Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Love, respect, honor -- they are amazing

A few days ago I posted a request to send birthday cards to a friend's son in Iraq. k offered to spread the word via Here is her post with the replies. I am amazed and delighted by this outpouring. I'm beyond words. I'm speechless. It's so wonderful. I hope Aaron gets so many cards they have to ship him home to read them.

Too bad about the confusion on the squirrel and corny cards. And just in case anyone finds their way back to this blog, looking for some clarification, here is the explanation.

Squirrel cards? Yes, squirrel cards. I am happy to say Squirrel Lady is a dear friend, and a reader of this blog. SO I was saying, it's okay to send a card with squirrels on it. Now that this request is spread over the internet, I wonder how many cards with squirrels he'll receive. It will be a way to tag their origin of sorts. Hummm... this person must've heard about Aaron via ptcakes, angrylittlebitch, or

Corny cards? Yes, corny cards. I belong to a writing group affectionately known as the Niblets. Hence a lot of corn humor passes among us. Writers are interesting people. The majority of the sidebar links are for their own blogs. Check them out. I'm proud to be a Niblet.

So, here is Aaron's address again:

SPC Aaron Stein
HHC, 1-501
FOB Iskan
APO AE 09312-0506

Send cards, and send them often!

Happy Birthday Aaron! Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Johnson sisters

I found out today that the Johnson sisters used to live in our house. My informant could only remember the stature of one of the ladies. "She was small. You could barely see her eyes when she drove her car down the street."

Interesting, I say. Since in my book, Forever Yours, one of the sisters-in-law that live in my house is quite petite.

Also in a dream the other night I got the suggestion that after Sarah falls down the attic stairs, (When she jams her finger and the ring gets stuck behind her swollen knuckle.) to have Charles Boss asking Sarah if she is all right. If you've read the book, all twelve of you, you might remember her dad comes up stairs and finds her half dazed. This is a good place to insert another dreamy phantom visit.

I must remember this when I finally get back to rewriting.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I tried!

Sunday I fulfilled my first request to photograph an event. (A friend is turning 50. Mind you, she looks 30, so I'm thinking 50 won't be so bad.) Anyway, to get ready I showered and shaved the night before... clothes laid out. I'd get up, go to church, come home and cook dinner for my family, that I was abandoning for the afternoon, and then head off.

All was going according to plan until I woke up Sunday morning. As a rule, I never shower in the evening. For the next morning I have such an extreme case of bed head that I look like my head has been put in a vice, and my hair caught in a twister. Now, this is what I looked like when I woke up very late for Mass. So off I flew -- with my winter hat on. The hat, that is affectionately called a tea cozy. The hat didn't help. The fifteen minutes under it's pressing influence created helmet hair.

So, I was Madame Helmet all day. At the party several people said, "Oh, we have to get your picture too!"

"No," I quickly replied, "there is a reason why I'm always on the other side of the camera." I was laughing. But on the inside I was dying. I hate my hair.

Today, after the morning shower, I put on a little make up. Partly due to yesterday's fiasco and partly because I was going out to lunch to celebrate a friend's birthday. Make up isn't something I wear, once a month nevermind everyday. But, today was to be a special face/hair saving day.

Before lunch I had a gig at the elementary school to record one of the kindergarten classes with my US-122/laptop combo. Finally, a day I would be presentable with nicer mommy clothes and facial aides.

The temperature being above 20, we walked to school. As we entered the school one of the wonderful teachers commented, "Is it cold outside?"

I replied, "Not bad."

"Oh, your face is so red. It looks like you've been to the beach."

This is the last time I'll attempt anything more than mommy drab.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


A friend's son will be turning 21. There should be a party with family and friends; a real down home celebration. What makes this birthday different is, Aaron is in Iraq. So my friend has asked that we all send him a birthday card. Post it by Feb. 10th and it should arrive in time. Squirrel cards are encouraged. Corny ones will do too. And let's not forget those wonderful homemade cards.

Here's the address:
SPC Aaron Stein
HHC, 1-501
FOB Iskan
APO AE 09312-0506

Happy Birthday Aaron. The card's in the mail!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

14 Brownies

What to do with 14 Brownies? Note the capitalization, so I'm not talking about a dessert, or for that matter a breakfast treat.

First off, 14+ backpacks, jackets, hats, mittens, and scarves can be arranged against the walls, any walls, anywhere so that people still have a clear path to walk from room to room. Amazing.

And 14 Brownies working on a Math Fun Try-It are incredibly quiet and so polite, I would adopt them all. But it would have to be all of them, together. For when the number dwindles to 3 or 4 or 2, the mayhem is like an elephant stamped. Where the elephants have sneakers and they are running through the jungle looking for villages to overturn.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Day Magnets

It is inevitable. I plan one major activity, or new doctor's appointment on a day -- it could be 6 months out, it could be 6 years out, and every other event or activity for that month falls on that day. Take for example today.

There is a doctor's appointment in the morning. OH, guess what you lucky Friday folder stuffer (sending home info for school parents) this is distribution week. The week where town and not so town organizations can send home their info through the school. Basically hours of sorting and stuffing papers destined for the recycle bin. These two events can't happen at the same time, but they are trying to.

This is also the first day of the winter activities through the PTO. And of course it's Brownies. Not as much of a bottle neck as the doctors and Friday folders. We will just miss the first day of the winter activities. Instead there are 14 Brownies coming here to get ready for our sleepover at the Science Museum. It is suppose to be the coldest day of the year-to-date and in order to get the troop to my house, we have to walk. It's only a 10 minute trek, so if they have hats, mittens, scarves and hopefully a jacket -- all should be okay. In the past -- this hasn't always been the case. I will have a backpack full of extras, and hot chocolate in the crock pot. (Not in the backpack, but back here, at the house, on the kitchen counter.)

And just where do you put over 14 backpacks (siblings will be here) along with all their winter garb, and still have room for activities? I'm still clueless on this one. I'm thinking it will be one of those all will be revealed moments.

Next weekend is looking mighty interesting too. With the winter activities, museum sleepover, girl scout cookie booth sale, children's Mass, and Super Bowl all competing for our attention. I'll probably get my period, just to make things really interesting. Why not?

OH, am I suppose to be rewriting a book in here somewhere? Yeah, right.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Did you ever feel like calf-tying something (not someone) when you finish a task? Like those rodeo-people who rope the calf, then jump off their horse and finish up by tying the poor surprised animal's hooves together. Well, that's exactly how I felt when I finished the first draft of my submission for the Niblets. The only problem, my computer doesn't have hooves. But I have an image, here in my brain... I'm wearing some sort of cowgirl garb, running around my kitchen (yes, I wrote the piece in the kitchen), twirling a rope, trying to lasso the monitor. My hat swinging in one hand, the rope in the other, with hopes of not capturing the ceiling fan.

The piece is not perfect. Life and very few of my first drafts are. But the words are out of my head, or wherever I grasp them from, maybe thin air, or someother body orifice. I'm having problems with the begininning -- the setting of the premise. So I'll put it down for a day or two, then look at it again for the second round.

Word Count 2571

Monday, January 22, 2007

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines

We don't need no stinking deadlines!

Well, we do. Or should I say, whether I need them or not, I have deadlines. One is a Niblet deadline. Two, three and four are one school and two church related, and they will get resolved with time. But it's the writing one that has kept me away from the blogging world. A week from this past Sunday -- in six days -- I have to put forth something for my writing group to lovingly rip apart. Two thousand words... not a epic endevour; but it should have a plot, beginning, middle and an end. I didn't think I was asking for too much, until I sat down to write and was met with nothing, nada, zilch and zero in the thought process column.

I usually write young adult or personal essay stuff. I wanted something different, a twist on the old standbys. You know give them something to talk about. Nothing... And that wouldn't be so novel, so it was back to the mental drawing board.

As of this morning, I have a kernel of a thought. And it had expanded enough that I've been typing, but it's still so incomplete that I fear it will be no more than an old maid when I flesh it out. So.... (GET IT -- Niblets, kernel, old maid -- corny humor... I'm grasping here.)

No Blogging until I get this done. Hum.... I wonder if I should hold off knitting too. No, that would be cruel and unusual punishment.

All the best,


Thursday, January 18, 2007

One of these things is not like the other...

Momma's mittens.

As a learning experience I figured I'd try to knit a pair of Russian ethnic mittens. I have a Russian sister-in-law and wouldn't it be nice to surprise her with a nice pair of mittens next Christmas. For this test, with acrylic yarn -- not the recommended expensive and wonderfully warm wool -- I started the first mitten over Christmas break. My first mistake was beginning the pattern in the wrong place. Also despite counting twice, somehow I ended up with two few stitches on the needles. Still I learned how to knit in a circle on double pointed needles and to carry two colors through out the pattern. And in the end I had mitten number one. Not incredibly warm -- but a nice looking mitten if you observe it from a quarter mile away in a snowstorm.

Mitten two -- on the right -- I got the design centered and followed the stitch grid for the skinnier mitten but still following the larger pattern. Hence the mitten is quite long. But I have long fingers, so it works, for me, Momma.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

But Can I... whatever...

"Time to get up."

"But can I... lie here for a few more minutes. I'm tired."

"It's cold out. Wear pants today."

"But can I wear a skirt and tights?"

"Do you want oatmeal or cheerios?"

"But can I have macaroni and cheese?"

"Did you finish your breakfast?"

"But can I have a yogurt too?"

"Have you brushed your teeth?"

"But can I have chocolate?"

"NO, brush your teeth."

"Is your backpack ready?"

"Yes, but can I pack my doll?"

and the beat goes on, the beat goes on...

but can I, but can I

... but can I ...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Like a bear

Am I ever truly happy?
When winter is warm and lovely.
When the heat didn't need to come on
and the house was cozy. I complained.

What about the sugaring season? Sleepless
nights. Racing heart attacks with every bursting bud.
Now it's cold. Freezing. And I'm sleeping.
Sleeping long and hard. Under warm waves
tumbling comforters and blankets.

Days open without my eyes.
Huddled in the warmth of my bed
I miss my morning walks. I miss the
sunrise. I miss the quiet.
And I'm complaining.

When is happiness?

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Day For Dreaming

M L King
Harriet Tubman
Tiger Woods
George Washington Carver

Mr. Marshall
Rosa Parks
Jackie Robinson
Irene Morgan

Mr. Watson
Frederick Douglass
Langston Hughes
Booker T. Washington

Maggie Walker
Arthur Ashe
Lawerence Douglas Wilder
Mae Jemison

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Finally It's Cold

In fact it's downright freezing. Thank you, Weather Channel! There may be a sugaring season this year after all!

You know, there are downsides to having a frostless winter. Ticks are still out and jumping on to hosts. Don't ask me how I know; trust me on this one. The usual killing season for colds and flu doesn't happen. And if the maple trees decide it's spring, and leaf-out -- there will be NO maple syrup. No maple goodness for pancakes and waffles, no maple taffy, no maple custard, pies, or cheese cake. No Maple Anything!

Even worse, would be missing the sugaring process itself. The girls love collecting the sap. They love to see how much the trees are sharing with us. They love drinking the warmed halfway to syrup. It's hint of sweetness is a promise of what's to come. They love eating their oatmeal and hot chocolate outside. Even though their hot breakfast, soon becomes a frozen solid breakfast -- if not eaten quickly. They love hearing the proclaimation of pancakes for dinner, topped with the first syrup of the season.

Our sugaring operation has been at the ready since fall. The burner set up. The pan in place. The buckets, lids and taps, stacked and at the ready. And for all this wonderful warm, snow-free walking weather, I've been full of worry and sleepless nights. Will there be a season? Or will it be over before it starts? Lately, I have been reassuring myself that a missed season is not the end of the world. Of course, it could be a sign of Global Warming and that could be a hint of what's to come... But anyway, a missed season might be okay. See, last summer Burr Morse invited us to come up to his sugar shack in VT. (It's been cold enough in VT.) Of course, last summer, his invite wasn't even hanging out in space a nanosecond before I replied, "We can't. We'll be sugaring." For a sugarer cannot leave their pan. But if our pan is not to boil, then maybe we can make that trek and see how a real maple sugarer brews his magic.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Almost as cool

as finding out the new phone book is here....

The directory is done!
Do you like the cover?
And I can reach the keyboard again.
Who said miracles don't happen?

It's not for lack of trying

It's been five days since I've written anything on this blog. It's not for lack of trying. Yesterday I sat down at this computer no less than three times, and nothing. I'm being blocked, physically and probably mentally.

I have three piles on my desk, actually four, the parish directory, the booth sale schedule for my daughter's brownie troop, fundraising contacts for a calendar raffle our Youth Ministry is conducting in February, and behind me, tapping me on the shoulder -- my book. There is a deadline of end of March for a rewrite.

Today, with all the grace of God, the parish directory will be done. There is a meeting with the powers that be, and hopefully there will be a sign off. It's been fun, but it's been a lot of work. Yesterday I spent hours trying to format the cover. I still couldn't get what I want. So today I'll try one last time.

The booth schedule is interesting. This is the first year our troop has held booth sales. And I have to admit they are fun. The girls love to sell cookies, and at our last sale, I got to say hello to a lot of people that we know. Still, the schedule has holes. Hours of time not claimed by parent-daughter teams. There is time. It will come together.

Five years ago if you told me I would have the balls to walk up to someone and ask for a charitable donation for a Youth Ministry raffle, I would've told you, "Not me!" But it's true. At my advanced age, I realize the worst they will say is, NO. And I've heard that before and lived. So I've asked just about everyone I know -- that has something to offer, for whatever they could give. This weekend I had a meeting at the Boston Science Museum. While walking by the Information Booth I noticed a rather nicely dressed man, standing there, overseeing operations. On my way out, I gave him my pitch. He asked for a letter. (The letter I now carry in my purse.) He gave me a number, written on the back of his business card (Vice President of Visitor Services and Operations). I am to call today.

The book. I haven't been writing but I've been thinking. The Niblets reviewed it at our last meeting. I have hundreds if not thousands of wonderful suggestions. The first being -- delete the first 11 pages. Or the more polite and politically correct way to say it is -- The action starts around page 12. I have to agree. When I started a mystery reading session for my daughter's class, even I started in on page 12 -- to get to the action faster. So, I have a date with the delete key. The hardest task of all. To be so ruthless, I need long blocks of quiet.

So that and dust bunnies are my life.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

You never know the outcome

When I was in the fourth grade I met him. His face swollen from the medication. Our teacher said if he got a simple cut he could bleed to death. And I remember, with my 8 year old eyes, scoping him out. He didn't look sick. A little swollen and pale, but not sick. Math and reading went on.

"Ptcakes can you help Michael with his lunch?"

He had been out of school for weeks. He was in a wheelchair.

"Sure." A simple word -- a simple answer.

Michael was in a wheelchair a lot. We ate a lot of lunches together. Sometimes we'd trade. I loved blonde brownies -- still to this day. He'd tease me, like boys do. We were friends through fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade. We were in all the same classes. In eighth grade we were allowed to help Mr. Watts in the science stock room. And as I write this, a memory of a kiss or two exchanged there, flashes through my mind. But it ended there. For in high school, we were separated, and the friendship faded. Maybe I saw him in the hall. Maybe we shared the elevator after my knee surgery. But too much time had passed, and has passed for all to be clear.

Over the years my mother would run into his mother. Michael was in college. Then Michael was married, no kids. Likewise, I was married. Then came the news, Michael died. It was due to complications. I lived too far away for the wake or funeral. I don't remember if I sent a card.

And the years continued to pass.

Today, my Mom reported, " I saw Michael's mom."

I didn't have to ask, "Who?" I knew.

"She's alone now. After Michael died, so did her husband and her mother."

"I didn't know." And to be honest I don't think I would ever recognize Michael's mom if I saw her.

"She asked about you. She remembers how you and Michael would swap lunches in the fourth grade."

Sure is a simple word. You never know what will come from a simple word, a simple act of kindness.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Random Thoughts

Warm weather is great for walking.
Warm weather is not so good for sugaring.

It's almost January 2nd and I still don't have a new year's resolution.
It might be a missed opportunity for this year.

The only problem with holding your children all day long is
your house doesn't miraculously get clean. Nor does the
food shopping, or bill paying take place.

Tomorrow life returns to non vacation normal.
I'm not looking forward to it. I prefer the long lazy
mornings. And the realization that it is possible to
stay in pajamas all day long.

The question being: If you stays in pajamas all day
long, do you need to get into other pajamas at bedtime?

I wonder.