Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Week In-Between....

Ever notice the week between Christmas and New Year's is kind of like the twighlight zone? It has no real identity. Rather like the lull before the storm. In our house, the tree is still up (albeit missing more than a few needles) there are gifts haphazardly strewn beneath its branches, and the kitchen counter holds several different saran-wrapped plates with goodies from the past festivities. Some half-eaten fudge from a neighbor ...2 stale sticky buns from the batch daughter & her hubby brought over Christmas morning....and a plate of mis-matched Christmas cookies consolidated from several different sources....

I really need to clean up the house (there are tree needles everywhere, stray bits of wrapping paper that never made it to the trash bag, and piles of new things that need to find a home...) but I am biding my time. The lull before the storm thing again. We'll go to my brother's on New Year's Eve and do the whole blow the horns, wear silly hats and throw streamers thing at midnight. We'll hug and cry and remember the people we lost this year (Aunt June & niece Betsy) and stay up way too late laughing and talking.

After that - then and only then - does the season officially end for me. At least the part with the parties and decorations...I really hope I can treasure the true spirit throughout the coming year. We'll hang out all New Year's day...napping and watching TV and munching on stale Christmas cookies. *sigh* All those months of prepping and it's over so quickly.

So for today, I'm just hanging out here - during this nameless week that's sandwiched in between two holidays and enjoying doing nothing. There's a nice fire in the wood stove that I've been stoking since 7 am, grandson is nestled on the couch watching "UP" (a great kid's movie by the way!) and I'm getting ready to brew a cup of java in my one-shot and share a cookie on the couch with my little guy. Does life get any better than this?

I guess for those of you that have to work this week - you probably can't relate. I never had to, so or me - this is normal. Being the stay-at-home mom for many years, then returning to work as the teacher...I always had the luxury of this week. But when the new career begins come January- it will be different. For the first time EVER - Lora will have to work during the "twilight" week. But that is then - and this is now.

My coffee awaits me.

Happy New Year friends!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Oh what a slacker I've been! So, so busy and no time to write.

The house (alas) is not finished for the holidays (we are s-o s-l-o-w) but we're making progress. I've downscaled on the decorations this year to make things less stressful since we're in transition mode here with much packed away and some rooms almost empty... It still looks like Christmas but on a less grander way (and way less stressful too!)

I have retired my teaching cap and accepted a job as a Volunteer Coordinator at one of our local Hospice Homes. The hours are great - the pay is great - and I know that the rewards will be even greater. I begin on January 4th and can't wait to start this new chapter in my life.

The kids will all be together for the holidays (yay!). Youngest daughter & her hubby will be in late tonight from Massachusetts. Then the festivities can officially begin!

My shopping is done. The presents are wrapped. The food is bought and ready to be prepared. Today is supposed to be a cleaning day ( my poor house here so sorely needs it) and tonight I plan to put my favorite 1940's Christmas CD on (A very American Christmas), lite the tree along with some candles, pour myself a glass of wine and revel in the joy this season brings.

Stress? Yes. Family tensions? Yes. Rude shoppers? Double yes. But in the midst of all the turmoil God gently reminds me that the true reason for the season super cedes anything that may be stressing me out.

The year I lost both parents in a month, I vividly remember passing a manger scene in front ofa church near our local supermarket. I'd been shopping and dreading the fact that this holiday me, my siblings and our children would be facing our first Christmas without mom and dad. I suddenly had this strong sense that God was speaking to me as I focused on the baby in the manger through teary eyes. He was saying "Don't you see? This is what Christmas is really all about. This is where it all started...I came and conquered death! So celebrate this Christmas Lora! It's because of Christmas that you'll see your mom and dad once again!"

I've kept that very special moment with me these past 12 years. it has helped me put things in perspective when the icing doesn't stick to the cookies...when the lady with 30 items is in front of me in the "10 items or less" line and I am in a hurry to get to the post office before it closes...when I am wrapping gifts and I run out of tape and all the stores are closed because it's after midnight and I have to get the next morning at 6 am for work...when my mother-in-law wakes me from a sound sleep the following night (when I'm trying to catch up from the night before) to tell me she doesn't think I bought enough rolls for the Christmas dinner - when I had vowed I would not have to go to one more store after I got the tape on my lunch break the day before....
All those things that want to trip me up and make me curse the season...they can't. I may grumble a bit. And vent to hubby. But I still can smile and rejoice. For unto us a Savior has been born. And I will see mom and dad and late hubby again.

Merry Christmas to all!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Holiday Season is About to Begin!

Tomorrow we trek out to late hubby's (late brother's) farm for Thanksgiving. Does that make sense? There is nothing like Thanksgiving on the farm...I swear I feel like I've stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting when I walk through the door. A big old fashioned cooking stove sits proudly in the kitchen (there was a time that hot cider would be warming over the coals but now it just serves as a shelf for our beverages.) The dining room boasts a big old cello in the corner and an upright piano along the west wall. Being a musical family, both get played spontaneously and folks will gather round whoever happens to be making the music and then the singing starts.

Even though this isn't the family I grew up with (I get to have Thanksgiving with them next year) and even though hubby is no longer with us - I still feel at home there. It's warm and cozy and full of love. Family from several states gather to share a meal on this special day and I am thankful to be a part of this family. The neat part is - even present hubby likes it there! Our very first Thanksgiving as husband and wife - was spent at the farm! Not with his family..not with mine....but at the farm!

In the meantime we are cranking down hard trying to get the house finished! I've resigned myself tot he fact it won't be perfect. There's a section we will close off because it will still be "under construction" and full of junk! But as long as I have a working kitchen, a carpet in the living room and my family with me - it will be home! Christmas shopping is almost done. At least 3/4 done anyway. And it's all wrapped! That last week before Christmas will be spent moving furniture, stocking cupboards and decorating. No time to be running to the mall.

I'm also going to attempt my first "black friday" expedition. Middle daughter raved last year about all the deals. I'm not camping out a 5 am....there's nothing in particular I'm after. Just want to see what the deals are and maybe finish up the last of the shopping.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! If you eat too much - just hop back on the wagon Friday!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Is it November Already?

November here has been pleasant as far as the weather goes. No snow. Mild temps (sparing a few frosty mornings that required the obligatory scraping of my windshield...) I still have to trek down to the lake to empty out the last few things in the fridge, purge the waterlines and sweep up any remaining crumbs that might invite vermin to move in and set up housekeeping while we're away for the season. Then I can settle into winter.

The new house is in the final stages. We need a crew from HGTV to come in do their magic so we can be in by Christmas. You know those episodes where they revamp a house in the span of a half hour show? Seriously - we have SO much to do in the next 30 some odd days! Thankfully I've put a major bite in my Christmas shopping. Middle Daughter and her hubby are going to come over and help set up furniture and decorate for the holiday. Unfortunately that won't be until the final hour (maybe even December 23rd....) but I'm confident they can successfully transform the place into one of those warm fuzzy hallmark settings. Of course the cabinets aren't installed yet, we still need a hot water heater, the flooring isn't in, the trim work and doors aren't installed.... YIKES!!!
Remember last year how I obsessed about the new carpet in the living room of the old house in time for the holidays? Things always work out. As long as my family is all together - that's what matters.

Weight-wise I was doing quite well. But then I kind of got in an over confident phase and a few pounds have crept back on. In the nick of time my niece decided to hold a family weight loss challenge so I'm back on track. Oldest daughter is getting married next September so we have a goal once again. The biggest thing this time though is the health issues. My blood pressure and cholesterol are not good. It's no longer a matter of vanity. I want to be here for my future grandkids. And there's that pressure knowing that if something should happen to me...the girls would be parent-less. Sure they have a wonderful step-dad that loves them. But it's not the same. Their real dad has been gone for 7 years now. They aren't ready to see both of our names on that gravestone just yet. One has been hard enough...
I know I haven't posted much. Or visited your blogs much either. Every free minute has been subbing at school or working on the house. Oh for the day it's done and we can relax! But the proverbial train really never does arrive at the station until the end does it? I need to enjoy the ride. Take in the scenery. Savor the journey - bumps and all.
Happy Thanksgiving!
ps...The pic above is from our girl's trip last month to Florida. It was awesome!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Woo Hoo - Still Here...

Wasn't it me who promised I'd never "fall off the ends of the earth" and stop posting without letting you all know.... yes. That was me. Sorry. I've just been so busy - so stressed - and so not on a schedule that the blog has taken a back seat. But I'm still here!

The new house is coming along and by golly I DO think we will be in there for Christmas! Most of the rooms are painted, the kitchen cabinets have been ordered, the lighting has all been purchased and we have even hung the blinds in our bedroom. It's going to be a mad rush to get the flooring in, order counter tops and install the appliances (not to mention hang the doors, install the trim and the ten million other little things that will make this house our home) but we're making progress and I do see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel!

This past week I got my official diploma in the mail. I now hold a Masters Degree. No job to show for it...but at least now when I fill out those silly surveys that ask about your education I can check the next box down. (big deal..)

Tomorrow I leave for Florida with my 2 sisters and sister-in-law to visit my niece in Pensacola and celebrate my sister's 50th birthday. We decided we needed a "girl's" trip and since we haven't done a get away like this since 2003 - it was time. I managed to lose 9 pounds and seem to be holding at that. It's a small dent. But enough to keep me motivated. We're bringing our sneakers so we can walk every morning while we're there. I can't wait! We had a non-existent summer here this year (it actually didn't arrive until until mid August and then ended abruptly) so I'm looking forward to a spell of warm weather. We'll be gone till Sunday and I plan to leave all my stress at home and just enjoy life while I'm there!

I also promise to try to write more. And visit you all more. And post some pics too!

Oh - and about the min-reunion last month. It was a blast! The old boyfriend was there and as I sat between him and my best friend since second grade (that lives too far away!) it felt like we were back in high school! There were 19 of us and as I looked around the circle as we sat around the campfire - I swear I didn't even notice the wrinkles or graying temples or extra chins that each of us sported in one way or another. It was just the same bunch of friends from so many years ago and it felt so good! The pic is of me and two wonderful friends!

Have a happy week!

Friday, September 18, 2009

I have been busy. I think about writing here but get side-tracked daily!

There were family reunions, trips to the lake and funerals. After we said good bye to my dear aunt June, a close friend at the lake committed suicide. Seems he was prescribed the drug Lyrica for nerve pain in his legs and he was one of the unlucky people that succumbed to the "suicide side effect." After 2 weeks on it he began to have crying spells. After 4 weeks he leaned over a shot gun and wasn't found until the next day.

Suicide hurts so much. There's so much guilt. Why didn't we see it. What could we have done...

In between the roller coaster of emotions and over-scheduled days, I managed to get a lot of painting done in the new house. We WILL be in there for Christmas this year. We WILL! I have threatened dear hubby on this :-)

I've also gotten control of the pie hole and have managed to lose 8 pounds. It's a start. I got a kick in the rear end from my Dr. at my physical last month. Seems my blood pressure is not as low as he's like it (I've never had a problem with this before) but I've read enough from Dr. Oz about how this is the ONE number you don't want to mess around with. With the history of heart disease in my family I'm not taking any chances.

So I've reduced my salt intake... I never was an over-salter, but now that I'm reading labels I'm finding that it's hidden everywhere. Especially in so-called "diet" foods! Yesterday I was about to have a cup of instant soup. Only 45 calories. But when I looked at the label it had aver 2000 grams of sodium. Yikes! I opted for some tuna instead.

I've also been filling up on lots of fresh fruit and veggies. And avoiding the dreaded Golden Arches (except for a Southwest Salad now and then). Now I need to step up on the exercise. Hopefully those numbers will be down when I see him again next month.

Tomorrow night I'm hosting an outdoor party at the new house for about 25 former classmates from my high school days. A mini-reunion of sorts. An old flame will be there. (an old flame that actually asked me to marry him way back when.) Last time I saw him he reminded me of how I remember his dad. I wonder if I'll remind him of my mom. Last time he saw her she was about 45 years old. I'm now 52. That's kind of scary!

I'll take some pics of the house this weekend and post them next week. Cactus keeps asking me to do this so I guess I should! (that's weird - I just tried to create a link to her blog and I can't...hmmm.)

Anyhoo friends - I'm still here. I'll try to be more consistent. Things seem to be slowing down. Hope you're all well and happy :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation...(or why I haven't been blogging!")

This summer is flying by and I have nothing to really show for it. Except a few extra pounds. You'd think when you're so busy you often don't even have time to pee in the morning that you'd not have time to eat. Not me. I'm at my all time high and I want to scream!

It's been a very busy few months but not so busy that I didn't pack on an extra 5 pounds. Doesn't sound like much - but when the 5 pounds is going in the wrong direction it's discouraging. I'm not going to say I don't know why. Because I do. I'm mindlessly snacking.

Hello...my name is Lora and I'm a snackaholic. There. I said it.


Anyway, I'm determined to turn this around. My sisters and I are going to Florida in October to celebrate a 50th birthday for one of them and I refuse to go weighing what I do. I've been so lax lately. Eating whatever I please...not exercising....it's gotta' stop!

Enough on the fat soapbox. Here's my essay on "How I spent my summer vacation" by Lora.

I've managed to squeeze another trip to lake in. I tried to get the order of protection against Mr. Imanass but because no charges were filed in the last altercation it couldn't be done. *sigh* But he did lay low this past weekend and didn't bother me at all.

I camped with my kids in the Adirondack mountains 2 weeks ago and we survived. No bears - just rain. But hasn't it been doing that all summer? Gheesh!

I'm still volleying back and forth with my advisers on my thesis. I want it done already! And I'm still searching for a full time job. Though I desperately want to teach art - I'm willing to do just about anything now to have a steady paycheck and some kind of health insurance benefits. I hate the home health aide job. Can't stand living away from home 2 days every week! It throws off my entire rhythm.

The new house is coming along slowly. Very slowly. Hubby has been so busy with his seasonal job that there hasn't been much time to do anything else. We finally have a front lawn. The rain washed away the seed three times!! Most of the drywall is primed. Other than that - it's still un-livable.

We have a massive garden this summer (I don't know what my husband was thinking - like we don't have enough to do right now) but at least we'll be eating lots of fresh veggies from here on in. And the berry bushes have been bountiful with all the rain. I have 12 quarts of blackberries in the freezer and will have that many blueberries after today's picking. The garlic and onions are picked and hung in bunches to store in the fruit cellar for winter. We're still waiting on the tomatoes but the snap peas are doing great and so is the corn! The beans on the other hand are being ravaged by Japanese beetles. Any suggestions on how to handle those pesky things without resorting to pesticides? We're also waiting on the beets, carrots, swiss chard and a bunch of other stuff I don't recognize, but we did pick our first cucumbers yesteray and a big zucchini.

And lastly we laid my dear Aunt June to rest 2 weeks ago. She was my mom's sister and I adored her. Last Christmas she was diagnosed with fronto-tempera lobe dementia. It doesn't effect the mind though - just the body. With in a few months she could barely talk and by May she was in a wheel chair. It happened so fast and it was sad to watch. After the ceremony by the graveside my siblings and I walked across the street to "visit" with our parents and my late hubby. They are all buried together in a mausoleum. We decided that we are the official "grown ups" now. Whether we want to be or not. We took some roses from the spray on Aunt June's casket and wedged them into the crevices around the around the face stone by mom and dad and Pat. No one cried. Just a few arms around the shoulders....

So that's my summer so far.

I'm sorry I've been so AWOL lately. It seems my "to-do" list is always a mile long and blogging gets put on the back burner. This weekend we're hosting our annual family picnic at the new place - the yard is hospitable - just not the house. And we have an outdoor kitchen and bathroom so it's do-able. Of course it will rain....this has been the summer of rain here in upstate New York. But we'll manage.

Always do!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back to Reality....

Oh my...I've been way for a while! Tweaking the thesis, working on the new house and then away for 10 days at the lake. Oh complete blissfulness!

We were finally there long enough to settle into somewhat of a routine. Morning coffee on the dock...leisurely strolls around the lake after dinner....campfires in the evening with Benny Goodman crooning endlessly from the boom box (yeah, we're rustic there - no fancy stereo system, a TV that only plays videos, no A/C or laundry - but we do have an array of cellphones when we're all there that we actually have created a shelf for now!)
All of my daughters were there - the hubbies were gone to work during the week so we had some extra nice bonding time. My sister was across the lake (a short sprint across on the boat) with her 2 daughters and my youngest sister drove in for a night, so we definitely had an excess of estrogen at times. All good!
I received a complimentary bottle of green tea supplements from a fellow blogger (see side link under "Diet and Weightloss" ) the day I left for the lake so I decided to give them a shot and see what happens. I've read good stuff about green tea so I'll let you know!
The only flaw in the whole vacation was Mr. Imanass. (He's my jerky neighbor - the deranged one that is always harassing me.) Last night as I was leaving to go home with my 4 year old grandson (everyone else had gone - it was just the 2 of us) I walked to the top of the stairs and there he was in all his looniness - drunker than skunk with a pitchfork in his hand. Reminded me of that Grant Wood Portrait - Gothic America. Anyhoo - as I'm backing out the idiot whacks my car with the pitchfork! I jumped out (shaking like a leaf) and used some of the words I try not to say very much on him. Then I went back to my cottage and called the police. He hightailed it inside his cottage and turned all the lights out. We're on a small lake and word travels fast so it wasn't long before a few neighbors showed up. When the cops finally came (it was almost an hour...) note to self - if I'm ever in a real crisis - don't call the Bath Police! we had a small crowd and Mr. Imanass was nowhere in sight.

Well it seems that because there wasn't any damage to my car they couldn't charge him with criminal mischief. And because he never raised the pitchfork towards me (just my car) he couldn't be charged with attempted assault. My car was assaulted - what the heck??! But that's how it is down there. We actually have him on video tape throwing my lawn ornaments into the lake but he was never charged. There's lame D.A. down there that doesn't like to deal with "lake stuff". But the officer last night was nice enough and said he go down and try to scare some sense into the guy. In the meantime he told me to get an order of protection so the creep would maybe finally leave me alone.
Who knows what his issue is. He's not very popular on the lake (remember small lake - big mouths...) I think when first hubby died he kind of like to think of himself of my "guardian". He was always friendly before that (still creepy and perverted - but nice enough). Then he started referring to me and my 3 daughters as his little "Harem." Enter hubby number 2 and all hell breaks loose. The "harem" was busted up and Mr. Imanass started getting jerky about property lines and other petty issues. Anything to start a fight. Ah but I'll leave it at that or I could go on forever!

Yet even he could not wreck the peaceful bliss I experienced the past 10 days with my family at our little cottage, nestled in the hemlocks, perched on the edge of a small lake where the bass are big and gentle summer breeze rustles the curtains as the sun sets and sparkle time starts - casting glinting diamonds of light across the ceiling. How I wish I lived there all the time! Even in spite of Mr. Imanass.
Hope you all had a delightful 4th of July - picnicking with family and friends, watching the fireworks, puttering in the garden....
I'll be catching up on blogs this week. No computer at the lake so I've been out of the loop.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Dr. Phil Called.....

I really am still here. Just up to my elbows and other nether parts in primer and plaster dust. We SO want to be in the new place before summer is over. Hubby is up to his own body parts in grease working 12 hour days at his mechanic job (and since said machines are of the lawn care nature) this is the B-U-S-Y season!

My diet (or lack thereof) is in the hole. I'll be wrapping a big towel around my rear end anytime I get the nerve up to take a dip in the lake. I've been so sore and achey lately that exercise seems daunting. When the weather changes (especially the humidity) these old joints remind me that I'm not a spring chicken anymore. Not that I'm ready to join the old hen party yet - but somewhere in between.

A few weeks ago one of the Producers from the Dr. Phil Show called (in response to a letter I'd written) and asked if I would be interested in partaking in a weight loss segment. Hello?! Like - YES! So I sent in the obligatory full length pics and answered all the questions they had. And then was told that it (meaning the segment) was on the table for now and maybe they would be contacting me in the future. *sigh* (I'm not holding my breath). But too be able to say one was on Oprah AND Dr. Phil! Wouldn't that make a fine addendum to my resume! Oh well. My biggest "alas" was because I thought just maybe the accountability factor would spur me into thinness.

Guess I'm back to doing it on my own.

My sisters and I are going to Florida in October for a few days so I have that in front of me. Perhaps it will be incentive enough.

I'm still job hunting fiercely and coming up short. Last night I went to a cocktail gala that celebrated accomplishments in the PR field. My middle daughter was receiving what's called the "Rising Star in Journalism" award so hubby and I went as her guests. The place was filled with youngsters! As in - almost every business person there was younger than 30. There were a few oldsters (maybe 10?) but everyone else was looked squeaky clean - barely out of college! It's a young persons world out there right now. Explains why someone my age is having a hard time breaking into the professional scene.... I actually have been omitting my Masters Degree on my resume as of late as I apply outside of my chosen field so as not to appear "over qualified". It doesn't make sense.

Right now I have to pack a lunch (healthy of course...) for hubby and I before I head over to the new place to prime some more walls. The downstairs is done. Only 3 more bedrooms. a bathroom, stairway, hall and walk in closet to do. ARGHH! (It must count for some sort of exercise though, right?)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coming Home After a Long Weekend!

Oh My. Where have I been? Just so busy with the new house (the drywall is done and we've been priming which is a tedious job as the walls are still white after all that painting!) I'm still away 2 night s a week at the aide job and then there's the cottage! Been there the past two weekends and what a needed respite!

Last weekend we opened it for the season. Dusted the cobwebs -opened all the windows to let out the musty smell (7 months will do that) and checked for signs of mice, Nada! I socked the fridge and cupboards with staples and we got all the outdoor furniture out. The weather was great and it wasn't so hard to go home knowing we'd return the following weekend.

We got home last night and it was so-o hard to leave! My 2 older daughters were there for the holiday weekend along with one hubby and one boyfriend (who confided in me that he would like to ask my daughter to marry him!) Youngest daughter and her hubby couldn't make it - they had to attend an anniversary party in Long Island. We missed them!

I don't realize how much I miss walking around the lake until I get there each year. I never tire of it. The old dirt road hugs the lake and grants us a view of the water almost the entire round except the little jaunt that takes us through a well worn trail in the woods loops through the old abandoned Camp Fire Kids Camp.

Little grandson went swimming with my son-in-aw and they swore the water was warm - yet both were shivering when they got out and scrambled for their towels! My daughter got w hooked on the Twilight Books and brought the second one down for me to read so we spent many hours on the dock with our noses in the books.

I love the lake so much! Time stands still and I swear I can almost hear the laughter of past generations echo across the lake at night. The stars spill across the sky and campfires dot the shoreline. Nothing is sweeter...

I definitely have to get on the stick and watch my eating though. While my shorts weren't tight - they certainly weren't loose. I need to get my walking regime going full throttle and maybe even try the running gig again this summer. Ah summer! It's officially here and it feels so good to hear myself say that.

Hope you all had a glorious Memorial Day Weekend!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Farewell Sweet Betsy....

Yesterday afternoon my late hubby's sister and her husband arrived here from Colorado. They came to town for a class reunion. When the plane touched down my sister-in-law turned on her cell phone to see a voice mail alert. The new message had been sent many hours ago. It was from her son-in-law. Their daughter Betsy, had died in her sleep.

Betsy was only 35 years old. She had been fighting breast cancer since she was 24 when a Doctor mis-diagnosed a lump in her breast. Told her it was only a cyst. She believed him until a year later there were more lumps and it was too late.
Betsy refused to accept this prognosis and decided to live her life. She continued on with school and became a Physician's assistant. Although her fiancee at the time of the diagnosis called off the engagement (he couldn't deal with the cancer and his dad was part of the oncology group that misdiagnosed her in the first place...but we won't even go there....) she went on to meet a wonderful guy named Jeff. Four years ago they flew to Hawaii with his family and hers and were married on the beach on New Years Eve.
Betsy continued to swim (she was an avid swimmer) and starred in a Nike commercial doing just that! She was featured on a television show a while ago about cancer survivors and Haley Berry read her story. She was so positive and so smiley and we all believed she would beat this. She never asked "Why me?" She just lived her life and wouldn't even consider the alternative. But last night the alternative came. And her poor parents had to learn the news as the de-boarded a plane in Rochester New York. Thousands of miles away.
Besty's wish was to donate her body to cancer research. She hated the disease. I hate it too. It took both of my grandmothers. It took my mom. It took two of my uncles and it took my late husband. The next time you have the opportunity to donate to the American Cancer Society...please do so. For Betsy. And all the other wonderful people that have been taken from us too soon.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


The rough draft of the thesis has been submitted. I'll find it in a few days how much I have to revise. I'm praying not much - but having never been through this before I haven't a clue what to expect. I definitely feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. At least for now.

Youngest daughter arrived in town from Massachusetts with her hubby last night and we all got together here and colored eggs. Then we sat around the table and ate Easter cookies as we sipped coffee and enjoyed the impromptu prelude to tomorrow's festivities.

The in-laws are coming over after church for brunch and hubby's mom will be armed with her traditional 1,000 pounds of cream puffs. Okay - maybe not 1,000 pounds - but it sure seems like it when I'm looking at them the whole next week and fighting the urge to devour them all in one sitting.

After that we'll head over to my cousin's and visit with family that we don't get to see as often as we should. These same cousins that I've shared every holiday with since - well - ever! And even though we're all older now....with laughlines etched on our faces and silver peppering our temples....when we're together on holidays such as this - we're all kids again! Reliving the memories of chocolate bunnies and rainbow eggs....jellybeans and fancy clothes that we're warned to keep clean -at least until we get to Grandma's house! I can't wait!

Bridgette (my cousin's little girl that so many of you have been praying for) will be there and we have much to celebrate! The chemo is doing it's job and in spite of the fact that she was diagnosed stage 4 - the Doctors are very optimistic for a recovery!!

Right now I'm in the throes of heavy duty house cleaning and just took a break while the kitchen floor dries. During the thesis "event" the poor house was sorely neglected. Hubby and I have only been married 5 years. The in-laws still think I'm a neat freak. Can't tarnish the image. Ha!

Right now my heart is a tad heavy as today is the anniversary of my mom's death. But tomorrow I shall rejoice because I know that Christ's resurrection assures me that I will see her (and my dad - and my first hubby) again someday on the other side of eternity!!!

Happy Easter to you all! May the Lord shine His countenance upon you tomorrow and always!

(and Honi - may your Passover celebration be blessed as well!)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Looking Back.....

I'm up to my ears in "thesis work" - almost done - turning in the rough draft Wednesday (yippee - yeah!) So I'm whimping out and posting a re-run. Actually - it's not a re-run any of you guys have seen...it's something I wrote for my final project in school 7 years ago. I was 45 years old at the time in a class of all 20 something year-olds. We had to create a work of art that reflected us personally in some way and write an essay to be read while the piece was "unveiled."

Mine was an old door frame with 12 window panes on it. I created a box 5 inches deep and laid the frame over the top. Where each pane was - I created a box. Wish I had a picture. The box got dismantled several years ago because the contents was too precious to leave it laying around in the garage.

Anyhoo - here's my essay. I figured it might give you a little more glimpse of who I am than what you normally see here.

This project has been difficult for me to do. Not because of technical or creative concerns - but because of where I happen to be in my life right now. Most of you, though your projects reflected an essence of looking back - have also had a strong emphasis on where and who you are now. You are all at a point in your lives where looking ahead is far more enjoyable than looking back. There is an eagerness and anticipation that makes life exciting for you all and I have enjoyed being a part of that - even if only as an observer.

My life is more than half over. I am at the 'wonderful' stage where that proverbial mid-life crisis has reared its ugly head - my hormones are in full swing - and my nest is about to become emptier as my middle daughter leaves for college this fall. Tomorrow I will graduate and it will be hard to switch gears. I've always been a stay-at-home mom and it will be hard to give up that role even though my daughters are almost adults themselves.

I have avoided looking back on my life lately because it has been a painful reminder of how fleeting and fragile time can be. Though the memories have been joyful and sweet - they have served to intensify that fact that nothing we have in this life we live is a 'given.'

My piece is a shadow box collection of memories. Each frame holds a memory from a particular era in my life. I have purposely not put them in chronological order because memories don't occur that way. I have transposed the words to some of my favorite songs onto each pane of glass because I believe music can be such a powerful tool in rekindling thoughts and feelings that we have tucked away in the corners of our mind. Throughout the piece I have strewn daisy petals as a reminder of the powerful influence my mother was and continues to be in my life. Though she has been gone from this world for 5 years now - she is still with me everyday. Daisies were her favorite flower.

The Scripture cards scattered throughout were found in my great grandmother's bible and are a reminder not only of my own faith - but of the prayers of others that have surrounded me though out my life and have brought me to where I am today. The bible I found them in was given to me by my dad, a week before he died and so they also represent him. He went to be with my mother 5 years ago today - a mere 3 weeks after she left us.

I have spent many hours sifting through old photographs, tenderly handling the memories and letting them surround me with their presence. It has not been easy. Looking back has served to remind me that I am also moving forward. This is something I am not eager to do. I wish with all of my heart that time could stand still. My husband is dying with cancer and my future is so uncertain. Though I know that the Lord will bring me through this trial as he has so many others - I am still afraid. I wish that I could step into this box I have made and linger for as long as it takes to give me the strength to move ahead.

I am hoping that my project will do more than just fulfill the requirement for this course. I want it to be a reminder to you all - of the beauty and frailty of life. Don't be in such a rush to move forward. live today - and love today - and make the most of today. Tomorrow will come soon enough.

Three months after I wote that - My dear hubby went to be with the Lord. (the pic is me & him the day after I wrote my essay.) Since that time two daughters have married (double wedding - same day!) and I have a grandson. I have remarried and am getting ready to move into a new house. I am also going to be graduating yet again this month when I receive my master's Degree. I can't believe how much has happened in such a short span of time.

My mantra is and always has been (to any of you who have been with me for a long time) to take time to stop and smell the flowers.

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Animal Are You?

The M&Ms are gone. I'm wearing them on my hips. This was one big bag, people!

So I decided that I definitely needed to do some de-stressing. The new job was killing me. And I wasn't feeling all that happy about the direction it was taking. I was hired as an Executive Assistant. Part time - stuff I could do at home. Then somehow my title changed to District Sales Manager and I was expected to cold call colleges and see if I might help them in the area of international recruitment. Before the end of the second week my title was changed yet again to Marketing Director of something or other. And we all know with each new title comes new work. So I made a clean break and I feel like a large weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I'm not ready for the corporate world. Just let me be an art teacher.....

The only real stress now is the thesis. And that's not M&M worthy. Unless someone brings a big bag into my house again. That would be a bad idea....for both of us.
So I went for my first walk of the season the other day. It was wonderful! The air was warm...the birds were singing and I swear I even spotted a few buds on some trees. My daffodils have poked their little heads up out of the earth and spring is officially here in Upstate New York! And aren't I aching everywhere! Wasn't it just 7 months ago that I was actually running?? And now I've gotten so out of shape over the winter that a measly 2 mile walk has left me sore all over!

It seems lately that everything hurts! Am I that out of shape? Or am I that old? Truthfully, when I bend down to get something up off the floor these days I check around to make sure there isn't something else I can do while I'm down there. Getting back up (or out of bed for that matter) has become quite the chore.

I remember several years ago I was taking a dance class... (don't laugh! It wasn't my choice - it was a required class for my graduate studies - Interdisciplinary Arts for Children). Anyway - the instructor assigns each of us an animal and we had to do an interpretive dance (in front of the whole class) that was inspired by our animal. Okay now picture this. At the time I am about 48 years old. I have this cast on my arm because I fell on the first day of school where I was teaching that year. (I know...call me Grace) All the rest of the class is in their early twenties. They are assigned butterflies and bees and swans and eagles.... I am assigned my animal and it is - a manatee. A MANATEE! All I kept repeating to myself as I danced my 'manatee dance' was "and I'm paying HOW MUCH for this class???"

Okay. There is a point here, really. Fact is - lately I feel like I AM a manatee! Big. Fat. Lolling around with my rolls hanging out for all the world to see. Except that as I recall when I visited Sea World last - they feed them lettuce. Not Peanut M&Ms. *sigh* And as mortified as I was back in that graduate class - I'm feeling just as awful right now. Because summer is just around the corner and swimsuit season is about ready to rear its ugly head and I swear that I am not going to spend the whole season doing a re-enactment of my manatee interpretation!!!

(It was bad enough the first time.)

SO I guess that means I suck it up and get out here and walk through the pain. And pass on the M&Ms. And make really wise food choices.
This summer....I want to be a dolphin.

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Drug of Choice....

Yes...I'm still here. Balancing the 3 jobs, writing the paper, counting the days till spring and eating like crap.

It seems that when I'm under stress I throw caution to the wind and eat myself silly. It's the crunch factor. Some people bite their nails. Some people crack their knuckles. Some people grind their jaws.

I don't grind my jaws - but I do move them up and down with something inevitably stuck between them. When I'm stressed....don't give me cake. Don't give me ice cream. I need something crunchy that I can chew on to make me feel better. Like peanut m&ms.

Dang those peanut m&ms! Last weekend my sisters, sister in law, daughters and nieces came over for a Girl's night. Everyone brought a snack. ARGHH! And didn't someone bring a big -we're talking GINORMOUS (that's a word now!) bag of peanut m&ms. And didn't they NOT take it back home with them. And haven't they been calling my name all week long and aren't I almost through the bag?


I feel like a manatee.

I've slipped into the what does it matter syndrome. You know, where you're tempted to eat something and you weigh the cost and decide what does it matter? Not the whole weight loss thing in general, but the part that figures what does a few hundred calories matter anyway.

But darn if they don't! I started thinking yesterday about all the things I shove into my mouth that I think don't really matter and then looked at my butt and decided that YES.. They DO matter.

Sometimes I think we stick our heads in the sand and convince ourselves that cutting out a bit here and there isn't going to make a dent. It's do or die. As in deprive ourselves of something big and we've hit pay dirt. Pass up on the handful of m&ms and it's no big deal. As in might as well eat them because I certainly won't lose any more even if I don't...

But then I looked at my butt again and realized that it IS a big deal. (In my case...a very big deal.)

I could sit here now and pontificate about how I've had this great revelation and that from henceforth things will be different. But I'm pretty sure I've done that before. This is no great epiphany here for me.

I just figured it would be better to pound away at the keyboard and not the bag of m&ms in the next room calling my name.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thank You My Wonderful Blog Buddies!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! All of your warm thoughts and promises to pray were so touching (some even from people I've never "met" yet) meant more to me than you could ever know!

Bridgette is hanging in there. She's a strong girl and has a positive attitude. Even though her prognosis is very serious, we're hoping for the best. Thankfully the chemo has not made her as sick as they thought it would (yet) so we're counting that as a blessing.

I had the dreaded colonoscopy Monday. Wasn't able to eat for 35 hours and actually learned that I can live (gasp) without food and not go berserk. The prep part was not so much fun. The stuff I had to drink was the worst and by the end of the 2 hours (I had to drink 8 oz every 15 minutes) I was gagging it down.

I got to the Doctor's at 2:30 and she was "behind" schedule (pardon the pun) so I sat there apprehensively until 4:45 waiting for my turn. When I was finally admitted they started an IV and assured me that I would be in la-la land though out the whole procedure. They said most people fall asleep but for those that don't - there is an amnesiac effect from the drug that causes them not to remember a thing. Yeah right.

I was awake the whole time and pretty much remember everything. I watched my colon on a TV screen and though I wasn't all nervous...there were two times that I yelled out "Ouch". I think they looked at my height (I'm only 5'4") and not my weight when they determined the amount of drug they'd give me.

I'm not trying to scare anyone from having the procedure. I wouldn't be afraid to do it again...but I sure wish I'd slept through out it like they said I would! Thankfully everything was fine and I don't need another one for a long time! (I was really worried because my younger sister had a malignant polyp removed 2 years ago and my even younger sister had several pre-cancerous ones removed also.) I didn't have any. Guess I got the good colon. (Both sisters are fine by the way...)

But if you're at that age where you should have colonoscopy - do it. Colon cancer is a silent killer and so very preventable! (I'd rather have a colonoscopy than go to the dentist if that makes you feel better....and I haven't had a cavity in 24 years...)

Youngest daughter is coming in from Massachusetts Thursday and we're having a "girls night" here Friday with my sisters, daughters and nieces. I tried to find something for hubby to do that night but couldn't so he'll be here too. Should be interesting.

Right now I need to get the house cleaned (and pray hubby keeps it that way while I'm gone from today till Friday at my overnight job.)

Thanks again - to ALL of you for your kind comments regarding Bridget. You guys are the best!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Prayers, please.....

Sometimes we can become so involved with the busyness of "living" that we fail to recognize the frailty of life. Until it smacks us in the face and we are left blindsided.

Last Saturday was one of those times.

My cousin brought her 10 year old daughter to the Dr. because of a nagging cough. After she'd made the appointment her daughter mentioned that "there was this lump on her neck..." By the end of that very same day, Bridgette was hospitalized in the pediatric ICU with a tentative diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Stage IV.

My cousin looked at me with tears in her eyes and asked "How can a person wake up one morning and everything is business as usual - and by the time the day is done, their whole world has been rocked to the core?"

I didn't have an answer. Hugs were the best I could do.

Further testing has shown that there are tumors in her lung, pancreas and ovaries. She starts chemo today. I've been down this road. Too many times. It sucks. (sorry - that's the only word that seems to fit.) Four times I've stood at the bedside of someone I loved and watched them pass from this world to the next. Three of those times were preceded by the roller coaster ride of cancer.

All I could think of when I got the news was.... Strap your self in....it's time for another ride.

There is room for guarded optimism here. One must always cling to hope. But I'm scared. For Bridgette who is much too young to have to fight a battle that even the strongest of adults fear. I'm scared for her parents, Tracey and Mike. This is their firstborn. Their little girl. They are in anguish.

But I cleave the knowledge that we serve a loving God who will see them through this trial. Whatever the outcome, He will be there. There will be a lot of times along this journey where there will be only one set of footprints. But it will be a long journey. And their lives will never, ever be the same again.

Please pray for Bridgette...and Tracey...and Mike.

If you would like to follow her story - go to the Caring Bridge website.

And hug somebody you love today.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Bit of a Whiner Today....

As of Friday I am now juggling a third job. I was hired as an Executive Assistant to the president of a new company that places foreign students in American colleges. It's only 10 hours a week so far but may involve some travel. I'm also doing my health aide job which is another 48 hours and then substitute teaching when they call. Why? Bills, baby. Bills. And get this....our house and cottage are both paid for. Our cars are paid for. I have no credit card debt. It's the darn health insurance, property taxes and college tuition that have me floundering! And then those bills you can't avoid. The ones that heat your house, light it up, allow you to converse on the phone, and blog.....
I just can't imagine how people are managing that do have outside debt. Especially those that are getting laid off from their jobs....

This sure isn't what I pictured for my "golden years".

As a stay at home mom for 21 years, being back in the work force has been a stretch for me as it is. For so long I was used to tending my nest - planning good meals for my family....keeping my house neat and organized....being on top of all the little things like sending birthday cards out on time, shopping for my groceries when the stores were empty (ever try to shop on a weekend?)
Now everything seems to be done in fast forward with no time for fussing.

And then there's that darn thesis that will be my nemesis for the next 10 weeks. Will there be any breathing room? I sense of period of immense stress.

But I have determined that this too shall pass and by May I'll be breathing much easier. Maybe even living in our new house.

So I have to be careful not to mindlessly chew away my stress. Hubby came home Friday with so many fresh veggies that we could barely fit them all in the fridge. And we have to eat them all while they're still fresh. This will be a good thing.

This afternoon I have to go for a "colonoscopy consultation". Why in the world do I need a consultation? I know what they're gonna' do. Just do it for goodness sakes.
I'm not looking forward to it but I'm 51 and it's time. Middle daughter just wrote an article for the hospital she works for (she's the editor and PR person there.) It was all about colon cancer being a silent killer....and the importance of screening. She sent it to me and made me promise to go. So I am.

Anybody out here been there, done that? It's not at the top of my list of favorite things I want to do....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Oldest daughter came over Monday. She was sick and I guess no matter how old they get, there's something about being at mom's house that makes things a little better. So she's laying on the couch sound asleep and I'm typing - fixated on the computer, putting the final touches on my thesis proposal.

After a little while I hear rummaging around in the kitchen and assume that her appetite must be back. This goes on for sometime when I hear her voice (from the couch) asking "Is that you, Mom?"

"Noooo...you mean it isn't you, Rachel?"


I jump up and run to the kitchen just in time to see a squirrel nose diving at my sliding glass doors - trying to get - OUT! Of course we both do the obligatory girl scream and hop on the couch. (As if that will afford us any protection lest the little rodent decides to attack us.) I grab my cellphone and call hubby.

"There's a SQUIRREL in the HOUSE!"
"Let him out."

Gheesh. Men are so daft sometimes. Like I'm going to walk over to this critter and just open the door and say "Here...let me get that for you." He runs into the living room and disappears. I grab a large stick and wait. Not that I plan on whacking the thing. Just for protection. You know...in case he attacks. I saw the movie "Christmas Vacation"...

Hubby tells me to phone him back when the squirrel is outside. So daughter and I sneak over to the door and slide it open about 8 inches. Mind you it's 27 degrees outside. Then we sit on the couch so that we can see into the kitchen and wait. With the stick. Just in case.

After about a half an hour he runs toward the door. He pauses, twitches his tail a bit and then runs out. We slam the door behind him.

Never a dull moment over here! The only way I can figure that he got in was the evening before when I was lighting a fire in the wood stove and the draft backed up and started letting smoke into the house. I opened the door for about 10 minutes to clear the smoke out. Yes, we have a screen door on the slider, but it was on the other side and I figured it's winter....there's no bugs or anything. Wasn't thinking squirrels!

That means the night before when all the kids were here for dinner....so was the squirrel. And all night while we were sleeping unaware upstairs - he was in here. Ewww!

Anyway - that was my drama for the week.

Thirty-one days till Spring!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day....

Last night I walked into the house after being gone on my two-night "away" job. Sometimes hubby keeps the house nice and neat while I'm gone. More often than not, it's in a bit of disarray. I was braced for the worst.

Since I knew we would be babysitting dear little grandson this evening (Valentine's Day) I knew hubby and I would not be going out. I was a little sad. All day as I was caring for my patient in her home, her TV had been droning in the background. And every talk show was capitalizing on Valentine's Day. My dear hubby is not *sigh* a hopeless romantic. While he can be sweet and tender and caring - he's not the best at recognizing the few special days each year that I would like just a tad of some sort of romantic overture (like on our anniversary...or Valentine's day.)

So as I was saying - I was prepared to walk into a less than tidy house, drop my suitcase and start fixing dinner. instead I opened the door to find a trail of rose petals leading through the kitchen. I followed the trail and it led to a beautiful vase filled with nine roses. The trail kept going. So I followed it up the stairs and into our bedroom. There on the bed was another smaller vase with the remaining three roses.

I was floored! This man who comes home from work every day with overalls on, a dirty Carhart jacket and greasy hands (I'm married to a mechanic) had bought me a dozen roses and took the time to make it fun for me to find than and had made the bed while I was gone! (Did I mention the house was clean too?) What a guy!

So I called him and said I thought maybe our house had been broken into...because there were flower petals all over the place. We both laughed and he said he'd be home soon, and that we'd be going out to dinner.

I'm reveling in all of this. Because it doesn't happen that often!

If only men knew how little it takes to please a woman. At least in the romance department.

I'm still smiling.....

So is he.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another "AHA" Moment in the Teacher's Lounge...

So I'm sitting there eating my lunch in the teacher's lounge today...mindlessly leafing through a magazine. I had my turkey sandwich, skim milk and apple before me feeling quite smug. Then I decided on a whim that the cream of broccoli soup they were serving sure looked good - so I popped into the cafeteria line and got a small cup. Somehow I justified this in my mind. Don't ask me how - but at the time it seemed to make sense.

Back to the magazine. Just as I'm finishing the last bit of my lunch and daintily brushing the crumbs off my lap, I turn the page and see an article about making good lunch choices. And smack dab in the middle of the page is a picture of two lunches. Both are 340 calories. One is a half of a turkey sandwich, a bowl of tomato soup, some grapes and an Oreo cookie. The other is a bowl of cream of broccoli soup. Nothing else.

I closed the magazine, let out a big sigh and cursed the cream of broccoli soup under my breath. If I'd only THINK about what I eat before I eat it and learn to make better choices. Eating to stay healthy - and lose weight - doesn't have to mean deprivation. On the contrary - wise choices leave us a whole lot more to eat.

I found this great article on Spark People. It contrasts several different 300 calorie meals. What an eye opener it was for me! I know it will be for many of you too. For me...I like to eat. Always have. Always will. The thought of nibbling on cottage cheese and celery for the rest of my life is an impossible notion. But after looking at these 300 calorie meals - that I'd been "giving up" for my crap food - I have a different attitude.

Check it out. You'll be amazed!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Icy Fun.....

I haven't been here lately....It's not that I have writer's block. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact. I've been pounding away on my crummy thesis. The last hoop I have to jump through before I'm awarded that elusive Master's Degree I've been working on like...forever!

Actually it's not even the thesis itself that has kept me so busy. It's writing the darn proposal (which is about 10 pages in and of itself.) I'm writing about art advocacy. You know...why the arts are important and should not be the first thing layed on the proverbial chopping block when budget cuts are made. Timely subject...in this rough economic landscape we're living in right now. It was the only thing I could think of that I'm even subtly passionate about.

Once the proposal is submitted and I get the okay to proceed - I have to pound out about another 80-100 pages by the end of April. I SO do not want to do this. But if I want to graduate and get permanent certification in New York state....I must.

Okay. Enough of that gibberish.

Last night I put my bathing suit on.

Winter white


In a bathing suit

T'was oh so tight.

It wasn't a pretty picture. I went to my sister-in-law's for a pj party. There were 5 of us gals. We kicked the men out and then sat around the kitchen table and ate and laughed and ate some more. Then we went out side in the 13 degree temperature and hung out in the hot tub. The water was steamy and delicious but the air was frigid! My hair had mini icicles forming on the wet ends.

At one point two of us decided to be daring and hopped out into the snow. We were going to make snow angels. But it was so darn cold and we sunk in the snow up to our knees. We made a quick U-turn right back into the hot tub. Funny thing - at the time I wasn't even thinking about what I looked like. Blubbery thighs and all against the snowy back drop.

I thought about it this morning though. And decided that I don't want to get too comfortable in this body. You see...I gained a lot of weight fairly quickly when I met hubby 7 years ago. Like about 30 pounds. And up until recently, I've always viewed it as temporary. As in - not who I really am. But like I said - I'm starting to feel like I belong in this chubby little fat-suit. And that's not such a good thing. Because then I get complacent. And complacency does me no good.

I guess it's time to get serious.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Few Random Thoughts....

I've been thinking lately. About all the wonderful people I've "met" through blogging. We've got kind of a network going here!

There are blogs I visit faithfully and others that I'll visit because they left a comment on mine. Often they become regular reads too. Some I visit because I see their blog name in someone's side bar and it piques my curiosity. Or I'll read a snippet of their most recent post in that same sidebar and I have to read more!

For whatever reason - I feel like I know a lot of you. And I've started to value you as friends. Does that seem strange? In this techno-savvy cyber age we live in...we can form a relationship with someone we've never met face to face - and probably never will. You guys have given me great advice when I've asked (and even when I haven't!) You've cheered me in my successes and encouraged me in my failures. Some of you have even prayed for me. Thank you.

I've tried to return the favor whenever I can.

Which brings me to my most recent thoughts. I'll back up first though. Most of you "know" Pattie. If not- go visit her blog! Pattie went AWOL on us for about a month. Which is fine. Life happens and we get sidetracked sometimes. But a lot of us were worried. Why did she stop so abruptly? Did something happen? As in something bad?

I tend to be a worrier so my thoughts were heading in scary directions. And I got to thinking....what if something really bad happened to one of us. No one in blogland would ever know! I suppose for some the anonymity of blogging is a welcome thing. It allows us to open up our lives in candid ways that are for the most part - quite cathartic. But I recall reading once in an article about blogging (when the phenomenon was still quite new) the author said that there is a great unrest in blogdom when someone abandons a blog. I didn't understand at the time...but I do now.

I'm NOT getting down on Pattie for not posting for a month! Honest! It's just that I started worrying and I wasn't prepared for that! I didn't think I could actually worry about someone I'd never met.

So here's what I'm gonna do. If I ever decide to hang up my keyboard and retire from blogland, I'll let you know! I write the obligatory "good bye" post. In the meantime, I may be MIA sometimes for a week or two as I pound away at this thesis of mine - but I promise I'll not go away for good with out a goodbye. Which I have no intention of doing anytime soon!

And if I ever just disappear with no warning - send me an e-mail. I promise to reply...and if I don't....well....then I guess you can worry.

Well - there's my philosophical 2 cents on a cold Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

On my Fridge...

I've been down for the count, folks. Sick, sick, sick! And I had my flu shot this fall. Go figure. Only good thing was I didn't feel like eating much. One can always find the perks, right?

I've attached my inspirational collage. It's not very big...just large enough to hang on the side of my fridge and make me think twice before opening it up and foraging for something I don't need. I really have to undo the holiday damage in a big way. Hubby came home the other day from the market with lots of fruit and veggies and whole grain items. What a breath of fresh air after the holiday appetizer run that lasts in our family the whole 12 days of Christmas and then some. My body has been craving stuff that's good for me lately. I think it's finally staging a revolt and telling me ~ no more crap!

I saw the movie "Grand Torino" yesterday. Clint Eastwood (a very old Clint Eastwood) was in it and it was pretty good. I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it at first - seemed kind of like it was going to be a "guy-flick" but it turned out to be very enjoyable. The language is raw though. That's the only thing that bothered me. But no nudity or sex. Can you imagine? Hollywood turned out a movie without those two elements. And it's getting rave reviews. Hopefully they'll take note.
Have a happy weekend. Sty well. Eat well.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cold in - Cold out....

Youngest daughter and hubby were back in town this weekend (from Massachusetts). He had a hockey game here in town so we spent another whirlwind weekend of activity. That probably explains why I'm sick today. Nasty cold and wicked cough. I'm just not getting the rest I need. The holidays have taken a toll on me. I know...the holidays seem so long ago....but my tree is still up! Don't worry. It's coming down today. It just went up so late that I needed to enjoy it a wee bit more.

So Saturday my daughters and I had a film fest and watched a bunch of old videos. I couldn't believe how thin I was! And not all that long ago. What happened?

It certainly motivated me to step things up a bit. I made my little inspirational collage and it's hanging on the fridge. (Just can't find the camera to take a pic of it - but I will!) Hopefully it will keep me focused as we begin this long stretch of winter here where pretty much nothing is happening. For years we always went to Myrtle Beach and camped just to get a does of sunshine and warmth in the winter, but after my first hubby passed away I sold the Motor Home and it hasn't happened since. I miss those trips. A lot.

At least the sun is shining today (in spite of the frigid reading on the thermometer.) Maybe I'll go sit in front of the big window in the living room and read a book while I nurse this cold. it's not the same as a sandy beach...but we do what we can, right?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Biggest Loser Made Me Cry!

Did you see The Biggest loser last night? I cried three separate times during the show! Everyone is so concerned for one another in that group. Not like last season when there was so much bitterness and nitpicking. Maybe it's because these people are so severely overweight. They understand one another and feel each other's pain. I hope it lasts through out the season. I still think it stinks (even though I can understand the reasoning somewhat) that nine people were sent home the first week. If I was one of them I'd feel pretty lousy - and cheated. I guess we'll have to see how things pan out and if the producers knew what they were doing.

I'll tell you though - when it came down to Jerry and Daniel at the end I was a mess! Jerry was so noble though....saying he was at peace with the decision. He knew what it would be. Daniel so needs to be there. I'll be rooting for him all season!

On the home front here - it's zero degrees as I type this. Brrr! My youngest daughter is driving in tomorrow alone from Massachusetts and I've warned her to dress warm and stow a blanket in the car. Just in case. Her hubby's team is paying hockey in our town this weekend (he'll be coming here on the team bus) and we'll all be going to the game.

I've been doing good with my eating....staying on track all day. It's in the evenings that my resolve seems to crumble. Exercise isn't happening - and there's no excuse for that. I sure wish I could afford a personal trainer that would kick me in the butt each day and motivate me. It's that old procrastination thing that gets me every time.

Though I have done better with that in some areas. Just not the exercise one.

Well...I'm going to go get a fire going in the old woodstove. It's pretty cold in here right now and the blanket around my legs and coffee cup to warm my hands isn't cutting it anymore.

Happy hump day to all!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Staying Warm...Keeping motivated.....

Wow - back to work after a two week hiatus and already I'm feeling behind again. My house was so neat and organized....life moved at a somewhat slower pace - except those few days of non-stop Christmas (which I thoroughly enjoyed!) Then I go back to my care taking job which takes me away for 2 nights and bingo! The messy fairy comes back to roost (I think "her" name is hubby) and I'm not feeling so much like June Cleaver anymore.

It's been really cold here! Last night it was 2 degrees when we went to bed. Hubby kept snuggling up to me saying "Come on...have a hot flash!" Where are they when you need them? I'm not going to complain though - I heard that Alaska has had a two week run with minus 60 degrees! Can you imagine???? Sixty degrees below zero??? How do their cars even run when it's that cold? BRRRRRRRRRR!

Anyway - last night we went to my sister's for a going away party for her son-in-law. He leaves today for Officer Training School. He's joining the Navy as a Flight Navigator. His folks are from Nova Scotia and are pacifists. Totally against anything Military. Which has made it hard for him to do this without their blessing. But we gave him lots of hugs and encouragement last night and told him how proud we were. Not that it isn't scary - sending a loved one off to join the Military when we're at war.... But we're proud of him and plan to keep him surrounded with lots of prayers.

On the diet front.....I'm needing fiercely here to take back some control! Last night my sister-in-law commented that I looked like I lost weight. I shared with her the merits of dressing in all black....that actually I'd gained a few pounds over the holidays. Then we both lamented for 45 minutes over the pretzel bowl about how badly we want to make a change this year. As we shoveled pretzels into our mouths of course.

Watching the premier of Biggest Loser last week gave me a little mojo. I'm anxious to see how the people they sent home - do on their own. In last week's episode....at the very first weigh in - they sent almost half of the people home with the challenge that if their partners do well - they can return. At first I was ticked. How could they send them home the very first week! But then the rationale set it and it made sense. The producers want to show people that this CAN be done at home - on your own. If course I already know that....reading so many success stories of some of you fellow bloggers. Still - it will be interesting to watch.

One of the little motivators I'm working on right now (that I did many years ago and it help me shed a lot of unwanted pounds) is creating a visual reminder of my goals. (being an art teacher...I work and learn best visually.) So I'm cutting out pictures that inspire me and putting them all together in a collage. Have you ever leafed through a magazine and come across a picture of a model in a really cute outfit and something goes off in your mind that says "I want to wear that! And have it fit me like that!" And then you vow to lose some weight! But then the picture fades from your memory and you soon become complacent and forget all about it. Well - I'm putting together some really motivating pictures (realistic here - no starving waifs) and plan on keeping the collage in prominent place so I can always be reminded of my goals. I'll throw in some healthy food choice pictures and maybe even a few of me that I'd rather burn (just for incentive).

I'll post a pic of it when it's completed. I think having a visual motivator might be what I need to keep me focused.

Stay warm except you Sharron (I know it's already hot in Australia!) You stay cool!


Monday, January 5, 2009

Reflecting on the Season Past....

It's Monday...the first "real" work day after the two-week holiday hiatus and I'm feeling bummed. I know I have to take the tree and the decorations down this week *sigh* and I always hate doing that. Admittedly, it will be much easier this year since I simplified in anticipation of the move. I only lugged half the stuff out (but that's still a lot in Lora's world.) But it's not the elbow grease involved that has me bothered. I just hate un-decorating. The house always seems so magical during the holidays. The lights, the candles, the bright red and greens....and of course - the tree!

I just love turning the lights down in the evening and basking in the glow of the tree and the wood stove. I play Christmas music straight through till New Year's Eve (when hubby puts his foot down and say no more!) I light all the candles and just sit there. Alone with my thoughts and memories.

This was absolutely our last Christmas in this house. As excited as I am to be in the new place - there are so many memories of Christmas past that I want to hold onto and savor and embed in my mind so that I never forget. Time has a way of fading certain memories. I don't like that.

When we moved into this house the girls were all still in grade school. They were 8, 10 and 12. First hubby was still alive and we were in our 30's. I had to hide presents. Now I just display them under the tree as they are wrapped. On Christmas morning they came bounding down the stairs instead of through the front door. The video camera is no longer perched on a tri-pod capturing every nuance.

Things change. Time marches on. Christmas was still magical here. Just different. And different doesn't always deserve the bad rap it gets. But I still hate taking the decorations down. I hate saying goodbye to the season that brings so much joy and laughter. I hate turning the page to another long dreary winter. I tend to spend January through April counting the days till spring. That seems pretty dumb. Life still happens in those months, right?

I'm going to try to purposefully enjoy winter this year. I think of the client I have (the one I take care of every Wed-Fri) that has cancer. This was her last Christmas. This is her last winter. None of us can read the future - but to those given a glimpse (such as my client) life seems all the more fragile and worth enjoying, right?

I want to squeeze the life out of every day! Enjoy it all! Even the snow!

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Magical Winter Night....

Last night I had one of those "in the moment" kind of experiences. The kind where all of a sudden you get lost in your surroundings and become an observer of your life and the things around you. Almost as if you're viewing things from someone else's eyes.

It was evening and hubby decided to let our 4 year grandson take a few spins around the back yard on the mini snowmobile we'd purchased for him earlier this summer when the sun was hot and snowmobiles were cheap! After bundling the little guy up so that he'd survive a week in the tundra (instead on just an hour or two outside) I decided on a whim to join them.

Anyone who knows me - knows that I hate the snow and cold. With a passion. But I decided that I just might enjoy watching the delight on his little face more than the warmth of the wood stove inside so I bundled myself up too.

It was magical out there. No breeze, just the stillness of the night air. The moon fell across the mantle of snow in a way that made it look like tiny diamonds had been scattered across the surface. I was mesmerized. I'd seen this before...but not in such a very long time.

I started looking around and that's when it happened. Suddenly the 20 foot arborvitaes that border the side yard became a picture from a Christmas card. The fluffy white snow clung in bunches to the limbs and reminded me of the trees in the little Christmas Village we set up each year.

Looking toward the house I could see the brightly lit kitchen window and the candles flickering within. (I light many candles throughout the Christmas season and well into the new year.) I spied a corner of the fridge with the little construction paper Christmas tree hanging lopsided on it that little grandson made for us and it seemed surreal. I could smell the aroma burnt pine spiraling up from the chimney. Was this my house? My life?

If I was someone else looking in - I think I'd want this life. I think I'd be envious! It was one of those moments where all of a sudden you see what you really have and appreciate it.

I want to have many more of those moments in the year to come! I think I can. All I have to do is focus on what I already have...be grateful...stop taking things for granted. Too often our eyes become blind to the beauty of our own lives. We see the same things day in and day out and then we end up not seeing them at all.

This new year I want to try to pause and see my life. Experience it. Revel in it!

I wish that for all of you too!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome 2009!

Well, it's here. 2009. We ushered it in last night, very low key. Oldest daughter was at a party. Youngest is back in Massachusetts. Middle daughter went to a movie with her hubby and managed to make it here at 11:57. We poured 4 quick glasses of champagne in the tall fancy glasses that used to be my mom's and gathered round the TV to watch the ball drop. I can't stand champagne. I never make it through the glass.

A few minutes after midnight, sis and her crew filed in. We toasted again and after fielding phone calls from my other 2 siblings and the daughter in Massachusetts, we gathered in the living room for cheesecake and talk. It was nice. Quiet - but nice.

At my brother's house there were hats and streamers and blowing horns. A lot different than here. Part of me wished I was there. The other part is thankful this morning because I actually woke up feeling alert and refreshed. I'm sure they were up till the sun came up!

I'm scanning the horizons of this new year for possibilities. I think this will be a big year of change for me. I'm hoping that in spite of the tough economy, I land a solid job. I'm hoping it's teaching....but trusting God that whatever He provides will be what's best for me.

We will move into the new house this year. (How long have I been saying that?) But things are finally getting done over there and come spring - I will no longer live here - my home for the past 15 years.

I will turn 52 mid year. Holy cow!

I could sit here all morning, sipping my hazelnut coffee and muse about the possibilities. But I said I wasn't going to procrastinate this year! While hubbie's at work (yes, the man works incessantly....he's self-employed and this is snow season and people want their snow blowers - New Year's Day or not) I'm going to start working on my graduate thesis.

I don't mind the research part so much, or the writing part. But I can't think of a topic and that has me going in circles! I have to come up with some sort of a hypothesis regarding education and the arts, do some research and prove my point. Any suggestions out there?

Seriously - I'm stumped! I'll take any and all suggestions. Please?

Happy New Year blog buddies! May 2009 bring you all the best life has to offer!