Friday, September 30, 2011

Out For A Walk

The best kind of retreat

Writer's Fall Retreat
By the warming fire ideas
Drift, swirl. The yarns spin.

It's WAR before breakfast

When you hear the word retreat it can have a few meanings and scenarios. One being the call to fallback during a bloody military engagement. And another a place of quiet solitude. Thank God for fun filled triple wars while on the second type. How words have diametrically opposed meanings puts a smile on my face. And her's.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thank you girls

Inspiration flows from likely and unlikely sources. I was writing poetry. The girls started their novels. They're penning their first chapters, I'm inspired to work on the sequel to Forever Yours.

It's a rainy day. Tea is brewing. And we are all in our own writer's world asking, "What happens next?" Lovely

Goodness in the Gutter?

You will find what you seek.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Whatsoever You Do

It must be "movie week" in my head, because one of the final scenes of French Kiss is the lead in for this post. It's the scene where the french inspector is asking Luc to finish the story, "Imagine un avion..." But in this post the line is, "Imagine you're in a grocery store..."

It's one of those self check out lines and you're next. The woman before you swipes her payment card. The register/computer thinks for a moment then a loud mechanical voice announces, loud enough for every household in a eight block radius to hear. "This transaction cannot be completed. Please select continue and choose a different payment method."

Embarrassed the woman fumbles for her purse, retrieves another card, only to have the same computer generated voice announce once again the transaction cannot be completed.

You notice the woman, now frantic, attempting to use a third card. This one a store charge, but not for this store. Obviously she's flustered and once again rejected.

What do you do? Find another register? Report her failings to customer service? Chances are, they already know, just like everyone else waiting in line. Sneer and sigh at your misfortune? After all you are stuck behind her. School pick up is looming... The Sears guy called and is on his way to your house... Your ice cream is a puddle...

Or would you ask if you could be of help? Sliding your credit card when prompted for payment method.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Moment Before Me

Life is so much like a river, which gathers its strength through the runoff and streams that it meets. What's even more amazing is when you can perceive life's convergence. A trip to the store, a gentle reminder to be fully present to those around me. Thank you; you are important. A moment of silence, reinforcing the point to live in the now, fully. Stop worrying about the what may or may not happen. Waste not the time. Live life and gather its lessons.

Simply in a haiku
Be the here and now
See, moment, person import
Time only for you

Enjoy your day
Enjoy your life

Saturday, September 24, 2011

With introspection

We all find our niche. What's yours?

The Difference Between



Amazing example don't you think?

frightening when you think
about how this mask discarded
in an abandoned gas station


Friday, September 23, 2011

The Mask

Out on a walk I spied with my little eyes, two things

1. This mask lying on a cement barrier block.

2. A man, standing outside his broken down station wagon full of kids. As I crossed the strip mall parking lot I saw his jumper cables at the ready and I heard him saying, "It won't be long. We'll be home soon." The kids were climbing from the back seats to the front and looked to be having quite the time... I remembered when I used to be so care free. Now I'm that man worrying how he will get home.

A car approached, it slowed, swerved around me and then sped off. The stranded man and I made eye contact. He asked, "How long do you think I'll be here." I replied, "A long time." I then took one more step, stopped, turned and said, "I'll get my car."

He asked, "Where is it?" Remember I'm walking. I point and say, "Back there," for I'm not 2/10 of a mile from my house. But you can't see it with the stores and parking lots.

As I walk back all sorts of scenarios fill my mind. I tell myself I'm stupid, crazy, nuts, for offering to help someone, a stranger. What if he takes my car, my purse, me? Still I promised to help. Entering the house, to grab my keys, I mention that I'm home to bring the Rig over to give some guy a jump. I get the look, and hear, "OK."

I've been gone from the scene of the breakdown five minutes, maybe, and as I drive back into the lot, there is another car just finishing jumping the man's car. They wave to each other and then the man waves to me. I pull up and we both smile.

He thanks me for returning and said it took five cars driving by before someone stopped.

It truly is amazing what you see and who you will find, (Christ in the distress of others*) when you go out for a walk.

*Thank you Mother Teresa

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Modern Day Fossil

Walking along I saw this poor leaf trapped in the sidewalk and it reminded me the tar pits of old.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's all in how you look at it.

A week or so ago I noted that shifting one's point of view can really alter one's experiences. It's the same with taking pictures. Out for a walk I came across this squished bullfrog. My first thought was, who knew we had such big frogs in our neck of suburbia? Next I saw that the tongue was fully extended. Out came the trusty phone camera.

Crazy photo -- I know, but, to me anyway, pretty cool.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Glad to make your reacquaintance

Summer and banjo go hand in hand, but not banjo and busy schedules - which come with summer around here. With school starting I'm finding morning practice time once again.

Just Stopping By?

Stay a while and smell the flowers.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A window onto a fence

A window usually opens up a world. But in this case this window's world as closed off by the fence; or is it opened up by what it reflects? Interesting...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Niece -- Theresa Bertolino

She is a very talented actress, and played a crucial role in a play staged for her school. I am so proud of her. And she is soooo photogenic. Love you.

The Only Acceptable War

This before school card game got me pondering.

When I can't wrap my head around a tough concept I often reiterate, complete with international hand signal for little, "I have a little brain." War is one of those events I will never understand. Oh I realize conflicts abound. I've had a few life changing ones in my lifetime. Tough and painful.

The bottom line is killing and torture don't cut it. So many people on and off the battle fields are affected in negative ways. It makes me sad.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I could live here...

On any given day, even if you wake me in the middle of a great dream, to ask, "If you could live anywhere, where would you live?" The answer is always the same, "Close enough to Disney World to work there." Ideally, I would want to ride my bike to work. Sounds good. Sounds like a plan. But...

When we are up at the Shack, actually for the past 14 years we have been visiting family in Wallingford, I have been saying, "Let's move up here." See the slight problem.

Now add Paris to the mix. After four hours of layover (heading home from Madrid), speaking french, hearing french, reading french, eating a french pastry, thinking a bit in french, and I'm all set to gather my checked baggage and head into the city proper. Yes, I could live there, and almost lived there a lifetime ago. Oh how I miss Paris.

And Bainbridge Island, Washington. Hometown of my dear heroine, Sarah Cahill, and of my dearer friends the Hufnagles. Camping, ferry rides, biking, sea kayaking, watching the fish being tossed around at the market. Well, that's in Seattle, but you get the point. Yes, I could definitely live there too.

So what gives? Am I suffering from a multiple personality disorder? I suspect not. Still Paris is a far cry from the Shack, and Bainbridge Island practically on the other side of the globe.

And what will I do at Disney? I want to be a greeter. I want to be that someone who stands on Main St. and waves hello wearing a big Mickey glove, (I already have a set.). I can't wait to offer to take that special family photo, or to help a lost family find their way. I'm there. And how did I decide that?

This past weekend, when we would stop to rest trailside, I relished greeting the hikers that were passing by. "Good Morning! Great day, isn't it! Enjoy your day! Good Morning! Good Morning! Beautiful day, isn't it!" I loved being in the White Mountains again. (It had been about 26 years since my last visit.) I bet I could live there... Do they have professional trail greeters? I could do that. :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shoot for the Moon

I learn so much from my kids. The little one set up her collegiate sister's old telescope. "I want to look at the moon," she said. And we did. Such a blast and what a view.

We took this picture with my cell phone through the telescope. So cool. So totally cool. It's amazing the lovely roads your children will take you, when you let them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


While Paul and I were hiking to the top of Washington several delightful events happened. For instance, when we were taking a rest a woman in passing us, after the ever polite and constant hiker greeting, "Good Morning," mentioned she works in a Catholic health center. At first I thought she was mentioning this because she was a nurse. Did she think we needed medical attention? No she is the assistant to the director of the facility. Big job. We chatted with her and her daughter, and then as they moved on, waved good bye. We would see them again later at the summit. After her departure I wondered why, if not a nurse, she would mention her employment. And then I realized I had my St. George World Youth Day 08 hat on, of course what else would I wear, and that my WYD'11 luggage tag was still on my backpack.

Labeled CATHOLIC -- That's me.

Later up on the summit, smiles up with the wind and the dipping temperatures I added a layer and changed my hat. Labeled again. I guess if I had run into a problem, (read slipped off the mountain), there would have been no question as to whether I wanted a priest called.

Our clothing labels us. What labels do you wear?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Waiting on Patience

Faith leads to involvement and involvement leads to politics -- or what I call the dark side. Oh, I'm hearing Darth Vader again. That breathing which does not instill comfort, but does bring a smile to my face. After all good does win out over the dark side, right?

Being a person who can multitask, I am also hearing multiple sound tracks. As I'm hearing The Gambler with Kenny Rogers singing, "Know when to walk away and know when to run..."

Do I have your interest, or have you already clicked off the page? No worries.

A call came from the parish secretary yesterday. I need to call the parish custodian and let him know that the picnic is in the hall this weekend. Really, he hasn't read the bulletin or seen the posters, sign up sheets or the big sign at the front door? In the past signing up with the rectory means the parish personnel knows there is an event taking place. I call.

He asks, "Did you move some tables when you were in the hall with the middle school youth?" The answer, "No, we lowered some chairs, but didn't move tables." His response, "Then a sister is lying. And by the way do you need anything for the picnic this weekend?" Really how did I get caught in a she said, she said? And by the way, no we have all the supplies we need, though a few extra trash can liners would be great.

Conversation over, I run an errand, still pondering the call. Really she said, she said. Ah, can we both be right? What if the tables were moved prior to my entering the hall by an occupant before me? I call the custodian back and leave that message. For who truly wants to believe someone involved with the church is not forthcoming. Hey, if we had scratched the floor, I'd admit to it. For ownership is empowering. It builds confidence and trust.

Next scene to the drama: Later in the day, the secretary calls back summoning me to a meeting with the parish business admin. I ask, "And the agenda is?" She has no clue. I politely ask her to relate to the business manager to call me with an agenda or I won't show. Despite having my name in the bulletin for "Call Patty if you want more info or want to help with...," I'm a volunteer. Is the writing on the wall? Is it time to look for a greener pasture, where I'll keep my hands folded in prayer instead of raising them to signal, I'll help with that.

I just realized this post ends with a bit of a cliff hanger... tune in next week, folks when all will be revealed. In the mean time I'm off to pick up supplies for the pie eating contest and the parfait station. For everyone loves parfait!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Trading Places

Our favorite church in VT. Third pew; left hand side.

Sunday, eight o'clock, third pew right hand side. If we are home on a Sunday, 99.9% of the time that is where you will find us. Up front for two reasons: I like the girls to be able to see what is going on, and two: I like for us all to hear what is being said. This Sunday was different. I had a different point of view.

This Sunday it was 10:30 Mass, in the back. With the Middle School Youth Ministry meeting, picnic sign ups and the Dustin Pedroia signed baseball raffle for the St. Vincent dePaul Society, I scouted out the dead last pew, still right hand side.

First of all, I discovered, you can hear and understand what is being said in the way back.

Secondly, I watched as grandparents, parents and children gathered from their separate homes, to sit together as one family unit. I noted another grandchild is on the way.

I saw, near the front, one child scurry from pew to pew, sitting with different families that he has learned to call his own church family. Each new seating arrangement, he was greeted with a hug. It's great to be home.

I noted a dad, escorted by his two toddler sons, getting up with his brand new baby, to change the baby's diaper. All that love and support.

I smiled when I watched a different dad, holding his preschool son's hand, walk the distance of four pews so his son could shake the hand of a peer at the Sign of Peace.

I registered that the young man, with the big earrings, sitting a distant next to me, was really paying attention and participating. Even in the way back pew.

It's amazing what you'll see when you change your point of view.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We made it to the summit and we are home

It was a great day for hiking.

From the summit of Mt Washington

Actually, within spitting distance to the summit.

Irene was here

First mile done

7 am start

It Starts

Today's blog will be on going. For today my friend Paul and I will be climbing Mt Washington. We will be climbing up the back and not the tried and true route up Tuckerman's Ravine. As that path is being rebuilt. Last check it will be sunny and 41f on the summit. Still I have rain gear and emergency clothing just in case. It's 4 AM and we are on the road heading north. I'm not driving. But i am balancing a cup of Joe as I type.

Check back. Paul nor I are a spring chicken. When we stop along our jaunt I'll blog assuming we have a signal.

Wish us luck. Mother Mary watch over us and all hikers.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Haiku September

I've been participating on fb in Haiku September. In these last nine days I have learned so much about those short concise poems. For instance they don't have to be 5 - 7 - 5 syllables. Who knew? I didn't. Here is one not to sleep by.

Rolling thunder
Ocular shades snap open
The snorer wins

A Must Share

An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies & ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy & truth." The boy thought about it, and asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?" The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed".

The Peak of Perfection

We set goals for our day, a year, our jobs, our families, even educational goals for our children. These multitude of goals drive us forward. To better ourselves and those around us.

Though the setting of a goal is the easy part. It's the working towards that goal that brings about change and growth - whether we make the summit of the peak of our perfection or not. The change is in the trying.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


And the day is gone. That ever happen to you? It's raining today. It's raining harder than it did for Irene. And as I was dropping this one here, and that one there, I wondered: If a storm isn't named, if it's not mentioned 300 hundred times in the media, is it still a storm? I pray it isn't raining like this up in Vermont.

Got a text from my oldest today. She met someone on campus and they discovered they are both the product of divorce. She texted me to tell me this. My response: How lucky that her pain is the underpinning to help another heal. God wastes nothing. Even if our hindsight is a bit murky.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


What does fear look like to you? To some, it's be a big brown spider crawling towards an unsuspecting fisherman. To someone else, it's speaking in front of a crowd, or taking a written exam.

Funny thing is in all reality the spider is more afraid of people and the crowds, well they wouldn't be there if they didn't want to listen to what you have to say. And exams: well they are a rite of passage. More like tasks and challenges that faced knights in the Middle Ages.

Rise and face your fears. Scale the mountain. Stand victorious.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The First Sign

For many the end of Summer is a tough transition. The start of school. The end of longer periods of daylight. No more day dreams hatched on a beach blanket.

But Fall, and pending Winter have their own glories. Truly each season, each day, even each moment is a new awakening. Be present.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Flood devastation in Vermont

We drove through Vermont with our mouths gaped. Silt and debris piled 3 feet and more in people's yards. Bridges and roadways washed away. The unbelievable power of water.

No Laboring On Labor Day!

Enjoy the day! Enjoy your life.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Fishing, kayaking, walking, photography? What to do first at the shack. Life should always be so full of anticipation.

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

Or is it?

Before leaving for World Youth Day I mailed prayer bracelets to my little ones who would be away at camp. Along with a note of course, telling them just how much I love them. At the end of camp, I'm still at WYD and the text comes in, "My sister got a bracelet and a letter, and I didn't."

The text goes out, "YIKES! I'll save you a bracelet and bring it home for you. Sorry you didn't get your mail. Love, mom"

Upon returning home, there was the envelope marked, Return to Sender. No explanation. OK

Now the lovely has two bracelets. One that I sealed and sent to camp with my love and promise to pray for her, and another blessed by the Pope himself. Now the big question: Are they different or are they the same?

The Pope's blessing in not so many words is centered upon fortifying and holding up the bearer of (whatever was being blessed). In this instance the bracelet. The item draws the bearer closer to those others whom also wear the bracelets. Creating one continuous community in prayer.

So are prayers to the same loving God, from the Pope more influential than those sent forth by just a mom? Just wondering...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Lessons from the family picnic

Three years ago, right after my grandmother passed away, we got the idea of hosting a backyard family get together, non funeral or wake in nature. Let's face it, with schedules as bee busy as they are, it's the only time we see each other.

All where invited. Many attended. All had a great time. Even my Uncle Charles, who always seemed to strike when the iron was hot. I remember talking with him about our Wolf stove, (the boat anchor), and why I don't like it. He was impressed to see it in our house. I was wishing I had bought something else. When he left, all smiles, he thanked us for the invite. Two months later he was dead; a heart attack. Shocking.

Now, this summer, we were asked to host another gathering. No problem. Once again all were invited. Many attended. All had a great time. (We rented a giant water slide for the kiddie in all of us.) Then two weeks ago I find out a cousin has lung and brain cancer.

Is there a lesson here? Is it: STOP having family barbecues? No, that's not it. The lesson is get together even more often, for you do not know when your number will be called. And I would hate for the last time everyone gets to say how great you look is at your wake.

Don't be busy as a bee all the time.