Saturday, December 26, 2009

Last Post of 2009

Christmas Day was very pleasant here. We had a sleep-in, then opened presents over cups of coffee. My son came by in the afternoon for a Christmas brunch. We had a Swedish pancake, baked eggs, bacon and ham, oven fried potatoes, and pumpkin-cranberry bread. Quiet.

I called my daughter--where it was not so quiet. They had just finished with their presents and the kids were very happy and excited to play with new toys.

Now...The tree is down and all the decorations are put away. The furniture is all back into normal position. There are still way too many cookies and candies about, but the freezer and fridge are down to just enough for today and tomorrow. Most of the packing is done, a lot of stuff already in the car. We will be leaving for North Augusta, South Carolina on Monday and then on to Venice, Florida for New Year's Day.

So it's time to wish everyone a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

May Santa be good to you all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snowy Day

Snow has been falling gently all day. It hasn't amounted to much on the ground, but it has kept us inside and concentrating on the packing that needs to get done before we leave for warmer, sunnier climes.
Winter weather was actually late in arriving this year and we got none of the big storm that went up the coast last weekend. We probably won't be so winter weary when we leave.
Tomorrow may warm up a bit--get all the way into the 20's--so it might be a good chance to get out for a quick ski. Fresh air and exercise would be a good antidote for the Christmas cookie and candy bloat that has taken hold. It would be nice to sit in the car for the long ride coming up and actually be able to keep my pants buttoned up. Let's just say this has not been a good week for that diet I never started anyway.
"Good thing New Year's Resolutions are coming up," (she said once again demonstrating her inner dieter's incredible talent for self-delusional fantasy).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Forever Blowing Bubbles

Okay, after my family Christmas gathering a few years ago, I was loading up the dish washer. It was quite late. I was quite tired. I had been planning, and shopping, and cooking for a few days. The party was pleasant. I enjoyed a glass of wine (or two, or maybe even three) throughout the evening. Mike was going to bed, but I wanted to get the dish washer started. He watched me squirt the Dawn dish washing liquid into the dish washing machine and apparently had the thought that something was not right but only managed to say, "see you in the morning."
I went downstairs (we live in a raised range style house) to sit by the dwindling fire in our den, sip that last glass of wine, and reflect on the satisfaction of a family that can get together, share a meal , and have a nice time enjoying each others' company. I remember that the 11 o'clock news was coming on when I started to hear "drip, drip, drip." I went to investigate and saw water dripping from the ceiling just behind the television.
"Well this is strange," I thought, and I went upstairs to see if the toilet was overflowing. Of course that was not the problem. The kitchen was filling up with soap suds and water covered the floor. I turned off the dish washer and ran down to the garage to get the wet vac, which took up residence in the kitchen for the next three days while I would run the empty dishwasher and suck up suds as they oozed out.
It's just when you think you have life under control that you really have to watch out. Oh, and here's a household tip from a Martha wannabe: Don't put liquid dish detergent meant for the dish pan into the dish washer...unless you want a really, really clean kitchen floor.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Where's The Remote?

This morning we could not find the remote controls for either one of our two television sets. Since we had my family Christmas gathering yesterday and the three kids in attendance were fleetingly watching Sponge Bob Squarepants at some point during the evening, we started looking in the places that a two or three year old might have dropped something like a remote. We looked under cushions and under furniture. We looked behind furniture and in cupboards, drawers, bags, boxes, shoes, laundry baskets, wastepaper baskets, coat pockets. Honestly, I looked in the toilet tank. We found them after about six hours of sporadic searching--one behind the lamp on the table next to the den couch and one on the bedroom bureau behind the swivel mirror--obviously not places a toddler would carelessly drop them! They must have been hidden by an adult concerned about unsupervised TV watching.
I love my family Christmas get together. That's the real holiday for me. Too bad there is always an associated minor disaster. One year my daughter was in a car accident and Mike and one of my nephews had to drive to a hospital fifty miles away to pick her up. Fortunately her injury was not severe. This year it was the lost remotes. Four years ago it was the dishwasher fiasco, but that's another story.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gift Wrapping

There was an article in the Burlington Free Press this morning about making the wrapping part of the gift. So that thing I tried to get away with a little while ago--about my simple wrapping being eco-friendly, trendy green--just not going to hold up. Apparently furoshiki is where it's at, and I just missed that boat completely. And me with a tubs of scrap fabric besides!

The blog, Skip to My Lou ( will show you all about it.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Yesterday I read Arkansas Patti's post about eating to empty the refrigerator ( We are also in the the process of emptying the refrigerator, freezer, and any open pantry items. We will be leaving for Florida on December 28th. This chore is complicated by the fact that we are hosting my family Christmas party this Sunday. That means lots of food and I can't very well serve a big bowl of cornmeal mush just because I have an opened container with about a cup and a half of cornmeal in it that I need to use up.

Last night we had cornmeal mush (let's call it polenta) with a scampi made from the remains of a bag of frozen shrimp, a bit of garlic, the last couple of splashes of juice from a week old lemon, and the last of a jar of capers. Hey, it was pretty good. We're sure to have much stranger meals before we leave.

I have a dread fear of leaving flours and grains in the cupboards even though I transfer everything into airtight containers. (Pantry moths)*. And anyone who has ever worked where there is a communal fridge for employees knows what happens to items left too long--never by anyone who actually works there, or so they all claim--enough fuzz to knit a sweater and a matching scarf. Double yuk. Don't even get my started about the spills in the break room microwave.

On time when I got to work early, I went to put my lunch bag in the mini fridge on our office counter. There was a pink substance--could have been yogurt, could have been Pepto Bismal--oozing from the door down onto the counter and thence onto the floor. Now, here's the killer part...someone else had already seen this disaster because there was a self-righteously scrawled note taped on the door: "Is this YOUR mess????" Yeah, I'm sure that was going to get the culprit to mend his/her ways.

*Some people have told me they couldn't bear to spend time in Florida because of all the bugs, but let me tell ya Vermont has no shortage of buggy things!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hurry, Scurry

Cold, cold, cold today! And busy, busy--traffic every where. Don't people have JOBS they should be doing in the middle of the day in the middle of the week?? Really, those holiday shoppers so interfere with my stress-free shopping on a weekday. Have they no respect for the retired? I mean I rarely venture into the shops on the weekends, holding up lines while I begin to count out my change, rummaging my wallet out of my bag just after the entire order is totalled up. If that's going to annoy you on a weekday, stay home!
Wrapping is mostly done. Martha Stewart would blanch and faint, or at least pucker her lips in a righteous moue, I'm sure. I put gifts in white boxes, tied a ribbon around the box and pasted on the cut out fronts of old Christmas cards with "to" and "from" written on. It's not that I was too cheap to buy wrapping paper and gift tags; I was going for environmentally friendly. Yeah, that's it--environmentally friendly, cutting back on my carbon footprint.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where's Your Sense of Humor?

There was a wire service piece in the local paper about North Face, purveyor of active wear, suing a college student who started a line of leisure wear he chose to call, "South Butt." The North Face people apparently took exception to the parody. C'mon.

Stray thoughts...

Yesterday I wore boots to walk to the library because of the slush. Now I have a painful blister on my right heel. Good walking shoes are one of life's necessities.

Today the weather is particularly dreary--grey, half rain, half snow. We have not had one of those snowfalls that changes the world into some kind of magical fairy castle, glistening and clean, as yet this season. What snow we have had has been wet and has not even fully covered the ground--the kind that is black and dingy within an hour. WAAH, WAAH. Turning on the Christmas lights made me happy, though--lights and the chocolate chip cookies warm out of the oven.

I wrapped presents today and prepared some pie crust dough to stash in the fridge. My family get-together is this coming Sunday so I have a menu to plan and grocery shopping and cooking to do later this week. Sometimes I get into a mood of slavish dedication to everything made from scratch. This year, except for pies, a trip to Costco will do it, I think.

I have a hair cut appointment on Friday--a simple trim. I look forward to this like it was a day at a coastal California spa. I'm planning a sushi lunch and a bottle of semi-expensive wine. Sometimes it really doesn't take much to boost me right out of a funk.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What Do Dreams Mean?

Lately I have been having the most intricately detailed dreams. It has moved me to look up dream symbols. It appears from a preliminary stab at understanding what might go on in my head that I either have some childhood memory to deal with or I am in search of a more spiritual dimension to my life. Either could be entirely true, but I lean toward the spiritual dimension. Doorways, stairs, boxes, and family members figure prominently in these dreams. Sometimes I just wish the universe would stop being so coy and just come out with it. I'm sure I could take it.
Any thoughts? Suggestions?
from photoxpress

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Planning a Work Party**

I received this e-mail from a friend who also happens to be a veteran of work related party planning. Thanks, Ginnie, for some fun times. Your efforts are never appreciated enough, but I get it. You are the spirit of generosity.
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: November11, 2009
RE: Gala Christmas Party
I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks!We'll have a small band playing traditional carols... feel free to singalong. And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM. Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for every one's pockets.This gathering is only for employees! Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time! Merry Christmas to you and your family, Patty ________________________________ ________________________________ Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: November 12, 2009
RE: Gala Holiday Party
In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year.However, from now on, we're calling it our "Holiday Party." The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment. Happy now? Happy Holidays to you and your family, Patty ________________________________
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: November 13, 2009
RE: Holiday Party
Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn't sign your name.I'm happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this? Somebody? And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy. REMEMBER: NO GIFTS EXCHANGE WILL BE ALLOWED. ________________________________
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
To: All Employees
DATE: November 14, 2009
RE: Generic Holiday Party
What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees' beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy. Will that work? Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms. Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each group will have their own table. Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men's table. To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms. Sorry. We will have booster seats for short people. Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet. I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food. The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first. There will be fresh "low sugar" fruits as dessert for diabetics,but the restaurant cannot supply "no sugar" desserts. Sorry! Did I miss anything?!?!? Patty ________________________________
Company Memo
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All F*%^ing Employees
DATE: November 15, 2009
RE: The F*%^ing Holiday Party
I've had it with you vegetarian pricks!!! We're going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so quaintly put it, and you'll get your f*%^ing salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them scream right NOW! The rest of you f*%^ing weirdos can kiss my *ss. I hope you all have a rotten holiday! Drive drunk and die,
TheB*tchfromH*ll!!! ________________________________
Company Memo
FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: November 16, 2009
RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party
I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery and I'll continue to forward your cards to her. In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay. Happy Holidays! Joan

**Just not worth it. It's a rare bunch who work together that also like to play together, I guess. On the other hand, you can't go wrong with time off with pay.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Have a thesaurus handy?

Writing can be such hard work sometimes.

We wish you a ...

I read a letter to the editor yesterday by a guy who was outraged when he hears store clerks and bank tellers wish shoppers, "Happy Holidays." I witnessed a man returning a box of cards his wife had purchased at the stationery shop because they referred to "Holidays." Apparently, there is some movement to boycott Old Navy and Gap stores because their TV ads mention Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and solstice. Christmas is being squeezed out.

Personally, I don't react to greetings of "Happy Holidays" in a negative way. It seems to me that people were wishing each other "Happy Holidays" long before any concept of political correctness. When I was growing up I had never heard of solstice or Kwanzaa and had only the vaguest awareness of Hanukkah. "Happy Holidays!" was meant to cover Christmas through New Year's Day. If anything, I guess it was more efficient than saying (or writing), "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year." You save four whole syllables and sixteen letters.

I enjoy hearing a hearty "Merry Christmas!" but it's not such a bad thing to at least be aware that some might feel excluded. What is really sad, though, as referring to this time of year as the "Holiday Shopping Season." That's beyond secular and on into crassly commercial.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lunch and Shopping

I ventured out today to pick up the wreaths and swags that had been blown over the yard yesterday. About a third of our neighbor's willow tree is scattered over our yard as well. It's kind of a mess, but at least we had power yesterday.

Then I took off to finish up some Christmas shopping. I'm pretty much done shopping and now need to get wrapping. I didn't have much money to spend this year so fancy wrapping is out--not very green, anyway.

In the midst of my shopping, I stopped and had lunch with my son after picking him up at his work. We went to a favorite place of ours--The Four Corners of the Earth Cafe. They have delicious sandwiches with a worldly cachet and the decor is captivating. I had the Russian salmon and Kevin, who is working his way through the entire menu so tries something different each time, had Danish egg.

I had a couple of things to pick up at Macy's. When I went into the mall from the parking garage, there was a young guy standing in front of a kiosk flying a little remote control helicopter. That seems like a pretty good gig for a seasonal job, but I guess it could be a lot of standing on your feet. The helicopter was cute, but not on my list.

It was good to get out of the house even though we were really only shut in for one day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Welcome Back, Winter

Winter hasn't forgotten us after all. We have had dustings of snow for the past two days, and for tonight the prediction is for a snow, ice, rain, high winds, and other general weather related mayhem. All it took, apparently, was for me to start planning the Christmas get-together for my family. Now I can worry that the weather will ruin the day.
Just like with Mike's family Thanksgiving get-together, there is reason for a certain amount of sadness this season. My sister's husband will be starting chemo for the return of his cancer. Nieces and nephews have scattered across the country and one brother is is North Carolina from November through May now, so we won't be seeing him and his wife for the holidays. One nephew has just left for Indiana with the Vermont National Guard, possibly on the way to Afghanistan. I don't think I am the kind of person who resists any kind of change, but not all changes are easy to accept. My own grandmother used to say, quite forcefully, "Don't get old!"
With all due respect, though, I guess it is better than the alternative.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Little Decorating

I have not pulled out all the Christmas decorations and have decided that some are just not making the cut this year. Simple is my theme--a basket on the table,

some touches of green and red,

my Santa collection and lights at the window.

That's enough!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friends are Moving Away

Our friends Bob and Sarah have sold their house and have been packing up for the past six weeks or so. The moving van will be at their house on Tuesday to take all their things to Colorado. Mike is so sad to see them go and I think Bob is secretly sad to be leaving a house he built and grounds he perfected over the years. (It is a beautiful home.) Sarah's daughters and young grand children are in Colorado, so I understand her desire to be close to them.

Twenty-six years in one house can mean a lot of stuff accumulated. We thought about moving a few years ago and started "downsizing." We sold and gave away LOADS of stuff. At least twice a year, I get rid of some small pile of stuff. Just yesterday it was a box of Christmas dishes--taking up too much space for something that is only used for a very limited time each year so off to Goodwill they went. Mike has been periodically selling some of his collectibles on e-bay. Still, there are no discernible holes or empty storage spaces any where in the house. Stuff must be like mice in the reproduction department.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December So Soon

PhotoXpress The unseasonably warm weather has continued right into the beginning of December. Today was actually record-breaking warm with temperatures into the 50's. Yesterday we drove down to deliver the Advent banners to the grand children. I got a bit of grand children fix and Mike went to visit a couple of his friends from the motorcycle world so it was pleasant all the way around.
Today, I dragged out some Christmas decorations. I have cut way back--no longer decking out every room in the house--but it is nice to have the candle lights in the front windows and some wreaths hanging at the door. Since we head out for Florida right after Christmas, I now thing about the "putting away"as much as the preparations. In fact, I would be happy with just a table top tree, one that I could plant in the back, but Mike still likes the big tree in the living room. We live near a huge tree farm (or two), so it is kind of an easy purchase. We'll probably go cut a fresh tree some time late next week.
Also today I baked the Scottish shortbread...and put it all in the freezer as soon as it was cool so as not to be tempted to gobble it up for dessert after tonight's supper. Tomorrow, I'll take a trip to Costco and get supplies for the Ukrainian nut bread, English toffee, and Rugelach cookies. I used up all my butter today. The one thing from my childhood Christmas table that I do not do is my grandmother's suet pudding. It was really good with raisins and a brandy sauce, but one has to draw the line somewhere!
Oh, and temperatures in the 50's here in Vermont means people are out and about in shorts and tee shirts. Typically, we would have had a major snow storm by now. When we are in Florida (Venice, a subtropical climate), temperatures in the 50's mean coats, hats, and mittens and news bulletins warning you to keep your pets inside. It's all relative.

Monday, November 30, 2009


When I was growing up, Sunday was a day long ritual. We dressed up and went to church in the morning. When we got home, my father read the New York Times while my mother prepared a big Sunday dinner--maybe a roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, several vegetable side dishes, usually homemade bread, and always a cake or a pie for dessert. After dinner we kids helped with the clean-up while my father dozed on the couch. After that we were expected to play quietly (not always easy for four kids with only five years between the oldest and the youngest) while my mother read the New York Times and my father watched a ball game on the television. Later we all piled into the family car for a Sunday drive. In the evening, we watched TV together--shows like Walt Disney, Wild Kingdom, Ed Sullivan, Bonanza. Sunday night supper was usually a bowl of ice cream or freshly popped popcorn with lots of melted butter and salt--the only meal that was ever eaten away from the kitchen or dining room table.

There was one Sunday dinner I remember that was somewhat unusual. We were joined by my paternal grandparents. We ate at the dining room table, but it was set up in the living room. A set up in the living room dates this memory to 1955 or 1956. My grandfather and father were building a master bedroom and bath onto our small two-bedroom house and would have been using the dining room as a work space and entry way to the addition. At this meal, I'm sure there was a roast, and potatoes and gravy, rutabaga (my grandmother always made rutabaga for big meals) and other vegetables, and I'm sure there was a pie or cake for dessert. Exact recall of these dishes has long ago left me, BUT I do have vivid recall of the fact that a bowl of sauteed mushrooms was placed on that table by my mother just as she came in from the kitchen and took her seat. I can recall my father's delight. "Ooh, mushrooms. Yum. I love mushrooms. Here, try'll love 'em," he practically gushed as he scooped a spoonful of mushrooms onto my plate.

I have never been an especially finicky eater. I speared a mushroom slice and guided it to my mouth as my father watched expectantly. He was not prone to play cruel jokes on me. I am still sure he really believed I would love mushrooms as much as he, so I smiled bravely and shook my head in affirmation. This seemed to fill him with joy. "I knew you'd like them! They're delicious!" he practically sang as he went back to the business of his own plate.
Meanwhile a mushroom, like some slimy living thing that had slithered out of a primordial ooze and invaded my body, sat on my tongue threatening to choke the very life right out of me. Spitting out food at the table just was not done, especially with my grandmother at the table. I knew that instinctively. I must have managed to swallow that offending substance, perhaps in a big gulp of milk. It's one of those traumatic memories that get blocked out of consciousness for all eternity.
Still, there was a daunting pile of mushrooms on my plate. If it was on your plate, you ate it. This was the legacy of my grandparents and parents, who had survived the deprivations of famines, and wars, and The Great Depression.
I sat quietly through the meal. "Children should be seen but not heard at the table" was a remark often made by my grandmother if adult dinner conversation was interrupted by the petty concerns of children. For once, this worked to my advantage. As the adults ate and conversed, I was able, with patience and vigilance and careful planning, to slide each mushroom slice over the edge of my plate and tuck it, unseen, under the lip of my mother's good China dinner plate. Finally, my mission accomplished, tension flooded out of me. I'd managed to "clean my plate" and, thereby, earn dessert. I sat contented in the midst of my family in what now could have been a scene for a Norman Rockwell illustration.
And then, the best words of the day, even the whole week..."Who's ready for dessert?" my mother asked. Both she and my grandmother stood to clear the table. Out went all the serving dishes from the middle of the table. In my ignorance, I sat looking at the yellow drapes with stylized Chinese motif hanging on the living room windows--looking forward to nothing but dessert. My mother came back into the room carrying dessert dishes which she placed on a cleared spot. Then she started to pick up the dinner plates at each place. Suddenly, my stomach did a flip. There was a fatal flaw in my clever plan! Why, oh, why did my family not have a dog that could sit under the table surreptitiously snarfing up table scraps?
Then, there it went--my plate lifted off the table and placed atop the stack my mother was compiling for her next trek back into the kitchen. And there they were--a perfect ring of mushrooms sitting where my plate had just been. I was deafened by the silence as everyone stared at the place in front of me. There might have been fairies dancing on the mushrooms, such was the shock on the faces around me. And then the shock turned to hoots of laughter. And there I sat--embarrassment and guilt burning to my core.
Of course, this became a family story, shared with laughter, shared at family gatherings to this day, usually brought up by one of my siblings in the way that families reminisce. I've told the story on myself to my children and my grandchildren when they objected to some food or another. I always end with, "So if you don't like it, just don't eat it, but leave it on your plate." I laugh along with everyone else, but here's the thing: this story makes me feel sad. It's because I remember that guilty feeling--it wasn't that I'd wasted food, or that I'd lied about liking mushrooms when I didn't, but because it was the first time I disappointed my father. Certainly, I disappointed him many times later in life so I guess the mushroom incident was a fairly benign way of introducing him to that concept. Frankly, it's not the inevitibility of disappointing my father that makes me sad. What bothers me is how primed and ready I was to ignore my own experience, deny my own feelings, silence my own voice. Yes, I respected my elders, as was expected and proper in those days, but how long would it take me to respect myself because, in the end, isn't that how we grow and mature and become ourselves--by giving up a need to please our parents and finding our own true way--whether at the dinner table or in the larger context of life.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Plans

Mike and I will travel to Connecticut for Thanksgiving. We'll go to his brother Bill's for the turkey dinner and , since it is his brother Tom's birthday, we will probably have birthday cake. Sadly, for me, the Heberts are not pumpkin pie people. We'll stay with his sister Jeannie afterwards. On Friday the family will get together at a nice Italian restaurant. We will be celebrating Bill's upcoming 65th birthday and his official retirement. It'll be busy and fun, but with the sad note of Harvey's passing six months ago. Bill and Harvey had the same birthday, five years apart. (Just what every five year old boy wants for his birthday, a baby brother, I'm sure!)

Mike has had his shopping list ready since last December--an Italian grinder at Giant Grinder in Hartford, a pound of Italian cookies from Modern Bakery, and a ball of provologne cheese from the Italian market. That's the real Thanksgiving traditional feast for him.

Advent Calendars

I have completed--in time!!--the Advent Calendars for Kristen and Dane. I started this last year. Well, no. Actually, I had given Kristen an Advent Calendar a couple of years ago--one of those with a chocolate treat behind each door--but their dog, Chopper, ate the whole thing by the second day of December. (Chocolate, foil wrap, paper calendar, the WHOLE thing)

Last year I made two banners with pockets and button hangers and ribbon ties and tucked or fastened twenty-four little gifts for both the kids. I was thinking it would teach counting skills and patience as well as ease some of the "I can't wait" tension. It was pretty successful, I think. I also think that Amy and Marty (my daughter and her husband ) got as much of a kick out of it as the kids did. Anyway, it was fun to do, and they looked forward to going downstairs each morning and finding the date so they could get that day's treat. I refilled them this year. Crayons, pencils, notepads, toy dinosaurs or funky jewelry, spare change for their piggy banks, a candy cane, a chocolate kiss, a snack bag of microwave popcorn--I’ve collected those kinds of things and little boxes to put them in over the past couple of months. Maybe it’s a bit over the top. My son still remembers how excited he was to open a door on the Advent Calendar and find a Christmas related picture. Probably Kristen and Dane would not be content with a picture at this point. The fun of grand parenting (and just a little extra time!).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Digital Reader

Arkansas Patti, on her blog ( recently wrote about Kindle, the electronic book. I was surprised but pleased to learn that its reading surface does not have the computer screen glare that I had assumed would be the problem.
I am a regular at our small town library, shown here. The library, a mile and a half from my house, is a good destination for a walk. The librarian is always interested in acquisition requests and is great about using the State inter library loan system. It even has downloadable books for borrowing, which I have never tried. I don’t think my eyes would tolerate reading an entire book off a computer screen. That’s why I was glad to learn about the non-glare feature of a Kindle even though I am not about to run out and purchase one. I still like the feeling of a book, but I get the appeal of a digital reader.

What I did see recently was a digital reader for the kitchen. You know, designed to hold recipes, menus, cooking tips, and such. That is something I would use in a heartbeat. It costs around $300 dollars, though. I figure, as with so many electronics, in a short enough time the cost will go down and the reliability and ease of use will go up, so I’m not running out to buy one now

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baking II

The process of baking is a way I feed my soul. Unfortunately, afterwards I feel compelled to feed my appetite as well and partake of that which I have made. This is not such a good thing.

In September, my doctor told me to lose ten pounds. So far I have just bounced up and down one or two pounds either way and not made a real serious effort. The stretch of time between Thanksgiving and New Year's--not the most auspicious time for dieting, is it. But then, I still have ten months before I go back for another physical.

The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up. ~Author Unknown
Yummy. Stuff it in there. (Representation of my inner child who has no ability nor inclination to delay gratification)

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Everyone needs to read the November 20 post, "Wise Woman Friday: Margaret Junkin Preston," by Margaret at Finnegan Begin Again (
I love to bake pies and breads. There is something satisfying to my soul in the very process. Lovingly prepared foods were such a part of my family's holiday traditions. I look forward to the Christmas season just for the joy of baking and sharing.
This e-mail exchange amused me so husband and son-in-law are guest bloggers today:

Dear Mike (Dad),

Looking forward to your visit. So that we might bond more as a family, I'm thinking you could load up on cash before you come so you can take us all out to do fun things each night. Nothing fancy, just a lobster dinner or two.

And as always, please don't spend more than about $500 on a personal gift for me. After all, it is about the season, not the giving.

Your favorite son-in-law,


and the reply:

To my favorite Son-in-law, Charles,
I don't know where to begin to thank you for the opportunity of bonding with you and the family. Olga and I are experiencing some financial difficulties and may have to limit our Florida stay so we decided that a four to six week bonding period would be perfect ( It could be longer depending on the quality of the accommodations ). We will be spending the next few days putting together a list of the types of food, wine and liquor that we are accustomed to, nothing fancy just your standard normal fare ( NY Strip steaks, wines in the $12-18 range and Crown Royal, etc, etc ). By the way we like to sleep late and we think that the big bed room on the first floor would be a nice quiet room for us.
I think the $5.00 limit for a Christmas gift does not allow me to express my gratitude to you for opening you house, refrigerator, bed room and all other amenities that you might have to offer, so,
I plan on spending at least $10.00.
Your Favorite Father in Law,

Friday, November 20, 2009

November Bouquet

I didn't get around to going for my walk until almost 3:00 yesterday. The sun was behind the hill by the time I got home. The sun is so far to the south and makes such a shallow arc from east to west that it doesn't really matter what time of day you are out, the sun is right in you eyes and your shadow is twenty feet long even at noon--so with the sun going down, at least I could see. I picked a bouquet of winter berries in a field along the way.
Today it is pouring, but I'm off for a grand kids fix, so there's my sunshine for today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Machines Hate Me

There are people who believe that inanimate objects are incapable of strong emotion, well any emotion actually. I think they are wrong. It is very clear to me that machines hate me. I don't hate machines. In fact, I appreciate their usefulness very much. I do not, however, understand machines. They sense that. They hone in on my weakness and conspire to make my life hell on earth whenever I try to tinker with anything the least bit mechanical--punishment for my failure to comprehend the allure of gears and shafts and precision timing. Even simple tools elude my ability to master.
Really, I don't consider myself an incompetent person as a general rule. Machines hate me. I have been sewing a lot in the past few days. I like my old sewing machine (a 1960's vintage Singer). I try to take care of it. Take today...I'd finished a project and figured I would brush out the dust and fiber specks and give the machine a nice drink of oil. The manual shows the hows and wheres of completing these tasks and Mike often reminds me that machines need oil. I was trying to do a good thing. I took off the coverings and oiled away. Then, the simple task of screwing the covers back in place. Could I do it? No. Why? I have no idea, but the screws just wouldn't catch they way they should and then the wheel wouldn't turn. I did not touch anything that would have made the machine bind up. I had to call Mike down to put it back in working order.
Machines hate me. There is no other explanation.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I like dogs in theory. In reality, however, they are way too much work and responsibility so I have never owned one myself. I am quite content to experience dogs vicariously, which I'm able to do through three of our four grown children and the five dogs they have owned over the years. As soon as my daughter, Amy, got married and moved into a house she got a puppy--a Rottweiler puppy that she named Ziggy. He was incredibly cute as a pup--playful, affectionate, smart, and very fast growing. My dog education had begun.

The American Kennel Club ( describes the Rottweiler as "robust and powerful" and as a "self-confident" animal that "responds quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in the environment." Originally bred in Germany as cattle-herding dogs, they are meant to be strong, calm and intelligent. They are workers who want a job to do. By nature they are protectors and make good police dogs, service or therapy dogs, and companions.

All of this was well known to Sandra Darling, who, under the pseudonym of Alexandra Day, wrote and illustrated Good Dog, Carl in 1985. Proving very popular, a whole series of Carl books have followed. The books are limited in text, but the rich art work clearly tells each story. Her own dog, Toby, was the model for Carl and her granddaughter, Madeleine, was the model for the baby. Typically, the books start with the mother saying, "Look after the baby, Carl. I'll be back shortly." Then off the mother goes while Carl and the baby are left to have an adventure.
One could look at these stories as sad tales of egregious child endangerment, but I believe they were meant to be a testament to the breed. Although, I must note that there have been those who point out that the Rottweiler is illustrated in much finer detail than any of the people in the books, thus "proving" that Darling/Day cares more about the dog than the baby. (Also, she did name her own children Sacheverell, Rabindranath Tagore, Lafcadio Hearn, and Christina, which seems borderline abusive.) In the books, however, Carl always manages to keep the baby from serious harm and returns her safe and sound to her home with mother and father none the wiser, living up to the just what the AKC says --strong, calm, intelligent, protective and completely responsible.

Ziggy was not registered with the American kennel Club. He had a serious under bite which would have gotten him a fast ticket to the back door at any respectable dog show. He did meet the personality descriptors, though, and knowing him gave insight into the creation of the Carl books. He was intelligent and communicative, exceptionally observant, always calm and gentle.
Ziggy was devoted to Amy, but he liked anybody and everybody. He wasn't a good watchdog because he would happily greet anyone who walked in the door. Usually, he only time he barked was when there was a dog on the television. He also howled, "AOOO-OOOOOW," precisely at noon when the town fire siren sounded on weekdays. I am quite certain that he would have been a very fierce protector if anyone had ever made a threatening move towards my daughter or, later, my granddaughter. On the other hand, if you wanted to walk out of the house with a television or a computer when no one was home, I doubt he would have stopped you as long as you patted him on the head on the way out.

As Rottweilers can, Ziggy could look intimidating especially with those bottom teeth always exposed. One time some tick-or-treaters were coming to the door when they saw Ziggy in the drive way. Two kids and their mother went screaming out of the yard just at the sight of him. For his part, Ziggy was so obviously distressed at causing this upset that he gave himself a time-out. He went into the bathroom and laid down with his head on his front paws sticking out the doorway. His eyes said, "I'm so, so sorry!"

Ziggy was not an athlete although he did like to chase a tennis ball. Once they took him for a mountain hike at White Rocks. He whined for half the trip up and all of the trip back down. I was not surprised. He definitely took after Mistress Amy who also probably whined for half the trip there and all the trip back again. At some point, Ziggy must have seen one of those Hollywood accessory dogs being carried around in some young starlets designer bag on the television. He sure thought that was the way to go for a walk--never mind that he was a solid hundred pounds.
When Ziggy was six years old, his world was seriously rocked by the arrival of Baby Kristen. I thought he might be a little jealous of the attention diverted to that new development in the household. Clearly, though, he understood right away that this was his job in life--to watch out for that baby. He would greet me at the door when I visited with a pleading look that begged, "Make a fuss over me for a little while first," but he stood by the cradle looking as proud as a new papa whenever anyone else came to visit.
As Kristen grew and started moving around in Ziggy's world, he was a steadfast guardian. Kristen was the only one who could reach into his mouth and take away his yellow tennis ball (also the only one who wanted to). She cuddled with him and crawled all over him. Best of all, from Zig's perspective, she shared her cookies. I don't imagine that my daughter ever said, "Look after the baby, Ziggy. I'll be back shortly," but I actually do believe he would have been up to the task if she had.
Sadly, Ziggy succumbed to cancer in 2005. Both Amy and Kristen were with him in the end. He was a dog with a mighty heart. Now, here is the real reason I don't have a dog of my own. They do not live as long as people.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Cabot Sock Sale

The Cabot Sock Factory in Northfield, Vermont, has an annual sock extravaganza. It started some thirty years ago and was marketed then as a diversion and destination for "hunting widows." The sale happens during deer hunting season. It has gotten so popular that a couple of years ago people had to wait in line to get into the mill and then wait again, as long as 90 minutes, to check out.

Mike and I went this year. The ads all mentioned increased checkout clerks and credit card swipers, and, while the place was mobbed, it was really quick to get in and out. Mike replaced his entire sock collection. I bought a bunch for the kids and grand kids because they really are nice socks. I got cashmere blend socks and a pair of merino wool socks for myself. We bought a couple pair for Mike's brother as his 65th birthday/retirement party is coming up and we are giving him a "Made in Vermont" Basket.

So that's the big excitement here. If you don't hunt in Vermont, you go to the sock sale. There used to be all kinds of textile mills throughout New England, but no more. Cabot Sock Factory is the only sock factory left in New England and one of only three left in the United States.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Scam Job

I really read this. A woman in Texas shaved her head and pretended to be a cancer patient in hopes of collecting donations for her surgery. In fact, she did not have cancer and the surgery she was hoping for was breast implants. She explained that she was hoping that breast implants would save her failing marriage--her failing marriage of seven months duration. Lady, if it’s that broke, it cannot be fixed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Finished Shirt

I finished (and have worn) this silk blouse. The sleeves were a trial, but if one is on backwards, they both are on backwards--so I'm able to say they were meant to be that way. I also, for the first time, played around with adjusting the pattern to get a better fit, and that seems to have been successful. Mike, who never really comments one way or the other on what I may wear, said, "That looks like it was made for your body." I guess it's kind of hard to see that from a picture of a blouse hanging on a hanger though.
With the left over material, I made this simple top--the kind I've had about a hundred of over the years. It fits my body like a bag, but that's okay. I put some beading on it to give it just a little oomph.
I bought a bunch of new material today. I'm tired of making doll clothes. I'm ready to start making a few things for myself again. I bought material with patterns...really ready to step out of my comfort zone!

Exercise and Motivation

I get a lot more exercise since I've retired. That is largely due to the fact that I can get out for a brisk walk during the daylight hours. When I was working, there were long winter stretches when I left for work in the dark and returned home in the dark. Some times I would stop off at the gym, but mostly the Big Dark just made me want to get home, put on warm pajamas, wrap up in a fuzzy blanket, sit by the fire and sip some wine. I'd pretend at being a weekend warrior, but the truth is that most of that time was taken up with shopping and other errands, cleaning, laundry, and other household necessities.

This morning I was reading about a young local woman who stays motivated to do her daily running when she gets home from work in the dark. She mentioned similar obstacles--allure of the fireside, household demands, the hibernation reflex that comes with Vermont winter--but has stayed motivated to get out for a run because of a device in her running shoes that somehow communicates through her ipod. This gadget gives her feedback on speed, heart rate, distance, all that kind of stuff. It even gives verbal pats on the back like, "Congratulations! You've just made a personal best time for the mile..."

I don't think this would be nearly enough to get me out for a run after dark, at least around here.
Narrow roads, no street lights, traffic, things that go bump in the woods...nope...I'' stick to the window of daylight.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cluster Flies

I am on the verge of insanity. Really, I cannot take much more. The cluster flies are here. A sunny day and they congregate on the house like sun worshipping vacationers at the beach. But, not content to stay on the outside of the house, they squeeze through any available crack or crevice, no matter how microscopic. Of course, once in, all they want to do is go back out again. One fickle, feckless fly is banging at the office window as I sit here now. I was driven out of the living room by a dozen fat, lazy, disgusting, buzzing, bumbling cretinous creatures circling the front window. If you are not familiar with cluster flies, you may think my berserk reaction is over blown; but if you know cluster flies, you know exactly why they are making me CRAZY. That buzzing is like a drill on my very last nerve.
Seriously, the lights go on at 4:00 p.m. around here. You can't sit and read by a lamp or watch a little television without clueless cluster flies bombarding every light source. Try to imagine a fly dropping into your wine glass during the evening meal. Try to imagine putting your head on your pillow only to realize there's a fly on the ceiling, on very likely to just drop during the night and land in your open mouth. Yes, they're easy enough to swat, but reinforcements just soldier on. Pollenias rudis--very rude, indeed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Flu Shot

This morning's Burlington Free Press showed several pictures of hundreds of people who had lined up at Colchester High School on Saturday morning (some as early as 4:00 AM, one with seven week old baby tucked in a down jacket!!) to wait for the H1N1 flu vaccine. Yikes! It's one thing to line up in the wee hours outside of WalMart on Black Friday to score the latest "Tickle Me Elmo" or "wii" system (not something I would ever do, BTW), but this is flu vaccine. Have we not been hearing about the "swine flu" threat for at least the past three years? Fox News assures us that we, in the USA, have the best health care system in the entire world. So how is it that there is not enough vaccine by now? FOX, POX!

A couple of days ago, we went to the cemetery in Graniteville, Vt, to visit the grave of Mike's grandfather, who died in the 1919 flu pandemic. Harvey Hebert was 28 years old at the time of his death. A flu pandemic is not something we are really taking lightly, but shouldn't we also have the expectation that we, as a society, have progressed beyond the medical knowledge of the early twentieth century? Remember, experts were predicting this.

I have had the flu for sure three times in my life, and maybe a fourth time. It is not fun. Now, I am not in a "high risk" category so I will not have a flu shot this year, but one of the things I am doing is avoiding crowds (like in a four hour line for a flu shot) and using the disinfectant wipes at stores and other public places.

Since I have an herb garden, I use this recipe for disinfecting around the house--and its green:

VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES ( the story is that grave robbers rubbed this concoction on themselves in an effort to avoid illness)

2 quarts apple cider vinegar, handfuls of lavender, rosemary, sage, rue, and mint

Mix all in a large jar with a tight lid and let sit for four weeks or longer.

Strain herbs and pour liquid into spray bottle.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Reading list

I have been finding it difficult to concentrate on reading lately. Partly this is due to my eyes bothering me--"floaters" make it look like little bugs are flittering over the pages. This also makes it hard to clean as I scrub away at spots that are not there or I leave actual spatters untouched. Eating...well one would think I'd be losing those pesky ten pounds what with the little critters crawling on my plate and in my glass. I do wish that was working. We'll see what the eye doctor has to say later this week.
So for not being so focused, picking up The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski was a curious choice. (The librarian's comment was, "You haven't read that yet?") I got through it, but I can't say I am better off for the experience. Vesna, a woman in the writers group at the library, often says my writing reveals my slavic heritage so maybe I should have liked it more. Or maybe I need to work on lightening up my writing style.
I also read Alison Hoover Bartlett's The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, which I passed onto my husband. He understands that collecting, buying, selling world so he probably got more out of it than I did. It was interesting, based on real people, but I've run out of patience and sympathy for people who feel overly entitled.
I just finished Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. I thought it was well written--if a little scary and a little sad. Okay, a lot scary and a lot sad. Now I have both his A Voyage Long and Strange and Blue Latitudes on my reading pile. Mike's efforts to get me a little more literate about history seem to be paying off.
Finally, I read Traveling with Pomegranates, which was perspectives on a trip to Greece and a trip to France by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. It was fascinating to me on so many levels--the mother-daughter relationship, the travel, the historical aspects, the mythological/spiritual journey, the adjustments to changing life stages.
Maybe it's not just my eyes. I've been reading a lot of nonfiction. I haven't read the last Janet Evaonovich--maybe I'll go out and get that for my next read.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November's Here

Here is the difference a weekend of blowing wind and dropping temperatures made to our landscape. The bright leaves are gone. Bare branches, gray skies, dark by 4 p.m.--lovely November.

Playing with Food

Well, today I read on another blog ( about the art of baragami. I love learning new crafts so I was excited.

This art of toast (yes, as in cooked bread) arranging is further detailed at this site-- It's too funny.

In my early forties, I had a toast related break through. I had suffered through a bleak and debilitating bout of depression but had finally reached the light at the end of that particular tunnel. Anyway, I burned the toast for my breakfast one morning. I scraped the black off into the sink, buttered two slices, and was bringing a slice to my mouth when it hit me...NEWS FLASH...I didn't have to eat burned toast. I threw that burned toast away and it was such a liberating feeling. I deserved delicately browned toast and that is what I was going to have!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Banned Foods

A post on Monday (11/2/09) brought up the issue of couples with opposing political views. I related to this. Mike and I have different views on politics, on what news network to watch, on religion, on what television shows/movies to watch, on the temperature of the house at night, on what time to go to bed or what time to get up in the morning, and so many other issues. All these differences are non rancorous. But then, there is the issue of food. As in so many other areas, he is so wrong here, but this is where he draws the line in the sand; this is where he will not budge an inch; this is where things can get ugly.

His mother was born in Sicily, but he will not eat tomato sauce. He will not touch "Italian" seasonings. He will eat most vegetables, but only raw, never cooked. He doesn't like garlic. He will not eat an onion in any form, under any circumstances (unless grated so finely that he doesn't know it's there, in which case he declares the dish "delicious" without fail--HA!) My mother was Ukrainian. Just guess how likely he is to try any of the ethnic dishes I grew up enjoying.

So sometimes, I fix myself a supper of spaghetti, or I buy prepared perogis or cabbage rolls.

On those nights Mike makes himself--can you believe this???--a sardine sandwich.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Right to Marry

It appears that Maine voters have voted against the freedom to marry law enacted earlier this year. I have to say I don't understand why. If you don't believe in same sex committed relationships, don't enter one. I sometimes wonder why certain issues are even subject to debate. There's the Right thing and there's the right thing to do. That's my opinion and I'm sticking with it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shoes, Two

Yesterday I watched the Oprah show. It was all about shoe and handbag makeovers--you know how the "right" shoes and bags can make you look ten years younger and ten pounds thinner. Apparently the "right" shoes always have high heels and pointy toes. Needless to say, I would be in dire need of a shoe makeover since I foolishly and unfashionably insist in being able to walk once I put my shoes on. I like shoes and I can't say I never put on heels, or even that I've never worn a sexy pair of stilettos, but generally I like walking and I prefer being pain free. Besides, sexy and fashionable are every bit as much "in the eye of the beholder" as beauty. I've seen pictures of Chinese women with their "lily feet" and somebody once thought that was the epitome of feminine beauty--but it sure wasn't pretty. I'll just stay unhobbled at this point in my life.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Walk in the Country

It was warm today...60 degrees! When we are in Florida for the winter I will complain mightily about the frigid weather when the temperature is in the 60's there. All is relative.

I took an extra long walk today to compensate for the recent bad weather and my own recent slothfulness. I walked to Jericho Center and around the green, stopping to drop off a book at our library and then to mail our property tax payment at the box outside the general store, then taking my usual loop: Brown's Trace to Barber Farm road to Fitzsimonds Road back to Brown's Trace.

There are several new highway signs put up in the past few days--"Yield to pedestrians in crosswalk" (seven cars drove by in rapid succession while I stood at the crosswalk) and yellow signs alerting drivers to side roads (most with fairly inventive spellings and/or questionable grammar). By the way, it really annoys me when people automatically add "Road" to my address on Brown's Trace. "Trace" is a synonym for "Road" so there is NO NEED for the redundancy!!!

I noticed along the way what looked like a wet wipe smeared with brown. I was hoping that some one had been feeding chocolate to a toddler and then littered with the clean up attempt, but, no--a bit further up the road, a diaper. ICK, ICK, ICK. The trash in general along the road is quite disturbing. So many people get out to clean up in the spring (Vermont Green Up Day), but then out lovely road is filled up with paper products, beer and liqueur containers, fast food wrappers. cigarette debris, water and soda bottles, and all manner of junk that really turns my stomach to see as I walk past. I don't just complain. I do put on rubber gloves and go out with trash bags, but it gets harder to do each year.

Why trash this?

BAAAd litterers. BAAAd!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Haunting

The ghosties are coming.
The goblins are gathering.
The witches are tuning up their brooms.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Perceptually Challenged

Several gloomy, dark, rainy days in a row have sent me back to some projects that have been on the back burner. I bought some self-striping yarn to make socks for my grand son. I was determined to do this little project (for little feet) on circular needles--something that I have been unable to accomplish previously. It took seven tries to get started and keep the pointed ends of the needles going in the right direction, but I think I finally have got the right rhythm. I'm sure I'll be back to trying to figure it all out again when I start sock number two.
The other project is a shirt I made out of silk I bought on sale--a shirt with a collar and cuffs and button holes. The cuffs are what killed me because they go on opposite sides so somehow they should be mirror images and that is near to impossible for me to figure out--pinning, checking, basting, checking, praying, sewing--very nerve wracking.
I know there are people for whom these kinds of perceptual tasks are just as obvious as the noses on their faces. Lucky people.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Karate Lessons

Kristen has started Karate lessons and just earned her red belt. She was very excited.
This seems like a very good program. It is a lot of exercise, physical and mental. She had to complete the routine, write and an essay about what she has learned from Karate and how it applies to the rest of her life, and get a recommendation from her teacher attesting to her academic efforts and behavior in school. She takes it seriously but also is having great fun.
This is a look of self-esteem.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Better News Today

My brother-in-law's surgery went well. He was making jokes straight out of the recovery room and has been up and walking. The one aggravation was his roommate's wife who apparently is a loud and nonstop talker with a cell phone attached to her ear like an earring. Rude people really do suck. The nurses got on finding him a new room, though, so he can now get some needed rest in between his joggings down the hall. Thanks for the prayers.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I am not particularly religious, but there certainly is a time for prayers, however one chooses to experience them, and this is one of those times. My sister and her husband have arrived in NYC. Wayne has had a recurrence of cancer after a five year remission and will have surgery tomorrow. To me, prayer is gratitude and positive I am grateful that his doctor has the reputation as the best.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sad News

I called my Aunt Jule yesterday and learned the sad news that my Uncle Bill (my Dad's younger brother) has taken a precipitous plunge into dementia. He is in the hospital awaiting an available nursing home bed. Aunt Jule is beside herself. They have been married for 63 years, soul mates in a life well lived, and, of course, that does not make the loss any easier.

Bill and Jule are the last of "the Great Generation" in my family. My Aunt Anne, another Alzheimer's sufferer, died last year. This is a strange coincidence (for lack of a better term) that I realized at Harvey's funeral last June--Mike's remaining "GG" relatives are his Uncle Bill, his Aunt Julie, and his Aunt Anne. I ponder the cosmic meaning of that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Baking Bread


Lately I have been trying my hand at baking bread. I don't have a bread making machine; I'm doing it the old-fashioned way. I'm sure it has something to do with fall. The chilly air makes it pleasant to have the oven turned on. The aroma of baking bread mixes nicely with the smells of wood smoke in the air, ripening apples, drying leaves. Then too, autumn is naturally a time of turning inward. The need to prepare oneself physically, mentally, and spiritually for the coming dark days of winter is urgent. So, baking bread? Yes, it addresses the trio of preparedness needs.

Bread feeds the body, but the act of making bread is a physical and mental workout in itself. The last bit of flour that can be mixed into the dough with a spoon requires muscular effort and determination. Kneading in yet more flour targets biceps and triceps as well as any gym routine (unless, maybe, you are a competitive body builder). At the same time, the push-fold-turn-push motions of the kneading feels as relaxing as standing on the beach watching waves break on the shoreline. After ten minutes or so of kneading bread dough, it is possible for me to reach a meditative state.

On some level, baking bread taps into my relationships with and memories of my mother and grandmother--both bakers of delicious breads. My grandmother made loaves of bread every week. My mother made special breads, rich with spices, nuts, and raisins, for Christmas and Easter. Even beyond the link to my family history, the alchemy of bread dough rising and then of dough turning to bread in the heat of the oven connects me to an ancient wisdom, something almost mystical. Samhain is coming. A new year starts when the old one passes, and I can make magik right here in my kitchen.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Walk

It was a beautiful day for a walk. People in town recognize me as the woman who walks on Brown's Trace. Some compliment my dedication to fresh air and exercise; other warn about the dangers of walking on the busy road. Well, I do try to watch for vehicles and I seldom to never walk after dusk.
Mike and I rarely walk together. He wants to walk in the woods while I prefer neighborhoods. He likes to saunter while I like a brisk pace. I happen to enjoy a solitary walk--although I don't mind brisk walking company. It's a good time to think, even meditate