Saturday, December 24, 2011

Prayer answered

A prayer answered for me, and here it is:

Yes, my precious daughter is engaged to a Mother's Dream!  They came over and she burst in the door saying "John asked me to marry him!" and showed me the ring.  Tears all around-mostly me I must admit. Hugs, kisses for and from everyone. We talked and smiled and were  and are so happy. Then we had a toast,with the good Crystal! SSon shook his hand and said congratulations. SHusband actually had a sip of wine to commemorate such a wonderful event.
Many phone calls were made, first to her father and step-mother, then to her Godmother-my SSister#1.
She is a different person since knowing him, he supports her and brings out the best in her. He is very kind to our SGrandson, and gives him stability and care and most importantly guidance.
And I know she is good for him, they are a match!
During the week, I bought them some nice glasses for an engagement present, now they can toast more important times in their lives together.
SGS thinks he is going on the honeymoon!  I set him straight, and hoped that he would be here with me that week win-win!
And, here is the clincher: As they were driving over, they both saw a shooting star! 
We immediately knew who sent that, so the Missing Matka tears were unleashed.  Matka knew John and really loved him and was happy for Meg then, imagine now!  She had to send that message right?

And from a website devoted to sky sightings:

"J. Natti (not verified) on Sat, 17/12/2011 - 21:55

Standing looking into the east - south east (114*). Standing approximately 20 ft away from a 15foot house. At about 35-40* off the horizon (over the house) appeared a reddish green (maybe fire) extremely large shooting star looking ?. It traveled faster than anything I have ever seen before in my life. It traveled in a straight line. It crossed the better part of the sky (from approximately 40* in the east to 35* in the west) in a matter of 3.5-4 seconds. I am assuming it was a meteor, but not sure as I have never seen anything like this in my life. My location is in western Kentucky, town of Madisonville, USA. The sighting was at 12:45 am cst. on December 17th 2011."

So there, Matka sent it that day-no doubt.

And here is their song, click here:
Blood, Sweat and Tears, "You make me so very Happy"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Letting go is really receiving.

Letting go is really receiving a gift to you.
This morning, in our Buffalo News morning paper, a columnist that I always read, Lisa Earle McLeod posted this essay (If you double click on it, the entire article will appear):

(If you click on it, the entire article will appear)

I always find her writings helpful as I try to look for ways to grow.  Today's commentary  was a humdinger for me.  Having just celebrated a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, let me show you how this philosophy worked for me:
I started making soup a few years ago, pumpkin or squash, I was pretty happy with the way it tasted and others agreed with me (being polite or actually liking it-who knows, but their grace showed through with their positive comments about the soup).
Then last year, SSon-in-law suggested that he could bring the soup-he is a wonderful natural cook, so I knew it would taste fantastic, but that soup was my 'new thing".  I thought about it and realized that it would be more important for him to bring the soup than for me to make it, so I agreed that he would make the soup.  IT WAS SUBLIME!  And guess what? It took a long time to make, and I no longer had to work that in the schedule of my tasks to do. Letting go is receiving!  This year and for all future years, he is the soup guy.
Next, I like to say that I make a mean stuffing/dressing for Thanksgiving, I use a bizillion types of bread, use some techniques that SMatka taught me, and every year I would throw in a different new ingredient-Jimmy Dean sausage in the full fat hey days, sliced water chestnuts in my vegetarian days, dried cranberries when they first came out, you name, it had a turn in my stuffing (escept of course for those dark things in that nasty bag that comes inside a turkey if you buy a whole turkey-they are three words DIS-GUS-TING.)  Then, one year, many years ago, SDaughter raved about her SStepmother's stuffing, so knowing that it is better to give in to let someone else make their speciality, she was then crowned the Queen of Stuffing, and no Thanksgiving would be the same without her tasty offering.  Another time consuming job that I would not need to do, win-win, Letting go is really receiving. And it is good, very good.
Next, we are very fortunate that my SSister#1 and her SHusband are able to attend our Thanksgiving Dinner, sometimes family lives too far apart to manage this. One of SS#1's many specialities is a squash-apple casserole-no marshmallows, just lots of flavor and love put into this dish. I immediately knew that when she started attending that this was the only squash we could have. She loves to make it and I love to have her make it.
Here is her recipe:

1 small butternut squash (2 pounds or less)
2 apples (cored, peeled and sliced)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter or margarine
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Pare, seed, and cut squash into small slices.
2. Place squash and apple slices in sprayed oblong baking dish (7x11 inches).
3. Blend rest of ingredients with fork, fingers or pastry cutter until crumbly.
4. Distribute over squash and apple. Prepare to here until ready to bake.
5. Cover and bake.  temperature: 350 degrees   time: 45 to 50 minutes
yield: 6 to 8 servings    double this for company!

My point, if I could make it is this, the advice that Ms. McLeod makes is so what! So what if you have more than one person who can make something great, it is all about making someone feel included, accepted into the family or group.  Just a little give-it-up from one person allows others to feel a part of the group.  No one likes to be on the outside as others shine, there is enough shine to go around, so the next time someone new to a group offers a suggestion, never say, no thanks, our way is better-even though your choice of words may be different, the message will come out the same way-and it will hurt to the quick, no matter how much you smile when you say it.
I have said "you" a lot, but really I am absolutely  including myself in this advice, we always need a reminder on how to avoid hurting someone when it is something that can be avoided. So, letting go is really receiving, try it, you and someone you love will like it.
And because you hung in there and read this long post, here is your reward:
click here:
All you need is love.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A pinch in time...

When we five sibs were young, we attended church with SMatka (Sweet Matka) and sometimes SGrandma Viviani.  And sometimes we were restless, distracting, noisy and embarrassing. I don't know if this technique was needed for SSister#1 or SBrother#1, they seemed better able to behave than the other three of us.
So SMatka used a time-honored technique-she pinched us under our upper arm.  It was quick, painful, and got the job done.  You never saw better behaved, quiet children-EVER!  One of those pinches or the evil-eye look that said a pinch was next did the trick. Something so painful was to be avoided at all cost.
The other day, when I went to "check the flowers", which is my euphemism for going to the cemetery, I discovered that pulling up to that grave site is also a "pinch".  It has the same effect every time, a quick onset of pain, generated by SMatka. I don't stay long, I check to see that the wind has not picked up the flowers and tossed them onto a neighbor's territory, or if the weather is not good, I actually stay in the car. I make sure the music is turned off because too many times, what is playing makes it worse.
If anyone is in the car with me, the visit is even shorter. 

To paraphrase: "Better to have loved and lost, than to never have been pinched at all."

Hope you enjoy this song, click here:  The Prayer

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Listening is so rewarding.

This Lady is listening intently to her companion.

Tonight I received a telephone call from a fairly new friend-we have known each other about 8 years.  She is 93, and as they say "sharp as a tack!".  She volunteered to do an ongoing service project of sewing comfort dolls for children that are donated to hospitals, ambulance services, etc. And we have delighted in each other's company-I hope just as much for her as for me. We have visited in each other's homes, talked on the phone, and I always have her on my card list.  Tonight when she called to thank me for the Thanksgiving card (isn't that a sweet thing to do?), we started talking about homes that she has lived in during her time in this town.  At one point when she was a young Mother, now remember, she is 93, so this would be at least 65 years ago, well, the economy was even more difficult for workers than it is now.  She moved from place to place with her husband and 4 kids, renting very small places, and making it work.
At one point, they were able to buy a small parcel of land, and her husband put up a basement and upper shell of the house.  Unfortunately, that is the extent of what he was able to build.  For the next 4 years-the entire family lived in the basement.  Even though she and her husband were working hard, times were difficult.  Her son had a serious accident, in leg traction for an extended period.  No one had health insurance then, so the medical bills were all paid by the patient/family.  They became so in debt, they had to sell there house the year after the upstairs was finished-and the selling price was $6,500.  That house is still standing, and being used as a parsonage for one of the town churches. 
The little family then moved to the back apartment of another home, where they rented a very small space.  Another move led them to rent a "magnificent in size" home, where she didn't even mind that she had almost no furniture- it was such a joy to be able to move around in the house, for her children to have room to run.  And this dream home?  It rented for $75. a month.  
My SFriend told all of this without an ounce of bitterness or sadness, just stating what she and so many others went though in their lifetime. I think  she spends 99% of her time serving and doing for others, because as she said to me on the telephone call she first made to me after reading a newspaper article that I placed asking for volunteers to make these dolls "I told the Lord that when my husband died in 1983, I was so heartbroken and he would need to keep me busy helping others so I wouldn't be so sad".
My life is enriched daily by listening to others.  Sometimes, I am the world's worst at listening, other times, I am more focused.  I once heard it said that in order to learn you need to first be quiet and listen-now I know how true that is.
Thanks for listening SFriends.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Quietly we go today.

Quietly we go today, just like our SCat Boo-Boo Marie looks in this photo. Up to today,  I have been busy, but not on my blog as you may have gleaned! And I coulda' if I wanted to, but my brain has been in a different mode recently. 
We are busy with some important medical appointments for SHusband that for now take up a lot of time for learning and doing, but will all settle down in a week or so.  His health is good, just needed some "how to's" for making life easier for him.
We had a lovely day yesterday on Thanksgiving-family here, they all did and brought so much. And put this in SH's babybook-he did not finish his dessert!  He was very anxious to have dessert immediately after that humongous feast, but his hard drive was miswired, and he just could  not complete his appointed task! I am thinking too hard now, just spit out the words eh?
I never used to end a sentence-statement with eh? until a SFriend wrote that way-I thought it really made sense to add that, and so I stole it from her.  I was very close to her, but she moved away, and felt it was a burden to her friends to have them continue their relationship with her, long-distance phone charges, stamps, etc.  After going 'round and 'round, with her about how we really wanted to keep our friendship going, it was not a problem, etc., one day she sent us a card which stated that she knew we would respect her wishes and stop all correspondence with her.  It was heart-breaking for me-she did not make friends easily-she was afraid of being hurt I think, but we were really close.  When she asked this of other friends, I felt badly that she was narrowing her exposure to other people, then it happened to us, and I wonder if she knew how much it hurt me?  Maybe she valued our friendship less than I did, I will never know.
So, back to my post.
My SFamily washed and dried the Thanksgiving dishes for me yesterday, I always argue, plead and request that I do my own dishes, they are my guests, and I like to rehash the day, but they always persist.  I decided that this year, I was not going to have any conflicts, so I said sure, and away they went, and then the cleaning up and dividing, packing-period of serving a large meal began, and they did that too!  I have to tell you around 5pm last night, after they left, it was my aching old body that reminded me that thanks to all of them, I had minimal work to do. Thank you all dear ones.
And now I am back-flipping to the day before Thanksgiving, SSon did not have to work, this is his slow time of year, so he was my SOUS-CHEF EXTRAORDINAIRE!  He peeled every potato and apple, lifted this, cut that, dried this rack of dishes, helped set the table, did the final vacuum,  and washed  the umpteenth load  of kitchen  towels-how did we go through so many? SH even got in the act and washed a load of dishes. Why, you might ask did I need all these dishes washed?   Well, I cook mostly everything the day before-and I think it tastes just as good.  The potatoes I cook and mash  the day before, then the next day, bring them to room temp for 30 minutes then heat in the crock pot  for a few hours on high, stirring every half hour-this is the time that I put in butter-that way, when the butter melts, your potatoes are heated! I do add warm milk and cream cheese when I mash them to make them smooth, baby smooth.
I cook only Turkey breasts, slice them, and this year, I saved the skin over the breasts and covered the cut meat with the skin to keep them moist, seemed like it worked great while they were heating up with a little chicken broth in the bottom of the dish.
Enough, you have heard all about how to cook for this great holiday from everyone on the internet.  Let me talk instead of people.
I have the best family, and enjoy spending time with them-that is a blessing.
Today, we had a mini-meal with SH's SSister.  She is a kind, dear woman, grateful to all for anything.  We shared a meal, visited and then played a game of dominoes-it was so good to see her laugh.  This is her "first-of-without" year, first everything without her beloved Husband who died in June. She is a marvel, never wanting to pass her grief on to anyone.
As this mellow day went on, I drove SS on an errand, then went to the cemetery to replace Matka's flowers with the Winter variety.  I added some more to perk up the display because they really got pounded in the weather last year.    I never thought that this activity would become  important to me, but it seems like my time as one of many who was involved with meeting my Matka's needs, I think it is hard for me not to still be doing that.  Did I describe that correctly for you?  The weather was 57 degrees while I was doing this little project, and I remember last year a few days after I did this, we got a horrible snowstorm-dumping a lot of snow everywhere. We  will see if this is the deciding factor of when winter really begins eh?
Salads for supper, with a spoon of dressing/stuffing, talk about defeating the effort of eating healthy!
And wait, one more trip back to the future for this post, we slept until 9am today!  I had the alarm set for 7:30, I looked at it hard and decided, just a few more minutes.........
then when SS got up for his breakfast, we woke up.  Geez Louise, that is like sleeping through the day. I had PLANS! But, they were all accomplished anyway.  SH and I had a protein shake for breakfast-could not chew one thing more today. I made 8 dozen cookies-none for us to eat this morning. Is there a better smell to fill a house with?
  A wonderful service-minded woman in the area has a "Prayers and Cookies" project for active-duty soldiers.  She sends them cookies, toiletries, books, and cards monthly.  Today, was my day to bake for the first time for her project, and I hope to continue to do it periodically.  SS was so good about the fact that these were not for us, they were for those in the war zone.  Hersheys Chocolate Chips has a great recipe on the back of their package that adds PEANUT BUTTER to a basic chocolate chip recipe, I did not taste them, but they looked really good. Chocolate and peanut butter-what a concept!
So, back to the present.  I just finished writing "tier-one" of my Christmas cards-family, then this weekend, I will work on the rest.  I am so structured that I need to do them in order, no willy-nilly random card writing for me my friend. My handwriting starts south,  it does not have far to travel before it is illegible, so my card writing must be done in batches.  When computers first came out, well, became part of my life, I printed my envelopes with the computer.  Unfortunately, the printer I was using then, would flip the way it printed the envelope according to the size that you choose for the envelope. And since not all my cards are alike, I did not have correctly printed envelopes-I felt really bad, and thought people were judging me by the way their envelope was printed-pathetic.  I just stopped doing them on the computer after that year, and really, I get so many return address  labels in the mail-who needs to waste ink and time doing envelopes  on the computer anyhow?
Tomorrow, we will see our SGrandson again for a few hours while we deliver all the cookies, etc that others have made for this project.  Even a few hours is important-the older they get, the less your time together is.  A known mathematical equation exists out there somewhere for this occurrance. Lookitup I say.
Well, goodnight SREADERS, I hope your week went well, and your life is happy-and if not, I hope you can figure out how to change it-you deserve a wonderful life.

Keeping with my slow and easy day, here is a "Wonderful Life" song for you. (I had originally chosen the ending of the Movie "A Wonderful Life", but at the end of the you- tube video, someone inserted a man burping-totally not in my vibe for today).
Click here:
Wonderful Life

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans's Day

My header picture today is a group of our local Veterans that were honored at our recent Kiwanis dinner. I know personally more than half of these men, and I admire them all. The articles below are ones that I put into the local papers this week.  I hope they convey my respect for these brave people.  I have added personal notes after each article.

November 4, 2011
Please Publish:

The Kiwanis Club of Marilla held their salute to Veterans this week at their meeting, with many activities comprising the program. First, all were treated to a very elegant meal by the staff of the Whistle Stop, with patriotic linen colors. Centerpieces were donated by Leona O’Brien, and made by Country CrossRoads Florist and Gifts.

Every year the club honors it’s own Kiwanians who are Veterans with a special program, and in addition to that, this year, the members of the Marilla Veterans Club were invited guests, newly retired Army Lt. Col. Timothy Zack was a featured guest, and the speaker was someone who is known as a Hero in the area, Distinguished Marine Mark O’Brien, lifelong Marilla resident.

A description of what Kiwanis International is and the club’s activities were listed for those attending by the club President, Paul Wagener. In recognition of their service to their country and the community, The Kiwanis Club made a donation to the Marilla Veterans Club to help with their needs, and this donation was accepted by Commander David Kryzen.

Then retired Army Officer Maurice Janeczko gave a presentation of the many achievements and awards which Lt. Col. Zack has received in his 22+years in the military, and on behalf of the Kiwanis Club, a certificate of Recognition was presented to him. He was honored to have received this recognition from his friends and fellow Kiwanians.

Mark O’Brien, Distinguished Marine was introduced to speak by his Grandmother, Kiwanian Leona O’Brien. Mark discussed his reason for entering the military, his training, tours of duty including two in Iraq, his life-threatening injuries, his brave recovery and his current life and goals.

As Mark was telling his story, the almost 30 fellow Veterans in the room were very quite and attentive, possibly thinking about their own tours of duty and hardships which they were exposed to.

To establish the proper ending for the program, Kiwanian Diana Janeczko read a moving essay about Remembering the Veterans. All were in agreement with her instructions to “Never Forget”.

The Kiwanis Club of Marilla has always been a strong supporter of Veterans, and was proud to have been honored by the presence of so many brave soldiers.

As I sat in this room that held more Veterans than we have ever had at our dinner, I was also thinking about our Veteran Kiwanis members that were not there, some are having health or family health problems, some have passed on, and then there were my family members in my thoughts.  My two brothers are Veterans-both served in Vietnam, and I remember there were no parades for these brave Vietnam Veterans, they were doing what their country asked of them, but somehow, they were perceived  to be the bad guys, not the administration who chose their path. And my step-fathers, and  my father, and my uncles, an aunt,nephew, great-nephew, some cousins, the list goes on and is mirrored in your life also SReader. It is wonderful to acknowledge what these brave people did, fighting because we asked them to, but sad that honoring them does not even come close to what we owe them. Thank you all, God Bless You.

Mark O'Brien and sitting to the right of him, his wife and parents.

November 4, 2011
Article #2, Please publish:

Recently, the Kiwanis Club of Marilla was honored to have Distinguished Marine Mark O’Brien, who grew up and currently resides in Marilla as a speaker.

Mark was introduced to speak by his Grandmother, Kiwanian Leona O’Brien, who gave her opinion as to his background in recovery from illness or injury: when he was a child and needed to spend time with her instead of going to school if he was ill, he would have a rapid recovery as soon as the school bus went by!

Mark said his reason for entering the service was the same as many who enter the military-he wished to defend his country. In his case this happened when he was 18 and the tragedy of the Attack on the World Trade Center Towers occurred. He knew he must get involved. He had extensive Marine training, fought in many battles during his two tours of duty in Iraq, and was injured severely during one of many fierce battles. After the injury, he saw that his vest which contained hand grenades was on fire, and when he realized that he had extensive injuries to his right arm, he knew that he needed to put the flames out with his left hand. He then realized that his right leg was also severely injured, and almost completely severed. He thought that he would not survive as a medic tried desperately to stop the bleeding from his leg injury, and actually stated that they should let him bleed out. Eventually, the bleeding was brought under control, saving his life. He was airlifted, and treated en route to a hospital, and when he awoke, his parents, Gale and Dave O’Brien were beside him. Due to medical tubes in his throat, his communication with them was in writing, and he wrote that “He had no regrets, God was shielding me.”

His recovery proceeded, and he knew that without the support of his family that he would not have made it, family support is something that not all wounded soldiers have.

He received 11 months of therapy including physical, occupational and prosthetic training and he was ready to come home as soon as all the release papers were signed. This process did not happen, and Mark became anxious, sharing this frustration with his grandmother during one of her frequent telephone calls to him. The next day, the release papers were signed, and he was on his way home. The saying “Never underestimate the power of a Grandmother” proved to be true.

During his time in the service, and especially during his recovery, he corresponded with a friend from home, Michelle Pierce. Her dependable support made a real difference to him, they fell in love, and today are married with two young sons. Because of his injuries,losing both his right arm and leg, he had to give up his dream of becoming a police officer as his father and brother both are. He is employed currently by the Erie County Sheriff’s Department as a dispatcher, and is happy to look ahead to a good life.

Mark is extremely active physically now, including riding a bike, and he recently taught himself to try archery after making his own modifications to the bow. He is planning on attending the Wounded Warrior Paralympics in 2012 in Colorado, and the Kiwanis Club of Marilla was proud to give him a donation to help fund this effort with money raised partially at the Marilla Ag Day event. In addition to Kiwanis, The Rademacher VFW Post, represented by Veteran and Kiwanian Stu Rowland also gave a donation to Mark, and then a donation from himself and his wife Margot. Sandra and Paul Grunsweig, owners of the Marilla Country Store gave Mark a donation too. They sold candy at Ag Day to raise money for Mark.
Mark O’Brien will forever be a symbol of bravery to all those who heard him speak that night.

Picture (l-r): Paul & Sandra Grunsweig, Paul Wagener, Mark O’Brien, Stu and Margot Rowland

On the right, making a ppresentation to Mark is Stu, who is one of our Kiwanians, and a Distinguished Veteran.  Stu has been kind enough to share his story of service to our country during World War II, he was reluctant to share his memories with the club a few years back, and only did so out of respect for our club.  His journey in the service was filled with just what they try to depict in the movies, but he bravely served though it all.  I imagined what these two men had in their lives that were so similar, and if you look at the strength of the handshake that Stu is giving Mark, that tells it all.  Stu is very important to me, and his wife Margot is one of my best friends, they are equal, strong partners, she supported him during his days of active duty, and her love brought him home.

As a mother and a wife, and I grandmother, I struggled to hear Mark speak of his injuries.  I know this is not the first time they heard all the details, which I did not include in the article, but I can't imagine what it must have been like to live through this trauma with him. And I know his story of injury and recovery is repeated daily across this country.  May God continue to give the families strength to handle whatever the outcome is for their beloved family members.
article #3

November 6, 2011

Please publish:

At the recent program to honor Veterans offered by the Kiwanis Club of Marilla, Dee Zeigel, Promoter of a Veterans Support Group in Wales announced that the Veterans Day Observance for the Town of Wales will be November 11, 2011 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Park 12345 Big Tree Road, Wales Center.

Dee also gave those attending information about the group called “Operation Prayers and Cookies” . The program started as a result of a conversation she had with an active duty soldier who asked for prayers, and a few cookies too. She and a dedicated group of bakers started this program, and could use some help to take care of the growing needs for this form of troop support. She emphasized that no matter what your politics are, we should all support the soldiers.

She stated that “now,with the holidays rapidly approaching, it is a time for thinking of those who will not be with their families and friends. We need individuals and/or groups to make holiday cookies. Our small core of dedicated volunteers has stood by us for many months (and years) and we need to replenish and give our bakers a much needed break.

Prayers & Cookies also sends Christmas cards from our residents. If you would please take a moment to sign a card or two to be sent along in the December 5th package, I know it would be greatly appreciated.

If you know of any local resident serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, we would be happy to add them to our list. This is only a small token of appreciation to remind them of “home”, but one we feel will make them know we remember them and care. On the 5th of every month cookies are sent, not only to our own Wales military, but enough to share with their Company, some of whom receive no packages or mail from home. If you are unable to provide baked goods, but would still like to support our troops, donations of baby wipes, phone cards, snack foods, hard candy, gum, sports magazines, paperback books, writing paper and pens, plain white socks, etc. may be made. If you would like to take part in this effort, please call and bring your homemade cookies, any variety and/or personal items to: Dee Zeigel – Coordinator 4498 Woodchuck Road,Wales Center, 652-6776God Bless You and God Bless Our Troops!” For those who don’t bake, but would like to help, the group also collects donations of baby wipes, phone cards, snack foods, hard candy, gum, sports magazines, paperback books, writing paper and pens, plain white socks, etc, may by made.

Dee tries to get everything for each month mailed by the 5th. December especially needs to get out asap after I receive cookies...regular holiday mailings can also slow down the military packages. She packs cookies in layers in plastic tubs, however, they can be delivered in any box or container to her as she divides them up equally amongst all.

Picture: Mark O'Brien and Dee Zeigel, Operation Prayers and Cookies
I pretty much have only baked cookies because I needed to, when the kids were growing up, with SGrandson when he was younger with all the cute slice and bake holiday designs. I used to bake a lot of cookies for Christmas, and freeze them, but I soon found out that SSon as a young boy did not mind eating frozen cookies.
I will be baking for this cause, and not just for Christmas. And each cookie will be infused with a prayer as I bake them. A cookie, who would think it would be so important.........................
Thank you SReaders for reading, I hope you have a chance to salute our Veterans.

Monday, October 24, 2011

This new header picture was taken at 6pm tonight.  SHusband and I were going into town, driving west and this was our view. I had to pull over to take a few pictures to share with you.
Around 15 minutes later, after leaving SH at his destination, I was leaving and dark had fallen. So I was where I needed to be when I needed to be there for God to show me this beautiful sunset.
Here are some more views of clouds with the sun setting from tonight.

Last of the field corn in the field.


And because this is such a beautiful sky, we need some music right?  Here you go, click here:
Fur Elise

Thinking of you SReaders, hoping your life is filled with peace.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today in the life

Today in the life, I have been busy and not busy-waiting while car maintenance and repair work done.  I always bring something to read for one of these long appointments, something to drink-a bottle of Starbucks light frappacino (which I had to wait until it unchilled to drink since the waiting room is always cold), and some crackers to soothe my screaming stomach after taking a Motrin for my nasty aching "when is this damp weather gonna end" joints.
I checked my email, sent a few, but then, could not concentrate on anything, my book went unread after I read the same paragraph over and over,  so I sat there, thinking of all the things that I could be doing, and wishing I got more than the 4 hours of sleep that came to find me last night.
I eaves-dropped on the conversations that the other customers had, I love doing that, just to see a slice of their lives. They all came and went. I sat and waited, and then another customer came and sat in the waiting room!  She was a tiny elf, dressed in about 6 layers of jackets-that I could see.  She started the conversation, I answered and we took off from there.  She was obviously very intelligent, but her attire, mostly
well-worn mens clothes and a barely there haircut did not match what was coming out of her mouth.  There I go, my usual sin of judging others, but it was fascinating to watch her.
She had a newspaper with her, so we rehashed all the news, and then we started talking about the history of our nearest  big city, Buffalo New York.  There is a preservationist convention going on there right now, so many photos and articles have been posted in the paper daily.  My wee friend seemed to go back in time, talking about her youth and getting dressed up to go downtown with her Aunts and Parents, her  eyes seemed to drift away as she entered that pleasant time in her life.  She told of all the stores she went to, all the buildings that were there, she had a wonderful accurate  memory and it was so pleasant for me to hear her speak.
She mentioned all the pets that she used to have, and when I asked her about current pets, she answered that she didn't dare have pets, because who would take care of them when she was gone? She seemed very sad about this necessary choice.
I wonder what her day to day life is like?  She sounded like she lives alone, and she looked like she was very thrifty judging from her desire to get every bit of use out of the clothing that she was wearing.
When it was time to leave, we both were checked out at the same time, and as she walked to her vehicle, I assumed it also was a thrifty purchase, but she got into a black, sleek  sports car! See, that is what happens when you assume.
When the appointment was finished, I had some errands to do, which included 4 containers of pumpkin ice cream for my SHusband.  I brought one home last week, he loved it, and asked that we stock up.  I also bought 2 more boxes of Gia Russa Kluski Chicken noodle flavored soup mix.  I already have 2 boxes, but that is my feeling yucky staple. and I would hate for us to be stuck at home during bad weather with someone not feeling well and us being "OUT" of this elixir.
So, an interesting day so far, I hope you are warm, safe and happy day, and here is a little piece for you to listen to:

Beatles "All you need is Love"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Life well lived

You might remember in a post a few months prior, that I mentioned how I read death notices/obituaries, how I called them Life Notices.  You can read that full post by clicking here:
Life Notices

Well, today, there is just such a Life Notice.  Not only does this woman have a very interesting set of ancestors, dating back to an association with Geroge Washington, but her Life's work was so fulfilling. Here is her story, I hope you find it interesting.

WINGARD - Janet Mann Passed away on October 12, 2011. She was born on September 25, 1924 in Buffalo, NY to Dr. Baldwin Mann and Adra Ash Mann. Her father, Major Baldwin Mann, served during World War I as a field surgeon. Janet was a direct descendant of Colonel Theunis Dey, a Revolutionary War hero who was friends with and served under General George Washington during the Hudson River Highlands Campaign in 1780. Her great Aunt Annis and Uncle Sam Eastman were Congregationalist ministers for Park Church in Elmira, NY, during the time that Samuel Clemens and his family attended. Janet's mother Adra was a playmate of the Clemens' children. Her first cousins Max and Crystal Eastman served tirelessly for the cause of women's rights and for the exploited immigrant workers in the coal fields of Western Pennsylvania. Her mother Adra volunteered for many causes including supporting the Greenwich Settlement House of New York City. Janet attended Dundee High School near Glenora, NY, the family summer home on Seneca Lake, where she graduated in 1943. She then attended Rochester University where she graduated in 1947. After graduating, she went to work for Mary Kingsbury Simkovitch, founder of the famous Greenwich Settlement house. This settlement house provided room and board for immigrant artists and others who needed affordable housing while attending college or looking for work. It was here that she met George Matthew Wingard from South Carolina, a musician going to New York University and a resident of the settlement house. They began dating and soon were engaged. They married on August 2nd, 1947. They moved to Clover in the fall of 1949. Here, after her four children were born, Janet began a 25 year teaching career in 1961. In her own words in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper in 1991, she describes her first impression of Clover, SC, the small town in which she would spend 62 years of her life: "My mother, infant son and I arrived in Clover on a cold rainy Halloween night in 1949 to join my husband who was already hard at work putting together Clover's first band. As we crossed the muddy Catawba over the old Buster Boyd Bridge and wound our way into Clover, my mother, a true Yankee, was thrown into despair that her youngest daughter was going to bury herself in this tiny town. She was convinced that we would soon see the light and return to the north. To her we were living in a cocoon far away from the advantages of big city life. At that time Clover had only two schools (one for blacks and one for whites). My husband's band room was a Quonset hut which doubled as a cannery. With the years came improvements, both in staff and buildings, which have contributed to making the Clover School system the great institution it is now. With reputation comes growth as more and more people move into the district and want to send their children to our schools. To my late mother, who incidentally grew to love our little town, I would say, "Mom, I never left my cocoon. It just grew to accommodate all its inhabitants". To those who say to me, "Clover is getting too big for its britches," I would say, "Then we must enlarge the britches." She wrote this letter encouraging the people of the Clover School District to approve the bonds needed to build a new auditorium. The bond referendum passed. Janet watched many of her grandchildren perform on a state of the arts stage! She and her husband Matt spent 21 years in retirement together, traveling around America and the world and enjoying their growing family. Janet was the eternal optimist, never wavering from the task at hand, pulling for all those around her to keep going, to strive to do the best that they could do and always with a cheerfulness and eagerness that was amazing. Her spirit lives on in her progeny. She was a devoted wife to her husband Matt Wingard for over sixty years. He predeceased her on November 27, 2007. In her final days, Janet's strength was resolute, her love for her family and this world undying. She is survived by her children....
Published in the Buffalo News on October 15, 2011

The notice goes on, the Buffalo News did not incude the entire notice online.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Easy Chicken and then another meal!

Hi, I am really nagging now, but you need to try this easy and healthy chicken and veggie crock pot recipe, I used chicken breast, cut in half in place of the chicken thighs-those are disgusting!
And then, a few days later, after you enjoyed this the first time, you make a pot pie by adding 1.5 cups of cooked green beans, one can of cream of chicken soup, 1 can  cream of celery soup-no water added to either, and I used the low fat version, cut up all the leftover chicken and veggies into 1 .5 inch pieces, stir well, be sure you add all the liquid from the leftover dish, these are your seasonings for the pot pie, pour into a pie shell, top with  another pie shell, seal crust, pinch to close,  cut slashes into top crust and bake at 350 for about 30-40 miutes or until top crust is brown.  Here is the important step, WAIT-maybe 15 minutes, keeping the pie covered lightly with foil, the juices will need to firm up, other wise you will have a runny but wonderful tasting pot pie meal.  Of course, I use Pillsburys roll off onto the pie pan already made and better than I ever could pie shells!

Here is the recipe if you don't want to click above (but you will love to hear Christy Jordan's beautiful Southern style of speaking):


1 medium onion 4 medium-size new potatoes (about 1 lb.) 2 cups baby carrots 1/2 cup chicken broth (may use 1/4 cup dry white wine  insteadof  1/4 of the broth total should be 1/2 cup liquid) 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided 1 teaspoon paprika 6 skinned, bone-in chicken thighs (or 3 boneless/skinless breasts cut in half)


1. Halve onion lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut potatoes/with skin into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place onion in a lightly greased 6-qt. slow cooker; top with potatoes and carrots (I will use reg carrots cut up the next time). I added a green pepper here that I needed to use up-cut into 1 inch pieces.

2. Combine broth, next 3 ingredients, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Pour over vegetables.

3. Combine paprika and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper; rub over and press into chicken. Arrange chicken on top of vegetables.

4. Cover and cook on LOW 6 hours (or high for 3 hours) or until chicken is done and vegetables are tender.

Southern Living


Saturday, October 8, 2011

The String Bunny Family


Once there was a bunny family called the String Bunnies.

The oldest bunny was a girl, string bunny #1, and she was a strong, PROTECTIVE helper bunny. She was like a crossing guard bunny, you always knew you were safe when she was around, she was also a cheer leader bunny who told other people how talented and wonderful they were, but really, she was the one who had talents and blessings that she did not brag about, and she used them all.

The oldest boy bunny #1 had a big HEART. He was a rock, and helped people and always worked hard without saying anything about it. He loved to dance and hop around and laugh and he traveled all over the bunny world. He never said no and always was quietly doing things for other people, and sometimes this caused him to be a little late, but everyone loved him so much that they never minded, they knew he would be there soon, along with his big smile.
The next bunny was girl bunny #2, she was a lot of FUN, and was always riding a roller coaster, up and down, and doing her best. She loved growing flowers and sewing beautiful quilts. The String bunnies loved her and her quilts that she was very generous to give to so many other bunnies.

Boy Bunny #2 was a water bunny, he loved to look at the big and little waves, and he worked hard and was very KIND and proud of his bunny family. He was always generous and loved by all. He was a good cook and loved to make bunny vegetables for all to share. He was a snappy dresser, and his bunny outfits were the talk of the land.

The last bunny was a girl bunny#3, she loved pushing a pencil and recorded everything, and took many pictures so all the bunnies could see what was happening in her bunny world. She was always protected and taken care of by her older brother and sister bunnies, and she was very HAPPY.

Now, some people would say, why are they called “The String Bunnies”? And the answer is, they were all connected by a lovely string, and that string is made of LOVE, and her name is MOM.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Glassware, Silverware.............

Did you take Home Ec (Economics) in Grade School?  Back in 1959, when I was in 6th grade, it was mandatory for all girls in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades at the City of Buffalo public schools to take Home Ec.  Boys had to take Shop, and learn how to make bird houses, cutting boards and use tools.  All those manly things. We girls took courses in sewing, cooking, managing the home, etc.
I made an apron, sewn by hand, and when we graduated to the foot treadle sewing machine, I made a wrap-around skirt-brown, ugggly with an emphasis on UG.  The sewing skills did not take, but I enjoyed the cooking, and they even taught us the basics on planning a meal to serve it all at once-not an easy task, setting the table, washing the dishes.
I was actually thrown out of that class and sent to the principal because I mistakenly pronounced Hor D'oeuvres "Whore dee vores".  Honestly, it was just out of stupidity, not trying to be funny.  I had never heard or seen the words before and it was my turn to read in class, but because I did display a sense of humor in the class in the past, no one would believe me, and the students were laughing, and the teacher lost control, and, it was all my fault. I went to the bathroom and cried because if anything, I was trying to not make trouble, and to think, I was sent to the principals office, woe is me.
So anyway, when it came time to wash dishes in class, there was a  specific pattern to get the dishes washed up properly: Glassware, silverware, chinaware, pots and pans.  I loved the rhyme of that, and that it had reason to it.  Rhyme and reason, I am a fond follower of that approach.  Those days, no one, not even your rich friend from the other side of Weston Avenue who lived in family homes, not the projects like I did, no one had a dishwasher then.  Dish washing was a common task that we shared, rich and poor.
Glassware first  because the water is the cleanest, and you want your glasses to sparkle, and pots and pans were last because they were nasty.
Today, we had a lovely family soup party, and I can be quite persuasive some time to not allow my guests to help with the dishes, sometimes, not so lucky.  Tonight, I won. and as always, I used the Home Ec formula, organized my dishes, and had them all done in a about an hour.
Today, the schools offer a Home Ec course, but both boys and girls take it, and it is not mandatory, and shop type of courses are also open to both sexes.  I think I would have liked shop too!
When it came to the dishwashing tonight,  SSon dried and sorted the silverware, he loves to sort things, so this was perfect for him, and he dried the three sizes of plates and sorted them too.  The rest I did, all the time thinking about how the get-together went. This dishwashing time is a look back for me on the day, to relive time spent with special people.
 I so enjoyed myself-I love having soup parties. One cousin did not know it was a soup party, and when I offered to get him another bowl  of a different kind of soup, he stated that no, he would wait for the main course.  We laughed and said, this is the main course, after he had a few more bowls, he thought this was a good idea for a party.
We had: Roasted Vegetable Soup, Chicken Italian Sausage Black Bean Chili, Chicken and Rice Soup and Italian Wedding Soup.  Served on the side were scalloped apples, almost like an apple pie in a bowl.  The usual three kinds of crackers,nice croutons, freshly made and a  good variety of bread: White Sour Dough, German Rye, Whole Wheat rolls, and Rosemary Bread-the smell of this one was so heavenly.
For Dessert, we had:  Peach Cobbler with home-made whipped cream, Zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting and Thanksgiving Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  I bought some very good cider at Wegmans-their brand, made some Crystal Lite Iced Rasberry Tea, Coffee and that was the meal.  It works so well when everyone brings something to share.
There were only eight of us, a nice group, we talked and talked, then watched the last few minutes of the Buffalo Game (boo hoo, we barely lost), and then part of the Yankees play-off game #2 (double boo hoo, we lost that one too).  then we talked some more, we are all very compatible.
SHusband is now resting, SSon is catching up on facebook, and little Boo Boo Marie the SCat is now back in the living area, she was exiled to SS's room because nothing says being a good host like having a cat jump onto the table to lick the butter.
Our next get together is Thanksgiving, and since most of my fall decorations are put out, I just need to add a few Thanksgiving things and I will be ready-wouldn't it be nice if the house stayed clean?
Here is a picture of my outside decorative corn stalks-new variety this year called broomstick corn stalks-loooove it.  And what is wrong with this picture? Is someone really going kicking and screaming into fall? The temp was mid 40's when we were putting up this thing!  Gotta love his enthusiasm for all things summer.

Here is a closeup of the top of the stalk:

And when I was scattering little punkins around the house, I remembered our little Leona the cow:

When I have dinner parties, I try to use serving pieces or other items to represent people not with us any longer.  Matka is very much front and center in my head and heart right now, her birthdate is this week, tears are flowing.
For my Matka today, I used her warm and friendly attitude, she loved having parties too, loved to cook up some lasagna and pizzelles and set the table nicely, and always welcomed everyone to her home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Deeelightful Dahlia

My late summer present!  I purchased some bulbs and tubers through a fund-raiser, and unfortunately, these are the only fruits of that purchase-other than the good work that the donation made possible. 
It is  a variety of Dahlia, and the color is even in the fall range.
Just when you think it is time to trim and pluck and toss, here comes this pretty reminder of why we plant and water and patiently wait. 

Sometimes I am not so patient-OK, that was a given as those who know me can attest.
But, I had totally written off this plant, and truthfully, was internally grumbling about being ripped off. Maybe God knew I needed something pretty, and he was just waiting for the best time?  That's what I am going with.
And speaking of "going with", I have come to a decision-if Boo-Boo the cat is sleeping on our unmade bed, and it is time for us to leave the house, I am going to let her sleep.
I am always certain that I will have an emergency situation, and someone will need to come to my house and see the unmade bed-you can't avoid seeing it, the bedroom is right off the dining room, visible as you go to any room.  They will then of course assume that I am a lazy slob.  And that is what I have convinced myself that I am if I leave without the bed being made.
But, we have a twist in our exit pattern now, we need to have all the doors (3) wide open to the outside for the motorized wheelchair to zip through, and if I disturb the sleeping cat just to make the bed, she will also zip through the open doors! Not good, not only because she is a pip to catch, but as you know, I am a chipmunk/snake assassin,  ( read this link and the comment for my dark side  Die chipmunk, die!   ) and there might be some lethal dregs out there for sweet kitty to nibble.  We can not take that chance with our beloved little cat.
So, I will leave the bed unmade when necessary, and please do not judge me harshly if you see that "nail on the chalkboard" situation.

Today,    LIFE IS A HIGHWAY  enjoy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunny Day

We have a new blank slate today, sun is warming us, leaves are beginning to turn. I am going to a baby shower, one of my favorite things to do!
I am striving for a calm, stressless day-stress being caused be me. myself and I, no one else.
Everyday is a gift, take it and run.  There it is in my head and hopefully in my actions.
Thanks for stopping by, and hey, go have some pumpkin coffee.  If you don't have any Pumpkin Coffee made by Green Mountain, just put a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon in your dry coffee grounds before you push start. It's all in the smeller anyway.

And for you to remember that there always is a rainbow, just around the corner,
click and enjoy:
Judy singing for you

Friday, September 16, 2011

Really Pat Robertson?

Pat did it again.  He said it is OK to divorce a spouse with Alzheimer's Disease, because even though we get married for sickness and health, Alzheimer's Disease is a form of death.

(Deep breath. Stay calm so you can get your point across Sally.)

Alzheimer's Disease is a form of death he said, key word "form", Death is the absence of Life, not the journey towards death.  And Alzheimer's Disease  is just one of the paths that we take towards death, like MS, Cancer, ALS, Heart Disease.  Just because the spouse afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease might not be mentally aware of the Divorce, is not a reason for it to be "OK".

Shame on you Pat Robertson. 

The love and devotion that spouses of people with Alzheimer's Disease give knows no bounds, just as other care takers provide for their ill loved ones.

This remark of his sounds like he thinks this disease is unique, and all bets are off, vows be damned.

But I am thinking that Pat Robertson is not a spiritual leader, but a publicity whore.  The negative attention he received for his "AIDS is punishment for the  Gay community" remarks has worn off and he needs a new jolt of attention.

Couldn't a gifted spiritual leader have given better advice than to divorce the person with Alzheimer's Disease.  Aah, that is the real problem, you can't be what you are not!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I just don't know what to say.

As you have done, I am listening to so many  commentaries, reading the articles, watching specials about the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
I could not think of anything to write that could possibly compare with those learned scholars. There is nothing that we could do to bring back one loved one, or spare them their destiny.   I  can only say, I am sorry for all the pain, and I will never forget..........

A Save for Thanksgiving time recipe...

I am really thinking fall today.  I  decided to make up something different for dessert.  When I make cranberry relish, I usually cook cranberries, or grind them.  Then I add sugar (as little as possible, but you do need some), either chopped up whole oranges or drained Mandarin oranges and if no one is allergic, chopped up walnuts.
Today, I thought I would use these flavors and made this:


1 pkg. Yellow cake mix

3 eggs

½ cup milk

Mix all above with fork in large bowl until crumbs all moist.

Add 1 can WHOLEberry cranberry sauce-break up with fork as you mix it into batter. Add 1 large can well drained Mandarin oranges, 1 cup walnuts- chopped roughly. Use spatula to mix well.

Pour into sprayed 13x9 pan, bake in preheated 350 degrees oven 35-40 minutes, check center with toothpick at 35 minutes.

Cool, serve with vanilla ice cream, or top with powered sugar if desired.

Hope you like it, we all did. And let me be the first to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
I am the first right?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wow, that was fast!

Gee, I remember being so excited to start wearing sandals and no coats, and, and well, everything that marks the seasonal change.
And today, well, today I am calling to schedule the furnace yearly maintenance, we have taken out the screens in the screen door, now it is just a door, and I am  wearing a long sleeved top for the umpteenth time this week!
Well, this also means that my favorite time of year is coming, and I really can't wait to get my many totes of fall stuff out.  Those colors are so warm and welcoming.  So, I need to stop whining about the cold, no cold, no pretty autumn.
And Billie Holiday agrees with me:
Autumn in New York

Monday, September 5, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends.

I was told today that a SFriend wanted to comment, but it didn't work.  I had tried all that I had knowledge of, so I could not figure out how to fix it.  Then another blogger mailed me the instructions!  I commented on her blog, and she was trying to reciprocate, but unable to, so she passed on the  instructions:
It's really easy to change your setting so this is the form that comes up.

1. click on Settings
2. click on comments
3. scroll down to where it says Comment Form Placement and click on Full Page

I did what was listed, and I hope it works for all of you if you are having a problem with people commenting on your blog.

Please give commenting on my blog another try, and thanks for playing along with me while I learn the ins and outs.

Ernestine, the blogger who passed on this tip has a lovely site. here it is:

Thanks again all who help each other.
A thank you song for all:
Friends are Quiet Angels

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One tooth less to brush.

Yesterday, I had a wisdom tooth pulled.  It was rebuilt many times in my many years, and this time I said, that is it-no more money showers for you.
 I found it broken in a most unconventional way.  I sleep face down in my pillow, teeth clamped tightly together. When I woke up, my tongue seemed bruised, and looking at my pillow, I found a piece of white filling.  The small size meant that more pieces were certainly someplace. Could not find them, wonder if I swallowed it/them in the night?  And the mirror showed that the reason my tongue was bruised and hurting was because with the filling gone, my remaining tooth stump was a lethal weapon.
This is reverse tooth fairy practice of course, leave a tooth, get some money. 
But becausee I am special, I found part of a tooth and spent some money.  One hundred and ninety-one dollars  to be exact. But really, the oral surgeon and his assistant were exactly what you want in  health care professionals, kind, polite, gentile and reassuring. And, they both told me that I had a small mouth-see, I always thought there was a small person hiding inside of me, and it was as close as my mouth!
They even called home before my appointment to say that the Dentist was running late, and that I could come there later for my appointment.  But, you know me right?  I had left already when they called, and got there 15 minutes early.  So, my wait was a tad longer.  But, it is what it is eh?
I got to read my email and check facebook on my wonderful droid, check over my schedule for the next few weeks and sit in an air-conditioned lovely room and be still.  Not always part of my life, so that in itself was a gift.
After the dentist, I needed to pick up SSon from his father's home, and then go to cash his paycheck-I took that opportunity to stock up on some "soft" food at the grocery store: yogurt and rice pudding.  And since I was still under the magical, pain-free  spell of the Novocaine, I did a cart worth of shopping too.  I did have to keep my mouth closed tightly on a gauze piece, so I could not talk, and my one cheek was way out there from the gauze, but hey, I was not as bad as some people in the store, pants hanging off their coolous, and "Stuff" flowing out of their tops.  Not a judgement, just stating the facts ma'am.  Of course we all know it was a judgement, but that was my feeble attempt at "live and let live", saw right though me did you?
I was a little uncomfortable last evening when everything wore off, but think about how other people are suffering with real aliments, and for me just a few Motrin and the pain is manageable.
So, think of the money I will save on toothpaste, floss and wear and tear of the toothbrush now that I have one less tooth to pay attention to.   What could I spend it on?  A sprinkle from the top of a doughnut?  A single layer of nail polish on my baby toe? Or hey, maybe I could save it up and buy a pack of sugar free gum-that is what the tooth fairy always left for my kids. One memorable time, SDaughter woke up before me the tooth fairy, and the item had to be snuck back in as if she did not look well enough when she first woke up.  I do believe that was the first inkling to her that the tooth fairy was not real.  
So listen, today I am fine, salt rinses trying to avoid the dreaded DRY SOCKET, lighter in the wallet, and enjoying Activia Greek Style yogurt-that I bought on sale, by-the-by.  Gifts everywhere.

Bottom line: how much wisdom did I lose along with the tooth?  I am off to  google that, and here is a little music selection for you, nothing to do with teeth, but trust me, I looked through some horrible tooth and tooth themed videos, and gave up, so instead here, is something else that reflects this Labor Day weekend.
"End of Summer"

Friday, September 2, 2011

Around the World...

Below is a an article about a speaker for our club.  This meeting happened a few years ago, but I thought it was very interesting to hear his story.  I hope you like it.

The Kiwanis Club of Marilla was the host to Ken Frey this past week, who spoke of his life-changing trip around the world with his wife Cheryl one year after they were married. Many slides were shown during Frey’s talk, which really brought the adventure right into the meeting room. Most of the pictures were taken by Cheryl. The trip changed from “we hope to some day...” to a reality after they mentioned their goal to a 94-year-old friend. He advised them to do the trip instead of talking about “someday,” and they realized he was correct. So they worked very hard to save money, purchased a 39-foot boat which they got sea-ready, christened it Hanna and left for their journey July of 1991. They began the trip along the Erie Canal, actually being pulled by a mule for part of the distance. The outbound route went along the Eastern Seaboard, where they encountered some extremely bad weather which gave a sudden reality check for these novices’ voyagers. Tying yourself to the various parts of the boat was extremely important in bad weather.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) were not widely available for navigation at the beginning of their trip because not enough satellites were connected to the system. The original navigation method which they used was Celestial Navigation-using stars, the sun and a sextant to pinpoint their location. Toward the end of their trip, as technology advanced, a GPS was used which gave their actual location within 100 yards.

Fresh water while traveling on the saltwater Oceans was an important supply, and very hard to acquire. They did use a reverse osmosis system to convert water from salt to fresh. Showering was done with buckets of salt water, lemon Joy soap and rinsing with a precious small amount of fresh water.

They paid $300 to spend an entire day traveling through the Panama Canal toward the beginning of their journey, and in the canal they were dwarfed by large freighters.
Freighters were one of their concerns during the trip, since their size vessel might not be seen by a large ship. Even during the night, they would need to check the horizon every twenty minutes to watch for approaching freighters.

They decided that all of their stops would include a request from the locals to see any regional waterfalls or churches, sometimes these waterfalls really were large and powerful, sometimes the water barely trickled down a hill. Many of the churches were still being used, but some were overgrown with vegetation.

All the residents they came into contact with around the world were very welcoming to them; they were fascinated by their story and by Cheryl’s blonde hair and blue eyes-features none of them had. The children of the world especially were excited to meet them. The life they saw was a simple life for the natives, fishing, visiting with neighbors and making beautiful carved items and cloth. Many times celebrations were held in their honor because they choose to visit.
Because of the kindness shown by so many strangers to them, Frey has never charged a fee to do this presentation-it is his way of passing on this kindness.

A ham radio was their main source of communication, and it was very comforting to be able to call home to Alden New York from anywhere in the world. This was especially good when they would travel very long distances with no sign of life either in the water or the skies. Their longest stretch of this stark alone-time was 24 days on their way to Easter Island.

Many languages were used during their 4-year trip, their Spanish and French were passable, but other languages like Portuguese and Indonesian were more of a challenge.

Money was brought in American Currency since this was widely accepted, and in small amounts, with more funds being wired to banks as needed.

Stopping at the Equator, they followed tradition and had a celebration involving silly costumes and drinking a toast to their 94-year-old friend using some Cognac which he gave them.

A son named Gabriel was born to them in New Zealand in 1994, with the local medical doctors very willing to allow Frey to assist in the birth as much as he and his wife desired. This blue-eyed towhead was quickly the hit of the visits to small islands-he was looked upon as a rarity because of his coloring, and many cultures wished that he be carried while still less than two years old, so he had many different hands willing to hold him. They were always treated graciously during their visits to the villages, but this new baby brought a different sweet tone to their interaction.

Because of the birth of their son, they spent about four months in New Zealand, traveling around by car. They also used this time to spruce up their boat and acquire new charts for the rest of their voyage.

One part of their trip included a stop in South Africa, at the time when Nelson Mandela was recently released from prison. The part of the trip around the southern shoreline of Africa was too treacherous to take Gabriel on, so Cheryl and the baby went by car with friends across South Africa and later connected back with Frey.

Surprisingly, they made contact with some of the same people making similar voyages, along their travels, people that they never expected to see again would turn up at another island. These friendships were very important to the Freys.

Their trip continued on toward home, taking four years, covering 40 thousand miles and visiting a total of 28 countries.

They entered the Hudson River, traveling once again down the Erie Canal, arriving at Crawdaddy’s Restaurant in the Buffalo New York Marina to a large contingent of family and friends.

Their family now includes four children, and someday, maybe they will take another trip and share this adventure also with the members of the Kiwanis Club of Marilla who very much enjoyed this exciting account.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The times thay are a changin'

I am of that age.  You know, when so many of your friends and relatives are the same age and having serious health problems.
We have friends and relatives  beyond count having "replacements", knees, hips, and not a week goes by that we don't hear "have you heard about..".
At supper, SSon says our prayer, asking God to "watchover", and lately the list is unfortunately long.
The father of my children, I guess he would be SX using my naming process (S for sweet, and then their relationship), who has been having health problems for thirty years has been giving the unfortunate words "nothing we can do for you" in regards to his heart health.  Devastating for all.  He has a very devoted wife, who makes sure that he gets the best health care possible, but not even that worked out for this man who is genetically programmed from both sides of his lineage to have heart disease and diabetes. And with these two diseases-one aggravates the other.
My SKids are taking it differently.  SS is so stoic, but bears careful watching for when the barrier comes down. And, while we have been editing our updates to him about his father's condition, we have had to give him more info lately. And his quick hugs to all go a long way.  What a gift he is.
SDaughter always wants to fix everything, so she is frustrated and tearful, and still she is offering to help in any way with driving SS or anything to pick up the slack from her father's former involvement-starting with last night, when she went with him using her fathers ticket to the Buffalo Bills Football game.  She is not a football fan, could have spent the time with her hunny, but she did what was needed-without being asked.  What a gift she is.
Some might wonder why this is such a hard time for me-the ex.  But, we were married for 24 years, and while we were lousy spouses to and for each other, we are very good friends now, along with our spouses. If we did not have shared  Skids and a SGrandson, this closeness might not have formed, but thankfully, it did. As I have mentioned here before, his spouse and I consider ourselves sisters.
If you are the praying type, please say a prayer for SX, thanks.
So there you have it, aging sucks.  And yet, it is still a gift.
And here is a song to remind us, we are there for each other:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ungrateful wretches!

Chipmunks, who needs 'em?  Not me, that is for sure.  One is a little cute, but now we have way too many.  They are destructive little  brats.  I let them eat the dropped bird seeds that the selective birds pull out of the feeder while they are looking for the perfect sunflower seed,  and that is not enough!  They jump from pillar to post to get to the feeder and just sit there filling their cheek pouches.  They look like a 'munk with the mumps when they are finished.  Then they start on the bulbs.  I have planted many bulbs here over the years, and at first it was only the adorable bunnies that gnawed on the bulbs.  But then, the chipmunks realized that there were bulbs in "them thar" flower beds.  They dug them up, chewed on them, leaving a big mess and no soon-to-be-flowers for me.
But, they have made their final assault, this means war.
In a previous post: DuBois flowers I told you all about the special plants/bulbs that I found and planted in memory of Matka.  I watered them in the spring and summer drought times, a few times I had to "tuck" them back into the soil and under the mulch because they were "toyed" with, but they were still doing good.
BUT, last week my SHusband told me that I better look at Matka's tree and the plants.  Well, I'll be a (deleted).  Not only did the chipmunks dig up the bulbs, but they ate them, and then to celebrate, they dug a tunnel to China in the middle of the area where the tree is planted.  SH said I better do something about that to keep air from getting to the tree roots and killing it.  Are you kidding me? Those guys ate the bulbs and put the tree at risk!!
So, I went out with all my tools and went to war.  I filled in the hole, put a rock on top, redistributed the dirt and the mulch and made it look nice..........and I added a package of mouse poison.
I have not seen less chipmunks, but the area has not been messed up, except for the wee tunnel dug ........................
I hate Chipmunks.
And to push me just a little bit more, yesterday morning they left a half eaten bulb on the front step.  That was my "horse's head in the bed", I tell you.
Next step-put red Cayenne pepper in the bird seed-they say make the food source bad, and they will go away.  I tried this before with squirrels, and it worked, so lets hope that what is good for one rodent is good for another!
p.s. don't tell St. Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of Animals on me.  I will have to ask St. Fiacre, the Patron Saint of Gardens to side with me.
Read all about him here:
St. Fiacre
He was a nice Irish boy who had a killer skill with a spade.  His Feast day is August 30th.  I better be out working in the gardens if I expect him to help me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Purple for Matka

Rose of Sharon opened just in time in memory of Matka.
Purple was her favorite color.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

For you.

In the absence of a post, I am giving you this gift.  A wonderful song, a wonderful singer, and scenes from Rome.

I will write when I can...................

Sunday, July 24, 2011


While listening to a very inspiring homily at mass today, the question was put forth: "What would you ask God for", money and cars were mentioned, etc. But of course none of that stuff lasts.
I immediately thought of my answers, but I also know I would forget it in 5 minutes, so I came up with PGS, as in pigs.  PGS would be easy for me to remember because I am a newbie to angry birds on my cell, and am stuck on level 21 of the first set-for three days for goodness sake..  The object is to kill 3 pigs who are barricaded under wood, metal and glass, using kamikaze birds, of different sizes and skill sets.  Do not, I repeat, do not start playing this game.  Last night was one of my now very rare sleepless nights, and there I was, trying to annihilate pigs.
I passionately digress. Mea culpa. Deep breath, move on.
So listen, in my thoughts about asking God for something, I choose PEACE, GRACE and STRENGTH.
Peace for living with all my choices I have made in my life-good and bad, who I am, how I live my life and what I wish for others.
Grace for my much needed skill: to exhibit Grace under fire, as I have written about here before.
Strength, for all the twists and turns that life holds, for the ability to serve others with out it making me look good, and to except every day as a gift-from God.
'Nuff said.
I wish you Peace, Grace and Strength also my SFriends, if that is what you want.

Here is a Peace song for you:

And, this is something not peaceful. an image of an Angry Bird:
Now, wipe that out of your brain, and look at this, very peaceful:

See, Peace is achievable!