Total Pageviews

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wow! December!


I wrote this post and meant to get back to it, clean it up and post it. I’m finally getting to it today. 

 

December 12, 2014

Bah! Humbug!

         Well that’s how I feel this Christmas season. Merry Christmas I hate people.  Somewhere along the way I lost my Christmas spirit.  A friend tells me I’m too nice to hate people.  So have I fooled her? We’ve known each other since we were about 5 years old.  Or am I trying to convince myself that I don’t like my fellow humans?  Probably it’s the latter and I’m trying to shield myself from any further demands on my time and energy.  After all, it’s easier to simply say I don’t like anyone than to admit to myself that I need time for me.  I’m so caught up in my to-do list that I forgot to put the most important thing on it—taking care of Sue.  It’s a mistake many of us make, I think.  We get so busy trying to do the extra things that will show others how much we wish them to be happy along with all our regular tasks that we forget to show ourselves how much we care about that for ourselves. Sometimes God has to send us gentle reminders.  I received several messages from friends asking if we can meet some evening and some Christmas cards in the mail with personal notes written inside that made me stop and think.  So now that I have realized the root of my humbug attitude I will attend to it.  I’ll continue to work on my to do list, but I’ll make sure there is time for me to do something I like each day.  I’ll meet with a friend, go to a cookie party, and make time to read and write.  After all, nobody around me is going to have a merry time if I am a Grinchy Scrooge.  Please remember to take care of yourself and make time for what keeps you feeling the Christmas spirit.

December 20, 2014

**A continuation of the theme above, again started but not finished and posted**

There are other things that help get me into the Christmas spirit.  Giving to others is one of my favorite ways, but sometimes I get so bogged down in the logistics that it becomes a chore.  I sent out several packages to relatives, and I was not sure how I could possibly get them mailed in time for a Christmas arrival.  My wonderful husband offered to help and working together one evening we got the boxes packed and ready for mailing which I did the following day after work.  It felt really good to get that done, and I like to imagine how surprised the recipients will be.  I took time out of one day to stop by Hillary’s day program for their Christmas party and was in time to see Santa come, their karaoke of holiday tunes and witness the miracle of one of the participants reciting the whole “T’was The Night Before Christmas” poem.  Many of the participants have no speech, but this woman does.  From her wheelchair she spoke with slightly slurred words the entire piece, which I have trouble remembering on a good day.  I don’t know what all her challenges are, nor her age, but it was wonderful.  The Christmas spirit began to burn in me at that party.

          I had purchased a toy to donate to the “Toys for Tots” campaign but then missed the deadline for donations.  As I was beating myself up over that I scanned Facebook absentmindedly and right there in front of me was a request from an in-town acquaintance for donations to help a local single mother with 3 small children who didn’t know she could have signed up to be included on one of our town’s “Christmas Angel” trees and so was facing Christmas with no gifts for her children and no money to purchase any.  Suddenly I felt much better about having missed that deadline. My toy was picked up the next morning to be added to the other donations for that little family. The Christmas spirit now burns warmly within me.

December 27, 2014   

         Christmas Day has come and gone and finally I’m getting around to blogging. I’m squeezing it in between catching up on laundry, cleaning, and caring for Hillary who has been ill for almost a week now with a fever, cough, and congestion.  She didn’t enjoy any of Christmas as she was feeling so ill and even now isn’t her usual self.  As luck would have it, her doctor’s office has taken a long weekend for the holiday.  I could have paged whoever is on call, or taken Hillary to the emergency room or an urgent care but we decided that we will do what we can to monitor her and keep her comfortable. She is showing signs of improvement so we are encouraged and not as worried as we were. Even with her illness hanging over us we had a lovely Christmas Day with family and have enjoyed our time off after.  Next holiday: New Year’s Eve and Day!

Friday, November 28, 2014

French Toast or Stuffing?


Tuesday Haiku

A storm is coming
Thanksgiving is coming too
French toast or stuffing?

 

Think about it.

--from 11/25/14

Two days before Thanksgiving the weather forecasters predicted a storm to hit our area the morning of the day before Thanksgiving.  Of course, since they are based in New York City, at first they said rain, possibly mixing with some wet snow with no major accumulation on the roads, some accumulation in the higher elevations well north and west of the city (us!).   I don’t know what happens where you live when a winter storm is on the way, but around here most of the population panics and runs to the supermarket to stock up on bread, milk and eggs.  I used to work at one of our local supermarkets and so I can attest to this first hand.  I do not understand this phenomenon as unless a major blizzard is expected we are really only inconvenienced for a few hours by unplowed roads, generally 18 hours at most. People stock up like they’ll be snowed in for a week at least.  So it was that I got to wondering if the stores would have enough bread to supply everyone because turkey stuffing is made with bread, a snowstorm staple it seems, and with one on the way perhaps there would be reports of a bread shortage and then people would have to choose which to have—French toast during the storm or stuffing on the big day? I watched the news anxiously the next day, and kept an eye on social media but there were no reports of a bread shortage.  Two of my relatives reported, however, that Tuesday evening there were only a couple quarts of milk left (skim, to boot!) by 7:00 and a few loaves of bread.  No report on the eggs but I’m sure there were enough to go around.  Of course if the holiday had been Easter the eggs might have been in short supply and folks would have needed to decide between coloring hard cooked eggs to color for Easter baskets and egg hunts or their snow French toast.  One of the aforementioned relatives also reported that another supermarket’s parking lot was full with cars waiting for spots to empty out.  That much business usually happens the day before a holiday as well as before a storm so I can only imagine how busy they had been all day.  I also heard anecdotally that the day before Thanksgiving, in the height of the 8” or so of heavy wet snow we received, the local supermarket was not busy at all.  See, we (around here for the most part) are wimpy in comparison with places such as Buffalo, NY where our 8” probably made them laugh because they had about 7 feet last week. Around here, it’s a big deal and I watched a town pickup with snowplow attached get stuck in the snow on my street the other day.  He finally backed down the hill to the highway and went up a street he’d already successfully cleared before making a pass down our road.  Last year two plows got stuck at the top of my street on the corner; a big snowplow was the first to get stuck and then the pickup tried to help and they were stuck facing each other a few feet apart.  That was something to see at 5:00 a.m.  They were stuck at the top of my street and I was on my phone with my husband who was stuck in his car at the other end trying to get out onto the highway to attempt his 40 plus mile commute to work.  A man who lives in the house at that end came out with a shovel and made a path for him to drive his car through the snowbank to get onto the highway.  There really was quite a lot of snow last year.  I’m hoping this year will not be quite as snowy.  Although I’m sure the grocers and suppliers of bread, milk and eggs wouldn’t mind!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where Love Lives

Did you ever go to someone's house and just know upon walking in that this is a place where love lives? One of those houses where there's nothing fancy or terribly expensive, just comfortable furniture; a house decorated with family pictures both ancient and new, where there is a pleasant mingling of odors from food cooked, candles burned and floors mopped. It is a house where you just feel as if you are on a little vacation from your worries; you're being refreshed and all you are doing is sitting in the living room talking, and eating a bowl of canned pasta with a grilled cheese sandwich. You're in the presence of people whom you know have disagreements yet don't allow those to fester into life altering dissatisfaction with each other. Because they respect each other and care deeply for each other; each celebrating and sharing the other's uniqueness and accomplishments with the universe. I know of such a house and family. I am blessed to be related to them and they bring that feeling of peace I feel when at their home with them to mine and where ever they go. I think they would be surprised to learn all of what I've just related because they are that humble. Love lives in them, it can be seen in how they treat each other, it can be felt when they are near in how they approach life with wonder and enthusiasm. Love lives in them in such abundance that it spills over, touching whoever is near.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween


It’s cider and donuts

It’s ghosts and it’s ghouls

It’s one day of the year

To be who you choose

It’s giving out candy

But snacking on more

It’s wondering who

You will find at your door

Be safe my dear friends

While you’re out trick or treating

One never knows just who

You’ll be meeting!

Happy Halloween!

 

It seems as if Halloween has become very popular, much more so than when I was a kid.  It could just be that when I was younger and when I had young children I didn’t think about how popular it was, it was just something everyone did October 31st—wear a costume, carve a pumpkin, stuff old clothes with leaves and sit it in a chair on your porch or hang it from a tree limb.  We used to put up paper decorations of witches and black cats and spooky ghosts.  My brothers and I went house to house in our neighborhood saying “trick or treat” and collecting candy from the neighbors.  It was fun, it was exciting and of course the candy was the best part!  When my girls were young there were school parades and parties, and the stress of knowing that while we were out walking the neighborhood there was nobody to give out the candy at home.  Somehow it all worked out, and we’d have cider and donuts after.  When I worked at the elementary school kitchen it was fun to stay after my work hours to see the kids parading in their costumes, and the costumes the teachers wore. I have a collection of tacky Halloween earrings from that time.  It’s not so easy to be in costume while you’re preparing and serving a hundred plus meals.  Our high school doesn’t allow the students to dress up for Halloween during school hours.  It seems sad somehow because in my high school yearbook there are pictures of the seniors wearing costumes to school and some of them were really great!  We don’t get many trick or treaters anymore. I guess our neighborhood doesn’t have that many young families anymore, and the town has started having a Halloween party in the evening for the kids.  I guess it keeps them safer and out of trouble but it seems odd without lots of kids knocking on the door seeking candy. Perhaps it has something to do with our area—steep hills, narrow roads and no sidewalks. Halloween is a strange holiday and the most frightening thing about it is that before we finish that candy we’ll be planning Thanksgiving dinner and thinking about Christmas!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Weight of What Isn't

  

         Sometimes I feel the weight of what isn’t.  It lies heavily on my heart. Mostly I focus on the positives about my life.  There are times, though, that it’s hard to find an uplifting view. Because the one thing I struggle with always is living a normal life; and my life isn’t.  Once a special needs child is born into your family your life may never feel normal. No matter how typical you try to be the fact is that things will always be different.  You’ll take vacations, attend family celebrations, go to school and sport activities, and attend town events. You’ll do all the things that families without special needs kids do, but it will be harder and it will feel abnormal.  We all experience things in unique ways, but your experience will be so unique as to be a completely different experience. Case in point: watching a parade. I constantly have to ask people not to stand in front of my daughter in her wheelchair thus blocking her view.  I used to enjoy a parade.  Now I dread attending a parade, which is a shame since my husband is a member of a pipes and drum band and marches numerous times a year. I see people all around me enjoying the spectacle, waving to friends and family marching, applauding and watching while I’m either trying to navigate my way through the crowd with the wheelchair or keeping my daughter’s line of sight clear. Perhaps what is most bothersome to me is how unlike everyone else I feel at those times.
         The weight of what isn’t is isolating if allowed to grow unchecked.  What helps me is regularly having some time to look forward to where I am not primarily known for being mother to a child with special needs.  A part time job, occasional visits with a lifelong friend, and joining a writers club are  ways I found to allow me to be Sue first, and that special needs mother second.  It’s important not to forget who we are, and who we were, to be the best parent possible.  Being known as a good worker, an aspiring writer, and a good friend ultimately help me to be the parent I need to be.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

PBJ & Comfort Reading




Sometimes you just need some comfort. There’s nothing like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a big glass of ice cold milk for lunch when you’re having one of those days.  For me the jelly must be grape, which some might find odd since I grew up on peanutbutter and strawberry jelly sandwiches in my lunch bag.  Some of my fondest memories of my high school friend Maureen involve that sandwich.  I didn’t eat lunch at lunch time; I was far too busy having fun laughing and talking to my friends to eat anything!  So as Maureen and I walked the mile home we split my sandwich; even if it was raining or snowing we usually walked home.  My mother never had grape jelly in the house.  I don’t know why, but my maternal grandmother, Mama, always had homemade grape jelly on her table.  I remember sneaking spoons of it when we were at her house and wishing I could have it at home.  I never asked why we didn’t have it at home as far as I remember.  I’m curious now as to what my mother’s aversion to grape jelly might have come from.  I’ll never know but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying it!  Sometimes on the weekend my husband and I have pbj for lunch and I always have a glass of ice cold milk with it.  Even just thinking about it makes me feel cozy and comforted somehow.

Sometimes I want something comforting but not food.  That’s when I turn to books.  Recently my adult daughter and I went to the library together.  I went to a club meeting there and she found solace from a stressful day at work in the quiet among the books.  I nearly stumbled over her as I browsed the fiction section after my meeting ended as she sat on the floor at the end of a row with a small stack of books next to her.  Feeling a little stressed myself I headed for my fall back authors.  I decided on two short books by Rosamund Pilcher and one by Janet Evanovich.  The short books I’ve read many times.  I find it comforting to reread books that I particularly enjoy and Ms. Pilcher’s books have an especially cozy appeal for me as they take place in Scotland and London and the characters drink tea and sit by fires in wool sweaters throughout the stories.  It’s hard to explain but I like it.  The Janet Evanovich I hadn’t read before but I enjoy her Stephanie Plum series as they take place in New Jersey and the characters and plots make me laugh out loud as I read. 

We all need to have food and activities that bring us comfort, even if we don’t realize that is why we enjoy them time and again.  I can hardly wait for the weekend so I can curl up in the couch corner with a pbj sandwich, a glass of milk and a comforting book.

Monday, September 29, 2014

That Was a Week!


                                    

It was Saturday morning and I was sitting in the library of a middle school for two hours while Hillary attended a craft class.  I like doing that although it means that we were up and out the door fairly early.  It gave me time to reflect on the week just ended and its varied events.

The workweek began with a mix up with Hillary’s program bus.  It didn’t come until I called to find out if it had broken down.  They thought I had left a voicemail stating she wasn’t going that day, I assured them that was not the case and they sent the bus to get her.  The bus pulled away and I began to back out of my driveway.  Already rather late for work I was very upset when a garbage truck blocked me in, and it wasn’t even pickup day for our neighborhood.  I laid on the horn, shouted and gestured out my window until the truck moved.  But it backed up which meant I had to take the long way out of the neighborhood since our roads are barely wide enough for two cars to pass, let alone a truck and my van.  I sped through the streets for my two mile commute and just as I turned into the half mile long school driveway I spied a police car which prompted me to let up on the gas pedal so I could obey the 15 miles per hour speed limit.  It seemed an eternity passed before I reached my parking spot and I was now 10 minutes late clocking in.  Luckily I work with wonderful ladies who began my work for me because no matter what time I get there, lunch is being served at the appointed time without regard to our readiness.  The next few days passed without further stress inducing incidents.  Friday was rolling along fairly well until, 5 minutes before my time quitting time, a phone call came in for me from the day care director stating that they called 911 because Hillary was having a long seizure. I’m glad I work only about a mile away so that I could get to the care center quickly.  However, as I sat waiting for the light to change so I could cross over the highway and zip down to be with her, emergency vehicles came from every direction, lights and sirens screaming.  I knew where they were headed—the same place I was!  When I arrived there my princess was, looking a bit pale, annoyed, and very tired surrounded by EMS personnel, policemen, and a nurse.  I signed a release form and took her home very glad we were able to avoid the emergency room. A long seizure like that doesn’t happen daily, but a couple times a month; usually at home.  I’m glad the staff is so careful about her.  She was fine after a nap and a snack.

Saturday after the craft class and a brief stop at home to freshen up we were off to an Oktoberfest.  We met my brother and his wife and my niece there and we were having a lovely time talking, listening to music and munching on German potato salad, sauerkraut and assorted German meats when my sister in law, who sat across from Hillary and me, said that Hillary had a bloody nose.  Indeed she did, and a bloody hand and face too since she was rubbing her face.  She looked like she was starring in a horror movie.  Fortunately I carry wipes with me so was able to clean her up without too much fuss.  It seemed a fitting end to the week somehow.

Some weeks just seem to be crazier than others.  I hope not to repeat the crazy parts of last week this week or ever!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Year Twenty Two!


Twenty two years ago our second child was born. Outwardly beautiful and perfect, a true bundle of joy. Unknown to us at that time she was afflicted with Aicardi Syndrome. We had no clue exactly how this innocent little person would change our lives, our hopes and dreams, and shape us all into who we are today both individually and as a family. She came here not for us to teach her but for her to teach us.

Aicardi Syndrome includes malformation or complete absence of the corpus callosum and other brain deficits, retinal lesions with other eye abnormalities, scoliosis and other skeletal problems, and intractable seizures.  Life expectancy is shortened with the literature (at that time) stating 3 years maximum.

Recently we celebrated Hillary’s 22nd birthday by taking her to a street fair in a neighboring town.  The weather was perfect with low humidity, air temperature around 70, a light breeze and a bright sun in a deep blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds.  As we wheeled her through the crowd occasionally one of the vendors leaned over to talk to her.  We told them it was her birthday and she ended up with a small collection of trinkets—stickers, key tags, and a balloon.  She enjoyed the extra attention and we had a nice time.  When we returned home we had chocolate birthday cake and ice cream which she loved, and some gifts wrapped in brightly colored shiny paper.  She enjoyed looking at the gifts but lost interest as we opened them and showed her what was inside.  Sometimes she’s a funny girl!  Over all she enjoyed her special day very much.

We have learned through Hillary that slowing down and enjoying the simplest of things is a good way to live, birthday cake is meant to be enjoyed without guilt, and every year survived should be celebrated for the gift that it is.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Summer's End Haiku

This odd summer wanes
Everything seems mixed up
There were some good times

That about sums it up. We began with Hillary's high school graduation and my unknown employment status. Then Hillary began her next chapter at the special needs medical daycare and I tried to sort through both objects and papers as well as emotions from the past 18 years. Hillary transitioned to her new program very well. I felt as if I couldn't get my feet under me. There were, however, good times spent with friends and family. Shopping at the mall, lunches, sitting around a backyard campfire talking with friends late into the evening, game days, a wedding and of course vacation were the best parts of the summer. The weather was mostly beautiful-warm with low humidity, a few rainy days and a couple very hot humid days thrown in just to remind us of the season. The hottest high humidity days came in September where on the calendar summer remains until the end of the month. Along with the heat the final few weeks of the season brought a new employer in the same job, same location, and mostly the same coworkers but shorter hours for me. Shorter hours necessary because Hillary's daycare starts later than her school day did. As we settle in to our new routines and my feelings begin to sort themselves out I look forward to finishing dealing with those objects left from the 18 years of Hillary's school career and make room in my house and my head for the future.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Favorites

I've been thinking about some of my favorite things and places this summer. 

1. Sleeping past 4:00 a.m.
2. Cool mornings with a cup of tea.
3. Iced coffee in a glass glass, not a plastic one.
4. Old episodes of "Bones" and "NCIS".
5. Watching the Yankees.
6. Reading in the gazebo by the veterans memorial and pond at Turkey Brook Park. (It just sounds nice, right?)
7. Leftovers for lunch.
8. Adam's Family Restaurant.
9. Panera, with Anna.
10. Hearing the peepers at night.
11. Sitting around the fire pit in a friend's backyard sipping iced tea and laughing until midnight with a group of friends.
12. Watching vegetables grow and waiting for tomatoes to ripen.
13. Road trips.
14. Getting rid of clutter.
15. Game day with my sister-in-law and niece. 
16. Veggies and dip.
17. Thunder rumbling in the distance.
18. Barbecue chicken.
19. Carnivals.
20. Bright sun, blue sky and white puffy clouds.

Make yourself a list of your summer favorites, it's a nice way to end the day.

Looking toward the pond from inside the gazebo at Turkey Brook Park.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ending, Beginning & Marking Time




         The end of June the school year came to a close and with it Hillary’s school career and my employment by the school district food service.  The four years we spent at the high school were by turns rewarding and maddening.  I was happy to see that time end for many reasons, exhaustion being one of them; for both myself and Hillary.  Seeing the end of predawn wakeups and bus pickups was most welcome! We celebrated graduation with a small party and moved forward.

         After spending months nudging the state along to have all paperwork done and arrangements in place by graduation, Hillary was able to begin attending a day program for medically compromised developmentally disabled adults.  The transition went really well and she is quite happy with the new situation which starts later in the morning, is shorter hours and fatigues her less as it is slower paced than school was.  I like it too as I no longer have to get up as early in order to have her ready for the bus. It was a quick turnaround for one thing to end and a new one to successfully begin.  What a blessing!

         I’m spending time this summer resting and trying and get my house and head in better order; clearing clutter and old papers, donating items, and throwing things away. Emotions go along with many of the cleaning projects I am undertaking so each day is a little bit of a roller coaster ride.  I find myself at times nostalgic, at times sad, annoyed, angry, amused and happy as I look at old notebooks, pictures and toys long ago set aside.

 I’m also trying to figure out what to do next for employment.  Although our board of education chose to hire a private company going forward to provide food services rather than keep our department going, the food service company has offered any of us who wish to continue in this profession a chance to work for them.  I’m going to have to work fewer hours than I was due to Hillary’s later and shorter schedule but current plans are for me to accept the offer.  For now, at least, and I’ll see how it goes and how I feel about it.  If I don’t like it, or for whatever reason it doesn’t work out for me then I will have to find something else.  It will give me some income as I try to figure out what else to do. So I am marking time job wise and getting used to a new rhythm to the days.

         The recent changes to my life were not as difficult as I had imagined they would be, and Hillary seems to have no ill effects from the changes for her.  It seems as if life changes don’t have to be hard if I look to the future and realize that I don’t have to figure everything out immediately.  There’s something nice about marking time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Percolator Vacation

The top picture is the St. Lawrence Seaway as seen from our hotel balcony last year. The picture below is a tanker heading downriver passing Boldt Castle.

It seems that there is some interest in knowing about the vacation I alluded to in my last post so I decided to expand on that topic in this one.  That particular vacation started out a little rough but lives in our memories as one of our best ever. We had switched from a big national chain hotel near a metropolitan area along the St. Lawrence River due to the uncleanliness of our room to a mom and pop type motel in the small but thriving resort town known as Alexandria Bay a bit further south but still on the St. Lawrence.  We were now within a few short blocks of the main drag and the river itself.  We found ourselves on a shoestring food budget as we took some of our food money to pay the higher price of the new lodgings but we didn’t mind.  Most of our meals we ate at a hot dog/burger shack as it was cheaper than any other eatery in town. The first time we walked to a public dock where we could see the mighty waterway in all its glory left us breathless. There, on an island, directly across from the town in the middle of the river stood a castle! Boldt Castle on Hart Island, we found out on an Uncle Sam’s Cruise Line tour, was built by self-made millionaire George Boldt as an homage to his beloved wife Louise.  She tragically passed away before the castle was complete and the heartbroken widower ordered construction immediately stopped.  There it sat going to ruin until finally restoration was begun by a historical preservation group.  The work is ongoing but the ground floor, parts of the upper floors and the grounds are quite beautiful as we found out on our first tour. I love the romance of the castle and it is a beautiful sight any time of the day.  As we explored other aspects of the area, we drove about 30 minutes to Cape St. Vincent which boasts a lighthouse at the mouth of Lake Ontario, and one day about 3 hours to Massena, NY to visit the locks there that allow vessels to navigate the waterways.  There are huge tankers, freighters, and barges that travel through carrying all types of supplies and goods to and from the great lakes to both Canada and the United States.  We also see some of those huge boats on the St. Lawrence when we are in Alexandria Bay and they dwarf Boldt Castle as they chug past.  While there we toured the Eisenhower Power Project, my main memory of which concerns getting Hillary to the top floor observation deck via a stair lift for her wheelchair.  It was the first time we’d seen such a contraption and it made a pleasant melodic dinging sound as it carried our princess up and down the stairs.  On the Wednesday of the week we spent in Alexandria Bay we went to the park on a hill overlooking the river for a free sunset concert by the Ft. Drum army band. It was wonderful!  We sat on a huge flat rock and munched on subs and chips as people danced, tapped their toes and children cavorted in time to the music.  All in all our vacation that started out not so well turned into one which we remember fondly, and we have returned to that town again and again, although now we stay in a larger family owned resort hotel right on the river with glorious sunsets, fresh breezes and a constant view of the castle.

This is Boldt Castle at sunset.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Percolator

I think I can make a story out of anything I have. On the last day of work we decided to have a little party and several of us brought in something to share. There was a yummy French toast casserole, fruit salad with dip, mini croissants, cheese & crackers, cake pops, and coffee. I brought my percolator from home and made the coffee at work---there's nothing like a fresh perked cup of coffee. 

As we gathered round waiting for the heavenly brew to be ready my friends commented on my percolator, so I entertained them with the story of my plastic white percolator.  Around 13 years ago we decided to try someplace new for a week's vacation in August and settled on the thousand islands region of.New York state. Not knowing where to stay we booked a room in a national hotel chain in Ogdensburg, a town which boasted a river walk along the mighty St. Lawrence River. The hotel listed a pool and in room microwave and refrigerator among its amenities which at the time were desirable as our girls were fairly young. We arrived around dinner time and found that the pool was closed, the room dirty and the river walk somewhat sketchy. We decided since it was rather late in the day to look for someplace else when we went for dinner and then in the morning we would check out and move.  We stopped at a visitor's center and my husband spoke with the gentleman who worked there. He suggested that we stay at a small mom & pop motel in Alexandria Bay, a small but lively resort town right on the river.

According to the pamphlet about the small hotel it offered no amenities but was a short walk from the town. We knew that we needed to be able to heat water in our room for Hillary's cereal so after dinner, on the way back to the not nice national chain hotel, we stopped at a WalMart to buy a hot pot since we'd left ours at home. As I perused the options before me I was reluctant to buy something I already had at home and spied the percolators, which were less expensive than hot pots. In fact, this percolator was under $10.00! Sold! It worked well for heating water at our new hotel, and has been quite useful at home. Sometimes one pot of coffee isn't enough when we have company, or sometimes we need both regular and decaf. It's much easier to remember which is decaf when you have two different types of coffee makers. Friends and relatives borrow my electric percolator for parties and visits from relatives. It's a popular, handy little appliance! 

By the time I finished my story the perking had stopped and we took our cups to the table and had a lovely little breakfast party. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Weekends

Weekends go too fast. Two days isn't enough to fit everything into! That's because they've become a concentration  of things left undone during the work week with things I want to for pleasure sprinkled in. I try to keep things balanced but sometimes there is so much going on in those two short days that Monday is almost a relief! Some folks keep their weekends so full of activities and chores that just hearing them talk about it makes me want a nap. When my girls were younger we ran on the fringes of that type of weekend occasionally and I confess that I didn't enjoy it. It made me downright cranky! So I learned to shorten my "must be done" list and let some things slide. Of course now I face a room that borders on hoarder status to deal with over the summer; but at least I'll have something to do while I consider my employment options for the fall. Just think how accomplished I'll feel when things have been donated, repurposed, or thrown out and I have much less clutter! I almost can't wait to start--but not this weekend, it's almost over.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dad


Some Dads rule with iron fist
Some with velvet glove
Some leave their babies way too soon
And watch from Heaven above
Some have humor, while others sing
Some play ball, some push the swing
Some go to work, some work at home
Some write books, some lay stone
Whatever else a Dad can do
He loves his children through and through.
--Susan Donald 6/15/2014



I get my wry, dry sense of humor from my father. We don't know anything about this picture; where it was taken, who took it, or what the occasion was. I love it for the contrast between his serious expression and comical headgear.


In this one I'm guessing I was about two years old. It looks like it was someone's birthday. It just looks like a cozy happy moment between father and daughter.


This was taken the day Hillary was christened. We were all blissfully unaware at that point how radically she would change all our lives! He was a wonderful "Grandpa", teaching my very young Anna to play chess and with arms always ready to snuggle Hillary. We miss his quiet presence and humor.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Weekend

In the chilly stillness of the morn
A day begins, a day is born
Think about what you can do
In free hours which are too few
Will you rest or play or work?
Think of those who don't shirk
Their duty so that we can have a say
In whether to work or rest or play
On this memorial Saturday.
--Susan Donald

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that for the most part my status updates are in short verse. This is the one I posted this morning because even when I'm feeling cruddy (which I am today due to a springtime cold) I can come up with a passable rhyme. Since I won't be doing much in the way of celebrating this weekend I'm remembering Memorial weekends past.

My parents always made a celebration of holidays and when I was very young we had a charcoal grill which Dad was in charge of. Mom made her tuna macaroni salad, potato & egg salad, and green jello salad, and sometimes deviled eggs. There were potato chips, pretzels, cheese doodles (my favorite), raw vegetables and a cheese plate to go with the hamburgers and hot dogs. Strawberry shortcake, sometimes homemade ice cream and toasted marshmallows eaten at dusk as we ran around the yard with sparklers topped off the day. Those were nice days.  I recall one Memorial Day parade in town my senior year of high school. I was on the drill team, which meant I was on a squad of girls twirling flags leading the marching band down the street. Usually we wore short flippy skirted uniforms with short white boots with pompoms in our school  colors on them. I loved those boots and the clicking sound they made as we marched along, pompoms swinging in time to the drumbeat. This particular parade, however, we were allowed to wear denim shorts, white tee shirts, red bandana neckerchiefs, and white socks and canvas shoes. We were all so happy about that! It seems a small thing now but I'm sure it was a huge deal to my 18 year old self.

After I was married my husband and I spent most Memorial Days at my parents' house with pretty much the same menu only by that time my parents had a gas grill and one of my brothers or my husband was just as likely to be in charge of it. Some years, after we bought our house, my in-laws came to stay with us so we had a small picnic here. After our first daughter came along we walked down the hill to our town's Memorial Day parade. One year it was so cold it was spitting snow yet we still went to watch what was a very small parade with no bands in it save one of our elementary school's on the back of a flat bed playing patriotic tunes. When my girls were a little older they marched with the Girl Scouts, and my husband with his pipe band. I'd drop them all off at the beginning of the route then go park at the end and wait for the parade to reach me so I could take pictures. Once my eldest was in high school she marched in that band. We don't go to the parade any more, and we generally don't go anywhere or have anyone over for the holiday. Perhaps one year we'll begin having a get together on Memorial Day, I'd like to do that again.

Those are some of my Memorial Day memories. I hope that you have some nice memories, or are planning to make some new ones this weekend!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Mother's Purse

What is in a mother's purse? Pretty much anything you could need. Runny nose? Here's a tissue. Tickle in your throat? Have a cherry cough drop. Bored waiting for the doctor? How about a game of tic tac toe played on the back of a dry cleaner's receipt? Oh, your hair's a mess;  comb it please. Poor dear, your head hurts--use my collapsible cup to get some water and take this Tylenol.
My mother's purse was always full, ready for anything four kids could need when out of the house. Mine also is full of "just in case" items. My daughter, even though she's not a mother, can fit so much in her purse that when she starts removing items I am in awe of her packing skills.
My earliest recollection of carrying a purse is of a homemade denim one I had in high school which was full of important things like makeup and pens and cherry Lifesavers candies. It feels strange when I go somewhere without my purse--it really gets to be a habit! Even when my mother was affected with Alzheimer's she never left the house without her purse. By that time, however, it was empty except for her house key rattling around inside it.  It was the saddest thing to me. Life once so full and vibrant became an emptiness profound in its vacancy. Sometimes I think about that, but usually my full purse reminds me of Mom and how she was always prepared to care for her family no matter where we were. It's a tradition I have continued and passed down to the next generation.

This is a sketch I did several years ago of a purse I bought my daughter at a "purse party" at a friend's house.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Supermarket Stuff




         If I ever win the lottery one of the first things I will do is start ordering all my groceries online and have them delivered to my house.  I do not like going to the supermarket but it is a necessary task that falls under my jurisdiction.

         In order to make supermarket runs more  palatable I sometimes look to see what others have in their carts and make up a little story (in my head) about them. Dinner party, child’s birthday, quiet dinner for two, and girls’ night in are just a few of the scenarios I’ve created. Small orders are my favorite for guessing as I think you can tell a lot from the collection of items in the cart.

         Sometimes I see something that sends my mind wandering down memory lane.  Just today as I passed the bin of colorful bouncing balls of various sizes I was transported 20 years back in time.  My girls were young, and there was no easier way to bring smiles than to pick out a new ball then go home and play in the yard after putting the perishables away.  I remember they used to have fruit scented balls and we had a purple grape scented one and an orange colored orange scented one, each with a goofy smiling face on it.  I wonder if they still make them.  Those were nice times.

         Frequently I have short conversations with strangers when I am at the market.  One Sunday morning as I stood in the tomato sauce aisle considering my options a man stood next to me and asked what I put in meatloaf. I told him how I make it, and he asked some questions including if I thought three pounds of meat would make enough meatloaf for four people with some leftover.  At the end of the conversation I wished him a happy successful dinner party, made my selection and continued on.  Near Valentine’s Day as I stood in line at Shop Rite having stopped on the way home from work, I learned from my fellow shoppers that one was making chocolate covered strawberries for her family, another was buying a huge Whitman’s Sampler for a soup kitchen, and a third was making goodie bags for her children’s school parties.  I didn’t ask, for some reason people just start conversations with me.  I don’t mind, it passes the time pleasantly.
         Even though I don’t like going to the supermarket, it is a place that must be part of my life so I have found a way to make it pleasant; and when I win the lottery I’ll find someplace else to go where strangers who feel so inclined can tell me stories.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Enjoying Life



         Tuesday was a dreary rainy day and I enjoyed it.  I arranged for our respite worker to stay with the princess for a few hours so that I could meet some friends for lunch with enough time after that to run an errand and visit the library.  Laughing and sharing lunch with friends was wonderful and then sitting in a quiet nook by a window at the library listening to the rain on the roof punctuated by an occasional rumble of thunder was just heavenly.

         The things I consider as enjoying life are vastly different from what is portrayed on the television, in movies and in print ads.  Those images are generally of tropical locales, featuring people wearing bathing suits, romance, dancing, and fine wine.  Oh, and boats.  There always seems to be some type of sailboat, cruise ship or yacht, blue skies and bright sunshine featured.  I’m sure all of those things are very pleasant; but how often does one get to experience them, and for how long?  Once a year or every two years for one or two weeks at a time or once in a lifetime?  What about the rest of the time?   Are we just miserable and not enjoying life then?  If I were to do an ad for enjoying life it would look very different.  For me, every day holds multiple chances to experience paradise.  Lying in bed with the window open listening to the birds greet the sun is a profoundly agreeable part of life.  The tinkling of wind chimes, the aroma of coffee perking, a letter from a friend, going to the park and going to dinner with my husband on a weekday all rank up there with those other ads for me.  Laughing over something silly with any one is quite pleasant, and those spontaneous short conversations I am prone to having with strangers at the supermarket spring to mind as delicious.  The delight of ordering out Chinese food and reading aloud the fortunes from the fortune cookies while watching a ballgame on TV with my husband and girls cannot be rivaled by any fine wine or exotic locale.  I’m enjoying life every day, and if I ever get to take a trip that features blue sunny skies, dancing in a bathing suit and boats I’ll enjoy that too.















Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday P.M. Thoughts

It's Saturday evening and I am in my nest once again. Although the calendar says April and the sun sets after 7:00 it feels more like late February here. In recent years we've contemplated running the air conditioning a day or two by this time as the weather was unseasonably hot. This year I can't even put my winter coat and gloves toward the back of the closet because I still need to wear them most days. I suppose that soon enough I'll be complaining of the heat but right now it would be nice to sit in the sun on the deck and listen to the birds while sipping iced tea. I stepped outside after dark for a breath of air and despite the chilly breeze enjoyed how clear the sky is and how bright the half moon and stars are. I clearly picked out Orion and thought about how nice it is that I can do that. How somewhere out there in the world is someone who isn't able to do that. Either because they have a disability or illness preventing them, or it is unsafe where they live to step outside after dark, even just outside their front door. Suddenly I thought how blessed I am to have my little house, my little family, and live where neighbors wave and say hi, exchange pleasantries. I know, too, that if ever I needed help I could knock on their door and they would oblige. Sometimes I get so caught up in the chaos of my days that I feel grumbly and discontented with my lot in life. When that happens it's good to take a day and slow down, enjoy what I have, and reflect on how nice it is to be me.


This is the neighbor's cat who enjoys sitting atop our grill on summer mornings. I was able to catch this picture of her last year. I can't wait to see leaves on the trees again!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday A.M. Nest

I'm usually the first one up on Saturdays and I really love the quiet time. I've made a little nest in the couch corner where, cuddled under a red fleece throw I sip coffee or tea and listen to the music of the birds and house waking up. I also listen to the local station on a small battery powered radio while letting my thoughts run where they will.  Today I was thinking about music and those who have talent enough to create it. I admire people who can use either their voice, or an inanimate object to make pleasant sounds. I tried to make music when I was a kid, not very successfully I'm afraid. In our house you were expected to be in school chorus and church choir, and play a brass instrument. I learned French horn. I even took private lessons. Alas! The music gene did not manifest itself in me! My mother played the piano and had a pleasant soprano singing voice.My three brothers all had and still have good singing voices and all play or played brass instruments well. Two of them hold degrees in music and the other married a music teacher. My husband also sings, has played brass and currently plays bagpipes. My older daughter learned piano, violin, and flute, and still plays on occasion. When I was a freshman in high school I broke my front teeth trying to learn the trumpet for marching band. I then switched to percussion. Let me just say that this girl's got no rhythm. Poor Mr. Taylor, the assistant music teacher was tasked with giving me cymbal lessons. Yes, cymbal lessons. I clearly recall his red face as we sat in a small practice room with him shouting out "one, two, crash, crash, crash, two, crash crash!" cueing me waving his arm in time to the beat. I tried, but somehow I was never quite in time. Poor Mr. Taylor! I wonder if he remembers? I guess that like my father, I play the radio quite well, and that is all. I look at it this way, if everyone is making music, who is there to listen and applaud? I clap quite well; just as long as it doesn't have to be in time to the music. So that's where my mind went this morning. I hope you have a place to snuggle into and allow your mind to roam.


Here's a picture of my radio & my nest.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Monday is Not My Friend




         I find Mondays (or Monderdays as I like to call them) to be generally tough.  Sunday’s too short and then Monday is here and I’m showering at 5:00 a.m. so I can start the 5 days of madness known as the work week.  Somehow the first day is the hardest for getting both myself and the princess motivated to get ready for school.  It’s a wrestling match trying to get her dressed and put together on time for the bus.  I always win but she sure puts up a good passive aggressive fight.  Once at work my five hours of fun begins and we run around preparing food to sell to the hungry teenagers that are our clientele, all the while sounding like a gaggle of geese exchanging pleasantries and stories of our respective weekend activities with occasional bouts of venting thrown in for good measure. Nine women in a kitchen is going to be a noisy affair! At the end of the workday I’m exhausted yet find the energy to run an errand or two on the way home.  Once there, in the safe haven, a quick cup of coffee is downed and I’m on to home responsibilities.  Take something out of the freezer to defrost for dinner, make a phone call, laundry, garbage night, and assorted other house duties we all need to take care of. So I coped with my Monderday stress the best way I know how—with chips and dip and cake left over from the weekend.  I don’t want to give the impression that the day was all bad, there were laughs at work and the mailman brought a pleasant surprise.  It was an early birthday card and letter from a dear friend which really ended the day on a positive note.  So that’s my take on Monday, I hope you survive every one with at least one positive thing so that before you go to bed you feel that Monday just might be your friend after all.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What Day Is It?




Guess what day it is?!  So says a camel in a popular commercial for car insurance. This has become a daily question for me.  In the past two weeks we’ve had school & work cancelled due to bad weather 3 times, (or is it 4? I lost track), and a day off in observance of Presidents’ Day, plus the weekend.  We’ve shoveled more snow and chopped more ice than I can even talk about.  I spent 2 days feeling ill from a mild stomach bug which had me sleeping a good portion of the day.  That was mostly Thursday, and part of Friday which was Valentine’s Day. We exchanged cards and treats for V-day, the girls, my husband and I.  We had our V-day date the weekend before because Anna was able to stay with Hillary while we went out to dinner.
The next day (Saturday) we had another “little” snow storm during which I went to the dentist for what I thought was going to begin the repair of a tooth.  The tooth was beyond repair and I was in “luck”—the oral surgeon was able to fit me in right away!  My dreams of pizza for dinner were now dashed and later that evening while my family was munching away on eggrolls and other Chinese take-out I was hungrily slurping down egg drop soup—no small feat considering half my head, including my lips, was numb and I was trying to keep the soup off the stitched up vacancy in my mouth.  The following day we spent outside trying to scrape 4” of ice and compacted snow off the roof of my van, the driveway, and the roof on the house. Do we know how to have fun or what!?  My favorite thing was pulling the huge icicles off the house and stabbing them into the snowbanks. We gave up on the driveway; Mother Nature is going to have to take care of that. After our beef stew and cheddar biscuit dinner I decided to use a cake mix I found in the cabinet.  There were 2 pouches of mix in the box; one red velvet and one green velvet.  I thought it would be nice to make the red one as a V-day weekend celebration.  Mix in the bowl, oil in the bowl, then on the way to the sink for water the bowl slipped out of my hand and made a mess on the floor.  At least it missed my pants and slippers.  I cleaned it up and made the green one.  It tasted really good, but I guess it was more of a “come on spring, hurry up!” wish cake. 
   Yesterday I made a trip to the supermarket through the luge track that our local roads have become.  The cashier noted how it was busier than the weekend had been which is unusual.  I suggested that perhaps, like me, people had been digging out over the weekend and making the trek before the next snow event.  She agreed that was likely. 
 Now here I sit today, writing this when I ordinarily would be at work but, the “nuisance snow” the weather forecasters spoke about yesterday has turned into a “big pain in the you-know-where” snow.  I’m going to have to go out there before Bruce gets home and shovel the new snow off the top of the 4” ice base. I guess Mother Nature isn’t ready to take care of that yet.  At least I’ll burn up some calories to counteract the green cake; and I still have no concept of what day it is.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Silliness




I love being silly.  I love it so much I am silly almost every day.  I feel like being silly is like a mini vacation from the realities of life.  Laughing follows silliness and spurs it on.  Sometimes at work, for instance, I’ll just start singing the theme from the Magilla Gorilla cartoon show from my childhood. Laughter generally follows.  Once one of my coworkers and I sang the whole Zippity Do Dah song.  I’m not sure which Disney movie that’s from, but we sang it all the way through.  Just because we can is why.  Recently when I signed onto Facebook there was a friend suggestion waiting for me.  I am now friends with one of my friends’ pet bird. Yesterday we Puffy-Bird and I) had a short conversation on her timeline.  My husband and daughter looked at me as if I’d lost my mind when they found out.  I defended myself by telling them that I have been Facebook friends with another friend’s cat, and I play Words With Friends with her (the cat) so why shouldn’t I be friends with the bird?  My husband went back to what he was doing and my daughter said that although she never thought she’d say it, she’s glad we have no pets.    Sometimes I remember silly things that happened in the past and just start giggling to myself.  Usually I’m alone when this happens but there are occasions when my husband and daughter are sitting in the same room as me.  They’ve learned to ignore it, unless I insist on telling them what I’m thinking about.  Sometimes they chuckle but usually they just give some noncommittal remark like “oh” before turning their attention back to what they were doing.  I really don’t care.  Better I should be sitting here breaking out into giggles than sobs.  I have learned to embrace the silly part of me, the part that delights in the absurdities of life.  I hope you can get silly sometimes too and give your brain a rest from the worries of your life for a few moments time.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Butterfly Clips


They say that your hair changes every seven years.  If so then I shouldn’t be surprised by the way Hillary’s hair has been acting lately, after all she turned 21 almost 6 months ago. That would make it the third time in her life that it changed.  For some reason, the wispy hair around her face always seems to be hanging in her eyes by the end of the day no matter what I do to control it.  I know that wearing the hood on her winter poncho doesn’t help, but I really don’t recall it being this out of control before. I need to go barrette shopping for her.  In the mean time when she’s home I’ve been using the ones I have on hand left from when the girls were little.  So far the ones that work best are the little ones shaped like butterflies as they have a claw like part that hold the hair in place.  They’re cute, but not particularly appropriate for my 21 year old; at least in my mind.  Those little shiny plastic clips bring back so many memories though.  In my mind’s eye I can picture my Anna, four years old, a long braid running down the length of her back all decorated with the little butterflies as she skipped up the center aisle of church to sit on the floor, her skirt puddled around her, with her friends for the children’s sermon.  My vision fast forwards a few years to a 5 year old Hillary, her hair in a bun on top of her head decorated with the same little butterflies, sitting on her physical therapist’s lap.  As her head bobbled around the therapist had to dodge the little plastic doo dads so as to avoid her chin being scratched. She used to joke that it was Hillary’s defense weapon. I used those clips a lot.  When Hillary turned 16 we were at the mall one day, and looking at her from a distance as my husband stood with her I realized how “not right” she looked in her little kid style clothes on her adult sized frame and butterflies in her hair.  I asked Anna what she thought and we agreed that it was time to redo the wardrobe so Hillary would look more her age, and fit in better with her school peers.  When I see those clips I recall the Halloween that we dressed Hillary as the Butterfly Queen.  She was dressed in black from head to toe, we made a large petaled flower out of her lap tray and put wings behind her, and topped her hair off with a small tiara and all the butterfly clasps and hairpins we had. She looked quite regal as we wheeled her around.  It’s funny how finding a solution to out of control hair led me to such sweet memories.  I like that.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bowling


4:30 a.m. Saturday the alarm rings, I groan and force myself out of the cocoon of blankets and wonder why I am doing this, and if the pounding headache I woke up with two hours ago will go away soon.  I move through the house adjusting the heat in each room and turning on the kettle before settling in the couch corner to watch the Weather Channel for a few moments.  After a quick shower I check on Hillary and her feeding pump then, with a mug of tea in hand, resettle on the couch still wondering what I am doing this for.  Not too long after, I begin the process of getting Hillary out of bed before the sun is up.  Indeed, we have to be on the road shortly after the sunrise; and it’s snowing.

Hillary is uncooperative and unhappy to be forced from the nest of her bed so early for the sixth day in a row.  As I coax her to eat her cereal and drink her milk she gives me looks that could kill but finally she’s finished. Bruce has warmed the van by driving to the bagel store to get our breakfast to go so we load our athlete into it and start out for the Special Olympics Area Bowling Tournament.  She sleeps the whole way there, Bruce and I talk softly while he drives and I look out the window praying my headache, which has mostly subsided to a manageable level, will not return at the bowling alley.

Once inside, Bruce takes Hillary to check in while I locate and grab a nearby table as parents are not allowed in the bowling area once the competition begins.  I try the tea in my travel mug and find that it is still boiling hot so I set it aside.  Bruce returns briefly to let me know which lane to watch and continues on with our princess.  He will stay with her until the volunteers are ready to take over.  I watch them and as he talks to her she looks up at him from her wheelchair, adoring and laughing at her daddy.  She is Daddy’s little girl, even at the age of 21.  I see the other competitors enter the building, some with parents, most with attendants from their group homes or recreation programs.  Adults with children’s faces, some I recognize from years past, some new to me, all excited to be at the event today.  I notice that the man, Paul, who three years ago introduced himself to me by shaking my hand, asking my name and telling me that his father died, is there again, but now using a wheelchair instead of his walker.  I wonder at his age.  Then I spot the woman who asked me last year, with the trust and face of a five year old under her gray hair, to help her with the souvenir zipper pull the participants were given.  She looks the same.  As I make small talk with the two women sharing our table, who each work at a different group home, Hillary’s coach approaches me.  She lets me know that since this is her senior year and so her last on their team, she has arranged for my daughter to be the American flag bearer for the opening ceremonies and that her teammate Alexandria will be pushing her wheelchair.  I am touched by this and hope that we can get a good picture to add to the many I have taken of father and daughter laughing under the Special Olympics banner.

Finally the competition begins and I can look over the pictures we have taken with our iPhones.  Some are good, and I post one of Bruce and Hillary laughing, the excitement apparent in her eyes, on Facebook. It will get many “likes” and a few comments if history is any indication.  As we munch our bagels, chat, and watch the games we marvel that Hillary still is laughing as she waits her turn and her lane mates talk to her.  This is a friendly competition.  I cannot watch her laugh enough; she rarely smiles and rarely laughs. She wins the bronze medal which means in a month or so we will once again be up before dawn and sitting in a bowling alley much earlier than we would like.  It’s ok, it will be worth it if it makes her happy.  Whatever it takes to see that smile is what we will do. Suddenly getting up at 4:30, braving the weather, and sitting in a bowling alley with a pounding headache is worth it.   

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Year Post 2014


One year ends and one begins, a chance to start anew
I'm glad to have so many friends, and things to choose to do
We celebrate the year gone by, with its trouble and its joy
And if the future we could spy, would it gladden or annoy?
Farewell to 2013! You kept me on my toes
Greetings 2014! Please have more highs than lows.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I’m a few days into this new year 2014, and in spite of resolving to MAKE time for writing, Life is holding on to time with a death grip.  In any case, that’s something I will have to work on.  I think that once I get past June I might have a bit more time at least for a while.  Last year set the stage for the big changes that are coming up for me this year, most of them within the first six months.  Hillary will be graduating in June, then (God willing) attending a day care program for a few hours a day five days a week.  So far it looks as if I will not be able to continue my current employment once that happens so I will either be looking for a new job or working different hours at my current one.  Either way things will be changing in a big way.

^^  On the first day back to work after the holiday break a co-worker lamented that she, unlike her teenaged children, has nothing to look forward to in the future.  For her, the New Year holds no promise of things being different or exciting.  It made me sad for her that she doesn’t see how her life can hold pleasant surprises and joyous moments. I wonder if many people feel that way.

^^Last Sunday we took a long drive.  As we traveled through the more open country west of us I looked out the window.  This time of year when there are no leaves on anything and the grass is hibernating is great for looking out the window.  I saw many houses that I didn’t realize were there when we drove the same route in the summer, and spied many country roads.  Country roads make me want to turn off the main route and follow them to see where they go.  Perhaps another day we will do that. 

^^My mind these days, like my house, is cluttered with things from the past, present and for the future.  Closets are time capsules here as are the boxes on the shelves in the laundry room where treasures and unwanted items reside together.  I’m hoping to make this the year that it gets whittled down to a more manageable level.  It would be much less stressful for both my mind and body to have fewer unnecessary items lying around.

^^This year I plan to get to know some acquaintances as friends, and deepen some of the friendships I have.  I think that walks, lunches, and other activities will be a good way to accomplish this goal.  How nice to look forward to having fun times with people I enjoy!

^^This post has been a little jumbled, but that is the state I am in; as if everything has been thrown into a box any which way and I am pulling items out,  moving things from the bottom to the top and trying to untangle the threads of thoughts woven through it all.