Thursday, December 31, 2009

No Place LIke...

Vermont for the holidays.

Lately I've been thinking that I was born into the wrong state, not mental state -- for we know that is true, but geographical state.

I caught the inkling 6 years ago with a full blown case of the maple sugarmaking fever. In the fall I inventory the buckets, lids and taps. In the late winter, eyes glued to I watch for the 40 - 20 temperature differential -- the start of the blessed season. There are few times so special as being out in the sugar shack.

When we are not sugaring, it is camping with family and now friends. It used to be just Labor Day at Half Moon State Park. I won't mention our favorite site number, (I would hate to cause a rush on the reservation website), but it's the one with the private boat launch, and the log which is great for catching pictures of the early morning water fowl. Our Vermont camping has expanded to include Fourth of July, and a week in August. Our parks of choice are Emerald Lake and Lake Elmore; both wonderful places.

And now, for New Years we are up once again visiting family and friends. Playing games, knitting, playing with my bro-in-law's new camera, (be still my heart), going for walks, sharing a coffee, or a meal, attending Mass together; it's wonderful.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


We have been chilling here. Moving slow. Knitting a baby hat to match some baby socks, and taking it a day at a time. Time is charging past. To dos fall by the wayside. Meals consist of leftovers and catch as catch can; and I don't care. I'm not packed. Not focused. Not anything, but sitting. Sometimes you just have to get off the merry-go-round and... nothing.

Maybe nothing will be my New Years resolution. Maybe instead of accomplishing the world, I'll focus on accomplishing nothing. For someone who is constantly moving, that would be an accomplishment.

And then sometimes, if you are patient, you get something from nothing. For instance last spring, when we decanted the maple syrup out of the quart canning jars and into the fancy pints for gifts I collected all the sediment and that little bit of syrup that always gets left behind. I filled a jar with the maple sand, and stuck it in the back of the cabinet. Then last week when I was making maple Kahlua I found this:

almost a full quart of syrup that would have been washed down the drain with the sediment. Goes to show you have to be careful about what you throw away, and what is worth keeping.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our Nativity

Besides representing the birth of the Christ child, our Nativity gives a glimpse into my family history. For our set is made up from the sets of my grandparents and from their parents before them. The oldest piece is a shepherd boy from my great grandmother. He is always given rank among the five angels. The angels are from my grandparents on both sides. We have a great flock of sheep, some cows, two baby Jesus, (twins?), and five wisemen. All of which take a journey about the house. Arriving at the stable on the Epiphany.

The stable itself was built by my grandfather well before I was born. It still has its original straw roof.

Of all our Christmas decorations it is the creche and these figures that I value the most.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Sign for Times to Come

Now that Christmas is over and New Years is dawning, the sugaring season cannot be far behind. Six, seven, eight weeks we'll be tapping trees and collecting sap.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

The girls were up at 12:30, 2 and then finally 3:45... Coffee in mug we attacked our stash; all the presents came out of the closet. All are happy. It's 9:30 and we have already played two new games.

Merry Christmas everyone. Enjoy your family. Kiss the children. Rest and relax.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

O Holy Night

A few nights ago my dad called to say he had heard a guy playing the banjo with Steve Martin on a local news show; lucky dad. But lucky me, because dad called to give me the guy's website, Well the banjo player is Tony Trischka and he has the tablature for O Holy Night for free. So of course I printed it out and have been trying to play my favorite Christmas carol ever since. I even took the music to my lesson, and Arthur and I worked on it.

Arthur loved the arrangement. Besides being my favorite carol, I love the fact that the arrangement is a great vehicle for learning chord placement. All those hours of Arthur trying to make me see the relationships among the chords and this piece actually uses some of these relationships. Lucky me again.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Veil Has Been Lifted

Last night while I was puttering downstairs the little powers that be were snooping about upstairs. How did I find out? The cherubs greeted me in my room with the AG catalog in hand and all that "Santa" was bringing was circled.

Being very trusting, stupid me, I at first thought what a great guesser I was. Imagine, out of all that high priced plastic stuff, I had picked the cream of their dreams. Then later, light dawned on this marble head and I when I looked through the stash, noted Santa's boxes were opened.

I'm angry. I've worked so hard around these holidays; cooking, planning, impromptu baking, shopping, wrapping, sending, and awhole bunch of other verbs all ending in -ing. On the better other hand, my husband is understanding, (not my -ing verb) "All kids do it," he says. And he is right, but it's so difficult for me to put this aside. We talked about calling off their Christmas, but agreed not to. There was mention of bringing the presents back and getting something else. Now, who really wants to do that, or has the energy or time. Instead those presents rifled through will remain in the closet. It is going to be a thin Christmas. Poor kids.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Children, Christmas and Cooking

I have one daughter that hums and sings while riding on the back of my motorcycle. Whenever I could use a lift I invite her for a ride. She is ecstatic. but truly it's for me. Hearing that little voice, singing away brightens my day.

And I have another child that equates Christmas with cooking, specifically baking. She would bake every night of Advent if given half a chance. Tonight she, with her sister and I, in the on deck circle, made from scratch a Lemon Ginger Cake. I just left her in the kitchen humming away, wiping up flour from every horizontal surface in our kitchen. While adding the dry ingredients she failed to shut the mixer off and the blade caught the measuring cup and sent its contents everywhere. She was all set to give up. I asked, "Why? Over a cup of flour?"

She recovered, the cakes are in the oven, and the kitchen is being cleaned up by the amazing humming baker.

I love when my kids hum.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Too many pies; not enough fingers

I am a collector, a gatherer, a hoarder of concepts, hobbies, crafts, projects, cookbooks, Barbies, salt and pepper shakers, yarn, material, cross stitch patterns, plots for stories, wool... I have bins and stashes of this and that tucked away attic to basement. I have stuff, like deer skulls and the odd antler that I've found while walking in the woods, and leaky old Maple Sugaring buckets, just because. There is a project tucked into every room of this house: baby socks being knit, stained glass windows being created, quilts being sewn, a basket of roving to be spun, two banjos leaning up against the living room wall. I have a creative outlet for every day of the week, or just about.

Last Thursday I erranded over to a new yarn store, Iron Horse, in a neighboring town. The store, a temple to the yarn goddess, is serene, and naturally well lit. The yarn is so soft that it has to be heaven spun. The lovely owner offers knitting and spinning lessons. I drooled over the spinning wheels. Oh, to have a wheel to finish spinning the stashed away two sheep worth of wool. And then to knit that lovely wool. Right now when we ladies gather to spin, it's with dropped spindles and over coffee. But to have a wheel... But when, and how? For to get a wheel involves taking a class, and when would that happen? When would I spin? After investing in a wheel, it would have to be a hobby of priority. Priority over stained glass or banjo... Probably not. For I am in deep with both. Over knitting? Doubtful, I'm about to embark on a sweater. I could use another day of the week.

For I am finding I have too many pies and not enough fingers.

Free Shipping! Sale! In time!

I am amazed at the offers and ads that are coming in these few days until Christmas. Last Chance Free Two-Day Upgrade. Free Two-Day Shipping. Shipping anything from garlic press to range top for $9.99. Still buying time till Christmas! We'll ship for Christmas Eve delivery. We'll wrap and put a bow on it. We'll kiss the FEDEX man for you, dress like Santa and be there for the opening of presents.

Buy! Buy! Buy!
We'll ship, ship, ship.
Last Chance!

I think I'll put together the Christmas pudding.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

And snow it did...

What a storm. The flakes are fluffy. The winds are still. The perfect day to be outside enjoying the crisp fresh air. One daughter shoveled the front walk. The other did the side. Then we ladies all took turns using the snow rake to get the snow off the roof while Daddy walked the snow blower clearing the driveway and up by the mailboxes. I cleaned up after the plows which drop their load of ice and slush at the end of the driveway, and dug out the fire hydrant. I love days like today.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Snow is Coming! The Snow is Coming!

The Snow! The Snow!

Tonight, before the snow, was the Christmas party at our parish. I donated a copy of Forever Yours towards the door prize collection. And when they drew the numbers I won my book! I never win anything... and tonight my number was drawn.

I gave the winning ticket to a friend.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Too many words on the page

"There are too many words on the page." That is what my little one would tell me last summer when I would try to get her to read a beginning chapter book. Of course my retort was, "It doesn't matter how many words are on the page. You read word by word and you know all these words."

No luck. She refused. No reading chapter books. Not that day. Not ever.

In her defense, despite coming from a family of readers, reading had never come easy. Her eyes don't focus equally, but we caught it. She undertook vision therapy and now the only stumbling block was the preprogrammed responses held in her grey matter. It was this parent's nightmare. Without reading where could she go? How would she make it through the growing rigors of third grade and then beyond?

We hired tutors; one hour a week. Lovely teachers, who would sit and play "the reading mommy" with her. Still this summer she fought the chapter books, and to be honest I was thankful it wasn't me in the ring.

Then this Fall it all clicked. Our tutor is a local kindergarten teacher; only 30 minutes a week, and she offers support to classroom materials first, then fun books. My lovely goes willingly. The lovely is reading beautifully and just might be at grade level for the first time ever in her school career. Last week her sister and she were reading the Star Spangle Banner in its entirety. Sounding out the old English and then figuring out each words meaning.

But the creme de la creme was last night. For last night, sitting at the kitchen table, having hot chocolate, the little one, her sister and I were reading our individual books; together. The little one is reading a Redwall, and at one point she announced, "This is a chapter book, (No clue the thing is huge.) but it doesn't matter 'cause you read one word at a time."

I nearly fell off my chair. Yet another Christmas present delivered early. No need for wrapping.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Moment of Grace

I heard that phrase recently and I wondered exactly what it meant. What is a moment of grace and when do we realize it's there? Is there an inkling of it's onset, or is the ah-ha only after it passes? A moment later; a day; never. Was it at the grocery store when I found the voice to ask a young mom with a crying baby if she wanted to take my place in line? Is it in the unsung everyday making of lunches and folding of laundry; or is it found only in the extraordinary?

Does God have to be the giver of grace? Or is it a gift we give eachother? Or a gift we bestow upon ourselves? Can grace be found when we are alone?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I wrapped presents this morning...

some of you will be getting something... maybe... :-)

Trying to see past some bumps in the road, and trying to stay focused on the Reason for the Season, I am almost in the Christmas spirit.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Room at the Inn...

The phrase, "No room..." flashed across my frontal neon sign when I received word that in order for our town Girl Scouts to take cookie delivery at our parish hall the town service unit (Girl Scouts) would have to pay $300 to the parish and show proof of insurance.

What kind of a message are the powers that be putting forth? Yes, the townwide scouting organization is not a parish group, but we have been accepting cookie delivery at the hall for at least five years, are nonprofit and centered on doing good works of community service. We give young girls a place to go and many opportunities to experience. We are not flush, but scrimp and scrape pennies together to offer girls in town opportunities.

I'm disappointed. Like so many other organizations and activities that have left our parish, so shall the Girl Scouts. I fear that pretty soon our once vibrant parish will be a hollow shell.

It's coming...

Christmas is coming. The mom is getting fat... Pleased to put a penny in the old girl's hat.

Ready or not; and it will be not. There is no way I'm going to get all the presents bought, all the packages sent, or all the stuff done before the jolly 25th. And I sit here, slogging through the daily to do list. Run here, deliver that there, work on this school project, put that thank you gift together.

What's the reason for this season? I am not getting caught up in the frenzy. It's like I have some sort of governor on Christmas Craziness. The 'rents and bro' are coming over Christmas Eve for an afternoon of presents, and seafood followed by Mass. I am so looking forward to spending time with them. Eating great food -- the bro' is bringing the calamari, I'll make the clam pie and there will be shrimp and some sushi for the more daring. Then the kids will play until it's time for Mass.

Bring it on. I'm relaxed and ready.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nothing to say today

Strange at that may seem, it's true. How can that be, me who has a thought, or a voice on every subject? But today when I stop to think, there is nothing. Only the desire to eat chocolate. It is probably a good thing we don't have chocolate in the house.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Travelling the Tobin

Please sir...

May we have another.

As I was scraping the last of this ultimate delicious, fought over honey out of this jar that line from Oliver Twist came to mind. In a flash, I imagined our entire tea drinking family walking the 150 miles, barefoot, head bowed, shoulders rounded into a C -- the empty jar shaking in our extended hands to the home where we acquired this bountiful gift from their very own bees.

Of course, in all reality we are not begging for more, but showing our deep gratitude for the gift that sweetened our oceans of tea. Thank you Happenings on the Hill. With each spoonful we reached across the miles, offering a prayer of thanks for your friendship.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's not the cover. It's what's inside.

While conversing with someone they said, "Your book should have a flashy cover." My reply was, "It's not the cover. It's what's inside." Haven't we been told forever that we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover?

True how true. Honestly I designed the cover to be classical. I wanted a cover that would represent the depth of the plot; not flashy -- but meaty. And then there is me. Hardly do I write on this blog about anything quite as personal as my weight. Still with all this weight that I have regained after losing it for a second time, I find that I am having a tough time not judging me, for my own padded cover. Oh don't say, "You look fine. I can't tell you've put it all back on..." I can tell. And though I joke about being soft and sensitive -- it's true -- I am soft and I am very sensitive.

While treadmilling the other day I recalled that past conversation about my book, and I tried to apply it to life, experiences, people. It is more often than not that good comes out of what was first perceived as a bad experience. You just have to be open to it.

So I am waiting to see what good comes out of outgrowing one's clothes... maybe I'll meet a big book publisher while shopping for clothes that fit and they will pick up Forever Yours in a big multimillion deal; a girl can dream.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Every year, it's the same affair

For 12 winters now I have knowingly and willing entered into the same affair. Maybe the surest way into to this old girl's heart is through my feet. For when I slip those tried and true Sorrels over my toes it is love at first step. Yes, I love them. I love how they keep my feet comfortably warm but not overly hot. I love how they keep my feet dry. And those oh so wonderful rubber bottoms offer good traction when I slog through over ankle deep icy puddles. The felt liners are thick flannel soft. My toes are never pinched or rubbed the wrong way. I can head out for a morning of errands and know my feet will hold up to any check out line or mall walk. They never fail during the long hours of maple sugaring. They are this maple sugarmakers best friend.

Some might say they aren't stylish; missing a nice turned heel and a flashy buckle or two. I say flash fades and heels are never a girl's best friend. Steady, reliable, warm, protective, soft, comfortable -- that is what this old girl thrives on.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


You've been fleeced.

Our Girl scout troop made hats and mufflers last year. The hat involves one seam and then some cutting and tying. The muffler takes two seams; one machine stitched and one hand stitched. It was my daughter's really great idea to add the mouth.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I always say...

Instead of getting frustrated, I always say a prayer when I am delayed for whatever reason or stuck in traffic. In someway I feel it is God telling me to slow down. Offering me a cushion between having an accident somewhere along life's way.

Usually I leave for my stained glass class to arrive 15 minutes early. We are allowed entrance to work during this time, but without instruction. I try to make every minute count. Yesterday morning I was talking on the phone with a friend as the clocked ticked off the minutes towards then past my usual departure time. We were chatting about family and kids, important subjects these days; I would miss the early work. It was fine.

Our conversation ending, I said good bye and hit the road. On the Mass Pike, three miles from my exit, brakes lights flashed up illuminating all three lanes. Something happened. Within seconds, a squadron of police cruisers, fire rescue and highway safety vehicles barreled down the breakdown lane. I moved over from the slow lane, (after all I had been traveling at a paltry 65 mph), and into the middle lane, thinking it was crawling abit faster. And then we sat.

Something was up. Something terrible. I called my girlfriend and left a message thanking her for our conversation. For whatever was ahead of me, could have involved me, if we hadn't been chatting.

Twenty minutes later when traffic crawled past the accident site it looked like someone had peeled forward the left fender of a truck like a banana. Fifteen or more police and other rescue workers were standing around. The site was somber. Later I learned a man died in that accident. And the man he was assisting was also hurt. Very sad.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Careful what you ask for....

I was complaining about how busy I am this week and prayed for a break in the actions. Well my ever important Tuesday inventory was canceled. And the Wednesday appointment was overtaken from me. Both turn of events have repercussions. Proving yet again that silver linings have a darker side.

Life will go on. I will have enough plates and cups and a third coffee maker for hot cider for this weekend's concert. And as far as Wednesday is concerned, the change in plans gave me the opportunity to speak my mind.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Another week to slog through

The calendar is an overwhelming to do list. Home stuff, school stuff, glass stuff, church stuff, scout stuff, all stuff clamoring for my attention and direction. Baking, cards, the concert, the party, mixed with school projects, house cleaning, food shopping, laundry.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Christmas List

One of my Christmas movie favorites is "The Christmas List." In the movie, the main character, Melody Parris, is urged to write a 1980s greedy Christmas List. Trying to make some sense out her life, as a cathartic exercise she writes a list which including such items as a new job, new clothes, a car, contact lenses, an engagement ring. No sooner is the list delivered to Santa and she starts getting all her heart's desires but with a twist.

Her new job is a demotion. The car, she won in a raffle, but she has to share it. She gets $5000 out of her Christmas account, uses it for a down payment on a store front only to find out the money was mistakenly given to her. Her boss steps on and crushes her glasses. It goes on, it gets better -- rent the movie.

Given how well 49 has been going, I have been contemplating writing my own list, but I'm afraid of the backlash. Still what would I write down...

and if forced to be greedy I would have to submit to the jolly old elf: A Cooper Mini. Please no plastic models... just the real deal.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Lastnight we took a road trip into the big city. It wasn't your grandmother's adoration.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A thumbless mitten

A few weeks ago a friend put out an email to her knitting friends, "I need a mitten for my brother in law." Her brother in law had a stroke and lost the function of his right hand. The mitten had to be big with a long cuff and no thumb.

I could knit a mitten. I went online and found a pattern a the Victoria and Albert Museum. It already called for a long cuff and I modified the pattern so the thumb doesn't leave the body of the mitten, and so the cap and bottom were completely attached instead of hinged. I love how the lines of the pattern hug the gusset.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Kids and Money...

may they never mix...

Well, no that's not what I mean. The story for today is focused on whether and when do kids grasp the concept of money and it not growing on trees. To this end, my husband has been giving the girls an allowance -- for years now. The idea being that they pay for all their extra expenses. That through this exercise they will learn about the value of a dollar and how to budget. I have disagreed since day one and I still disagree. Even after hearing a financial expert on a radio program outline the same program we have at home (Who knew my husband was a financial genius?).

Case in hand, two days ago I escorted the young ones to the local school book fair. Plastic in hand, I let them pick out books, but I would not put out for the $2 eraser or the $5 invisible ink pen (How do you know it is works if the ink is invisible?). The next day the little one informs me her class is going to the book fair. I stated, "But you went." She came back with, "The whole class has to go," and she asked to take some money with her. I knew she was angling for some of the junkie pens and erasers that were by the check out. I reminded her she was saving her money for our next family trip. She took her money anyway -- all of her savings and spent over $18 on crap.

Of course I was disgusted. I am the woman who bends over to pick up the penny off the street. One hundred of those will make a dollar I didn't have. And my children (for both little ones are guilty of this) spend like there is no tomorrow. If it is plastic and it's pink, it's theirs.

The middle one seeing the new bought bounty of the little one asked me for money this morning. For what I asked back. "Something at the book sale, but I forget what," was her answer. Can you believe that? I couldn't. And the purse strings remained tightly drawn despite her sulking.

Growing up I can remember bringing my meager savings to the bank and getting my pass book stamped. I would go after the first of each month just so see how much interest I had earned. Call me a tightwad, a miser, a spend thrift... and maybe I am an extreme, but how can one family gain balance?

I have already informed the big spenders that there is no reprieve on vacation. They will spend only what they have saved. Maybe a lesson will be learned.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Fruitcake Day

Today was fruitcake day. Dried apples, peaches, pears and plums. Raisins, cranraisins, currants, and apricots. Coconut, pecans, and candied ginger drowned in rum rum and more rum.

Who wants a fruitcake?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

December 1

December... already. Where did the time go? In the refrigerator is a double batch of Grandma's Molasses cookie dough. Yesterday, before working on homework and the Native People project the dough was put to together and set to chill. Last night, as I shut the lights off in the kitchen I saw the pans awaiting their turn in the oven; the cookie dough still chilling.

So before school, tutoring, and stained glass class, I'll squeeze in a baking stint. These cookies are for a cookie swap and the parish Christmas party. This is a bake and freeze situation. Get done today so you can squeeze in more stuff tomorrow.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Back in the saddle

And my back side is sore. I don't like to use the word hate, but in the case of Monday after any holiday long weekend, there is hate. The hate I feel for this day is in direct proportion to the amount of fun and relaxation we have had since Wednesday night.

School? Homework? Commitments outside of game playing and reheating leftovers? What is that?

Back in the saddle again. With the serenity of Christmas just peeking up over the horizon, and in between the jagged peaks of too much in too little time.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Leftovers and Memories

is all that remains... They came. We cooked. We feasted.

Many hands makes light the work as many miles will lighten these hips.

Twenty four hours ago my bro and I were sitting up in our kitchen, drinking coffee and watching the turduken cook. (This year he deboned the turkey without slitting the skin. In otherwords he took the carcass out from the inside.) Clocking in over 15 hours in the oven, this year's birds took their sweet time coming up to temperature. At one point the oven shut itself off, (You have to love Wolf products.) but I was standing right there to catch it. I am not happy with my boat anchor of an oven. Moving on --

The dinner was as enjoyable as the company. I am looking forward to getting out for a relaxing walk today. The season is coming on full storm. I will take this weekend to ease into it. At least I won't have to cook for a while.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No rest for the dishwasher

For days now I have been loading the dishwasher, running the dishwasher, unloading the dishwasher and loading it again. Thanksgiving comes but once a year, and I cook, and cook and then cook some more. Not a lot each day, but a dish or two in preparation of the gathering.

Today the bro and fam travel here to assemble the centerpiece of our family feasting; the turduken. In years past there would be a family meeting to discuss who was bringing what to the feast. Over the years, and our ease with turduken assembly growing, this communication has backed off to a few emails and a final one or two phone calls. Honestly I don't know where the original recipe can be found. The general plan is: debone the birds: turkey, duck, chicken. (The bro is talking about adding a cornish hen to the mix...) Layer with stuffing. (I still have to make the fruit stuffing today.) Sew and truss birds like an onion, ie Onions have layers. Put birds into pan. Cook in a 190 degree oven until internal temp reaches 170. This last step takes anywhere from 11 to 13 hours. Hence the hour of assembly is around midnight tonight.

Tonight's dinner will be a reflection on our Italian heritage. Grammy's Parmesan noodle soup, ravioli with (Bosky Dell Farm) homemade ricotta and gorgonzola cheese, (Happenings on the Hill) homemade bread, salad, feasted off of my Great Nana's china. Through food, and place settings we will reflect on the importance of family and friends. We will draw them all close and hold them in our hearts.

To pass the time between dinner and midnight there is fivolity: Nana's whiskey sour punch, singing, dancing, game playing, big day dinner strategy discussions: family.

Come the big day, the bro and his fam must leave to visit "the other side", the inlaws. Of course we understand, it's not a problem. And there is a silver lining to their leaving, for today and tonight we will savore the importance of our time together. How greatful we are that they will share their time with us. For we can be thankful on more than one day a year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Name that Tune...

Remember that TV show... the one where the Master of Ceremonies would give you a clue and then the contestants would have to name that tune, hence the name, after listening to the first few notes of the song. That number would be determined by a bidding system. Starting maybe with 10 and then going down to 2 or 1 or sometimes even zero -- great first clue.

Well yesterday while carpooling for errands and with the final goal of food shopping at Market Basket, we came up with a game of our own: Shop that Market Basket. I know, not very original, but it works.

The back story: Market Basket has the best prices, great selection, and awesome produce, but it is on the other side of town. It takes thought and planning to drive there, and then you have to think about the timing. Saturdays, Sundays, Friday evenings, Monday and Wednesdays after 10 AM it's a social gathering spot and thus impossible to see or select anything off a shelf that is less than waist high. On the other hand, I have found Thursdays around 8:15 AM the store is deserted; much to my happiness. And at times I have wondered if I have somehow driven to the wrong store.

And then there is yesterday, Monday of Thanksgiving week. The only spots available in the parking lot are in the back row, no worries I can use the exercise. Inside the store eight haphazardly discarded carts marked the spot where hundreds are usually nested. All the cash registers have fast fingers and scanners pushing the mile long lines of shoppers and their full baskets out the door. I looked at my shopping buddy, my dear dear friend, and we both smiled. For we know on a day like yesterday we could easily be preparing dinner in aisle 7. A "See you later," and we parted company.

The dairy aisle was a polite bumper car course. With no intentional hitting and a lot of polite smiles and apologies. I rounded the corner to the prepared meats and eggs, in record time I might add, only to be hit with the sight of a mountain range of frozen turkeys that spilt into the usual areas reserved for pork sausage and hams. I think every family in the surrounding four towns could pick up a bird or two and still there would be leftovers. And I wonder, what will happen to these unselected birds? Surely, there will be leftovers that will need to be consumed.

The baking aisle was another memorial straight away. I love shopping with the older folks. They smile. They take their time. They enjoy the moment. There is a lesson in patience and just being. And I find I am thankful for their example as I waited for my chance to pick up 5 pound of sugar, a bag of pecans and two cans of evaporated milk -- none of which I needed. But just in case...

Two nights ago I woke up in a panic wondering if I had the milk for the pumpkin pie. At 2 AM I was rummaging through the cabinets. And when I found the milk, I placed it front and center on the counter. Almost to remind myself, "YES you have the evaporated milk." Maybe I'll sleep better knowing there are two more cans somewhere stashed in with the canned hash and corn.

Usually when we carpool shop, we start out together but end up going our separate ways around the yogurt or eggs. No worries, we came into the store together and we will go out together. But yesterday for some unknown reason we kept running into each other. The first time was in the snack aisle I looked up and was surprised to see her. Surely I didn't forget we had carpooled. Though each time we met, we greeted each other as if we had arrived separately.

The last time our paths crossed was in produce -- right before the home stretch on the checkout line. We were done. We headed for the bank of check out stations and there was no one in line... I looked back down the aisles holding to capacity their sardines of shoppers. We slipped into side by side lines. I finished first. Her cashier was having a bad day, and we left.

We shopped Thanksgiving Monday at Market Basket in less than an hour. Can you?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I've a great recycled present for you to make

Our Girl Scout troop made some fire starters from empty egg cartons, dryer lint and melted old candles. It was easy and fast to make a dozen of these wonderful starters. But, after that foray into firebuilding, I have kept egg cartons on the dryer and put the dryer lint right into the wells. And there it waits until I get a chance to melt some of our old candles. I envision putting a bow on top, and giving a set or two to family and friends that have fireplaces. I know, I'm the last of the big spenders, but these fire starts work great.

During the big mishoon building sessions, we have been using our starters on light little fires in specific places on the log. These puppies light up fast and burn for quite a longtime.

So, there something for you to ponder.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pay it forward

I am a firm believer in paying it forward, but this past Wednesday I was requested to do the same.

This past Wednesday my very lovely middle one caught her finger in a car door jam, and gave herself a nasty. We were on our way into the local high school for an event and when we went in and asked for a first aid kit, no feet or mouths seemed to work. As we were heading to the ladies room, a lady came out from the crowd and said she was a nurse.

She washed and dressed the wounds.Yes, the middle one nailed the finger front and back. And when we thanked her she said, just pay it forward. So here I am to pay it forward. The National Guard in VT (I know it is not my home state, but they defend us all.) are being shipped out after Christmas. Right now they are in the midwest training for their deployment. But wouldn't it be great if they could could home for the holidays. Follow this link, then click on Operation Holiday Homecoming and make a donation so they can ride the bus east to be with their families.

Homemade Mishoon

Today we will start the little one's Native People school project. We will be making a small mishoon, or dugout canoe. The Native People she is researching are the Wampanoag. When we have visited the homesite at Plimoth Plantation, she has always been fascinated by the boat burning.

We have an 18 inch log that is about 8 inches in diameter. Just like she has observed, she is planning to build a little fire on her log, let in burn a while and then scrape off the charcoal and set another fire to burn down a little more, before scraping again.

But it's not all fun and no work. She has to read about the Wampanoag, and how they used these boats, and where they lived, then write a short report -- maybe three paragraphs.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Homemade Cranberry Liqueur

I'm a chemist by nature and a mom by heart. This combination keeps me experimenting in the kitchen. Usually it's cookies, or a new type of cooking. Six years ago it was boiling maple sap into maple syrup. This morning it was concocting Cranberry Liqueur. Is it a bad sign to have the vodka bottle opened before 6 AM?

Four weeks from today, roughly December 18th we'll find out if this kitchen experiment was successful or not. Maybe I should set up two bottles. The fine print says: Yields 4 cups.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Homemade Raviolis

Somewhere it became a tradition to have a pasta dinner at some point in time, usually Friday, during Thanksgiving weekend. Some years I can remember showing up for the feast weekend with a carload of homemade angel hair pasta. Probably enough to feed everyone in my Aunt and Uncle's small hometown, but we would manage not to have leftovers.

This year will be a variation on that theme. My bro and his family are coming to celebrate and cook with us Wednesday evening, (I think I enjoy putting the turduken together more than eating it... and that is saying something.) as they have to be partying with the other side Turkey day. So they will come. We will cook, partake of the Whiskey Sour Punch, and sing and dance to the "I am Mrs. Turkey" song, all the usual Prep fun, and then they will head out to the real deal party Thursday about 1. Another change will be we will have pasta Wednesday night for dinner.

For this meal I made homemade raviolis in the quiet of my kitchen, start to finish, complete with homemade ricotta cheese, in three hours. I mention the time to let you know, you can do this too.

For the cheese stuffing I mixed the decadently rich homemade ricotta with some Parmesan and Gorgonzola cheeses, a couple of eggs and some Italian seasoning in the food processor. There is a little left, which I think will end up in a ricotta pie for dinner tonight. And the pasta was the usual flour and eggs; easy -- but I haven't done this for probably seven years, so it took a sheet or two for me to get back into the rolling groove. Ninety-two two inch raviolis later, the main part of Wednesday night's dinner is in the freezer.

Now to think about the sauce. Maybe a fresh tomato, so it doesn't overpower the ravioli...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I wonder if time stamps carry any weight?

Last night, well early this morning, I couldn't sleep so I fired off a letter to one of my children's school administrators and several staff. As I hit the send key at 5:18 I wondered if anyone on the receiving end would realize I had been up half the night composing this missive and would it mean anything. Insomnia? Passion on the subject matter? Stupid mother with nothing better to do?

I got a well thought out reply at 5:46. I guess I'm not the only one up and thoughtful at that time of the day.

Now let's hope for follow through.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prayer from my sister-in-law

One of my sisters-in-law, I have seven, sent this prayer in an email yesterday.

Concentrate on this Sentence

'To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.' When God takes something from your grasp, He's not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better. Concentrate on this sentence... 'The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you' Something good will happen to you today; something that you have been waiting to hear.







This prayer is so powerful.


I can't be up now. I have too much going on tomorrow; I mean today.

Monday, November 16, 2009

One is the loneliest number

Today I am teaching my daughter's third grade Catholic Faith Formation class. My topic is the four Marks of the church. When I saw that, I thought, who knew. I always assumed there was only one Mark -- the gospel writer.

But these are different Marks, like marks on a wall sort of Marks. These four Marks are: One, Holy, catholic and Apostolic church. With third graders everything is learned at the end of a crayon. This tends to be true for sixth graders too -- but I digress. When I was reading about One, that famous Three Dog Night song popped into my head, and there it has remained. I pictured a tall skinny very lonely one. But then I have another One in mind, and that is a big fat one full of people and faces. The One of the church means we are all one church, welcoming to all (I know... what's written isn't always done with open arms), but for third graders I will forget my own political commentary. So today I will show them a skinny lonely one, and then a big fat one and have them draw faces to fill it.

We will move onto Holy, catholic -- which means universal in this sense and Apostolic, and call it a day as we drawn our way through religious ed. I'm looking forward to the class. I hope the kids enjoy it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sick Again...

The cough and cold fairy visited again. My husband asked, "Are you still sick, or sick again?"

I believe the answer is sick again. I believe there was a week or so during which I wasn't coughing, or sneezing, or wheezing. I hope this leaves soon.

Unfortunately, the little one got hit as well; poor little dumpling.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

busy busy bee busy

So I woke up this morning, and the next thing I know it's after dinner and the middle one is reminding me she has a flute lesson. Where did the time go? Food shopping, chair pick up run, coffee and council, parent teacher conference, dinner prep, track star pick up, flute and now general household clean up so the Girl Scouts can get past the mud room to finish our prep for the Hemenway Holiday Boutique on Sunday from 11 to 1. We are selling chocolate pops, chocolate covered pretzels, maple granola, knit headbands, copies of my book. All proceeds go to the troop towards our trip to Washington DC next year.

But... back to this clean up, I'm a stay at home mom, and I could use a maid. Now that is a sad state of affairs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Plymouth Plantation

We went on our annual trip to Plymouth Plantation today. For many reasons I love that place. I always learn something new. Like today I learned the Wampanoag tribes were a matriarch, and in order for couples to marry they had to ask the elder, a woman, for permission. The guide also said that violence and abuse among the people increased under a man's rule. I asked her if they were moving back towards a matriarch, and she responded, "Yes, in time."

I also love the artistry that the Native People are preserving. We would lose so much as human beings to not have these arts and their culture to learn from.

At the plantation, they had military drills with rifles and pikes. We had watched them fire the rifles before but the marching with the pikes was new. As a matter of fact, there was a lot of new building and such at the plantation. I mentioned to one of the settlers that we had been in these parts oh about a year ago, and much had changed. She agreed and said they are getting ready for shipments of supplies and needed a place to store them. We discussed the economy, and how the ratio of unmarried women to men was something like 2 to 36.

I also got a great recipe for stuffing.
Crisp up some bacon. Remove it from the pan. Add some day old (stiff) rice or if you don't have old rice, dried bread crumbs and fry it in the oil. Add the bacon back in with some sage, chopped onion, and vinegar whisked with sugar to make a syrup. Stuff this into the belly of a bird and cook it. I am told I won't be disappointed. A few years ago we got a recipe for Pottage, and it has been a Thanksgiving hit every since.

And then I like going to Plymouth Plantation for the quiet photo opportunities. And for these I would visit every day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finally, time to write...

or at least blog... Really, is blogging real writing? I guess it is, since I transcribe the electrical impulses that ricochet about the old grey matter.

Sometimes good days are the result of bad. Yesterday was excellent. Over a late dinner the eldest was helping with middle school Spanish, while I was assisting on an elementary school mystery book report. Later the little ones in bed, the Spanish tutor and I reread her latest English lit. paper together. I love editing, and I love learning about what I am reading.

I have learned so much the year. Honestly, I can't wait until the next History exam, as I enjoyed so much getting a better handle on the Spanish American War. When the big they say history repeats itself, they were not lying. The ground troops might change generational but that same (IMHO) bad decisions keep being made over and over again. Will we ever give Peace A Chance?

It's so nice to be up in the quiet of the day. Knowing the crazy pace of life won't commence for another few hours.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Last rides of the season

Took the girls for a spin on the bike. I would have loved to go further but they got cold and needed to come home for a hot chocolate. Being that there is two of them, I got two rides in today. It was nice to be back on the bike.

Bugaboo Creek

I believe we have eaten our last meal at Bugaboo Creek.

After raking and teaching a lovely group of Brownies how to knit, I decided to "pull myself some slack" (a saying from the littlest one), and have us go out for dinner. The email delivered a Bugaboo coupon so off we went.

My litany:
The food was too salty.
They sat us at a table that had one of those obnoxious lights that would periodically shine. If there had been a talking animal to go with it, I probably wouldn't mind. But all that happened was the scowl on my husband's face creased deeper.
The noise was deafening.
My children are no longer part of that noise. My children were very well behaved and didn't even need parental help coloring or with the word search. Darn!

The ambiance was so horrid, before the girls finished their dessert I walked out to the car to wait.

When I mentioned going out to dinner, the girls mentioned the Melting Pot. I laughed at them, yeah right. I should have listened.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

27 bags and raking...

We have a small front yard; maybe 40 feet across and 30 feet in depth. And even if I let the kids out there to play, it's not big enough for kickball or baseball, or even tag. Small. But what we do have out there is one gigantic pine tree that, so far, has dropped 27 lawn bags of pine needles.

As I was out there raking, a little bit each day for the past week, I was wondering when did lawns became vogue. When did some intelligent person have the notion that planting and then manicuring a monocotyledon was the way to go. And what group of individuals said, "Hey that guy, (it had to be a guy), has the right idea." Why not leave all these pine needles where they fall? If you kick away the sticky pine cones, they are soft underfoot. And no mowing...

I have a little bit of front yard left to clean up. Probably another 9 bags worth. (Without taking any seats out, I can fit nine bags in the back of my Suburban.) Then it's on to the big fenced in backyard. Where once the lovely maple leaves fall from our wonderful sugaring trees, they can't blow out. We mulch and composite the back 40. I would hate to think about how many bags that would be, annually; probably hundreds.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.

Lao Tse

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Wall

My middle one had the homework assignment to write a poem for Veteran's Day. A bit stymied, I joined her on the kitchen floor for a brainstorming session. A bowl of Halloween candy between us, we talked about imagery and what I believe the whole writing process is about. In the end, I came up with a poem of my own. The funny thing was... in the end, she was done, her assignment completed and I was still sitting there working away.

Carved into God’s own earth, the black end scar that will not heal.
Adrift, a soldier, in faded ‘form, pauses;
reflecting an honor honed in his brothers’ black blood.
Their names etched before him.

Bombs silent for an age, rain down on this soldier’s dreams.
An unwelcome war, an ungrateful nation.
Grandchildren beside him, the yellow rose of peace extended.
Burned, he cannot enjoy its sweet scent.

His wounds for freedom, caustic and taught,
camouflaged by society’s canvas, do not heal.
Bent and worn, the black scar pierces God’s own men,
Forever Defenders of our nation’s freedom.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

And Happy Birthday to me...

I am so tired. Not from celebrating the big 49 event, not by any means. The day came, and the day went running from one appointment to event to the next.

Just tired... run here, pull that argument apart there, crazy stuff. But today is stained glass class so in a few minutes I'll head out and try not to cut myself handling the sharp edges of glass, and all those pointy bits. Glass is a lot like life. I think I need to spend sometime at the beach being tossed by the surf. Maybe then some of my life's rough edges will be smoothed and bearable.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday - To My Baby

The moment I saw you, I loved you.
More than life itself, I love you.
And I love you more and more each day.

Happy Birthday my precious precious girl.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Drop Off Pick Up

Today is a early release day, (school is out at 1 instead of 3 PM) made earlier by a doctor's appointment in Boston. I sent an email out yesterday to the little one's teacher:

My lovely will be picked up at 9:45. Yes that's right 45 minutes after the official start of school.

But the truth be told she has Chinese at 8 AM so really she will be at school 1 hour and 45 minutes before she has to make the trek with her sister and me into the big children's hospital in the city.

Yes, I know I could have arranged a playdate, so when the early release bell rings and I'm not there to get her, she would have a place to go. But today she'll get to meet her sister's doctors, see the pretty art work on the walls, and maybe if we make good time go out to lunch.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yes, We're still here...

Life is life these days. I am seriously considering putting a revolving door in the mudroom. And the icing on the cake is I'm sick. I know, moms aren't allowed to get sick. But this germ didn't read that rule. As of yesterday afternoon I seem to be winning the battle. And I'm seriously considering buying stock in whatever parent company makes Nyquil.

Seriously, that is a lot of serious consideration for one mom in one day. For being such a stern word, serious is pretty funny looking.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Question

Every year we have a party around this time. Oh how I wish it were an adult party, for my friends, but it's for the kids and they invite 6 of their friends. Fourteen -- for the house plus the parents that stay, and we are almost to the sardine state.

And each year as classroom buddies ebb and flow, the invite list changes. This year there is a new girl. I called the house. I invited the girl and the mom replied, "Do you know she is a twin?"

I answered back, "Yes, I had heard that." Her twin is not in any classes with my child.


Finally I add, "Please get back to me if your daughter can make it so we can make sure to have a pumpkin for her to carve and enough mini pumpkins for the pumpkin hunt."

Weeks pass, then this week I hear through the grape vine that they need our phone number, so I call. "Can your daughter come?"

"Yes she can. I'll drop her off before I take my other daughter back to college."

"Oh, I didn't know you had an older daughter."

"Yes, I have three; the twins and one in college."

She then has the whatever to ask, "Is the whole classroom invited?"

"No, our house is not that big, and each of my girls invite six friends."

Okay so I have a case of the guilts. Do I squeeze in one more? Really when chaos rules, what is one more...

But on the other hand, if one of my close in age daughters gets invited to a party I don't try to weasel an invite for the other. And there have been tears about who gets invited and who doesn't. "She's been to more parties than I have this year. Why can't I go too."

What I want to say is, "Sorry you had twins but... what..." Those of you who really don't know me and perhaps think I am always oh so nice and laid back, not quite. I don't like being bullied, especially when pumpkin carving is involved.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I think I like stained glass because it is a lot like writing.

Tonight while I was cutting up the sky that surrounds the gulls, I was thinking about how much stained glass work is like writing.

Both start with a plan or at least a rough idea. Both have flexibility in plot and design. For writing the story takes over and the writer becomes the implementer of the pen. In glass the idea is there, but the color, the curve of the cut, and how it all fits together is a product of the process.

For both the first draft or cuts are rough, and only after rewriting and grinding away does the book and the stained glass creation come together. I think that is what I like about writing and stained glass, that something so rough and disjointed can come together and flow from one topic to texture to the next.

Kris -- do you recognize some of that glass...

Sometimes it's all pointy inside

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's up. It's down. It's back. It's forth.
Good, bad, in, out, day, night, asleep, awake, one, zero, winter, summer, hot, cold, happy, sad, birth and death.

Why is reflection more colorful than life itself?

It's all about tomorrow

All year I've been planning the meal for tomorrow, my husband's birthday. For the entire summer I horded the rhubarb harvest to ensure there was enough for his birthday pie. My stash hidden in the freezer under the leftover seeds. I have been eying the last of the venison steaks with visions of candlelight and wine. Soft music playing in the background and a relaxed meal at the table. Tomorrow night I know what we are having for dinner: venison, "old rotten potatoes", salad, and birthday rhubarb pie.

The only problem is I have to come up with something for tonight's dinner before then...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Call Me Stupid

I have this computer to set up for work. It's a high end hand me over. Tons of computing power, a monitor the rivals our TV and our neighbor's TV combined for size. Makes me feel a bit like Yurtle the Turtle.

In preparation of my new to me hardware I cleared off my desk, moved the laptop to the kitchen table (Yes, you're right. There are now two computers in the kitchen.), and dusted -- a miracle, but I digress.

This weekend the man and I took a stab at setting up the new digs: box in place, power plugged in, network, speakers, mouse, keyboard. It's all plug and play. Match the plug of one to the socket in the other and your up and running. And we would have been, except for the monitor. Call me stupid, but for an entire day I sat and looked the cabling from one and the connector on the other. They don't match. I even looked at the cabling for my old desktop; no go.

At first I thought, well maybe there is a hidden socket somewhere. Nope. Then I thought well maybe it's a universal or a morphing kind of socket and when the cable gets close it will just fit. No such luck. And then I thought I must be stupid. After all computers are constructed so anyone 5 to 95 can with a flick of the wrist get on the internet in 6 seconds flat. In fact there should be a game show where people race to assemble computer components striving towards the finishing line by accessing google. Ta-Da! But no.

Tail between my legs I emailed the new boss, "I seem to be missing a video cable..." Seven seconds later, (their six month old was tasked with putting their new system on the net, so it took him a bit longer), the email came back, "The cable is in the bag."

So I laid all the cables out. Attached all the ends I could to where ever they would go, and still the monitor is not talking with the computer. I went to bed... feeling stupid... Imagine me, a computer person can't get tab A into slot A. And I'm to do this for a living, again.

So this morning, quite early, feeling a bit beaten up before the official contract is signed, I decided to give it one more go, with a little help from my internet friends. Searching for the make and model of the computer, I found out there are no set video cards with this set up. When ordering the owner is asked, "How many monitors would you like with that computer?" When I got my first computer it came with a black and white seven inch screen, and I was happy. I think this puppy's last owner picked the number 2, and I'll tell you why. Because the video card has a DMS-59 connector which supports two bigger than my TV screens. Talk about Yurtle the Turtle and lording over all that you see.

I then searched for the make and model of the monitor. Yup it looks like an adapter is in order. Go figure. Trying to sound like I haven't been out of the computer work force for ten years, I sent out another email, "It looks like the box prefers DMS-59 and the monitor is putting out DVI. Is there an adapter that didn't make it over?"

I know the answer that will comeback, "No worries on that contract. I'll be over for the equipment right after the school drop off this morning."

Really, maybe I should listen to my kids and stick to making their lunches for a sense of total satisfaction.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mine Mine All Mine

Today, (excluding 4PM to 5PM), is all mine. Insert maniacal laugh here. There is joy coursing through my veins. Once the chitlins are out being educated I will be home alone. Now for a stay at home mom you would think that is no big deal. But for this stay at home mom, I'm not home all that often. I know it's my own doings. And most doings I embrace whole heartedly with reckless abandon. Still when a day of nothing appears, there is quiet joy. I can set up my work computer, read the white pages, confirm an upcoming meeting or two, practice the banjo, work on the stained glass, prepare for the upcoming Girl Scout meetings, and if there is still time -- clean the kitchen.

Yesterday I sat at my kitchen table and cleared up two to dos: a digital slide show and the parish calendar content. I sat down at 10AM and stood up at 4PM. Honestly I didn't think those projects were going to take all that much time. All the while I am gazing at Pleco who is using semaphore to tell me that her tank is well overdo for a cleaning. Typing away, I nod and say, "No worries, your next on the list."

And she was.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rocking Out!

How did the Catholic religion get such a bad rap? When did the whole worship thing crawl into a rut, left to die a thousand deaths -- years ago? And of course the sex abuse scandal didn't and hasn't done anything for worship-ship.

Yesterday I had the utmost pleasure to rock out with Ike and his band at the Catholic Middle School rally. Chris Padgett was the icing on the cake. He spoke about being broken, empty and lonely. And how these three attributes bring us all into sainthood.

Lisa had the youth take pieces of pictures and copied them onto larger papers. The resulting reassembled artwork, though not perfect, showed us all that in the imperfections there is uniqueness and beauty.

The rally climaxed with Adoration and Mass. Ike rocked us through it all.

This was not an event to be missed. It was worship at its most high.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What is it with the shower?

I get the best ideas while in the shower. The only problem is, I don't have anywhere to write them down...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hour by Hour

Today is one of those stuffed to the gill days. Friday folders, but before that swing by the church to gather the calendar info, meeting for the new job (it starts), swing by knitting, Girl Scout meeting, birthday sleepover, which will be a Halloween party for four. Maybe cut out a few more pieces of glass, if I am lucky.

Yesterday after dinner, I picked up the track star from school, took the middle one to her flute lesson, came home practiced my banjo, then flew off to ARISE. As I stepped through host's front door she said, "You are always so relaxed. How do you do it?" I laughed. Relaxed, no -- dressed relaxed -- read slobby here, yes.

Right in front of my desk, where I can't help but see it from my computer, is a picture of my mentor and dear dear friend, Marty Schrier. In the two short years I knew Marty she taught me a lot about slowing down and how not to suffer from craned neck syndrome. Marty did not survive her bout with cancer. Seeing her picture stands as a reminder to embrace life, and to love those around me. And if the little snap shot doesn't do the trick, a pastel potrait of her is hung to look over my shoulder while I work. I have Marty coming and going. How lucky can I be.

Today, right now -- it is snowing outside. Of course, it is outside... what am I thinking.

Tomorrow is the Catholic Middle School Rally at Xaverian High School. I get to chaperon. I can't wait. Despite the forecast of rain, or will it still be snow, it should be a rocking good time for these kids.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Evening is better.

With the laundry momentarily done, I started my next stained glass project. It is a picture of my middle one flying a kite on the beach. When it is finished, I'll either send it off to college with her, or hang it in our kitchen window.

Welcome to my morning

Picture a mother, dressed in her bathrobe and wool socks, sitting at the kitchen table, cutting last week's coupons. The phone rings. It's a call from the bus stop, a quarter mile away.

"Mom I left my SAT prep binder somewhere in the house and the bus is here."

Mother's pulse quickens. "And where would that binder be?"

"Upstairs in my room, in a white box. The bus is here."

Mother runs upstairs. "It's not here." Then mom remembers seeing a white box in the archeological dig called the dining room table. "Could it be downstairs?"

"Maybe, mom the bus is here."

"What do you want me to do?"

(No answer.)

"I have it, start walking home, I'll meet you and drive you to school."

"Mom, the bus is leaving, I have to go."

"But how and I going to get this to you at the school?" Remember mom is in her robe and socks.... not much else. And there are several thousand students at the high school. Mom is not going to walk the halls dressed like she is.

"I have to go."

"Start walking home."

Now yelling, "The bus just left, I'm walking."

Mother throws winter jacket over robe, yells to other children to get up, then storms out of the house to drive to bus stop. Of course daughter will be walking on the other side of the street, so a silent prayer for an easy pull off and crossing is put forth.

Sees daughter, beeps to daughter. Picks up daughter. Drives daughter to school. Praying for no accidents at home or on the road.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sorry JFK, it's been one of those days

Ask not what mom will do for you, but what you can do for your mother.

I can't even type about how busy today has been. Yes, I went to my stained glass class from 10 to 12:30, but besides that I have been up and down, in and out of the car all day long. Tomorrow is no better. Neither the day after.

My husband has the habit of taking the day after a vacation off. Today was such a day. I left and he was watching movies. I came back and he was watching movies. Maybe one of these years I will take a true day of rest. No dropping off at school. No making lunches. No laundry. No running to tutoring. No leaving a check for a rally at the church, or picking up a library book. No cooking dinner, or picking up after dinner. No cross country pick up only to be informed that there is a pasta party -- and oh can I drive.

My newly nine year old is having a sleepover birthday celebration this Friday night. The house looks like a camping Halloween bomb has gone off. I need to clear enough space for a few sleeping bags. I'm tempted to just toss it all in the trash.

Truly I would fall over if anyone lifted a finger.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A question...

This weekend found us camping down at Nickerson State Park with my aunt and uncle. As usual, when we hiked past a can, or bottle, or flip top, I was quick to pick them up and stash them in my pocket or backpack; all for the church youth group or for Ronald McDonald's House. My Aunt commented, "Where would the church be without you?"

And the bigger question, "Where would I be without the church?" flashed into my mind.

It was a great weekend. Cool air. Fantastic family. Excellent eats.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

Last night I ventured into the big town to delight in Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers playing at the Wang Theatre. What a night. Music laced with comedy. Comedy spilling over with phenomenal music. Dave Barry warmed up the crowd, interviewing Steve Martin on any topic at all as long as it was not relating to the banjo or to Steve Martin. The evening ended, according to Martin, after they played everything they knew, to the total delight of the two standing O, toe tapping crowd.

In an interview that was printed in the Metrowest Daily News on Sunday October 4, 2009, Martin was asked if he ever imagined he'd be playing professionally? He answered, "No. When I first started practicing, I'd be particularly frustrated. I would say, 'If I just stay with it, one day I'll have been playing 40 years.' And I think it's good advice to people who get frustrated with instruments: just play a little bit everyday and one day you'll be playing for 40 years and you'll be pretty good."

I wanna be a real banjo player when I grow up.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What's my fancy?

I'm coming to the home stretch on my stained glass crucifix and I'm anxious to line up another project.

What to do?

After class I had the idea of doing a maple sugaring motif that would hang in the kitchen window overlooking the sugar shack. Bright blue sky, dark tree trunks hung with shiny buckets, perhaps the shack in the background putting out steam from the boil, snow on the ground.

I also had the idea of doing a window of fall colors.

What to do? Something...

Being a person who doesn't like to waste anything, I think I will pull out all my small bits of glass and see what develops. The idea is there. It just has to be given the time to breathe.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

If it doesn't happen in the morning...

then it doesn't happen.

I am a morning person. As it is common for me to be up at 4 AM, some might call me a very very late night person, but AM is a sign of morning, and that is me.

But if tasks don't get done during the AM hours of the day, for me, chances are it's not going to get done. I move full steam ahead until right after lunch and then all slows down to get ready for the return of the cherubs, dinner and that which follows dinner.

Like today, I made chicken meatball and spinach soup, and chicken cutlets before breakfast. After wards I played taxi to my stars, then scooted off to stained glass class -- which goes until 12:30. On the way home I relieved Kris of her old stained glass supplies, then raced home to get ready for dinner and children.

And I sit here thinking, now what did I accomplish today?

Monday, October 05, 2009


We have had our go arounds this year with the children. Little things like sneaking, taking what is not theirs, fighting, tattling, communication stuff... situations that make me, their parent, crazy. But I have finally met my guru, and it happened this morning while I was on the treadmill.

While putting in my time the show Bill Cosby Himself was on and despite coming out in the 70s I could have sworn this man has been peeking in our windows. He knew exactly how shampoo got into the little one's eye, and quoted verbatim the "It's Mine" argument that took place two nights ago. Then he quoted me, saying it was his wife who had said it, spewing my entire rant about how I feel about children rolling their eyes.

How did he do it? Does this man have a time machine? Do I need better curtains or to search for bugging devices?

I need to contact the network with the hopes they will play that show every morning around 5 AM. It was the fastest and most enjoyable indoor jaunt I had had in a long time.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Home Is Where The Fish Is

Pleco gets a new home

We have a fish that has out grown its tank, a 20 gallon long. For months, he has had to swim backwards to turn his hulking eleven inch body around. Tail bent the poor baby sucked onto the side of the tank; keeping his home clean and his belly full. That is until today. From now on, Pleco will call a new 30 gallon long tank home. Given the extra fin room, I wonder how big he will grow.
Time will tell.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Full House; Full Day

We took the Girl Scouts to the Boy Scout Reservation today. It was a nice cool day for a walk in the woods. From Tippling I pointed out Big Blue and Mount Monadnock. The troop can't wait to climb both. One scout said, "We get to climb a real mountain." I can't wait to see her face at the summit.

Next week we will hike Purgatory Chasm. We'll pack a lunch and make a day of it.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I'm Late, I'm Late

for a very important date...

It's not even 6:45 and two are out the door already, and the next two must be up and out by 8... We have morning rush, to be followed by afternoon chaos.

Yesterday I was in and out of the house so much I contemplated a revolving door. Actually, the man had to bring dinner to the cross country meet, when I realized with its later start our lady runner would not have time go home, eat and then get to SAT prep. Thank God I had the presence of mind to make a pot roast yesterday. I'm hoping there are enough leftovers for tonight for we have flute, yard sale set up and cross country pick up to eat around.

Lunches are made. I even baked brownies... now to raise the rest of the troops.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Forever Yours: Reviewed

Yahoo! Forever Yours gets reviewed. It's always nice to hear, or in this case, read, what other people think about Forever Yours. Being a first time novelist, the gushier the review the better. But on the flip side, coming from a scientific background, I crave all the details, especially when parts of the story would benefit from a bit of clarification.

For me, writing is just like bench work. I'm always searching for that better word, a tighter plot, well rounded characters. Elizabeth, in her review is correct is stating Jeff is not well explained. Thankfully, with his roll in the sequel, With A Little Help From My Friends, his home life and background are laid out in the first few pages. He's the poor little rich kid, whose father only speaks when the law needs to laid down.

No worries, Jeff, the Cahills live right down the street and you are always welcome to dine at their table.

Elizabeth, thanks for the review.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Minuteman Bike Trail

We pushed off from Meriams Corner, heading for the Minuteman Visitors Center in Lexington. The trail is predominantly smooth packed sand, with a few boardwalks over wetlands. Along the way there are wonderful stopping points with signs giving a bit of history, and buildings to explore. It's not a long ride, maybe an hour one way, but more time is needed for taking in all that happened when a shot was heard round the world.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I saw on CNN this morning a story about an honors student in Chicago that got caught between two gangs and beaten to death. I was drawn to this story because for the past month I have been reading the Freedom Writers Diary. In this book, the Freedom Writers wrote about their fears. They shared they lives full of drive by shootings, murder, domestic violence, drugs, homelessness, and rape. They put out there, each step as they ran home from school to escape the undeclared war that owns their neighborhoods. But their book also shows the way to make a difference. It teaches tolerance and points out the violence on our streets today is no different than the violence experienced by Anne Frank or Zlata Filipovic in Sarajevo. Our children can grow up strong. They can become their dream doctor, teacher, engineer, writer, citizen of the world for peace.

But out there on those Chicago streets one boy's dreams were cut short, and the hands of other boys.

I find it a bit funny, that the Freedom Writers Diary was banned from schools because its language is so graphic. Turning a blind eye won't make it all go away. I want my children to read this book. I want them to see how lucky they are, and to realize tolerance, compassion, sticking up for what you believe, and taking a stand are what are important in life.

Friday, September 25, 2009

As I walked across the parking lot to the Post Office...

I step over this rather large insect. "What the $#&*," were my exact words. Followed by, I didn't know we had insects that large around here.

Waiting in line, I thought about gathering the insect carcass in the ziploc I use for coupons and taking it home to show the girls. After all, in a world where the average large insect is a hornet, this was amazing. My business transacted, I walked back out to the parking lot, gingerly scooped up the unmoving insect and went about on my errands.

Once home, I retrieved my trusty Natural History book, bestowed upon me by an old flame many many years ago, and wouldn't you know it, I found the insect while enjoying a nice bowl of piping hot pea and kale soup. See, the weather here has turned cold and soup for lunch was just the ticket.

My treasure is a Giant Water Bug, and yes I remember them from my undergrad days studying water life ecology.

So I carefully dumped the body out on to the book to get a picture and wouldn't you know it, the insect is ALIVE and revived by the heat from the car ride and house. And if you read the text in the picture, they are able flyers. Which could explain what it was doing out of water and in the middle of a parking lot.

Why are there no dull moments in my life? Still, one is not chased down by a Giant Water Bug everyday.