Thursday, March 31, 2011

Twenty years and counting.....

As promised, here is the story, mostly with pictures of the Ceremony where SSon was honored for 20 years of service to his employer. He works in a sheltered workshop which provides him training for his jobs and support as needed as he goes through his day. He does various jobs, and I have included pictures of his work site. Attending were me, the proud Mom, SHusband, SSon's SDad and SStepmother, and SSister#1-filling in for SDaughter who was working that day.

It was a very emotional day for me, thinking of the past, how far he has come, the future, what does it hold for him as he will eventually transition to a group home setting-a phase that I am honestly not willing to even discuss yet. And also the largest part of the day, was happening right there-all these workers being joyfully celebrated for their great accomplishments against so many odds. 50, 100 years ago these workers would not be workers, they would be "put away", away from family, away from friends, away from "the view" of the oh so gentle public-but NOT TODAY BABY. Today, they and their work are celebrated for what they are and did! Hooray for all of them, especially our SS.

The place was so decorated to reflect a celebration,

large welcoming signs, steamers, glittery flowers a lineup of certificates and trophies, and a DJ-the same man who plays for the annual Christmas Party-which SS loooooves attending.

They started off with the usual welcoming remarks, but is was all about honoring the workers-no blah, blah about the business itself. These staff are dedicated to the workers, and they show it. Imagine if all employers treated their valued workers so wonderfully?

SS was wearing a shirt with his picture and some words celebrating his accomplishments-the picture is actually from his employers website-stolen, um, I mean borrowed by me for the family albums.

The music began, a theme of songs like the triumphant workout song for "Rocky", the audience was pumped up and the participants were actually bouncing up and down while waiting to be called. Then, each honoree was called out individually, with positive remarks about each, to a great round of applause. I have never been so proud of SS, and in honor of Matka-who was so supportive of her family, SSister#1 and I screamed a wee bit for SS!

Family was invited forward to pose with each recipient, and when family was not there, many times members of their group homes and staff members posed with the emcees-these people were never alone.

A group picture was also taken of each milestone group, 5 years, 10 etc. And, one individual was honored for being there 40 years-when the program, first began. And if this was not enough of a celebration, a fish fry was served to all attending-like it was custom designed to be SS's favorite day. Cake that was from a local well-known bakery, specializing in wedding cakes was provided, and that was the topping of a perfect day.

A Picture was sent as it happened to facebook, which generated many loving and supportive remarks. And that night, there was a message for SS from his best bud, who lives in a group home and was told of Tim's accomplishments by a fellow resident. Very sweet. Matka was there in the form of her favorite ring, thank you SS#1 for thinking of that, and that was another reason for tears of all sorts.

In parting, look at this smile-a man happy in his life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Delightedly Solarized

Doesn't one feel ever so much better when kissed by the sun?

Delightful, simply delightful, and now I am really starting to come into my own beautiful self in time for "THE EVENT". Who made the pronouncement that the person wearing white is the center of the universe! Why, just look at my splendid presentation.

Charles, are you listening to me? Charles?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Seedastrophe..

Yesterday was a wonderfullybusyday.
SSon was honored at his work site for TWENTY years on the job. I took a zillion pictures and even a video, but have not had time to download them all yet, and will do a longer post when I do have more time. Here is a teaser:
On the way home, I stopped at a large branch of a local grocery store for a birthday card for my brother-which I was in a panic over the night before-and I of course remembered after buying it that I had my month's confused-the end of March was coming, not the end of April. I sometimes am so trying to be organized that I flipped a month. Do you ever do that? Well, now I have his card-tick that off the list. I was also looking for parakeet seed. We have 5 and they are suddenly in an eating frenzy-must be an internal clock-rite of spring response. They ate us out of house and seed, so I was on a mission before we went home. And....that store did not have any seed for parakeets-just 20 lb. bags of outdoor bird seed. So, I bought some more "wet' food for the cat and left. Store #2, large chain drugstore, no parakeet seed, but I did pick up another item for our upcoming Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast/Basket Raffle. Store #3, another branch of a large drug store chain-no seed, just came out with two hands full of frustration.
Store #4, small discount store, they HAD seed, not a brand name, not sure if it was nutrisishy enough, but got two bags for an emergency backup, and these two pillows, the dragonfly and the sunflower-it is still snowing here and was 16 degrees yesterday morning-I need a little spring-right this very minute (can you hear me singing?):

Finally, we took SS for a "ride home" celebratory Tim Horton coffee-if the weather was nice, we would have taken him for ice cream, but he does love his Timmy Ho's coffee, so he was happy.
Went home, a verrry weak SHusband made his way to the couch. But, he was so happy for SSon, he said it was all worth it. I sat in a chair for 15 minutes, ignoring the unmade bed, due to us leaving so quickly that morning, the unwashed breakfast dishes, and just sat thinking of the day.
Next, off to my hair appointment, and while there, all my SStylist's family were talking about the Mega Lottery, worth 350million bucks! I do not usually buy those things, "scratch-offs" yes in memory of Matka, those SS and I buy, but I decided, why not, so I went to my local branch of the first store I went to that afternoon, and bought $10. worth of Megamillions tickets. I hope I don't forget to check them now. I also bought two bags of the bird seed that I was looking for-Hartz Bountiful Parakeet Seed. AAAh. Mission accomplished.
Then, while driving home, it snowed like crazy. Stop. Please. Now. I will give you some seed if you stop.
And when I got home, dishes were washed and SH was making the bed. The person who always worries about me doing too much for him, was doing too much for me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hidy Ho all..

My name is Camilla, I hail from Britain, not very welcome there, so uprooting, and moving here to a friendly little serfdom for a short time.
I am preening for an upcoming little family event, so I have pulled out all stops-even demanding a diluted taste of that exotic drink coffee, watered a bit, every fortnight to make my blooms ever so loooovely.
Here is the beginning now:

I DEMAND your presence here on a regular basis!
Excuse me, it would be ever so nice to have you attend here frequently.
Wait, Where is my horse, where is Charlie?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Family is spelled...

Family is spelled, T I M E. You need to spend time with each other. Not fit-in time, but nice calm, relaxed, "in the moment" time.

Yesterday, the four local sibs enjoyed soup, desserts, misc and each other. The nine of us were so happy and the sun was shining, and everything that was made and brought from near and far was a hit.

This is a napkin that SSister#1 gave us for yesterday:

SS#1 and her SHusband made "Beans and Greens" soup (at 7:30am that morning!), a Wegmans's recipe, and really what family with even an ounce of Italian blood in them doesn't like beans and greens eh? And SBrother#2 and his SSigother (she really) made beautiful, tasty vegetable soup with a zillion different kinds of veggies cooked to perfection. I made roasted vegetable soup-a recipe from Ina Garten/Food Network, it is one of my and SHusbands favorites. For SSon, his favorite soup is canned Campbells cream of mushroom soup-I know, I know, but that is what he likes, and "we aims to please"-one year I made him fresh mushroom soup with all kinds of fungi-he hated it-lesson learned-pay attention to what the kid says!

A Wegmans "Menu" book from the Winter 2011 edition gave me a recipe for a spinach flan-which I changed into a 13x9 pan quiche and cooked about 65 minutes, let set for a few minutes before serving, and it was wonderful-the only change I made was to sprinkle some nutmeg on the top before placing in the oven-I use nutmeg in my spinach lasagna so, why not right?-and it looked so naked with the custard sauce-this made me feel better-all about the feelings eh?

I threw in a "palate cleanser"-2 packages sugar free lemon Jello-made according to directions, let chill for three hours-use a stick or regular blender to make it light and foamy, add 1/2 carton mango type of yogurt-blend a little more, put in a nice dish-I used a glass dish that belonged to SH's SMother, and chill until the next day-just something light when you are eating various flavors at a meal, or in our case to put off dessert as much as possible until SH pleads for his sweets!

We had the most rich, chocolaty cake from SBrother#1 and his SWife-the smell alone was intoxicating. I also threw in a apple cake that has a caramel sauce that you pour over the cake when it is still hot from the oven-and it soaks in-SH and others loooved it, I thought it was too sweet.

We discussed business at one point for a millisecond, and then were lucky enough to see some pix on the TV from a trip to a whale watching-breeding area in the Dominican Republic-so beautiful, the scenery was so many vivid colors of blue and green-you all need to go to the Dominican Republic to see it for yourself. SB#2's SSigO has family there, so we got to "visit" them through these pictures also.

The ladies did the dishes for us-I used to be really mean and insist that I would do the dishes when company left-but I was told a few years back that my guests enjoyed the visit while they were all working together-so I give in now. And I just do a few little things later. I enjoy cleaning for a party, cooking for a party, and the cleanup afterwards lets me think again about the people there that day. A triple-header!
On the dining room table was a tablecloth that SS#2 made-that brought her to the party even though she lives out of state, and on the kitchen table was a table cloth that SMatka gave me long ago-she said it belonged to her mother-and since this is the day of my SGrandma Viviani's birthday-she needed to be here also.
When I mentioned the tablecloths to the family, I was also going to mention that the presence of Mom is inside every one of us at the table-but I couldn't say it out loud. I am sure she heard me anyway.

I put out some spring flower arrangements and displayed only one St. Patrick's Day decoration, and look who found it hanging on the back of the bathroom door:
I love this picture of SS#1, it shows her joy and her beauty.

Here are the recipes that I mentioned above:

*Ina Garten's roasted vegetable soup

*Wegmans Spinach Flan:

It should enlarge when you click on it. Too bad it does not automatically cook it when you click on it-who knows, that could be in the future too!

*Wegmans Beans and Greens:

SS#1 made meatballs with turkey Italian sausage. And used 1/2 of the pasta called for.

Thank you for visiting-I wish I could give you a little taste of the soups, but you will just have to settle for a cyberhug my SFriends.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Day of Spring, SPRUNG!

Spring is finally here, it has been much anticipated, and now we begin our journey, new life, new hope, new___________,
you fill in the blank of what you want it to be.

Here are some forsythia for you SReader, the sure sign that Spring is here, even if they are only silk, they are a helper to remind us of the beauty about to be jumping out of the ground and bursting in the bushes and trees. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Words to HEAR...

In my local paper today was a story containing these words:
" while you're alive. All you've got is right now-this breath. You get to choose."

It was a story about Marcy Brenner, breast cancer survivor, first diagnosed at age 34. Two different diagnoses, three years apart, family history, divorces after first battle. Now, her story is a film "Dead Girl Walking." The title comes from a song that she wrote about her cancer.

She now is married for the second time, and travels and performs with her husband in a folk and bluegrass Band.

Read the entire article here:

Those words really impacted me, bang-arrow to my heart and mind at the same time.

Now is all we have, and that is enough if you embrace that time. And to prove it, SHusband saw this out of the window this morning, right after I shared this story with him, a very life affirming, harbinger of Spring, a Robin.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Torn between two loves...

I am so excited about our family coming over on Sunday for our annual SOUP day, that I am like a little kid waiting for Christmas. Family is so important, and we are all very loving and respectful to the uniqueness of each of us. This is the first Soup party without Matka, and she will be missed but she will be FELT. After all, she is the one who loved us and showed us how to appreciate family times. We all bring some food item to share at these parties, and we try to be good hosts to our valued guests. I am sure there will be pictures to share and many laughs-we try to get in a game of dominoes, but sometimes we just are too busy BEINGWITHEACHOTHER to fit anything else in. Next month, we will be hosting our other side of the family, and I look forward with equal excitement to that party.
So, here is my "torn" element: our lives are going on as usual, enjoying the changing of the season, getting together with family, cheering on the local hockey team, but how dare we with the devastation in Japan? I know, cancelling a soup party will not help them through this tragedy, but in my heart I think of all the mothers who lost children or are watching them suffer from radiation exposure, the wives who have lost husbands, the children who have lost parents, those who have their lives, but have lost all possessions-what a heart breaking overwhelming existence they are living. I prayer for them, I cry easily for them and I wish it did not happen.

My love of humanity makes me what some people call "A bleeding heart". This is true, and while I am not proud of my inability to cope better with the pain of others, I know it is better to have a heart to bleed than to be non-caring for the plight of others.....

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tragedy continues..

When Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf in 2005, the real damage was caused to New Orleans by the levy breaking and the waters flooding in. The circumstances are similar to the present tragedy in Japan. The first event, the earthquake, 8.9 strength, caused massive damage, certainly some lives were lost in the areas where the tremors were the worst, but the real damage and taking of lives happened when the tsunami came through. Watching the videos on Friday and since, it was obvious that all those buildings, boats and cars swept away probably had someone in them. All the crushing debris then did more killing. I can't imagine how it could be worse.
Then....they are now talking about the threat of nuclear leakage, causing radiation exposure to tens of thousands. And this to a country that already had generational damage from the other source of radiation poisoning, the atomic bombs during World War II. How those who are old enough must be in fear of a repeat of those most painful times.
My heart goes out to all of Japan, and the countries who may have been assaulted by the tsunami waves as they rippled across the pacific rim and beyond. And then, if radiation leakage occurs-it will certainly not be contained within the confines of the local area of the nuclear reactors. Remember when the nuclear accident at Chernobyl happened? The cows in Switzerland were eating grass contaminated by nuclear fallout, and then producing contaminated milk, etc, etc.
We are all one world, so a prayer for them is a prayer for us. Not to ward off us getting their problems, but to share in the pain of our fellow travelers on this small planet.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chopping d'chop, chop...

Chopping was a big part of our last few days.
First when I drove SGS here for the weekend, did I tell you that I call him Liebchen? That is German for loved one, anyway, when we got here, Liebchen found a super bouncer ball that we were playing with in the driveway almost
4 years ago-SGS, SHusband and myself. At one point it bounced so high that it went up onto the garage roof-and then bounced into the really big evergreen next to the garage. It was up so high that we could barely find it, and then a huge wind storm came along, chasing us into the house. When it was over, we used some rakes and chopping motions to shake it down, but nothing, nada, zilch. Since then, no matter what wind we had, it stayed tucked into a crook of branches that were holding on tightly. A few days ago, we had another of those high winds they called Moria, and when SGS got out of the car, he found the ball!
It was much smaller, a little dirty, but he found it. I think the shrinking of size caused it to finally slip between the icy fronds of the evergreen branches. We washed it, found an inflating pin, and realized that it did not have a valve in it to add air, so it will not be able to be inflated-it does not bounce, just THUDS. But we have it back, like an old friend we have not seen for a time.
And, before he even took off his jacket, he needed to show his beloved Grampa his latest progress report from school. What must it be like to have a grandpa? How lucky SGS is.
This morning, SGS had his Karate class, and I enjoyed watching it, and believe me, unless you have been in a not so big room with sweating kids, you never knew what joy a ceiling fan could bring! For 90 minutes, he did various exercises, sparring with other classmates, and was evaluated on his coda (think dance routine with screaming periodically), and his karate chops were very strong-and accompanied by a loud shriek "ah YAH!" He was even hoarse on the ride home. He stayed after class to ask his sensai (teacher) about a few moves. When we got home-he was begged to take his shower immediately, and then later he became my sous chef-chopped all the veggies, it was a nice time together. He had never had Swiss chard, and I needed to use the last of it, so he started with that, and even was adventurous enough to eat a leaf and stem piece raw-he noticed the pepper taste that comes as an aftertaste with raw Swiss chard, and then when it was time to add the green tops and raw spinach to the sauteed peppers, onions and chard stalks, he ate about a cup of raw spinach-leafy green R US.
His next step was to taste the soup which I made. I had some leftover smashed potatoes and decided to make some cream of potato soup-some chicken stock warmed, leftover potatoes, cream of celery soup, a few tbsp of roasted red pepper salad dressing for some punch-simmer. He asked if it needed to be tasted- and was given the job-a little cracked pepper and it was pronounced perfect. But, I must say, before he got involved, I had the DIS-GUS-TING job of removing the potato skin pieces-note to self: never make leftover potatoes into soup if they are smashed. Oh puke. I would have been chopped from any cooking competition with these brown pieces floating in there.
After supper with the promise/bribe of dessert, we managed to talk SSon into playing dominoes with us-it was a good time-no hurry, but SHusband was relived to see us finish in time for his nightly news. Dessert was whipped sugar free raspberry gelatin, set for a few hours, that I used a stick blender to pulverize a can of drained Mandarin oranges into, then blend a little longer to add some air and make puffy. Top it with some chopped up pieces of graham crackers, they loved it, and they got some nice gelatin powered chemicals to keep up our quota of artificial foods. When I was in about 8th grade, they mentioned in some class that horse hoofs were used to make gelatin-I was really shocked and would not eat jello for some time. What class would teach you that? There was no class in recycling/repurposing in those days-was it "horse hooves 101" or something?
Next, instead of putting the dominoes away, SGS decided to build some Stonehenge structures, including sleeping quarters for families who lived there while building them. Then he built some super structures that he chopped down. He made his structures for over an hour-no battery or password needed-just using his mind.
Well, we just sprang the clocks that are not electronic forward an hour in prep for tonight.
Teeth are brushed and the Buffalo Sabres Hockey Team are winning-this may have been a choppy weekend-but it was a keeper.
I hope you are making the best of whatever you are doing, and finding peace.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Apartment wanted:

Single Blue Male looking for apartment to rent or share:
-Must have nice neighbors-who just flew by?
-Nice big place-how far down does this go? -Privacy desired.Is that a cat?

Bunny trails

We have a lot of bunnies around our house, but really sometimes I think of them as "those wascaly wabbits" because they have eaten so many branches of our burning bushes-stripped them clean. I know.... we live in the country, they lived here first, yadda-yadda. But, "can't we all just get along?"

The deposits they leave behind can be used to help the bushes grow, so maybe that is payment for their meals?

I enjoy looking at the tracks, to see how they traveled here and there in our yards. It looks like a thruway overpass sometimes, mostly the same tracks in the same pattern, over and over.

Yesterday, I needed to go to Matka's home in preparation for selling. As I walked up the driveway, a light snow gave away the identity of the recent visitors-bunny tracks from the yard to her front garden bed and back. In the good old days, when I would pick her up to go places-she was always ready in coat and scarf at the door waiting-and we always remarked on her bunny friend's tracks. Not yesterday.

But, I did enjoy a smile thinking of her and those simple little shared moments.
No tears, just good memories.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cooking For a Crowd?

The scratchings at the end of the recipe are mine. I found it works better to split into two pans for this first step. This is from "Tasteful Traditions", a cookbook published for our town's Sesquicentennial Birthday in 2004, which is 150 years from the founding day-and I know how to spell that from my participation during the sesqui celebration. I can not however spell easy things like anything ending in "le" or double "l". Must have missed school that day.
The recipe was submitted by Julia Tait-she is known in town for her great pies also.
This is a recipe that I use if making something for a double, triple meal for freezing or a crowd of people. You can substitute ground turkey or chicken or use 1/2 and 1/2 with beef-make it your own. We prefer it on rolls like egg or potato rolls. Add a salad like cole slaw or mixed greens, applesauce or fresh fruit and you are done. If you are making fresh fruit, you can just mix 2 lemon yogurt with a small amount (1/2 cup) sour cream and stir carefully. How very nice. You must add a dessert, brownies or a fruit pie.
I read a novel about 30 years ago when SDaughter was a terror, excuse me, I mean a behavior challenged toddler, about pioneers and their struggles-and the woman in the story soaked 1/2 cup of raisins in precious red wine overnight-enough to cover, and she covered it with a cloth to keep the bugs out, yikes-I hate bugs. I would not have done well in those days, outside plumbing-bathroom and water from the creek, dirt and dust-unlike my home when I have gotten behind in my cleaning-this is the real dust and dirt, straight from the prairie, no Tim Hortons Coffee mule-drive through, and no computer, well you get my point-I would not have done well. We all would have survived, and maybe if I did not know what I was missing, it would have been fine. But still-bugs?
Back to my story, I almost never have had wine in the house, so I just use any kind of juice-grape is best, soak as directed (not refrigerated) and then add it to your regular apple pie recipe-it really gives it a nice flavor. I have even sunk so low as to add it to canned apple pie filling. Still was a nice touch.
Hope you have a special group of people that you share a meal with, and maybe some of you are at a place in your lives, that what you have are memories of shared meals. That is all it takes sometimes, a life well-lived, full of memories that you can draw on whenever needed. Thanks to Matka, I and my family have a purse full of precious family times to pull out and examine.
Here are "Julia's Girls", named for SGrandma Viviani, a wonderfully dedicated, family, Italian cook: SCooks, SCousins, SSisters and SMoms all.

Squirrelly day

Today is a little different kind of day for many reasons, but Boo Boo Marie is all hyper-a squirrel managed to go from being a ground feeder to a Rodent Olympian and high jumped up to the bird feeder. Poor SCat was frantic to burrow through the picture window, but it got her juices running for the day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Flowers are magical

I love flowers.

I love when people give me flowers.

Sometimes I buy fresh cut flowers just because I love flowers.

Today this Hospice Bouquet was delivered from SHusband, and the flower in the header is from that bouquet.

I share them all with you dear readers.
Here, take this pretty rose. You can put it in your hair, clench it in your teeth and dance, put it in your lapel, or just in a wee glass on your nightstand.
You deserve it.

Salley Gardens

I am really looking forward to March. A season of green popping through, not just that muddy green when the snow goes away but REAL GREEN, signs of new life, new hope and refreshing of the spirit. In preparation for that, I was looking for an Irish song for you to listen to and I found this:

And the name of it is "Down by the Salley Gardens". Custom made I think.
Enjoy, and thank you for always being there, I look forward to visiting with you each day.

And if you are not in a mood for beautiful music, about about a look at some dancers?