snow come down in bigger and bigger flakes. I can almost smell the crisp, cold air, and feel of the soft flakes falling against my skin.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Our Future


Here is a photo of my daughter Tracy (far left) and her fellow Airmen deployed to Kuwait. She spent eight months there last year, separated from Racheal and came home in July only to have to leave again this past October. I was devastated that she had to leave again so soon, but she didn't complain about having to go because she signed on for the "whole tour" even if it meant having to leave her baby behind and spend the holidays separated from her family again.



These are the beautiful faces of our future, brave, committed, moving forward and shouldering responsibility willingly even when they're not sure what lies ahead. I don't know if I could have done the same thing when I was her age. I'm so proud of her and of every daughter, son, father, mother, husband and wife who has stepped up to the plate to pick up the banner on our behalf.



Be safe. We love you. Come home soon.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Inspirational Thoughts

These beautiful photos were taken by my friend Kathryne who is an artist with a camera.


The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.
- Helen Keller





People are like stained-glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,
but when the darkness sets in,
their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross




Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
L a u g h.
Choose with no regret.
Continue to Learn.
Appreciate your friends.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.
Mary Anne M.B.L. Radmacher

It's not how long you live but how you live that's important. (make sure your speakers are turned on)

They're Fighting Back




The Great Cow Guru has spoken. Click on the title above to watch this breaking news from the barnyard. I had started noticing the cute billboards they put up for Chick-fil-A that said "Eat Mor Chikin," but I thought it was all a hoax! Who knew?!

What Color Aura?

Your Aura is Blue

Spiritual and calm, you tend to live a quiet but enriching life.
You are very giving of yourself. And it's hard for you to let go of relationships.

The purpose of your life: showing love to other people

Famous blues include: Angelina Jolie, the Dali Lama, Oprah

Careers for you to try: Psychic, Peace Corps Volunteer, Counselor

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Christmas Extravaganza



This light show is really amazing. Make sure you have your sound turned on because it will make you laugh out loud and then make you thankful that you don't live across the street or next door. Click on the title at the top of this post to get the full story and to watch this awesome video.

My Front Garden from year before last




WooHoo! I'm finally on the web and new to blogging. I live in eastern NC where the summers are very hot and humid and the best time of the year as far as I'm concerned is in the fall and winter. I'm in transition right now, temporarily staying with my daughter; but I hope to have my own place again real soon. I'm looking foward to filling my yard with flowers and bird feeders since two of the things I most love to do is to garden and take photos of birds.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cigars All Around




Here is the newest addition to my extended family. Don't you think he's handsome? My daughter and her husband adopted him from Golden Retriever Rescue where he lived in a foster home, was fully vetted, and evaluated for the best match they could find in a home. He was picked up by animal control as a stray, if you can believe that; and no one ever came looking for him. Tyler, my grandson, named him Charlie. He is the sweetest, most patient dog I think I've ever met. He LOVES the boys and lives to fetch and carry woobies around and more importantly, (one of the most important things to me anyway) he likes to sleep on the bed with you. All in all, I think we're all very lucky to have him in our lives. There's nothing like a dog to find the soft, mushy spot in your heart no matter how old you are.



Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving in the Mountains






Although I fussed a bit about tagging along with my daughter for Thanksgiving (I didn't want to be a buttinski), she and her husband were really gracious about putting up with me both when I whined about going and then when I couldn't be quiet because the scenery was so beautiful. I bowed out of Joe's brother's mountain house (it's by no means a cabin, with granite countertops, three master suites, just to name a few things) early to spend some quiet time at the house we rented for the weekend. I came home and took a peek outside and gasped at how gorgeous the night sky looked. I wish I had a picture to post here so you could all see how absolutely breathtaking it was. I swear I'd never seen so many stars. I made myself some coffee, wrapped up in a blanket, and sat on the deck mezmerized by the brilliant stars cloaked in midnight blue. This was the view from the back deck of Jamie's "cabin."




And here is a front view of the "cabin."


On a lighter note, driving up the mountain roads to reach our weekend house was a real "white knuckler" at times when the narrow winding road was bordered by a mountain wall on one side and a sheer drop on the other. I only have one word for this: GUARDRAILS!! GUARDRAILS, people!! What is up with that? I'm amazed that we didn't hear reports of anyone having driven off the side of the mountain while maneuvering back to their house in the dark.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Wine Weekend 2006






These pictures were taken by Kathryne when we went to Charlottesville, VA, for Wine Weekend 2006. Kathryne is a great host and took us on a hike to a reservoir where the two top photos were taken. The air was crisp and cool and perfect for a fall hike. I also got to try some yummy wine and bring some home with me to enjoy later. The leaves were just after the peak, but they looked perfect to me.


I drank in every view along with the fruit of the vine. The last photo was taken at the King Family Winery, where I bought some bottles of lucious dessert wine. It couldn't have been a more perfect weekend.