Monday, December 31, 2007

Saying goodbye to 2007

Ralph and the kids just returned from dropping off a rented wheelchair for my mother, who fell Saturday and has a fractured pelvis. Ouch. She is in a lot of pain.
She was happy to get it, they report. I had to stay home and work, or else I would have gone too. I'm not a bad daughter, really! I'll be visiting her tomorrow.

Call us boring, but Homer and I are staying close to home for New Year's Eve. He is making chili but basically there will be no partying around here!
I'm sure happy to say farewell to this past year. The sooner the better.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

There's always something

Ahh, a sunny but chilly Sunday morning here in Connecticut. It's quiet, unlike yesterday, which turned out to be anything but.

My mother planned to come over at 2 p.m. for birthday cake ~ at 2:45 we were still waiting so Kid Two called her. No answer. At 3, she called from the emergency room. It was a different emergency room at a different hospital than six weeks ago, but it was still an emergency room.

To make a long story short, my mother fell and fractured her pelvis. She is in a lot of pain and they sent her home with painkillers.
She also had to have stitches on her face and right index finger. It's the first time in her life she has had stitches, she said.
She has someone with her at home. I don't want to call yet to see how she feels just in case she is still asleep.

She was fortunate that a kind man was there when she fell who turned out to be a guardian angel for her. He drove her to the hospital, after the walk-in clinic people couldn't help.
That's another story for another day.
I'll write about him some other time.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

We all have one ~ a birthday, that is

That's moi.
A child of the '50s, now in my 50s.

* * * * *
Our darling daughter was born on this date.
We share the day.
Today she is 19. She was, and still is, quite the birthday gift.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

~ Spirit of Christmas continues ~

HO, HO, HO !

Hope everyone got what they wanted for Christmas. If not, there's still time. This week between Christmas and New Year's Day is a * magical * one.
It always has been for me, anyway.

The message here is to relax and enjoy, and yule be filled with the Spirit of the Season.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A true Christmas doll

Adam, you were born three months early.
Now I daresay you are chunky and burly.
We love you to pieces, and will never be fickle.
We think of you as a Christmas miracle.

I'm doing my best here with the "poetry," folks.

This is what Adam gave me and his other great-aunts on Christmas Eve.
The tree is made out of his hand-prints traced on construction paper.
It came in a magnetic frame for displaying on the fridge.
It's his first art project, and I think he did a great job.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dashing through the holiday preparations

I just "flung" another string of lights on our Christmas tree. Flinging is about the best way to describe it. Earlier Ralph wrote about not being able to wrap presents very well, now I'm complaining about not being able to string very well.
We do have our difficulties with this holiday stuff. But we continue to give it our best shot. And don't try to stop us.

The sugar cookies I made last week, sans cookie cutter, were great. I may never get the hang of those cookie cutters. But I refuse to let that spoil my spirit.

Ralph is going to be under strict orders to not post a photo of our new artificial tree until I give him the green light.
Green light, get it? Ho, ho, ho!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another side of life

This afternoon I attended the annual Christmas food and gift distribution at a nearby agency, something I have done for many years now. The executive director said she has seen a sharp increase in the number of needy families this year.
I can't express my opinion in stories I write for the paper, but here I can say this organization does a wonderful job, and appears to get by on a shoestring budget.
I have no reason to doubt what workers there tell me. All of the stories are sad ones, and I won't go into them. Many of the problems surrounding the more than 150 families served this holiday season seem to stem from job loss and major health issues.

There was one client, who I didn't interview, who sticks out in my mind. That's because I was told this man, who appeared to be about 40, lives in his pickup truck with his two teen-aged sons. It is quite cold around here at night. There's snow on the ground. How do they manage to sleep? Apparently they don't want to live in a homeless shelter.

Now if hearing something like that doesn't put things in perspective, I don't know what does.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum

As I mentioned yesterday I bought this little scene to make our home more festive. It makes me smile.
Here is one of many clips from the classic show.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Odat shared this with fellow * flakes * and I shall do the same

Quoting from Odat, the award is from Lois of Lowdown from Lois.
Odat quoted Lois:
"Each of us are like those snowflakes. We bring to the blogosphere different gifts, viewpoints, and experiences. Sooo......I'm dedicating this award to YOU, my fellow bloggers. Take this badge and wear it well. All I ask is that you pass it on and refer to this entry as a short award description. When you award this badge to someone, please take a moment to mention what makes him/her unique. Spread the love...There is no one more precious or unique as you!"
~ ~ ~
I am spreading the love, as Lois says, and hoping that all of you unique bloggers reading this take the award and post it on your blogs too.

Need to vent today

I'm not a mean person. I know that, Ralph knows that, my family and friends know that...
But I'm going to sound mean if you keep reading this.
After opening the mail this morning, I feel like I'm about to explode. Simply put: I HATE THOSE DANG CHRISTMAS LETTERS PEOPLE SEND ME IN DECEMBER.
Whew! I said it.
I feel better.
This one today was a doozy. It included tales of death and broken bones yet it still was written in a perky, we have a perfect "Norman Rockwell/Currier & Ives life" tone.

I beg to differ. You really don't. No one does. Nope.
As Ralph just said to me, there is something wrong with the people who sent this. Really wrong. He said they're "empty. " I agree. It's sad.
And the two-page, single-spaced letter, filled with every positive and perky adjective in the book, well that's just insanity.

Meanwhile, on a happier note, I just bought myself yet another present (remember the 10-pack of markers last week?)
Today I found Charlie Brown and his pathetic Christmas tree and single red ornament, made of the finest plastic, at 25 percent off!! I just had to have it.

Setting that up later will soothe my upset. Something to look forward to...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Flashback to last month

As I've done several times before, last night I judged an essay contest for sixth graders in a neighboring town. Last year my bureau chief did the judging, so I had a "year off." I don't mind doing it, and it's interesting to see where the kids are in their thinking at that age. The folks from the other newspapers didn't show this year, so I had the essays all to myself.

The problem for me this year was the subject of the essay is fire prevention/preparation, having working smoke detectors and a family escape plan. As you regular visitors know, I just lived through my mother being dramatically rescued from her bedroom window as a fire raged in her living room. She spent five days in the hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. Fortunately she has moved into a nice house for the next six months, paid for by insurance.
Her own house needs a lot of renovations and cleaning up.

So as I sat there reading essays that talked about scenarios like "imagine you are sound asleep and the smoke detector goes off" and listed statistics about house fire fatalities nationwide, I had a flashback.

The essays demonstrated that the children know about the importance of having an escape plan, about not panicking, about meeting their family outside and calling 9-1-1 from a neighbor's house. And that's a good thing.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tagged by Linda with a (modified) meme

Quoting from Linda: The "Crazy 8's" meme is from Debbie Dolphin of New England Lighthouse Treasures.
Linda decided to make it the "Crazy 8's Divided by Two" meme. Sounds good to me.
So here we go: Crazy 8's Divided by Two Meme

8 ÷ 2 things I’m passionate about:

1. My family
2. Writing
3. Blogging
4. Being loyal

8 ÷ 2 things I say often:

1. I think I'll take a nap.

2. What should we have for dinner?

3. Can I use the computer for a few minutes?

4. Did you get any comments yet on that post?

8 ÷ 2 books I’ve read recently:

Sad to say, I'll skip this one. I don't feel bad because Linda did, too.

8 ÷ 2 things I want to do before I die:

  1. Read some good novels
  2. Earn more than I'm earning now
  3. Have grandchildren
  4. Watch them grow up
8 ÷ 2 songs I can listen to over and over again, and probably have:

1. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" - Judy Garland
2. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" - Judy Garland
3. "My Girl"-The Temptations

4. "In My Life" - The Beatles

8 ÷ 2 things that attract me to my friends: (I told Linda I'd steal her answers)

  1. A sense of humor
  2. Honesty
  3. Compassion
  4. The ability to accept me as I am

8 ÷ 2 things I learned in the last year:

1. How to blog
2. A house fire is devastating
3. Smoke inhalation takes a horrible toll on its victims
4. How attached I was to our late cat, Humphrey

I tag Odat, Ralph (bit of nepotism here) and Michael C.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

More on the storm ...

I finally ventured out, camera in hand, to get the newspaper.
Our snow woman, who just seems to be popping up everywhere, watched me from the window. You can see me (below)
photographing her.

* * * * *
I'm dreaming of a White Christmas, and right now it looks like we are going to have one.

Baking to forget the weather

We're having a Nor'easter this morning. Snow, sleet, sneet, snice...all kinds of stuff going on. It isn't pretty right now. I took these photos from the front door. Who wants to go out?
The wind is howling. Brrrrrrr. A perfect day for blogging. And drinking coffee and eating breakfast that Ralph has planned.
I may venture into a baking mode and attempt this cookie mix I got the other day.
I usually end up making drop cookies. For some reason the cookie-cutter thing never works out for me.
Apologies to Queen Mimi for stealing a photo idea and just showing part of my face, but of course imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
If anyone thinks I'm obsessed with these little festive trees, well, you'd be right.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Getting into the spirit around here

Aren't we festive? No wreath, no garland, no reindeer, no Santa. But at least we have three little trees stuck in the ground in the front yard. And with the snowfall from the other day, it looks like a winter wonderland at night.
It's the thought that counts, right?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Debiting 101

Today I had a day off from work so I took my mother shopping for clothes and essentials. We went to Target, or Targe, since the sign at the brand new store already lost its second T.

She used her new debit card that draws on an account opened with insurance money she received after the fire.

The money is for replacing smoke-damaged clothes, and for buying groceries and necessities. We assume that means some Christmas presents as well. Tee hee.
Apparently the house renovations will be paid for directly by the insurance company, as far as I can determine. That project is ahead of us.
She had never used a debit card before, and needed some assistance. But we got through it.

* * *
I'm not one to wish my life away, but this has not been a very good year for us and I'm ready for it to end.
I just ho-ho-hope that 2008 is better.

Mystery photos

~ So, any guesses ?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A holiday splurge

I bought something for myself the other day at Target. Hold on to your hats...I spent almost $3.00. Not three hundred dollars, three dollars.
I was feeling creative so I got a 10-pack of fine line markers.
I'm ready for some yuletide doodling. ~*~*~
I may even post the results.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Party at Ralph's!

Just kidding. This isn't our house. But Ralph does like beer. ;-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dec. 7, 1941 remembered

I joined a small group of veterans and other residents who gathered last Friday to commemorate the 66th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
I was there covering the brief ceremony for the newspaper, as I have in the past. I'd like to think if I had a different job I would have been there anyway.
We stood in the bitter cold (the folding chairs were way too cold to sit on!) to hear a Vietnam veteran speak about remembering what happened at Pearl Harbor and about supporting our troops, even if we don't support the war in Iraq.
Several veterans I have gotten to know invited me to join them for lunch. I wasn't going to, but they insisted. It was an honor to spend a short time with these veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.
And at a lunch like that, that's when the real stories come out!

Monday, December 10, 2007

All I want for Christmas ...

is a Hello Kitty 2-slice toaster???

I don't think so. I saw one on display this morning in Target as I was hurrying over to the Christmas department to buy a specific ornament I had seen...

A Hello Kitty hair dryer and a Hello Kitty waffle maker also were on display. Next they will be selling Hello Kitty wine glasses. Or boxers imprinted with the infamous logo.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas quizzes courtesy of Odat

Have fun!
You Are a Cranberry and Popcorn Strung Tree

Christmas is all about showcasing your creative talents.
From cookies to nicely wrapped presents, your unique creations impress everyone.

I said I liked homemade cookies, but I didn't mean my homemade cookies. And I've never strung cranberries or popcorn.

What Movie Is Your Christmas Most Like?

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Very Brady Christmas

For you, it's all about sharing times with family.
Even if you all get a bit cheesy at times.

Yes, we most certainly get a bit cheesy. Especially with some wine-y.

And a riddle, courtesy of me.

What if it had been Three Wise Women
instead of Three Wise Men?
A. They would have asked directions, arrived on time,
helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable,
made a casserole, and brought practical gifts.

I got an early Christmas present ~

Mimi, Queen of Memes, presented me with this sweet award while I was "absent" from the blogosphere. Thank you, Mimi!

Quoting from Mimi, "This is what the award means as written by its creator........
There is something very special and unique about blogging friendships. In “real” life we all have to first get by the physical and superficial aspects of each other before we can get into who we are, really. In “real” life there is so much bull shit that we have to put up with, that sometimes developing true friends becomes very difficult. I feel that with blogging friendships there are no superficial aspects to it; the barriers do not exist. We open up in our writings as to who we really are. We bare ourselves and say “this is me.” For many of us this is the only way that we can truly express ourselves, our opinions, our strengths and our fears. I have also discovered a level of INTEGRITY amongst bloggers that I have not found in “real” life.
The creator of the award is Mel at Monday Morning Power.

I'll pass this on to my blog friends who have been supportive amidst trials and tribulations during this past tumultuous year. It hasn't been an easy 2007 for a lot of us, that's for sure.
Let's raise our cyber-glasses and make a toast: Here's to friendship!

~ ~ ~

Saturday, December 8, 2007

An angel among us

I met a wonderful person last Saturday ~ her warmth and kindness have inspired me to write something about her, to share a lovely experience with my blog friends.

I was exhausted from trying my best to help my mother with post-fire housing arrangements and shopping all week. I was running about a half-hour late that morning as I drove to pick up my Kid One.
She and I were headed to niece Amy's baby shower that fortunately was being held at a restaurant that was not too far from Kid One's college.

We arrived, nice and late, greeted Amy, her younger sister, Jessica, and their wonderful stepmother, Barbara. Sadly, Amy's mother, Ralph's sister, died a few years back at 46.

Barb showed us two empty seats at one of the tables. We got our brunch buffet and one of Barb's friends I had just met asked me if I wanted a coffee. I must have looked frazzled. She got me the coffee and started chatting with me. Her smile lit up the room.

She and Barb had met through a mutual friend and they hit it off immediately. I can understand why. She is a lovely person.
I needed to feel taken care of that day, and she was there. It was a wonderful feeling to know there are caring people out there, and when the person is a stranger it makes the feeling more special.
This woman was meant to be there for me to meet ~ like an angel.
Maybe someday our paths will cross again. I hope so, anyway.

Friday, December 7, 2007

What would you do?

So a bit of a moral dilemma has arisen. Well, I know what to do but I am tempted to do something evil.
For money.
I brought my mother to the grocery store this morning. When I got out of my car, what to my wondrous eyes did appear in the parking lot but a diamond ring in a 14K gold setting. A tiny, heart-shaped diamond that looks like a pre-engagement ring.

I took it home with me. It's on my pinky. I'm going to put it in my jewelry cleaner solution and bring it back. To the customer service desk. Really. Then if the young girl who lost it comes in looking for it, it will be there for her.
I'm nice, I know.

UPDATE: I just cleaned the ring. It's sparkly.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tryin' to get into the spirit...

...and it may take a few days.

"Sleigh bells ring, are you listenin'?"

I can't seem to get those lyrics out of my head this time of year.

"In the lane, snow is glistenin'..."

(I picture Odat and Spud walking in the early morning chill as the snow glistens in the moonlight.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm back, sort of

My mother moved into her temporary digs yesterday afternoon. It's a nice, older house (built in 1940) in the town's historic district. It has an updated kitchen and the heat works well - much better than ours - so she is happy.
It was a hectic day, as I combined two trips between my house and her new one, running to the grocery store and bank and writing a feature story about a 9-year old who is taking flying lessons and interviewing a couple of people on the phone.
So last night I was way too tired to re-enter the blogosphere. But I'm here for a few minutes anyway.
This morning I responded to all my friends who commented on my post from Sunday.
Thank you all for your thoughts and kind words. ~

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cry me a river ~ maybe

I may have come up with a way to turn on the water works to relieve some stress.
It came to me yesterday as I was driving to Hartford to pick up Kid One. I was tired, so I had the radio on loud to keep myself alert.
I listened to a lot of classic rock, then switched to a station playing Christmas songs. I don't mean Christmas carols, but those tunes that remind me of decades gone by. I was getting a bit emotional as I drove north.
A steady diet of "Blue Christmas," "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," and Alvin and the Chipmunks singing "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) " for the next three weeks may just help me unwind and weep a little.
It's worth a try.