Monday, February 28, 2011

Do the astronauts miss space?

Last night, while watching the NASA channel, I wondered when the astronauts come home from space, do they miss it? Also, when you're in space are you rocked about like you are on a cruise ship? Do you feel the speed at which you are flying over the earth?

I know my girls miss the rocking of the Disney Dream. It only took a 4 day cruise and all they have been talking about is when can we go back... every waking moment. It is as if they were born for that boat -- a boat that gives you everything you want with a swipe of your Key to the World card.

Mine, mine, mine...

Four years ago when we first went to Disney World the girls did the character autograph book thing. The next year, when we returned, we forgot our books, (yikes) but we had a canvas bag that they could sign (in a pinch) ... and the seed was planted. We would collect signatures and then I would embroider over them --

creating a truly wonderful and functional Disney memento. A bag that we would use everyday to carry whatever and remind us of Disney. But honestly who makes Disney wonderful? The cast who give you their Disney best every visit. So instead of recollecting character signatures, we now collect cast signatures. Right up to the Dream's captain: Captain Tom.

Carrying these bags around Castaway Cay many guests noticed, pointed and commented,"We're going to do that!"

So if you see someone carrying a canvas bag covered with Disney signatures, know it all started here:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The First Drops

Notice the crystal clear sap drop hanging on the lip of the tap.

Found my boots and wearing my Goofy and Tigger sweatshirts, (trying to hold onto Disney and the Disney feeling a bit longer) under my all weather shell, I went out to tap with the little one. This is the first year we have put taps in with over a foot of snow on the ground. It will be a tough haul collecting the sap. As one foot stays on the surface of the snow and the next step plunges down knee deep.

Taking a warm weather vacation in February sets my sights on warmer weather at home -- so imagine my surprise to find two inches of fresh snow on the ground this morning.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hey, are we in port?

I woke up this morning and the ship wasn't swaying. My first thought, "Are we in port?"

Yes, the home port. And as great as it is to be home, we anticipated the cruise for over a year, and now, sadly, it is over. With summer time laundry piled high, and a dusting of snow covering the sidewalks...

... we will be tapping the trees today. I will have
to find something besides TEVAs to wear on my

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A mom's reflection

Really, what does it mean? Her hands on her hips, eyes gazing upward at her child, who out of frame, is testing gravity. Waiting and watching. Mom has all the answers, but she stands back and lets the lessons unfold.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Where in the world are you?

Some days the complexity of the human condition is so overwhelming that comprehending how our small individual contribution matters, remains hidden.

Remember the story of the little boy throwing starfish back into the ocean? The beach is littered with the creatures for as far as the eye could see. The old man walks up to the boy and chastises him, "You're wasting your time. There are too many of them. You're not going to make a difference."

The little boy pauses and holding up his next soon to be far flung friend replies, "It matters to this one."

Individually we can't feed all the world's homeless, but what if each of us fed just one homeless person for a year... and then another, and another, and so on and so on...

A feat is laid before us. One yes and the ball starts rolling.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just a picture for today

I find it amazing that the snow makes visible the branch venations. We see these trees everyday, but the snow, something white and without color, shows them for what they are.
Snow slows life down. And just like these branches, what seems irregular and without purpose -- given reflection -- stretches, reaches, and grows.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A non-day

Today is:
A day between school and vacation week.
A non-day. For we are neither at school; nor are we vacationing.
A catch up day; a tread - mill day, a long haul day.
A day of neither here nor there.
A day getting to where we need to be -- relaxing.
A day to put work and school in the way back recesses of our mind.
A day of waiting for the sunrise surprise.
A day of endless possibilities.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Making a run on brain tumors

What can one say when it comes to fighting cancer? In years past we have opened our purses for the Pan Am Mass Challenge, The Avon Walk Against Breast Cancer, and The Boston Brain Tumor Ride. This May 15th, I'm putting my feet to the peddles and personally participating in the Brain Tumor Ride: 25 miles.

Brain cancer took the life of my mother in law. Robbing our family of years of happiness. So for 25 miles I will ride for Memere, and with Memere. Remembering her smile, her odd breakfast food choices, walking on the beach, and doing crossword puzzles. Looking forward to it -- every peddle push along the way.

Your support will be most welcome and appreciated.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Progress on the Impossible?

I've read, "Something is only impossible until you conquer it." Impossible is like stained glass. Success and completion are measured a piece at a time. Break the impossible into possible pieces.

Goal set towards the impossible: Fit four pieces a day. Anymore is a bonus.

Deadline: April 30th. Very possible.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Careful what you pray for...

If you're counted among the regular readers, then you know there are many a post were I have mentioned having a heavy duty week ahead of me. I breathe in and out, saying a prayer to see us all through. For if the mom is crazy busy then the whole house is busy with appointments, lessons, meetings, conferences, etc... This week was no different. Note the was.

For Monday happened and what happened Monday was strep. Not a bad case, but a snuffy head, a dry cough and a positive throat culture sans fever. So Tuesday -- we're home giving the antibiotics the school required 24 hours to work, and resting. The schedule cleared -- until the hearing test later in the day. For life truly isn't black and white.

In the shower, (an all time favorite thinking place), I realized this isn't the first time the firm underpinnings of a fretful schedule have been brought down. Just how important is the schedule? Not very, when a child clobbering a bacteria culture brings it to dust, and we smile. All that home time -- a gift.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Long Range Forecast

It was 54 yesterday... of course the sap was running... but not into our buckets, which are still stacked in the shack. For shows that the daytime temperatures will be below 40 again today, and for the next couple of days. Oh for consistent days reaching into the 40s; nights dipping into the 20s. A sugarmaker hangs on the forecast this time of year. For if the days aren't warm enough and the nights aren't cold enough, the sap will not run.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Get In The Game!

When you're playing basketball, you wouldn't think of taking to the floor without a ball. When you're playing in the outfield, you wouldn't think about leaving your glove on the bench. When you're tending goal, you wouldn't think about leaving your skates or pads in the locker room.

So why is it, when you go to church, you don't pray. Get in the game!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Facing a Full Calendar

Next week there isn't a day that doesn't have an afternoon or evening commitment; one has two. And I ask, how does it happen? I can already feel the urge to write a to do list -- insurance against leaving someone somewhere, or not escorting them where they are required to be.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Next week won't last longer than 7 days.

Bring it on! Let the week begin!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter's Beach

When most people think of visiting the beach in the winter, they generally don't consider the possibility of snow and the need for wearing scarves and boots. As for me, it's hard to envision a winter beach without these essentials. Though I suspect it's flip flops, sun screen and a blanket that are usually toted seaside, but seaside in warm tropical places.

Year round, the beach is a destination. Even those trips made in a driving monsoon spark life long memories. "Remember when we were sand blasted at The Landing?"

Really how does one forget that.

Enjoy whatever beach you walk upon today!

Friday, February 11, 2011

I could be a bear

With all this cold weather we've been having my number one and two desires are to eat and sleep. Of course, living with insomnia -- sleep does not come easy, nor does it stay about too long. But if given the chance I would be under a foot of down comforters -- sound asleep.

And for foods: hot soup, hot peppers and hot tea.

I'm dreaming of warmer weather -- or at least not feeling chilled to the bone. Of course, weather that is too warm is the death null to a maple sugarmaker.

Why do we sugar? Good question. It's not hard, but a process that involves boiling down 55 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup (our numbers) takes day in and day long patience.

Maple sugar making is rooted in stillness. Collecting the crystal clear sap. Being outside with the pan in the quiet. And the smell of maple as the sun rises. All gifts of a sweet life.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Glass is like people. We all have similarities, but we all are so different. Likewise with glass. Where one piece breaks into long thin pieces like a hot knife through butter, another shatters into two inch sections. Working on this project yesterday, I encountered both scenarios.

And like people and interactions, at first I was thinking, Is it me? Have I lost the cutting edge? Then I wondered about my tools? And finally I looked upon the uniqueness of the glass and concluded it's all these things: Me, the tools and the glass: like life.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Six degrees

Six degrees can be temperature related, and it delves into that business of how we are all interconnected. This post is about both.

The maple sugaring fairies are out and about, teasing the maple trees to awaken. Two days of kissing up to 40 degrees and I know the sap is readying for its migration into trunk and twigs. Though the forecast for the next day or so is for bone chilling temperatures. (Right now, has us clocking in at 12 degrees, but feeling like -4, nose hair freezing cold.) The desire to tap the trees will be full throttle come February 25th. And then the true balancing act of family, work and sugaring -- not neccessarily in that order -- will commence.

Yesterday I met up with an old college friend of sorts. And it's that other six degrees of separation that drew us close at work. Without going into too many details, for that would be telling stories outside of school, I am circling the wagons on some record keeping. Dotting the i's and crossing the t's, as it were. And in my research I found out that an alumnus from my old school, the U of I, is among the present and accounted for. Earning his degree with a faculty member that I knew. Of course he was there before I was born, but that Fighting Illini spirit runs true and deep, tying the generations together as if we shared pipettes and beakers at the same lab bench.

His publication record lengthy, highlights of a glorious scientific career, but what now? Is death the cold end? Does his legacy go on? What of our own accomplishments? Do they require paper publication for validation? Or will the memories etched on our children's hearts be paper trail enough?

And what of my colleague? I recorded, his name with the suffix PhD and attached a copy of one of his many papers to his file. Come this Fall, Homecoming Weekend will have brand new meaning.

Hail to the Orange,
Hail to the Blue,
Hail Alma Mater,
Ever so true!
We love no other
So let our motto be
Victory, Illinois! Varsity!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Sweater -- DONE!

Inch by inch, row by row -- it's done, and it fits.
Now back to previously scheduled socks.

Will I knit another sweater? Good question.
Never say never

Monday, February 07, 2011

Attention to Detail

This past October, while on a Disney Backstage Magic Tour, we learned about the phrase, Attention to Detail. Disney put so much detail into every ride, every display, every inch of Disney World that there is no way a guest could take them all in. But still he did it, and under the Disney name, they still do it.

Last night we celebrated my parents' 52nd wedding anniversary. And as we set the dining room and kitchen up as an Italian restaurant, that phrase: Attention to Detail, kept running through my head. The antique table clothes, the champagne flutes, the old fashion dishes, the china, the planning and preparation that went into the food and wine choices, the bro's great dessert, the background music and the obvious missing layers of household dust and kid debris. It's that attention to detail that translates love into fun.

And a game of Scrabble situated between the fourth and fifth course is never a bad thing.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Woman in a Man's World

We were out last evening. Over at friends' house for game night. I love game nights. We play. We laugh a lot. We eat and sometimes we drink. Not much, and not always. This evening one couple arrived offering a fancy beer, bringing three glasses to the table for the three men.

And I paused. For when we arrived we were all offered tea, which both men and women enjoyed. But the beer, nor a glass was offered to any of the women. Interesting.

Of course, I reached over and enjoyed more than a sip of my husband's share. The brew was quite hoppy, and I liked its complexity. Which is different for me. For usually I turn my nose up to the over hopped.

The other woman at the table didn't seem to experience the oversight. And I wonder if my reaction is rooted in the fact that I spent 20 plus years in fields which kept me working side by side with mostly men. Where I'd never been considered anything less than one of the scientists, or one of the QA engineers.

The evening had one other twist. There were not enough chairs at the table for all of us to sit and eat together. Not a problem really, as the children were downstairs playing when the meal was served. Eventually they gathered, the aroma from the food would have drawn them in from the next town, and those adults that had finished stood or sat to the side. Through this shifting I found myself seated with the men, comfortably chatting about, when I looked up to notice the women were doing the dishes.

What to do? Continue the chat, or take my place at the sink? I couldn't let my friends handle the clean up alone. And as I stood to leave the comment was made, "Wouldn't you rather sit here and do nothing?"

"Yes," was my answer, with a smile, "but no." The split dilemma of a woman in a man's world.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

What is it with love?

I love you like...
...a chicken.

I love you more...
...than life itself.

I could squeeze you like...
...a tube of toothpaste.

Chicken pot pie, love chicken, bumba, chick pea, squidlo...

My children hear it all; all of them -- even the one old enough to roll her eyes; but she doesn't.

The other day we were chatting on the phone, reviewing scholarship deadlines and I asked her, "Anything else?" And she said, "Yeah Mom, I love you."

And I replied, "I love you too."

I could kiss her like there is no tomorrow. And I tell them that too.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Can you spare a dime?

She's come a long way from playing with a baby polar bear.

For college bound young adults and their families, this time of year has its own special kinds of stress. When will I hear? Where will I go? How can we pay for it? What is the due date?

Why? you ask...

We just finished the mandated federal financial aid forms. According to their online calculator not only can we afford to send our daughter to school, they would like us to pay for two or three others as well. Really? Truly not really -- but yes. Their magical accounting does not seem to take into consideration real life expenses. They ask what is your income. And then graciously ask you to write a check for its entirety to your favorite institute of higher learning. Sorry -- not happening.

Run baby, run!

Truthfully -- we shop clearance at Kohl's. (I love Kohl's.) I wear hand me downs from my mother's friends. My vehicle of choice is 10 years old. Jackets see duty inside in the winter. Hats too. I smile when the little one wears clothes passed down twice between her sisters. And sometimes I even cringe. The kid should, at some point in her life, get a brand new winter jacket. Don't you think?

And so I breathe. As I scour the internet for scholarships for our lovely to apply for. My goal is to find $20,000 in scholarships. And if by some miracle she lands them all -- we would only have to find $30,000 for the first year of school. Can she complete a four year program in one? Just asking...

Me worried. Yes. She worried. No. An essay deadline approaching -- but not looming, and she's napping. The deadline approaching but not pressing and I'm thinking about high blood pressure medicine. Do they sell it at Kohl's -- clearance?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Like Michelangelo paints...

My favorite Martin Luther King Jr quote is:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Well over the past two storms I have had the distinct pleasure of watching and admiring the snowblower work of my husband. Maybe it's all the practice he's had this winter... My shoveling work done, I stand in awe. Not only does he meticulously clear our driveway, but he re-does most of the plowed driveway of our neighbors. Just so they don't get stuck.

Did they not get the memo?

I've always thought Robins flew south for the winter.
Did these feathered friends not get that memo?

Or maybe they did take a vacation, but they're back on visions of spring crocus.