Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Fragments

Another week has gone by, and I have a few things about which I can write.

To Move or Not: I’ve been writing for years now that we need to move, but still we’re here. Judy asked if we were moving in yesterday’s comments, and I had to think. Why are we still here? I have no answers. Of course, I’d love to stay in this house and die here. I’ve grown so accustomed to it, and I truly do love it here. But that’s impractical, and I have to accept it. If we were to stay, many things have to be considered. First: the house is too large for just two people. It’s great to have space for people to sleep over, but that doesn’t happen enough. Second: with my disability, we’d need to make the house more accessible. Right now, I can still walk, but the stairs are difficult. The outside entrances all have steps, too. I’d need a ramp and a stair glide to make my way around. Third: this house is expensive. The cost of heating and cooling a three-story, hundred-year-old home is high. Then there’s the constant upkeep which is costly when you think of all that needs doing on a regular basis. NJ real estate taxes are high, too. Fourth, as we age, it gets more difficult to maintain a house like this. So, the cons far outweigh the pros of staying. So, I think I may have to give in and get moving on this. I just don’t want to, though.

The Name Game: The new puppy was named “Blizzard.” My idea of “Nutmeg” was vetoed, and the reason is that he isn’t tan/brown enough. My second choice was “Jake.” The puppy’s birth name was Jacob, and I just took the shortened form. If I had known they were going for a name connected to his origin (Siberian: cold, snow,) I’d have gone for “Yuri,” after Dr. Zhivago. But my ideas are the never the ones chosen. My vote for the first grand was “Evan” and “Declan” for the second. I wasn’t even close!  Maybe I’ll just start an imaginary family and use all the names I like. Anyway, welcome to Blizzard.

Weather:  We are definitely into spring, now. The temperatures have been just perfect – 60s and 70s, and there’s always a gentle breeze. Today we have showers, but the weekend looks ideal. I don’t get outside too much, but I love looking out the windows and seeing everything sprouting. The early flowers are now leaving, and, in their place, we have the leaves coming on the trees, and the blossoms that come with them. The short-lived Magnolias are out, and I’ve seen several robins in the yard. I check my window each day to see if my dogwoods are out, but so far, they’re still in bud form. I just want to savor this weather because much too soon, it will be hot.

Sunshine on my Shoulder: That was a great song by John Denver, but not something I want literally. My front windows here in the den face southwest, and when the sun sets, it comes through the third window. If I’m on the computer then, I get hit with that intense heat on my shoulders and neck. It doesn’t last long, but it’s enough to make the MS wake up and want to pitch a hissy fit. My husband is getting another shade for that window. I can then leave all three shades up in the morning and draw them in the afternoon as the sun sinks. The other wall of windows is fine, so I won’t get too claustrophobic.

Books/TV:  I finished Lisa Scottoline’s Betrayed, and it was quite good. Now, I’m reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’m enjoying it, and the reading is going quickly. I have five more books from the library sitting on my shelf, so I’m good to go for a few weeks. TV series are winding down, and I look forward to some summer shows. I’ve been watching The Bible (NBC) on Sunday nights, and I like what they’ve done to the stories.

Well, that’s it for another week. More drivel will follow in our next episode.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday -- Artisans

Last night after Wheel of Fortune, they showed some pictures of Grand Central Station in New York City. That place is gorgeous – I can still remember the first I saw it and was in awe. After the little excerpt, it got me thinking about all the workers who constructed those places. Back then, in 1913, there were construction workers, but there were also many artisans, people (men) who treated their trade as artists. I’m referring to those who put up those intricate ceilings and plastered designs onto walls. They worked with their craft as an artist or sculptor does, and the results are majestic.

If you’ve ever visited or seen pictures of the grand architecture of the late 1890s and early 1900s, you’ve undoubtedly seen examples of such craftsmanship. While we may not condone the elaborate lifestyles of those affluent families, we must recognize the details of the workers who decorated the buildings. Whenever I visit Newport, RI, I love to see those summer homes of the rich and famous. I look at the minute intricacies of each room. The soaring ceilings often hold paintings or molding that is no longer in existence. Sometimes, the artists were brought to the US from other countries where their work was known.  These rooms took months to complete, and the workers took pride in their masterpieces.

I’ve only had the occasion to meet similar workers twice. When we first moved into this house many moons ago, we wanted to change the locks. We knew the house was old, but the borough records only go back to 1920. Anything built before then was just recorded as 1920. This house has many designs that were popular at the turn of the last century. When the locksmith came, he was a very old gentleman, but he knew his craft. Our front door is very unique, and the lock was quite old. As the man worked, he told me he remembered this house being built when he was a young boy. It was the only house on the unpaved street, and the builder designed it for himself. He said that the original structure expanded and artistic details were added. He even showed me how old the lock was, and he praised the workmanship. He carefully worked the new lock into the door, while preserving the old-fashioned detail.

When we put the addition on the house, we strived to have it blend in with the old. Interiorly, that meant keeping the same woodwork. The general contractor searched for someone who still made these large moldings around doorways, and finally found a husband and son team. These two studied all the moldings and decided they must create their own from scratch. They measured the large piece of wood and then found existing moldings to replicate the original. They were able to copy it exactly. I so enjoyed watching them work as they took such pride in each step.

I’m sure that such artisans still exist, but nowadays most new construction doesn’t include such fine details. My daughter found a company that still makes old-fashioned woodwork, and they were hired to do columns and wainscoting in their home. But the real artists are probably long gone.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I Wonder Where They Are

With the advent of Facebook and other social media, we often find old friends and people who were once in our lives and vanished. Recently, an old friend from elementary school contacted me via FB, and it brought back a flood of memories. She now lives in the Midwest and continued her career as a beautiful artist. It got me thinking – I wonder what happened to so many people I once knew.

There are childhood friends who existed before I was in school – they lived in our first neighborhood. Patty, Susan, Mary Ann, Cindy – they were all a part of my early life. I just don’t know if they married or if they kept their last names. Then there are all my grade school friends. I can still see each of their faces, but I have no idea where they are now. We did so much together, and we truly did grow up with each other. Even when we went to several different high schools, we still got together for a long time. Eight years together meant certain bonds were formed. Our class had a reunion several years ago, and about half the former students attended. We vowed to do it again, but it never happened. I wonder where they all are now.

High school was where I made the most lasting friendships, and my classmates still get together. There were only twenty-five girls in my graduation class, and two have passed away. We lost all contact with one of them, and a few choose not to stay in touch. But we can usually rally about fifteen or so when we meet. Several of them are on FB, so we can stay in touch that way. Others have said they don’t like online social networking, but they do email. So, with the latter, there’s still ways of communicating.

Then there are the neighbors who have moved away and people with whom I worked. Every day I see a cross-stitch sampler made for me by a former neighbor. We were young adults together and had great times visiting, shopping, and going out together. She remarried and I don’t know her new name. The people I knew from the newspapers where I worked have vanished, but at least I know their names. Then teachers I knew, administrators who were in my life, and former students sometimes pop up online, and I can visit them that way.

The people in my present world are the ones I see regularly – phone calls, texts, email, and FB keep us connected. With them, I’m updated all the time about events in their lives. I love being in touch with them, but I wonder about all those others. Usually, people find ME; rarely do I go searching. But my wondering may change that. Would I want to rekindle past relationships? Would I want to meet in person? Would they be added to my present-day circle? Probably not. However, I would like to know just where they are and how they’re doing. Maybe it’s my turn to start seeking them out. I’ll give it a try!



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Trying, Again!

After yesterday’s weird occurrence, I’m trying to write another post. I’ll keep saving it so I won’t lose it again!

Anyway, I started by saying that we have a new fur baby in the family. The background goes like this. When my daughter first met her husband, he had a little boy Husky named Doc. She, in turn, had a gigantic, part-Pyrenees pup named Bailey. Poor Bailey had had some abuse issues in his early life, and the shelter took him in before he was even weaned. Naturally, that’s the one my daughter wanted. He was afraid of everything, and he’d hide and shiver whenever he was frightened. Doc was very kind to him, but the poor pup was a basket case.


Then the human baby arrived, and the two dogs were introduced to him. Doc took to the addition well, and he took on the role of protector. No one could get to that baby without going through Doc. It was very sweet to watch. On the other hand, Bailey wanted nothing to do with the baby, and he even seemed frightened. When the baby was four months old, Bailey snapped at the baby. My daughter reprimanded him, but he did it again a week later. She quarantined the dog to the basement while she contacted the rescue shelter from whom she adopted him. They suggested a relocation with a family who had no or grown children. The tearful exchange was made, and his new family sends pictures of him regularly.

The new baby and Doc.

In the meantime, Doc was getting older and developing arthritis along with other health issues. He didn’t enjoy playing anymore and preferred to separate himself. The family decided a new puppy might help, and little mixed-breed Cinnamon joined the clan in ’13. Doc only took a slight interest in the new pup, and he continued to go downhill. He passed over the Rainbow Bridge last September when he was thirteen years old. It was a sad parting, but little Cinnamon did his best to get the family out of their grief.


Again, wanting to be a two-dog family, my daughter began looking into rescues and shelters for the right match. They got a call last Sunday, that a little four-month-old Husky had been brought in, and they needed an adoption quickly. The little family took a trip up to Matawan, NJ, along with little Cinnamon to check out compatibility. It seemed to be a perfect match for all of them, and off they went with the new little boy.

They stopped here on the way home, and, of course, I immediately fell in love with the little puff ball. He has different coloring than Doc, which is good, as there won’t be constant comparisons. This one has more tan in his coat than the usual black and gray. However, he has the bluest eyes which are so captivating. He hops around, wagging his tail, and is very pleasant. As of Sunday, he had no name. I voted for Nutmeg, but I rarely win those competitions.

I hope this new pup and Cinnamon get along well and that the little guys will get great joy from their new “little brother!” I know I will!



Monday, April 13, 2015


I'm having some computer issues. I just typed an entire post and lost it. I'll try to get things adjusted, and I'll post tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Fragments

Since this past week has been full of illness, I haven’t had much else happening. I’ll see what corners need to be swept.

The Times: …they are a ‘changing! Of course, I never believe that I might be getting old, but I’m often smacked in the face with it. Things as I knew them keep changing, and I wonder how I didn’t see it. Example: the way I took care of babies and the modern way. It’s a wonder my kids survived because I did so many wrong things. I always laid my babies on their tummy. They slept better and I never feared they would suffocate. Nowadays, I’d be hauled off since babies are always put on their backs now. I fed my babies water in between feedings, and now I hear that water should never be fed to them. I had my tots potty trained during their twos. Now, it’s a “let them decide” attitude. I certainly would have failed any “Mommy Test!”
Another example: brides request that shower gifts not be wrapped. I used to love seeing the stacks of prettily wrapped presents. Now, after seeing that on a shower invitation, I asked my daughter. She said it’s that way now – environmentally better and speedier for the opening. I guess I really am an old geezer. Also, what’s with this “Dream Fund?” on registries?
Speaking of which, do you like this Go Fund Me website that people are using to ‘beg’ for money from total strangers?

The Devil’s Website: That’s what I call Pinterest – it lures you in and holds you captive. I’ve been staying away for a while. I get wrapped up in it and leave other things go. Since I’ve been a bit busy these last few weeks, I didn’t give in to the temptation. But now I know I’m going to go back. What is it that keeps me sitting there slack-jawed for so long, pinning everything I see? I’m not sure, but I know I love it, and I do get some great recipes and decorating ideas. Is there a pill for such an addiction?

Fashion: I like the fact that tunics are coming back into vogue. In the summer, I always wear tee shirts or polo shirts, and I’m getting tired of the same old thing. I saw some really cute tunics – on sale, of course – at a website I use for the kids (Zulilly.) Now, I know it sounds all hippie and flower child, but I really do like the silky ones that I’ve seen. Know what else is returning? Palazzo pants! I used to have so many of them! I guess I should have saved them. I also like the short swinging shift-like dresses. I guess that’s why the ‘Retro Look” is so popular.

Spring Cleaning: I’m so relieved that we did this little by little over the winter. With my husband’s bad back, it never would have happened. I often think back to my pre-MS days, when I would have cleaned every single inch of space in a room – floors, walls, ceilings, and everything in between. Now? As long as it isn’t dirty, I’m fine. I still want a few days where I can keep the windows open and hang some things outside where everything will take on that sunshiny aroma.

Pie: For Easter, I made a simple pie that was out of this world. First, whip a pint of heavy cream with two tablespoons of sugar. Put it into another bowl and set aside. Then, take a can of sweetened condensed milk and add three tablespoons of lemon juice and a teaspoon of lemon zest. Whip it for several minutes. Fold in the whipped cream very gently but thoroughly. Then pour it into a ready-made graham cracker pie shell. I froze mine for an hour then put it in the refrigerator. It was scrumptious, and everyone ate it up. You could probably substitute other fruits, but I think of lemons as spring-like.

That’s all I have for this session.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday

This week, I don’t hear the chatter of kids as they walk to and from school. It’s Spring Break around here. I know many places have their breaks at different times, but here it has always been the week after Easter. I remember from my own school days that Easter break was fun, but not as much as Christmas break.

We always had new outfits – remember my mom was a born designer! Most years we had bonnets or hats, too. We’d wear that outfit to church every Sunday until summer arrived. I loved those dresses and suits because they were made with love, and I had a say in color and style. The three of us were always lined up on the front lawn while my dad took photos. Those pictures still exist, but they’re packed away and stored at my daughter’s house. I have a good enough memory, though, that I can still see them in my mind’s eye.

One that I remember was a suit (my sister had a matching one) that was gorgeous. It had a navy pleated skirt, a white blouse, and a small hound's tooth checked jacket in navy and gray. There was no collar, but the white blouse collar sat outside. I wore little white anklets and white patent Mary Jane shoes. My aunt found a white straw French navy hat, and I loved it with my suit. I’m not sure why that one stands out, but I can still see myself wearing it.

Today, parents still dress up their little kids, but the older ones want no part of it. My daughter always gets adorable little outfits for the boys, and for the most part, they don’t fuss. This year the older one had navy slacks, a blue golf shirt, and a seersucker jacket. The younger one wore a blue and green plaid shirt with a pale tan linen blazer. They both had little straw hats, and while they were still, they looked fantastic.

The week after Easter holds different memories for me. Sometimes we were at the shore if it was warm enough. My mother would be opening windows to air out the winter mustiness. We’d take walks on the beach, longing for the warm summer days. If we didn’t go to the shore, we’d be sneaking into our baskets for jelly beans and chocolate. Playing outdoors with friends took up most of the week. As a teacher, I knew that I had to squeeze in a lot between the break and the end of the year – spring was the worst time to hold kids’ attentions.

This year, we had beautiful spring weather for a short time, but yesterday and today, it’s been cold and damp. Not much for kids to do in that kind of weather! My two little guys were supposed to be doing a lot this week, but they both got sick and need to stay home. So I must hold my memories of better times at Easter because this year, it’s been a bit of a bummer!


BTW: The potato bar was successful, but I forgot that my one son is in marathon training and off carbs. I did get him to take some home to eat on Sunday, when he eats regularly. The strawberries came out cute (forgot photos, again.)