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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas in Chaos/New Year Thoughts

This year I felt as if,beginning the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and ending Christmas night, I was running at full speed. As well as the normal tasks and responsibilities I have, there were special things to do. Besides parties and holiday events, there was extra cleaning, shopping, planning and cooking.  This is true every year, but this year for some reason seemed extra hectic. I felt as if I was always thinking three steps ahead, and never felt as if I had a handle on anything. My world is chaotic on a good day, and the extra holiday preparations magnified that. I hope I can calm the inner chaos I feel, thereby taming the outer chaos I see.

Each of our Christmas decorations were placed among the chaos that exists every day. I often think that it would be nicer to pack away the everyday things and have a picture perfect house for the holidays; but life isn't picture perfect. It's hectic and disjointed and sloppy, and it seems right, somehow, that this is how we decorate every year. It's fitting our beliefs, our faith, into our everyday lives that's the challenge, isn't it? If that is so, then I seem to be doing a fair job of it.  It's likely that at some point in the next few months I'll notice a decoration that we forgot to put away, and I'll leave it, not wanting to stop what I'm doing to put it away. But maybe they are seemingly forgotten because I need occasional reminders that the spirit of Christmas is needed year round. Maybe I need reminders that joy, and love, and wonder are ever present in our lives if we only tune into them more, as we do at Christmas time. Fitting these things into the chaos of our lives is something we need to do all year, not just for one month of it.

With the turning of the calendar upon us, our thoughts turn to how the year that's ending was, and how we hope the year ahead will be. Some people make resolutions for the year ahead, things they want to improve in themselves. I don't do that, but I do reflect on things that happened in the past year and think if I handled things as well as I could have. The desire to improve ourselves, and in turn our lives, feels like putting hope and faith into action. So maybe those forgotten decorations are reminders to us throughout the year that we take the spirit of that time, especially the hopefulness, with us as we go forward in our efforts to grow into better versions of ourselves.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gratitude and Attitude

Today I have much gratitude
For the freedom to choose my attitude,
On this nineteenth day of November
I'm thankful I don't often surrender
To the negativity all around,
With optimism I am usually found.

I wrote this little ditty in 2013, I am not sure what was happening in my life that inspired me to write it. It was Hilly’s final year of school, and there were many unknowns about the future for both of us. Her in regards to where she would be going instead of school after graduating and me in regards to employment. It would have been easy because of those two situations alone to fall into pessimistic and negative thoughts, but I didn’t.  I may have visited that way of thinking sometimes but I chose not to dwell there. I still choose not to live in the negative; I find it exhausting.

Well my pies may not be pretty,
And the stuffing from a box,
I’ll be wearing comfy jeans,
And maybe slipper socks,
But the food will be delicious,
And the company divine,
‘Cause all we really care about,
Is having a great time.
Happy Thanksgiving!2017

This one I wrote the night before Thanksgiving after spending the day preparing for the feast with my brothers and their families Thanksgiving Day. Television programs and social media were filled with images and tricks for the perfect day, everything from what to wear to dinner time subjects to avoid. Well I don’t think I’ll ever be featured in a “perfect Thanksgiving” segment, but it suited us and that’s what matters to me. We are not a noisy, drama driven family. We talk, reminisce, and laugh a lot; we compliment each other’s offerings to the meal, and eat too much. If someone falls asleep, nobody is offended, in fact, Hilly got up in time to watch the parade on TV in the morning, then went back to bed and didn’t want to get up until dessert! I guess that’s the best part of the meal for her, and that’s fine. We are all unique, and accept each other as we are. That’s what helps make gatherings pleasant in my mind. Good food, no drama, respect and love for each other. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving Day, and choose to live in gratitude with a positive attitude.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October Poems

The Autumn sun is late to rise,
Yet earlier to set,
We greet the days with bleary eyes,
And think of challenges we've met,
Shorter days can give us time,
To reflect on our life's events,
With cooler air and longer nights,
With ourselves we reconnect.2016

Early morning fog and mist
Obscure my view of the trees,
There is no sun to dazzle us
With bright display of leaves,
Sound is muted, birds don’t sing,
A hush lies o’er the land,
As I look outside I realize
Soon we’ll all have rake in hand.

Thursday Haiku

The week is near done
Our weather is getting cooler
Autumn should be cool

This gross weather’s making me cranky,
Mother Nature is acting quite wanky,
If this doesn’t stop,
I’l be blowing my top,
So enough of this weather that’s stanky!

Leaves are falling
Through sticky air
Can’t find a
Cool breeze anywhere
October weather’s
Up and down
Cold then hot
And all around.

October dawns with air that’s cool,
As is generally the rule,
With shorter days and crisper air,
And golden sun beyond compare,
The trees will sport their colored leaves,
And at the end a ghostly breeze.

Autumn is my favorite season. Every year I get through Summer’s heat and humidity by looking forward to cool, crisp mornings and sunny, comfortably warm afternoons. This year, however, we have had few cool mornings and many (too many!) muggy, warm days and nights. It makes me feel pretty cranky! The leaves are mostly turning brown and falling off the trees. Not many red, yellow, and orange foliage to be seen.  I don’t like it, but there’s nothing I can do about it! It’s quite maddening when the weather isn’t cooperating with your expectations, isn’t it? By now we should be needing to turn on the heat but instead we are running the air conditioning most days. So it’s not like we’re even saving on the electric bill with the warmer weather. Ugh!

But enough of my mullygrubbing! On the good side, I don’t need a coat most days and I like that as I find them a bit restrictive. I can still enjoy reading outside and seeing flowers bloom. Also, I like not scraping frost off my windshield and having no worries about ice on the deck in the morning. So, I guess if the weather is going to be unseasonably warm I might as well enjoy it because before you know it I’ll be whining about snow.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

There's Always Laundry

Now that I'm back to my lunch lady duties during the week, I do most of the laundry on the weekends.  There is a mountain of it on the bed by the time I get to folding the few loads I manage to wash and dry during the week, and oh how I hate doing it!  Putting it in the washer and dryer doesn't bother me, but the folding and putting away just feels like a never ending task.  I especially dislike matching up socks; there always seems to be a few without mates and it is an age old question about how that happens!  You put 2 socks in the hamper, the washer, and the dryer then only one comes out.  Where do they go?  It's one of life's great mysteries.  Anyhow, laundry is one of those tasks that we must do--clothing, bedding, and towels don't wash themselves, that's for sure!  Last weekend I saved it all for Sunday because I decided that I wanted Saturday to relax and do as I pleased.  In the morning we took Hillary to an art and crafts activity run by a nonprofit disability advocacy organization, and while she was crafting I helped another parent stuff envelopes for the group's annual fundraiser.  So I didn't feel too guilty taking the rest of the day off!

And so it was that in the afternoon I spent time outside on my favorite seat on the back deck with a paperback novel and some iced coffee.  It was a beautiful day, very warm for the end of September, and blissfully absent of the sound of lawn mowers and leaf blowers.  I think it's important to take a day whenever possible to do something that you find enjoyable and restful.  For me that usually involves a book and a beverage and some quiet time.  Being outside with those things is a bonus!  It's so pleasant to read a bit, then look around at the trees, the sky, birds flitting from branch to branch and just appreciating my surroundings in general.  I spend so much time during the week running from task to task both at home and at work that I need a lazy afternoon on the weekend to recharge a bit.  My life is full, and I'm not complaining, but a break is always most welcome.  It helps my brain function better, and gives my body time to recoup from the weekday demands.  One thing I know for sure is that housework will still be there waiting to be done when I get to it, and that there's always laundry.  Unless you're a nudist, but that's another story.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Thoughts & Pictures

This is a picture of my daughter with frosting on her hand at her 25th birthday this week. I love this one because it captures the joy she got from the cake. My friend works at one of our local supermarkets as a cake decorator, and she made a truly beautiful cake for Hillary. We don't often get pictures of Hillary smiling or excited, those shows of emotion are fleeting and it's tough to capture them.
This is the cake my friend made. So beautiful! It was yellow cake with chocolate pudding filling and it was delicious!

This is a picture of my eldest brother's wife, Allison, who left us so young a year ago as of August 27. This picture was taken at her bridal shower. Her life was not easy, as she battled a painful and debilitating bone disease, yet I remember her smile, sense of humor, and pride in her children, her husband, her nursing degree and the time she spent practicing the profession she loved, as well as her love for my children and my brother. 
This is another picture from Allison's bridal shower which shows how she loved my girls, who were around 5 and 2 at the time. To me it shows family love.

I visited our town park one day toward the end of August to walk and take some pictures. This one stands out to me because it shows what a gorgeous day it was, how beautiful our park is, and part of the all veterans war memorial there. This is the memorial to service animals who gave their lives in service to our country. There is also a 9/11 memorial, flags from every branch of the service, names of local service people who gave their lives throughout the years, and a special seating area for Gold Star families. I like that these memorials are at the front of our park where all who come here to use the playing fields, playground, splash pad in summer, dog park and walking trails see it.

This is a picture of the retention pond which is across from the memorial area at the park. I've seen ducks, geese, and a blue heron there at different times over the years.

These are pictures from daily life, and it's moments like these that, when strung together over the course of years, make up our lives. If happy, pleasant moments are pearls on a necklace, the less pleasant ones are knots between them, keeping the beautiful ones in place.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Going Fast!

How can August be halfway through?
I still have so much summer to do!

The sun is out,
It's heating up,
Humidity is high,
August's steamy,
Sultry ways,
Will soon go
Bye, bye, bye.

The summer months always seem to fly by. I feel like it was just the middle of June yesterday and here we are in the middle of August already! Every year when the school year ends, I hang up my lunch lady hat and apron for the summer and make plans for things I want to do during my time off. I have a stack of books, writing goals, closets I want to clean out, storage boxes I want to sort through, and people I want to catch up with over lunch.  So far this year I've only read a couple of books, made one trip to drop off donations at the Salvation Army store, and gone to lunch twice. My writing goals are faring a but better, but are not close to being realized. I don't know where the time has gone! Maybe I've spent more time admiring the flowers we planted in pots, like the pink begonias our neighbor gave us in exchange for a couple tomato plants. Perhaps I've spent more time watching clouds float by and gazing at the colors of sunsets, or musing over the bees gathering pollen from flowers. Whatever it is that I've been doing instead of what I planned, it's been pleasant. The point of time off work is to relax and refresh, so I guess I've done that but would enjoy having more time to do it!

These are pink begonias our neighbor gave us. They've done well and are so pretty!

My husband trimmed the Wisteria so it is no longer eating the deck. Yay!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

When Things Grow

I think my wisteria is eating my deck,
The heat and the rain made it grow,
I didn't get out there to trim it quite yet,
But I just did it not too long ago!

This summer has been really great for growing plants!  Our flowers are beautiful, tomato plants producing tomatoes (they're still green, but should be ripening up in the next week or so), and on the down side there's a bumper crop of weeds where I don't want them.  I can't seem to keep up with the growth of things and most notably the Wisteria.  I planted this Wisteria the year after my mother passed away, as a reminder to me of all the flowers she planted around her yard and in flower beds.  On the side of the house between us and the next door neighbor she had Rose of Sharon, Peony, Forsythia, Mock Orange, and Wisteria. I spent many summer afternoons there laying on a beach towel listening to music and reading trashy novels and teen magazines.  It was a nice private spot with a  pleasant mixture of shade and sun. Her Wisteria had beautiful lavender colored flowers on it.  Mine has never flowered, but grows well and gives a little bit of shade to part of the back yard in the late afternoon when the sun is at its hottest in July and August. When it was first planted we had only the deck, the  paver patio and ramp to the back yard were added later when I needed a way to get Hillary down into the yard without the wheelchair wheels sinking into the soft ground in the spring.  As she grew and became heavier it has become more challenging for me to push her on soft surfaces, in fact now I can't push her across the grass by myself.  I need help getting her back up the  ramp from the yard, so I usually only take her on the patio or onto the deck.  But now, since we've had lots of heat and afternoon/evening thunderstorms with copious amounts of rain, the Wisteria has taken over and I need to trim it.  I don't think about it when I actually have time to do it, only when I'm on my way out or have just returned home and I see it when I'm in the van.  At least it's the back deck that's blocked and not the front.  However, there is the potential for a plant to take over the front deck. That would be the clematis which earlier in the summer was loaded with blooms, as the picture below shows. I had the joy of seeing that show of color every time I walked out my front door, but what you can't see in the picture is that it spilled over the top of the hand rail and sent out tendrils trying to attach to the other side.  I didn't have the heart to trim it so it's been a running thing to gently bend the feelers back over the deck rail to intertwine with the rest of the plant on the other side.  I think it will bloom again once the days are a little shorter .  Sometimes, if we have a mild Autumn, there will still be a flower or two near the bottom on Thanksgiving.  It always seems like such a treat when there is still a colorful blossom or two just when we're hearing about coming snow, it almost feels like a miracle.  It just goes to show that things that want to grow, will grow even when conditions don't favor them.  I think we are like that, we humans, if we want to grow we will.  We may be facing harsh conditions, or just things that don't favor growth but we can do it and we do, do it.  Sometimes we go into a bit of a dormancy period, but we are always looking for that chance to get better than we were yesterday, send out a new shoot, and maybe even put forth a blossom or two. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Too Many Things!

When everything happens at once,
And you feel just like you're being punk'd,
Tip your head back,
Have a good laugh,
'Cause you know you could not make this up!

This is a picture of a picture that hung in my parents' room when I was growing up.  I have had it hanging in my house in a spot where I see it every day, and I find the caption "Life is just one damn thing after another" to be as true now as it was whenever this was printed, framed, and hung up in my parents' house.  I like the motion in the picture, with everyone running, the dog after the cat, the woman from the man in the foreground, and the man from the woman in the background.  It's a bit whimsical with the Victorian era clothing and the expressions on the people's faces.

These past few weeks have been filled with "one thing" after "one more thing" to the point that I wrote the poem that began this post.  Truly, sometimes you do just have to laugh because if your life was a movie or a book, nobody would believe all of those things could happen in such rapid succession.  I assure you that no one is hurt, and with some creative adjustments to schedules everyone was able to get where they needed to go. When you have 3 adults driving 3 different vehicles and they all need servicing in the same week, it just feels like you've got some bad luck going for you! I think we all have those times in our lives that we are dealing with multiple stressful events that just seem to keep coming at us and yet are unrelated to each other. The weird thing is that I think I was given a kind of warning about one of the recent events a few weeks ago but was hoping it was just happenstance when some papers fell out of a cabinet for no reason.  How odd that the papers involved things from the past that are similar in nature to the present!  I'm told that spirits are trying to speak to me, and I'm on the fence as to whether that might be true but those papers falling on me do get me leaning toward belief. Why else would documents from a years ago fender bender randomly fall on me?  It's a little unsettling to think about, but those papers had been on that shelf for years untouched then there they are landing right in front of me on the counter when I opened the cabinet. Spooky!

Any how it does seem that there are times when so many things happen in such rapid succession that you can barely catch your breath after one before the next comes along.  This leaves you with two choices: laugh or cry.  It can be hard to laugh, I know, but once you get some perspective you have to laugh at the timing of the universe.  As if it's saying, "oh, you looked bored, so here are some things to handle", and there you are buried in stress and trying to keep your footing.  Once you get through it all, you can sit back and laugh at how absurd it is that you can go months without much happening that's out of the ordinary then in the space of one or two weeks you've got almost more than you can deal with.

Two of our vehicles are fixed and the third one is getting there.  It's all working out, just as things usually do.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Gloom & the Sunny Side

Even in the rain and gloom,
I love how still the flowers bloom,
They stored up sun from other days,
To continue sharing in their own way,
The hummingbirds still flit and sip,
The nectar there as around they flit,
Let us then be flower-like,
Presenting, still, our sunny side.

I know this is hard to do, keeping things positive when it feels like life is drenching you in rain, and all seems gloomy.  Maybe you feel doomed, like you just can't win no matter what you do.  I've been there, many times.  It's a place we all visit, I think; the trick is not moving in.  Just as eventually the rain will end and the sun come out again, so will whatever is bringing you down.  At some point, things will change for the better.  When you are feeling that way, try to connect with someone who is at a point where they are feeling positive and soak in all that positive energy.  It can help you feel less victimized by your situation and more empowered to push through it.  Rarely is there only one way to solve a problem or handle a situation. Sometimes we need help seeing that, and weighing our options.  We may already be doing the best thing for us in the situation but sometimes just knowing there is another way to get through it makes it seem, somehow, less dark and dreary.  If you can't present your sunny side at the moment, find someone who can present theirs for you to draw from, even if it is a favorite author who inspires you, or a webinar or video with a positive message.  It helps me when I am having a rainy day.

We have hydrangea surrounded by hosta in the front yard and they are beautiful this year!

As I sat on the front deck I watched a bee collecting pollen from the new guinea impatiens.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Book Review

Every summer I read as many books as possible. I've always done so, for as long as I can remember, summertime was reading time. Lying in the sun, or lying on my bed I'd read away the hot days.  It's still my preferred method for beating the heat. Misty of Chincoteague was one of my childhood favorites, then as a teenager I was all about those Harlequin Romance paperbacks. As an adult I'm more likely to read a mystery or thriller, Mary Higgins Clark, Dean Koontz, Janet Evanovich,and John Grisham are some of my go-to authors. I also try to include a biography or two in my summer reading list. I hope you have time for reading all year, but especially in the summer.

Are you looking for a good book to read this summer? My friend, Idelle, has published a book, True Mercy, and it's available on Amazon. Here is my review:

Review of True Mercy by Idelle Kursman
Reviewer: Sue Donald

In her debut novel, “True Mercy”, the author depicts with skill two unlikely heroes, Adam, a young man who has moderate Autism, and his recently widowed father, Bruce. In this fast paced novel Ms. Kursman tells the story of how Adam and Bruce rescue Marina, a young woman running from Russian sex traffickers, whom Adam finds shortly after her escape.  While they are helping her find her way back to her native country, Moldova, to be reunited with her family, she is helping them find their way through the loss of the wife and mother whom the father and son depended on for care and direction.
In his child-like way Adam longs for the mother who took care of him his whole life and looks to his new friend Marina for the mother’s love he misses.  Bruce is trying to hold everything together-the full time care of his child-like adult son, his job, and his own grief when Marina enters the picture.  Feeling this is a complication he does not need, and fearing for the safety of Adam, he tries not to get involved in her troubles.  Inevitably the goodness of his spirit wins out and the three find themselves dodging danger and dealing with the police and criminals; hurling them into an adventure none had ever dreamed of.
The complex and seemingly unrelated subjects of Autism and the sex trade are woven together in a believable and easily understood manner. The drama unfolds primarily in Morristown, a rural northwestern New Jersey town. With a quiet neighborhood, pizzeria, and the local hospital depicted authentically, you get a sense of how unusual the events portrayed would be in such a quiet, bucolic setting.  The twists and turns of this thriller will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. You will root for Bruce and Adam to find their way through their grief and for Marina to be saved and reunited with her loving family in Moldova. Skillfully crafted characters and well set scenes make this a good read for a weekend afternoon.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Welcome Summer!

Welcome Summer,
You are hot!
Some of us like that a lot,
Some prefer dear Autumn's ways, 
With cooler air and shorter days,
But Summer now that you are here,
You'll go too fast is what I fear,
I love your sunny, longer days,
And in the twilight how fireflies play,
I will enjoy the parts I like,
But Humidity can take a hike!

Here we are at the end of June.  Summer is finally here and we have been having some truly wonderful weather with just the right mix of sun and rain to make flowers bloom and vegetable gardens grow. Oddly enough so far we have not had the usual invasion of spiders so I've been really enjoying spending time out side reading and just contemplating the sky and thinking poetic thoughts about the sunset. I think it's one of the things I like most about summer, the time to simply watch baby birds learning to fly, clouds drift lazily across the sky, and the setting sun coloring the sky with shades of gold and rose and purple. I have yet to see the fireflies, but with the sun setting so late in the evening I'm not outside when they are rising up out of the grass.  In another few weeks, when we get to the middle of July, the sun will set earlier and I will be watching those fireflies and remembering all the nights I spent with my brothers running around the yard catching them and putting them in a mayonnaise jar to watch them crawl around and light up in the dark.  All the games of hide and seek, tag, and Frisbee we played run through my mind when I'm sitting out in the evening, my husband and I sharing our memories from when we each were children.  I remember what was probably one of the last times I played Frisbee was either the summer before, or the one after my senior year of high school before I went to college. We lived across the street from an elementary school which had a huge field in front of it where we used to play.  That summer we took to gathering as many of our friends as wanted to join in, my brothers and I, and play keep away with the Frisbee.  The one game that sticks out most in my mind is commonly referred to as our Frisbee-kill-a-thon, which we played with a glow in the dark disc. I think it may have been boys against girls, but on certain details my memory is fuzzy.  It was dark in that field, and I recall lots of laughter, squeals, falling on top of each other wrestling for the Frisbee and just that feeling you get only on certain occasions when it feels like the whole world is perfect.  We had such fun that hot, sticky, summer night!  I'm not sure if that Frisbee survived, but I think I recall that we all signed it before breaking up the game.  My friends and I sat under the street light across from my house talking, and I seem to remember a cop stopping to ask what we were doing at that hour.  It can't have been any later than 11:00 or so, but in our sleepy little town in the 70's I guess that was late.  Life is much tamer now and I'm lucky if I stay awake past 10:00 at night!  But oh those summer nights of my youth are fun to reminisce about!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Days of Living

We live each day
As it comes
What else can we do?
We make mistakes,
We look around,
Beauty carries us through.

Ummm, a packet of hot cereal does not belong in my teacup!

Weekday mornings are hard! Typically I'm groggy and tired, and my head is filled with thoughts of everything I must do that day. So, is it any wonder that on Wednesday morning, before 6:00 I poured my packet of cream of wheat into my teacup instead of a bowl? As soon as I did it I knew it wasn't right. So I shook my head, called myself a fool, took a picture, (well I had to share this moment of being totally an imperfect human!), then outed the cereal into a bowl and proceeded to pour the boiling water. We all do things like that from time to time. We are all busy with work and life, it's easy to get distracted by our thoughts and end up with things that don't go together in our cups from time to time. 
One of the first Clematis blossoms after a rainy morning.

As I approached my door after work the other day I noticed that the Clematis had bloomed and this flower sat right on top of the deck rail. It looked beautiful with the raindrops still on it and in the dim light of a cloudy, showery day the color seemed vibrant to me. Unexpected sights like this brighten every day. We need to only look around and quiet all the to do lists in our heads. I love those moments of beauty that are sprinkled through the chaos of daily life!
A child's party plate.

We went out to dinner with the church choir and spouses, (I'm the spouse, my husband is the choir member), and the director gave each of us one of these plates. She liked the inspirational message on it, she's the kind of person who does things like that regularly. It was a pleasant evening; a nice break in the busyness of the workweek. 

It is in simply living our lives, laughing at our mistakes, appreciating the beauty around us, and connecting with other people that make our days good.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Look Up

Look up, dear friend, look up,
Consider what you see,
How amazing it is that it exists,
Whether it's jet, or bird, or tree,
Take a breath, a moment,
Forget what else you seek,
For wonder is all around you,
Take it in when all seems bleak,
A split second of contemplation,
Does not mean you're weak.

Take heart, dear friend,
You're stronger than you know,
Hold on to that mindful moment,
As through your days you go.

The view of sky while sitting on the patio looking up through my wisteria.

It seems as though many of my friends are currently going through a time of trouble. Some I know what they are, the death of a loved one, an illness, or a general feeling of unrest, and some ask for prayers for unspecified concerns. Indeed, if you pay attention to current events there are plenty of serious problems to worry everyone. When feeling as if things are bleak I find that if I can just go outside and look up, take a breath and contemplate the sky, I feel a bit restored. There is something about looking up that lifts the spirit and helps light an ember of hope. Like looking at the ocean and feeling awed, contemplating the sky can have the same effect. If that vastness can exist in the same world that we do, and it is filled with life and mysteries we cannot see, then there is hope that we will come out the other side of our difficulties; and when we do, we will be stronger and wiser. I take some comfort in that.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May Days

A mother's job is tough, it's true,
She has many things she must do,
She does it all with such aplomb,
With generally an air of calm,
There must be times she feels defeated,
But carries on, knowing she's needed,
That can do spirit keeps her going,
Her love is endless, and overflowing,
That's why we have this day in May,
To make her feel special; that's Mother's Day.

Miss Hillary brought home a flower for my Mother's Day gift that she made at program.

Anna took me to a Paint & Sip event for Mother's Day. I think I did a good job painting the picture!  We had so much fun together that evening!

May is a month filled with special days, as if just being the month when we can let our feet free for a day or two here and there when we have an early "summer" day, and blooming flowers appear in the landscape and at garden centers isn't enough. We have Mother's Day and Memorial Day, and I have my grandparents' anniversary in the beginning of the month, (although they have both passed away decades ago I still remember their wedding date), my father-in-law's birthday, (he is also passed away), my mother's and Aunt Ethel's birthdays, (my mother is passed away but as far as I know Aunt Ethel is still with us), and my father's "angelversary" (he is also passed).  So this is a month that lends itself to staring at the sky at sunset remembering  those special people who are no longer with me in Earthly form, as well as thinking about those who are very much part of my life every day.

We tend to celebrate Mother's Day quietly, without lots of fanfare. This year Bruce and Hillary and I went to pick out some hanging flower baskets and azaleas for the front of the house.  The latter are to replace a couple of boxwoods that didn't survive the ice melter I used on the deck (well, in my defense, it's not easy pushing the wheelchair up or down the ramp when it's icy or snowy, and safety before bushes is my motto!).  Then at dinner time we ordered dinner from our favorite Italian restaurant as it is a bit difficult in crowded restaurants with Hillary's wheelchair and I don't enjoy crowded places any way. It was a nice day, and the following Friday Anna and I went to a "Paint & Sip" fundraiser for the fire department a couple of towns over.  If you've never heard of this or been to one, you buy a ticket in advance, take your beverage of choice and maybe a few snacks--although they do generally supply water to drink, coffee, and some lights snacks--and sit at a table with others you may or may not know. Everyone is provided an easel, canvas, paint brushes, and paint, and an instructor explains and demonstrates everything step by step.  It's a fun way to spend an evening, comparing pictures and laughing, making small talk and you end up with original art work to take home with you.  Even if you have no artistic skill at all you will succeed. If you see a notice for one, you should go!

These two pics are the flowers in hanging baskets we bought Mother's Day.

Memorial Day is a whole weekend event, it seems, around the country.  Towns have parades and special events to mark the day, but what is most popular about the day is the "unofficial start of summer".  Grilling is the big thing, and if you believe the local tv news, nobody stays home this weekend! The flaw there is that if nobody is staying home who is marching in and attending the parades and solemn remembrance ceremonies?  We're not going anywhere and it seems like most of my neighbors aren't either, judging by the sounds of  lawn mowers, weed whackers, and blowers I hear as well as the meat I smelled cooking last night on outdoor grills.  Bruce is marching in two parades in area towns this weekend with his bagpipes & drums band.  Hopefully the weather holds out and they won't get wet.  As for us, we'll just be here like the rest of the neighborhood doing yard work and grilling our dinner, enjoying the freedom to do as we like, thanks to the sacrifices of servicemen and women who fought for our country and lost their lives that we may enjoy ours.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Storm Gathers

Clouds come in as the evening falls
Momma bird scolds her young
Treetops sway in the gathering breeze
Knowing soon a storm will come
Rain will fall across the land
Flowers will drink their fill
Creatures will hide in bush and grass
Keeping safe from a soaking chill
I will in my snug home stay
Out of the wet and cold
Dreaming if the vibrant grass to come
And bright flowers petals to unfold.

The view from my favorite deck seat.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Color On A Gloomy Day

Our April showers have spilled into May,
It's chilly, and gloomy and wet,
But still robins sing and there's green on the trees,
And splashes of colorful flowers around,
With such a display through my window each day,
What reason have I to frown?

Lilacs are so pretty!

Spring is such an up and down time. One day it's sunny and warm, the next it's chilly and wet. Yet the landscape steadily awakens after lying dormant in the Winter months. Every day new color is added. Leaves appear on trees seemingly over night; did you ever notice how many shades of green there are in Spring? With increased warmth from the strengthening sun flowers begin to bud and bloom, adding splashes of color- pink, purple, yellow, and pale creamy white. It's dazzling! The angle of the sun changes as it climbs higher in the sky and stays out longer. Even when it's cloudy, you can tell the winter is gone because night falls later in the evening and retreats earlier in the morning. Soon I'll be hearing baby birds squeak-chirp from their nest in a tree near my house, then I'll get to watch as they practice flying first from branch to branch in the tree, then branch to wire, and finally tree to tree and beyond my view. Usually Blue Jays are the ones who nest in this particular tree.
This is the Maple tree where the Jays will nest and raise their family.

I love living here where there is much color and variety of tree, bush, and flower; some planted by us or neighbors, and some by Mother Nature using the wind and birds to plant the seeds of different foliage. It makes for a cheerful view through my window, even on a gloomy, wet day.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Time

Two little chickie decorations in my bay window.

Easter Rhyme

Did you color boiled eggs?
Did the bunny bring you treats?
Does your heart sing "Allelu
The Lord is risen it is true"?
Enjoy each aspect of this day,
Happy, Bless-ed, Easter Day.

Easter is a time of transformation and renewal. Brown groups of sticks are transformed over night into beautiful splashes of color in the landscape. It's also a chance to have some treats like chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. Be careful there or you'll be transforming your wardrobe by buying larger sized clothes! Haha!

Blooming forsythia in my front yard.

The thing about forsythia is that it reminds me of my mother and childhood. We had a beautiful row of it bordering our back yard between ours and the neighbor's. it's the first thing to bloom, its bright sunny yellow flowers hinting at bright, warm days to come. Mom loved flowers, and the color yellow, it's only natural that this plant should immediately bring her to mind.

This is a shot of some of our trees laden with buds on Easter morning under a beautiful blue sky.

We have many trees here, which is nice for shade in the summer, and great for the birds and squirrels to live in. One of the pleasantest things to do is sit quietly listening to the birds chirp and twitter, and squirrels scolding and scampering through the trees. It's amazing watching them run through the network of branches as they travel tree to tree on a lazy summer afternoon. 

Spring is a time of renewal, time to wake up from the cold winter's slumber and feel reborn; like the trees and flowers, wake up and let your splendor show.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Seaside Park where Island Beach State Park begins. 2010

I love being near the ocean, It stirs something in me; something about the unharnessed wildness speaks to me. It tells of life hidden under the surface, secrets yet to be discovered, and unrelenting motion. At the same time, I find it soothing. The sounds of waves breaking on the shore, rushing up the sand with foamy edges is a sight and sound that comforts; it's mesmerizing.. I could sit and watch it for hours.

I haven't been down the shore in many years. My husband and I used to go every year in the early spring and again in Autumn when the sun is still golden and warm but the air hints of chilly nights. I love it in the off season when it's too cold for most people. I'm not a sun worshipper, lying on the beach for hours perfecting my tan. I like a little nip in the fresh ocean air as I comb the beach for sea glass and shells. The wind off the water blows the cobwebs from my mind, clearing way for fresh thoughts, and memories to rise to the surface.

My aunt used to live in a shore town and when I was 19 it was there that I retreated for a few days after the break up of a whirlwind relationship that left me hurt and breathlessly wondering where my young life was going. For hours I walked the beach on cold, gray November days contemplating my feelings about everything. I'd return to my aunt's house, red nosed and rosy cheeked to share a pot of tea and confidences. Sage advice and laughter were shared over fragrant steaming cups poured from a large green ceramic teapot in the little shore house which was filled with framed and copious numbers of books on shelves and stacked on tables. It was cozy but not cluttered for such a small space. It was a perfect retreat for figuring things out, and my aunt and uncle comfortable hosts.

One day soon I hope to visit the ocean again, if only for a few short hours. It feeds my soul and clears my thoughts like nothing else can.

Seaside Park, NJ

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Food Scents

Image may contain: food

This is a poem from Facebook that I wrote and posted a couple years ago.  The picture of banana bread is more recent.

Scentsational Sunday!

Apple cinnamon oatmeal and toast scented the morning air,
French onion soup made at lunch-time made everyone feel quite fair,
Banana bread in the afternoon made the whole house smell so good,
The aroma of meatloaf and mashed potatoes promised yummy dinner food,
The day ended with homemade rice pudding scenting the evening time,
I'd have to say this scentsational day was gastronomically divine!

I think there's nothing better than a house full of the scent of good food.  It's part of the reason we love the holidays so much.  The smell of our favorite foods cooking brings back warm memories of family or events that lie dormant until awakened by the heavenly mingling of sweet and savory delights we look forward to enjoying. The feelings evoked by foods cannot be denied. Some, such as those described in the poem above, are the ultimate in comforting.  Cinnamon, onions, baked goods, and meatloaf bring me back to my childhood when the house would be warm in winter and smell of wonderful homemade meals and snacks.  They also bring me the satisfying knowledge that I am capable of filling my own home with the same comforts for my family.  Letting them know that they are loved and cared for.  I can't imagine giving them any greater gift than that.

The rich aroma of coffee brewing brings back so many memories for me.  First there are the memories from childhood and young adulthood when I lay in my bed just off the kitchen, my father getting ready for work to the sound of the percolator, toaster, and eggs cracking for his breakfast.  His gentle voice talking to the dog as they shared bits of toast dipped in coffee from a saucer.  Later in life, the scent of coffee figured in a big way as I worked in a donut shop.  The air was always filled with the smells of coffee brewing and the sweet odor of donuts.  My coat, in winter, always smelled of coffee.  As I grew into adulthood, the smell of coffee in the morning shared over breakfast with my husband on weekends was a staple, and we still share that weekend ritual although now we are more likely to be drinking from take out cups and watching the weekend morning news program in the living room. In the afternoon my daily cup of coffee is a nice pick me up.  No matter what else is going on, if I catch a whiff of  coffee I am almost always calmed and in a better mood.
Today was so warm that I headed out to the back deck with a cup of coffee and a book.  Such a treat in February!

The smell of someone grilling meat outside is another memory inducing scent.  Mostly it happens on weekends, but sometimes on a week night especially in summer, the air is filled with that mouthwatering tang of barbecue.  Memories come flooding in of trips to state parks and roadside grills, backyard parties, lazy weekends, and hamburgers, hot dogs, and toasted marshmallows.  Gas grills are nice for convenience, but give me the old fashioned charcoal and time spent outside with a squirt bottle of water to put down the flames so as not to burn the food as it cooks.  Those are some of the nicest times to remember.

I love the smell of tea; any kind of tea.  English Breakfast is my favorite on week day mornings, and peppermint my favorite before bed.  I just love the scent of a freshly opened box of tea!  Sometimes when I need a little post dinner pick-me-up to get me through kitchen clean up and lunch packing duties I brew a cup of Constant Comment which is an aromatic blend of black tea, orange and spice.  It is a heavenly perfume that I enjoy when I open the little foil packet to place it in my cup to await the magic that happens when boiling water is poured over the teabag. When I was growing up my mother was always a tea drinker and if one of us was sick she brewed us a cup of tea with lots of sugar in it, which was soothing and comforting.  Some of my fondest memories as an adult with my mother involve a cup of hot tea after dinner enjoyed over a game of Scrabble or Rummy at the dining room table.  Whether as a wake up call or a soothing end of the day treat, for me tea is a balm to be enjoyed sip by sip.

                                                   My top three favorite teas that I always keep on hand.

So those are some of the scents that we enjoy at our house.  It makes for such a pleasant, comfortable atmosphere enjoyed by us and anyone who visits.  I hope that your home is filled with delicious aromas every day.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Rhymes and Thoughts on Winter

TGIF Haiku

I like Friday best

This week seemed extremely long

A chance for down time


Well at the end of the workweek we all look forward to Friday and some time to relax, or at least a change from the Monday to Friday routine.  The busier I am one weekend, the more I look forward to Friday the next week.  I guess when I’m doing things, even fun things, on the weekend my body and brain don’t get to relax as much as I need them to.


Saturday's a lovely one,

The squirrelly workweek

Is all done.


This one is short and sweet, and to the point.  I do love Saturday mornings, even on busy weekends because I generally get up early any way so I can have a few minutes to myself.  I can reflect on the week just passed and plan out how I want my day to go (even if I plan way too much!).  It feels like such a hopeful day to me.  Whether or not it turns out to be as productive as I planned, it’s still nice to have the time to fill.


Ok, ok, the weather's bad,

It's windy, cold and rainy,

It's not the first storm we've had,

So let's not be so complain-y!


Really, we do tend to go on and on about the weather.  At this point in time, politics being what they are at the moment and everyone upset about something, I guess the weather is one thing we can all talk about without too much argument---although I have seen times when people got really angry at each other because one person hates cold weather, and one hates hot weather.  I guess if you’re looking to fight, any subject will do.


This is the Seward house at our town park. The town is thinking about renovating it to use as a small banquet hall for our recreation sports teams to use for their awards dinners. I just like stone buildings!

The sky is gray, the trees are bare,

The birds are flitting from here to there,

There's random snowflakes floating 'round,

They're not sticking on the ground,

The pine trees are swaying in the breeze,

Which makes cheeks red and noses freeze.


February’s gray skies and barren landscape are somewhat brightened up for me when there are birds around.  You can’t go wrong with appreciating Mother Nature when all else fails.  Snow flurries, a little breeze, cold air, and swaying pines really make for a lovely view whether you’re looking out the window or out and about getting a frozen nose and rosy cheeks.


Monday and caffeine

Go together

Like bulky coats

And Winter's weather


This is another short and sweet verse.  Mondays are hard!  Getting back into the workweek routine needs a little help.  Whether you get your caffeine from coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cola or an energy drink, most of us use it to get going Monday morning and to keep going through the afternoon energy slump.  Winter cold demands a warm coat, and they feel so bulky when you put them on and try to get into and out of the car.  They just go together.


They dragged the ground hog from his bed

He didn't look too happy

They asked him 'bout the winter's length

(I'd have been mad and snappy)

With beady eyes he looked around

And they said he saw his shadow

Which means six more weeks of winter

Ok then! Time to go.


Groundhog Day!  Oh boy, this year I think we were looking forward to the nonsense associated with the day more than other years.  It was a nice diversion to have a rodent predicting when winter will end.  And of course it wasn’t without controversy!  The Pennsylvania groundhog, Punxatawny Phil, and the Long Island one, Chuck didn’t agree about the nearness of springtime.  No surprise since they are in two different states and hundreds of miles away from each other.  Oh well, it was a good diversion from the usual crap on the news.


The workweek ends

And I am spent

Tonight my sofa's

Heaven sent.


And another Friday came, I was tired, and the sofa felt oh so comfy!  My energy was gone, and it was time to recharge.  I am always so thankful for my nice couch corner with its pillows and blanket waiting for me like old friends.  I tried to read a book, but darned if I didn’t keep falling asleep on it.  Geez! How could I be so tired?  Oh well, I guess that’s what comes of being busy all week.


Saturday starts cold and bright,

The sun is very nice,

It makes me think of summer days,

When I drink my coffee iced.


Sometimes the sun in winter is so bright, with a bright blue sky with white puffy clouds and it looks like it would be warm outside.  That’s when I start daydreaming about summer days spent sipping iced coffee in the afternoon while relaxing outside on the deck reading a book or just watching the leaves on the trees fluttering in a light breeze while squirrels frolic in the bushes and jump tree branch to tree branch.  Those thoughts are a nice respite from the chill of February days.  It’s at this point that the days are noticeably longer and the sun, if you’re in your car, actually feels warm.  Surely those lazy iced coffee sipping afternoons cannot be too far away!
A view of the trees and summer sky from my favorite seat on the deck.

Let your mind wander a bit, dear readers, it will help you feel more hopeful to think of some happy days ahead.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Little Things

Up With People pin.

People always say it’s the little things that count.  I think that’s true.  A pleasant greeting, a smile, or offering a mint when someone is coughing are all things that make daily life more pleasant.  A small gesture or kind word can keep you going through your day.  I know someone who recently was surprised with a gift of candy and some kind words from a coworker.  It made her day, and validated that she is doing a good job.  These things say to the other person, “you are valued”, and “you are appreciated”.  We all like the feeling of being noticed for our contributions to the smooth running of the workplace and home.  We go through our days trying our best to accomplish what needs to be done, while getting along with others and trying to help each other as we can.  Surprise acknowledgements of our efforts go a long way toward keeping everyone moving in a positive direction and working together.  Sometimes when we are getting frustrated with a task, it’s nice if someone asks if we need help with it.  Even if we don’t need help, when someone offers to assist us it’s as if they are saying, “I see your struggles, we’re all in this together”, and it may be just the thing we need to help us refocus and finish satisfactorily.  Of course, there are times when we get more annoyed by the offer of help because it feels like an interruption or a criticism; as if we are not capable of doing our job.  I think those are feelings that we read into other people’s words and not what was behind the offer of assistance, which then leads us to be out of sorts and ungracious.  We need to remind ourselves that an offer of a helping hand is not an indication that we are failing, it is simply another person’s desire to support us in that moment.  I am one of those folks who sometimes feels insulted by the offer of help, and I’m trying to remind myself that someone holding out a hand to help is a good thing, a sign of respect and care.  Responding to that offer with a smile and either grateful acceptance or gracious refusal is something I’m trying to remember.  It doesn’t mean I’m inadequate, it means that maybe I have too many tasks for one person that day and allowing another to do part of them is a good thing.  Then when things calm down I can return the favor, or do a little thing such as bring her a cup of coffee.  After all, it’s the little things that count.

Monday, January 9, 2017

January Days

I'm not sure what day this is,
Am I the only one?
The only thing I know for sure is
A new year has begun.

What is open? What is closed?
It is quite confusing
If I remain confused like this
At least I'll be amusing.
Last week was a short workweek, but those are the ones I find that I never seem to know what day it is.  Throw in a holiday on a Sunday and then try to figure out what businesses are observing the holiday on Monday, and which ones only closed on the actual holiday if at all, and it gets confusing if you're used to running on auto pilot.  I run pretty much on auto pilot, at least as far as the day of the week is concerned.

Dreary January days
Have us dreaming of the summer
Then we see they forecast
More cold and wind
Geez! What a bummer!
Well really, even though the days are getting slightly longer it seems that there are more cloudy days than sunny, and frequent forecasts for some type of frozen precipitation, freezing temperatures and wind.  When it's below freezing in temperature even just a light breeze makes it so much worse.  How much we miss those warm sunny days of summer when we are bundled up against the cold and expecting icy and snowy conditions!

January settles in with cold and snowy threats,
Those days when we complained of heat last summer we regret,
We don coats, hats, scarves and gloves and go about our lives,
Feeling sluggish as the worker bees hibernating in their hives.
Again, we were whiners last summer about the heat and humidity; right about now we would welcome that heat with open arms.  Oh to be relaxing in the shade of a big tree with a nice cold glass of iced tea and a good book right now!  I would miss the seasons if I moved somewhere that it was always hot, but the piercing cold and threat of bad weather do have me longing for that climate sometimes.  Being bundled up in winter wear loses its allure after a few weeks and coats, gloves, and boots make it tough to move freely; and I don't know about you but the lack of sunlight makes me tired.  Some days, in spite of lots of coffee or tea, I just don't feel fully awake.  This is a long month and it has settled in to a cold, gloomy, set of weeks.  The bright spot is that somewhere toward the end of the month, maybe after the 20th, the days seems noticeably longer and things start to look up a bit.

I hope you find something that comforts you and warms you during these cold, gloomy, sleepy days.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Farewell 2016! Welcome 2017!

The Christmas rush is over and I can't say that I'm sad about that because as much as I like Christmas and all that goes with it, things tend to get a bit stressful.  We hosted Christmas Day, as usual, which I love doing but somehow I didn't get as much done ahead as I had planned.  So my brothers and their families arrived and I was still in the kitchen trying to get those darned mushrooms stuffed and into the oven.  The dining room was not decorated nor were the tables for the buffet arranged, dishes weren't out, napkins still in their packages, glasses not out, but my daughter was trying her best to get things done when the first of them arrived, followed shortly by the rest.  Did I panic?  Nope, not me; I'm used to people arriving before things are ready because it happens nearly every day at work.  It actually worked out really well.  As soon as "Merry Christmas"es were exchanged and coats laid on our bed my sister in law and teen-aged nieces helped my daughter finish the dining room.  Among the laughter and chatter I heard as I worked diligently at the mushrooms, lights were strung, table cloth and placemats as well as chairs were arranged and any food that was ready was placed on the table.  The men, and Hillary, stayed in the living room talking amongst themselves until told that food was available.  Later, after everyone crowded into the living room for gift exchanging, we ladies gathered in chairs in the dining room to play games which included holiday charades.  The hours passed quickly and once coffee, tea, ice cream and cookies topped off the day everyone left and the house was quiet once again.  I love remembering these happy times and when my home is filled with the chatter and laughter of those I love.  It makes for a very Merry Christmas indeed.
This perplexing year is winding down
Our heads have not stopped shaking
As if we're experiencing a wild dream
From which we're having trouble waking.

So let's face it, 2016 was no picnic.  It wasn't horrible, well the end of the year, beginning with the end of August was not the best for our family, and my eldest brother especially had a terrible end of the year with the passing of his beloved wife Alison who battled a chronic, painful and debilitating illness for most of her adult life.  He and his two teenaged children are trying to find their balance and learning to live with the grief that the loss of the gentle woman brings. 
As far as the rest of the year, there were many ups and downs in our house, expensive things that had to either be fixed, replaced, or in the case of our beautiful  old maple tree, removed.  It was the year that I had to decide whether to look for a new job or find a way to enjoy it as I used to.  I chose to find a way to enjoy my time there by focusing on the good things about it and  accept but not dwell on the annoying aspects of it.  I think that probably I did that in regards to many things last year.  Well it's good to reflect on the past twelve months and realize that over all I had a pretty good, productive year.
Now here we are at 2017 and I can't believe that is what year it is!  I don't think when I was younger that I ever thought about this year, what it would be like, what age I would be, and what I would be doing.  I've always tended to live in the moment and not look too far ahead.  I also have not ever been one to make New Year's resolutions.  I'm not making any this year either, (why change now?), but I will set one goal for myself.  I want to be more courageous. Yes, I want to be brave in trying new things.  Not a lot of new things, and really improving current or past things is more like it; but it will feel like doing something new to me.  Some of that has to do with writing, and submitting my work, and some of it has to do with going places, and some is house related. 
I don't know what this new year will bring my way, challenges for sure, happy things, and most likely some unhappy ones as well.  Hopefully the good will be more plentiful than the bad for everyone.
Happy New Year!