Friday, December 11, 2009

Gingerbread house making day

My grandson Damien invited me to his school today to make a gingerbread house with his class. There are 11 kids in the class, and they are just adorable. The teacher set everything up so that each child had all the ingredients to create their own gingerbread house. Damien came up with an awesome building, and crowned it off with a horn of plenty filled with gumdrops and M&M's. I was really astounded at how creative seven year olds are. Damien even made a sled with a gingerbread cookieman riding it. This was such a fun day, and one I will treasure. Thank you Damien for inviting me, it was an awesome day and put me in the Christmas spirit!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hughey Waldman

My husband and I were down in Historic Gibbsboro yesterday for my grandson's christening. My son-in-laws family flew in from Romania (first plane ride ever!) to join in the happy event. We speak no Romanian, they speak no English. Well, we can say a few words, like car, and how are you, and dead and sugar. They can say a few words too, like very hot, and beautiful and good. My husband was a little nervous about interacting with my son-in-laws father, but as the day went on, I saw them in the yard, walking around, pointing at trees and talking! On the ride home, my husband told me that although they did their best to communicate in the language of gestures, facial expressions and hand waving, he really had no clue as to what the other father was trying to tell him. He said, he kept telling me, "Hughey Waldman" and my husband was trying to search his brain to figure out who this Hughey Waldman guy was since it apparently was an English name that this Romanian guy knew very well. They repeated it slowly to each other, stretched out the syllables, broke it down into sections, each repeating the mantra back and forth to each other. My husband kept asking, is he a famous person and other such clues to arrive at who this Hughey Waldman guy was. My daughter called as we were driving home, and I said, ask Sorin to ask his father what he was trying to tell Dad. He kept saying Hughey Waldman, Hughey Waldman. Sorin came back with the translation, what his father was telling my husband, in his little grasp of English was - You/Me Old Men. We laughed the entire way home.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

If you are in Jackson, wave when you drive by~

We've been spending a lot of time in the yard lately, since our air conditioner blew. But that is another story. I happened to see this guy walking around across the street with this metal thing that I can only describe as a divining rod. You know, the Y-shaped stick that people used to hunt for water in the olden days? You would walk with it in front of you and when it slightly tilted downward, you knew there was water under the ground. You could scream, Eureka! and everyone would come running with their shovels and a well would be born, or so they tell me. I guess it is something like a Ouija board for pioneers. Anyway, this guy was walking around with this thing, it was metal and sort of like a rod with two antenna's on it. So you know, I just had to walk across the street and ask him what he was doing. Seems he is from the cable company and he is looking for stray signals. He told me that normally he just sits in his truck and rides around the neighborhood, and then if he gets a signal, he can explore it with his divining rod (my term, not his!) Well, this was really interesting, and I walked back home to tell my husband when the guy crossed into our yard and proclaimed that the problem was coming from our house. He put a doorknocker thing on the door and told us to call the number immediately for a service call and then he got back in his truck to scan the neighborhood. A few days later the water meter reader came, he had to get in our house, seems they are going to be reading the meters remotely, you guessed it, from the truck! So they had to put a gadget on our meter so that they can just drive by and find out how much to bill us! Gee, I remember when we first moved here, we had some drive bys too, but they sure weren't anonymous! They actually got out of the car, and we kind of looked forward to seeing them. We had the egg man, he would come about once a week and deliver eggs if you were on his list, we had the soda man, he lived off of Addison Road before they shortened it to build 195 and he would deliver any flavor of soda you wanted, and then pick up the bottles the next week. We also had the gypsys that lived in the trailer park on the edge of town. They made some awesome patio furniture and picnic tables, and they would drive around with their pickup truck loaded, selling them right from the curb. Of course, we had the paperboy, but they did away with them in favor of adult carriers, that . . . . drive by and throw the paper from the car. Yea, the good old days, friendly faces, familiar faces, a little conversation, a laugh or too. Gonna miss that, so to the water meter reader and the cable troubleshooter, can you do me a favor, can you wave as you drive by!

Friday, June 19, 2009

What a crazy few weeks it has been

I realized today I have really neglected my blog postings. So I just jumped off this crazy carousel to bring you up to date! The last I wrote was about my daughter's baby shower in April, I didn't add that we were babysitting my son's animals while he and his partner went on a wonderful two week vacation to Portugal! It was my son's first visit there to see his partner's "homeland" and the pictures they brought back were awesome! So much white and red, concrete buildings, tile roofs, blue skies, just breathtaking. We had an early Memorial Day get together while anxiously waiting for the new baby to arrive. The night before my son's birthday, May 21st, he was mugged while jogging on the boardwalk (he is fine) but just another confirmation to me that exercise can be dangerous! On Friday, May 29th, we were sure it was the day for the baby! I rushed down to my daughters and we walked and got a caffeine loaded cappucino, timed contractions, and the following day everything stopped! Then my son called, his partner was in the hospital with a collapsed lung! Apparently this is something that can sometimes spontaneously happen, so went back home to visit the patient. Still no baby so my husband and I tackled a big job in the yard, we dug out (I mean he dug out) a seven foot tall Mimosa tree that had grown through our fence and transplanted it to the front yard. ( I dug out that hole). We just finished and decided that we would shower and collapse when daughter called, contractions were five minutes apart for three hours! I rushed down and the following morning my new little grandson, Marcus Cornel, was born! You can see his new baby pictures on my friend Denise Snyder's blog. So I spent the week with my daughter's family and am now trying to land back on earth! Check out the pictures!

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Saturday, May 9, 2009


There seems to be an awful lot of discussion about the weather. I guess it coincides with the high tech age that we are in. At work invariably the subject comes up, usually, within the discussion of the weekend, or whether or not to take the free Blue Claws baseball tickets that the firm just offered. Once the question is popped, “What’s the weather going to be like?” it starts a free for all to get instant data for future events. Of course, if you are sitting by the computer, it is easy, Accuweather or the Weather Bug are the most popular among my crowd. With weather bug, you can have a pictorial forecast right on your tool bar. You don’t even have to open the program, a quick look at your monitor, and either the sun is out, or there are clouds. If there is a cactus there, better crank up the air conditioning, that means it is going to be a hot one! I fell victim to virtual weather predicting myself while waiting for my daughter’s wedding in August of 2007. I found out that with Accuweather you can really extend the forecast out, like for up to 15 days. So of course in the two weeks before the wedding, I was checking it every day. “Please let it be sunny, please let it be sunny”, that was my daily mantra. I think I overdid. It was sunny alright, like about 99 degrees, in the shade, it was so hot most people skipped the stroll around the historical grounds that I plotted out to fill the gap between the ceremony and the reception. Another furtive week of praying preceded my daughter’s April 2009 babyshower. I even recruited for that. Most of my emails ended with Pray for Sunshine. You think I would have learned my lesson. The big day came, almost topped 90, in April. I had the oven on, cooking and sweating. The guests were cooking too, it was boiling in my kitchen. We turned on the air, but it needed freon or something, it was blowing out the vents, but warm air. I thought I heard the AC hissing “are you freaking kidding me lady, its April! ”, but my husband said it was just the fan blowing. Be careful what you pray for, with the weather, it seems that Mother Nature has a direct line to God’s ear. At work, the lady that does our calendar every day has started printing a weather forecast in the corner. It is a clip art icon, but very cute. We wait every day for the calendar to come out to see if there is a smiling sun, an umbrella, a cloud. This is a good way to know what the weather is going to be tomorrow. There is so much anticipation for that emailed calendar, that we have started saying, “who needs Bill Evans, we have Cathy.” On Cinco De Mayo she put a cute little sombrero on the calendar. It was nice, but we really needed to know if we could eat on CHEVY’s Patio, or have to say inside on May 5th. Another good indicator to know what the weather is going to be is the Weather Channel on cable. How can we live without the weather channel? Think of the unnecessary raincoats, umbrellas and snow boots you would drag out if you didn’t have the weather channel to tell you how to dress. How many mothers are shushing their kids while buttering their toast, waiting for the forecast. How about the people who want to fly a kite and they have to find out how fast the wind is gusting, or if it is gusting at all. A lot of planning revolves around the weather. And what about outdoor chores! Saturday is the usual cut the grass, trim the hedges, do the outdoor stuff at our house. If you have a tremendous amount of outdoor work to do, it is crucial to watch the weather channel with your morning cup of coffee. Now why start mowing the lawn if there is a chance of rain? Who would want to be outside mowing around the patio when a drop of rain fell? Also, you have to consider the dampness, the humidity, the barometric pressure how is that going to affect the blades of grass, whether they will get caught up in the lawn mower. I mean, mowing the lawn consumes about an hour total. Why risk getting wet, better check the weather channel first before going outside. Hey if there is a chance of rain, why even bother starting any chores, better to wait and watch the forecast to know when the perfect time is to spend an hour outside. Sometimes we finish a whole pot of coffee watching the weather channel on Saturday morning so we can find out if it is a good idea to mow the lawn or not. Now, my son just got back from Portugal and brought us the most amazing weather forecasting device. It is a Blessed Virgin Mary barometer. Our Lady is wearing a beautiful cloak, and depending on the weather, it changes color. Now, if it is sunny, it is blue, pink means rain. So any variant between those two colors gives you the forecast. I put it on my window sill, this way I can check it every morning to see what it is doing outside. So, for instance, yesterday afternoon, Our Lady’s robe was really blue, blue means sun. So that means it was sunny outside. My husband confirmed it with the Weather Channel. Mary was right, it was sunny outside. This morning, I raced to the window again, and picked Her up, pink, it is going to rain, pink means rain. Rain means I can’t do what I wanted to do, I wanted to rake, I wanted to put some seeds in, do some weeding, but that is not going to happen today. So what does that mean for us, what of all our plans, all our chores, what we were going to wear. I told my husband, Mary says it’s raining, how could it be raining again, we have so much gardening to do, I wanted to wear shorts and flip flops today, when are we ever going to get our weeding done. He said, “Ellen, look out the window, it’s not raining.” Just because Mary is pink does not mean it is presently pink, it could be a future pink she is warning us about. And that was my Eureka moment, as Oprah says, the Ah Ha Moment, the necessity is the mother of invention moment. It finally hit me, it was like a flash of lightening, a clap of thunder, a blinding beam of sunlight, hail bopping on my head. I have a great idea, even better than Mary, even better than Bill Evans, even better that the Weather Channel, or Accuweater. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize it. I feel like a genius, my own absolutely accurate, foolproof way to find out what the weather is like.



W I N D O W !!!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Coffee Pot Game

My father started it. He used to say, "you can get a lot done while the coffee is perking". So being my father's daughter, I have played this silly little game for about the past 36 years or so. It's kind of like that old game, Beat the Clock, but it's beat the coffee pot. Here's how it goes. I get up at 5:30 and the first thing I do is make the coffee. Now, this is often a challenge because most nights I go to bed with dishes still in the sink or junk still laying around on the counter. So just to get to the coffee pot is often a feat in itself! But once I press the button, its like somebody says, ready, set go. I have timed it and it takes just about 16 minutes to get the finished pot. Now, my husband is one of those people that stands around with his empty but well seasoned coffee cup in his hand, waiting for the last drip to drop. Pacing, looking, dawdling, waiting. Not racing, not playing the game. He will occasionally pull out the pot just a little bit to check the progress. When I catch him doing this, it really burns me up, and I usually chastise him with something like, wait till its done, or its not done yet, or something obvious and lame like that. But I digress, that is usually a weekend event because the four days a week that I work, I am up at 5:30 and quite frankly, he's not. Well, not until lately when he started working an hour and a half north, but he usually waits till my little ritual is done. So the game is mine, alone. So back to the button, its pushed, and the countdown starts. Usually, I start with the dishwasher, because typically, I have filled it and washed the dishes to some extent, but there are always others laying around. So I empty the dishwasher and put the dishes away, but, okay, here's another confession, I have this counting thing, so I have to tap each glass before I take it out and count them, I know it's nutty, but I can't stop. So first I count them, then I take them out and put them on a towel on the counter, and make sure they are totally dry, then I count them on the counter, and then put them in the cabinet and count them as they go in. Now if I could stop this obsession, I would probably cut at least two minutes out of my race performance, but it is just not possible. Okay, so now that all the clean dishes have been counted and put away, I attack the dirty ones laying around, wash them out, rinse and put in the dishwaser . . . okay, I count them too. Then slam the dishwahser, wipe down the counter. Coffee is still perking. I still have quite a bit of time to go. If I can perfect this, I could probably try out for the Amazing Race! Next is packing up my lunch for work, and breakfast because I go in so early, so I have to pour out my cereal, get some fruit, cut it up if it is strawberries for instance, then put either a leftover in a container or make up a salad, throw in some fruit, get that all done, put in a bag. Coffee is still not done. Next tackle is the kitchen table, I go through the mail, sort it out, keep checking the coffee pot, checking the clock, okay, I am way ahead of the pot now. Next is my medicine, I put it out on the counter, get a coffee mug out, put the medicine next to the coffee mug. That's done. My father would be so proud of me. Keep the eye on the prize they say. Well that prize is the first cup of freshly brewed coffee, one pink sweet and lo and one coffee mate dollop of french vanilla (I know, the french vanilla kind of makes the sweet and lo seem ridiculous, doesn't it!). Anyway, during all this craziness, that's my goal, and the strong aroma of that wonderfully flavorful coffee, the first cup from the freshly brewed pot, the first splash after the last drip . . . . ok, I am salvating, let me get back to the race. So I am done with my lunch preparations, emptied the dishwasher, reloaded, counted, cleaned off the table, thrown out the junk mail, and I still have time. I check the clock again, hmmmm, just a little over a minute. What can I do? What can I do, I have to be productive, or the game isn't the same, oh yea, I can run downstairs and find the movie I rented from Netflix and package it up, and check my email again. Okay, done, ten seconds to go, just enough time to climb the stairs, and watch the last drip, you know that last drip that signals the pot is done, and the first savory, delicious, rewarding, cup is ready, just for me, just because I have used my time so wisely, my reward, my steps quicken, I am almost skipping, I reach the top of the stairs just to pass my husband as he walks out to the garage, unlit cigarette in one hand, coffee cup in the other, full coffee cup, fresh coffee, first cup, my cup, "Good Morning" he nods as he saunters out to savor that coffee/cigarette combo. For today at least, I know the agony of defeat!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Are you ready for this!

Ok, here it is! My newest nuttiness! The apron is hotter than the kitchen collection of not your granny's aprons! Check it out. More patterns to follow!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's that smell?

Whew! It is strong in here! When you come in from outside it smacks you in the face. I was going to light one of the fragrance candles, but the competition of aromas would be too much. In the crock pot, I have potato and leek soup, and couldn't resist throwing an onion in. That was a very weepy production. But I noticed that Paula Deen was wearing these onion goggles, and I have to get myself some. Between the leeks and the onions yesterday, I could have cried myself a river, literally! Anyway, I am reheating that since I made it yesterday. I have some shredded cheese and crisp bacon to throw on top when it is ready to eat. On the stove is a slab of corned beef with all the seasonings that was in the packet, that has been simmering since about 10:00 a.m., and I just threw in the red potatoes. My husband is telling me to wait on the cabbage, he likes it firmer. Guess that will mask the taste of the corned beef that he hates! Anyway, my son and his partner are coming, so the table is only set for four. Daughter is very pregnant and tired, and the trip is a little too much these days, especially for a meal that you hate! I made cupcakes yesterday and coated them with sprinkles, green and white, and I did my second attempt at an ice cream cake, chocolate chip mint on the bottom, crushed thin mint girl scout cookies, mini chocolate chips and hersheys' syrup, then another layer of just vanilla ice cream. I did that yesterday and just took it out a while ago, and dyed some cool whip green and put the sprinkles on and put that back in the freezer. Hubby just came back from the liquor store with two kinds of Irish beer. Plus our cable company that plays music has all Irish music on the Sounds of the Season channel. It is pretty dreary out, misty and rainy. My neighbor is from Ireland and she tells me that is the way it is over there. I wouldn't know. I always dream of someday going to Ireland, but if that every happens, that would be a miracle. I'm all set for today though, a little bit of Irish heaven in Jackson, New Jersey. Plus, I was busy sewing this morning. Wait until you see what I made, I will post it later, but I want my son to model it for me first! So since my friend Nora asked me to post some pictures of my Irish kitchen, I have put some in here for you to look at! Pretty soon all the Irish stuff will come down and the Easter curtains, tablecloth, etc., will go up. Change, variety, the spice of life! Reminds me, I heard somewhere that change is the only constant thing you can count on. Thats for sure. Lot of changes, from the St. Paddy's day celebrations with my parents when we were kids, my own over the years with the house overflowing with relatives and nieces and nephews and grandchildren, to this simple table set for four. Many empty chairs, my brother and family moved to Illinois nine years ago, Aunt Edna has passed, David has passed, Mom and Dad Tietke, and of course my parents well over 30 years ago. Things have changed a lot, but a lot has stayed the same. Love of family, sharing a simple meal, carrying on a tradition.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Mother's Love's a Blessing

A mother's love's a blessing,
No matter where you roam,
Keep her while she's living,
You'll miss her when she's gone,
Love her as in childhood,
Though feeble, old and grey,
For you'll never miss a mother's love,
Till she's buried beneath the clay.

I've been humming this song lately. It is kind of melancholy. I first knew of it when I read the book Angela's Ashes. I think of that song a lot this time of year, because of two occasions, my mother's birthday and St. Patrick's Day. My mom was born on March 16th, 1926, and growing up I always associated her birthday with our celebration of St. Patrick's Day. My mother was proud to be Irish. Margaret Ellen O'Brien was her name, but most people called her Peggy. Anyway, on St. Patrick's Day, she would always make a traditional Irish dinner of corn beef and cabbage and red potatoes, all boiled in the same pot. And we would have rye bread with lots of butter and she would put a drop of green food coloring in my father's beer. There was always Irish music playing on the record player, and my dad often sang, Peg of My Heart, or my Wild Irish Rose to her. She died in 1974, at the very young age of 48, suddenly, in an instant. One moment she was talking, the next she was gone. Earlier that year she had ordered a set of Irish records that were advertised on TV, you know the kind of infomercials that they had back then, even in the 70's. She waited patiently for them to come, and they did arrive, about a month after she died. I remember my dad saying, Mama's records came. I think we played them, but it just wasn't the same. Through the years, I have tried to recreate that festive Irish celebration for my family. My kids usually groaned, and my husband would annouce that he hates corn beef and cabbage but will eat it just once a year. I decorate for the occasion, I have special Irish curtains and a tablecloth that I made. In fact, this year, I bought new material, because my old set was getting pretty raggedty. I will buy the soda bread, corn beef, cabbage, red potatoes and rye bread. I already put out all my Irish knicknacks. My kids are grown now with families of their own, and I have been trying to coordinate their very busy schedules to get them home for an Irish dinner around St. Patrick's Day. One soninlaw is from Portugal and the other soninlaw is from Romania, so guess the Irish blood is getting thinner and thinner in our family! Anyway, we are down to two possible dates now, so it looks good for this year. So once we settle on that date, the music will be played and the food prepared and for one day I will step back in time and feel the warmth of my mother's love as she made that day so special for us. I have often told my kids that the best feeling I ever can remember is the embrace of my mother when I was a child. So much of our life is assumed, assumed that people know how we feel, assumed that we will have tomorrow, assumed that there will always be more time. So if you are lucky enough to have your mom still living, give her an extra long hug. As for me, I have to save my hugs until I see her again, but hope she hears me singing . . . . " . . a Mother's Love's a Blessing . . ."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

What do you mean I am too big for this bed

On this crazy journey, life changes, and what was familiar and comfortable before sort of melds into something new. About a year and a half ago, we were an overflowing household. An elderly aunt, who entertained us with dementia, until it became heartbreaking, a married daughter and her husband and son, her two dogs, cat, fish, and variety of visitors in and out all day long. We had them from 6 to 82 and all the drama and emotion that goes along with it. And then everything changed. Aunt Edna died, and Lauren and Sorin and our grandson moved away with their animals. The house was empty, quiet, still, lonely. And then came Lena. We inherited her from the Covaci family when my daughter discovered my grandson was allergic to him. Now, we weren't in the market for a cat, or a pet of any kind for that matter. And Lena, was . . . . a little strange, the true personification of a fraidy cat. When my daughter and her family moved last summer, Lena crawled in the space between the washer and the shower and stayed there, we can't even guess how long she was there because we never saw her. Don't worry, she came out, there was the usual evidence of that, eaten food, food deposited after recycling into the litter box. We knew she was okay. But it took weeks to catch her and put her in the carrying case. She scratched my son in law who was formerly her idol and she just never got real cozy in the new place and upon her return, she wasn't really that crazy about being here either. But after a few weeks, she noticed that it is pretty quiet around here without the grandson, the two crazy dogs, the visitors, and all the hoopla that goes with a busy household. So she started venturing out and letting us pet her . . . . with our feet! She still hasn't let us pick her up and scampers away when we try to pet her. But she is becoming more and more friendly and we have to admit that we have grown quite attached to her. My brother was asking us why we didn't just spend Christmas Eve with our children this year, and I blurted out, but we have to watch Lena open her presents. Instantly, I knew that admission was a mistake, just by his reaction. Ok, and we did kind of overdo it on the presents, she has a little basket with all her toys in it. And yea, we got one of those laser mice things, that you click the button and a laser light comes on and you can make the cat chase it all over. Ray likes to make it go up the wall, that really drives Lena crazy, sometimes she is so excited she drools. When I leave for work in the morning, she kind of sits in the window and stares, with those big kitty cat eyes. And both of us call out to her when we come in before we greet each other. Now that is pretty sick. But you know what, it is comfortable. At some point, I pulled this little bed out from the cat carrying case and put it on the floor. My daughter said that Lena never sat in it when she lived with them, but I gave it a try anyway. Lena slowly started sitting in it, and as she has grown, she really overflows in it. We tried making her other little beds, but she really likes this one. It doesn't matter that her feet hang out, she is comfortable. And you know what, so are we. Life has changed, and we are moving on, rediscovering our relationship, embracing the quiet, and squeezing ourselves into a new kind of comfortable.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I guess it can get pretty annoying, my habit of either humming or singing most of the time. I just can't help myself, but I have started to realize that not everyone wants to hear my various arrangements of songs, complete with the substituted forgotten words. When my kids were little, I thought they enjoyed it, although they will probably point to that little idiosyncrasy as an explanation for some future psychoanalysis needs. I liked to take actual songs and mess up the words, or just take a chore and try to make a rhyming instruction with it. Ask the kids about Roses Make me Fart. Anyway, we had an actual record player in the living room, and lots of old vinyl records. I liked to play classical music and tell the kids to close their eyes and pretend we were ice skating. We did a lot of crazy pantomine dances to the records that I would play. Another fun one was Our House by the Clancy Brothers, telling the story of people that came to visit and never left, but not in a good way. One of my favorites was to blast Day O in the morning to wake my little darlings up for school. You know the song, it's playing right now while you are reading this. I would tiptoe into the living room, gingerly, pump up the volume (hey, I was cool even then!) and gently lift the arm of the record player. As soon as the needle touched the vinyl, I could imagine their eyes popping open in terror as Belafonte shouted out the famous words! Of course, I had to accompany it with various exagerated dances and lipsyncing for just the proper effect. And some mothers used the warm washcloth technique! SISSIES! As the kids moved on, or as they like to call it, "escaped from the asylum," I mastered humming. There really wasn't any specific song or tune, just kind of an idiotic repetitive low gutteral buzzing sound, that seemed to just always be there. I didn't even realize it, it was like a vibrator had been attached to my vocal cords. While I was helping a client on the phone when I worked at a law office in Howell, the client suddenly said, "are you humming". I felt like saying, "yea, you got a problem with that?" I had another job where my boss and I shared the same office. One day he jumped up and screamed, "WILL YOU STOP THAT HUMMING?" I think I did for a few weeks, his outburst was very traumatic for me. Now when I go into work, my humming precedes me. As I am hanging up my coat, I invariably will hear, "the hummer is here." I don't think that is something that I should necessarily be proud of. This morning, at about 5:30 a.m., I felt that I was in great voice. I went though a few hymns, "Yahweh I know you are here", "Lord when I come to the water", then an Irish song about some boyfriend that sailed across the sea. As I was going into the shower on the second verse of Day O, my husband shouted, ALL RIGHT, THAT'S ENOUGH. Hey, I thought he was sleeping. What nerve! Anyway, I turned on the shower full blast, and knocked it down a few octaves, but I finished the song. Geez! But as soon as I shut the front door, it escaped " I hear a bird . . . a Londonderry bird . . . " (By the way, the picture above is of my own creation, the Rasta Hat, in honor of Harry Belafonte, custom made, just pick your color and size, $25)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The saddest thing in life is wasted talent, and the choices that you make will shape your life forever.

Powerful! I wish I had thought of that myself, but it is one of the closing lines in the movie, The Bronx Tale. I was reminded of it on Friday night when I was watching 20/20. The kid that played in the Bronx Tale was being interviewed. Lillo Brancato is his name. He was in the Sopranos too. But his interview was not on some movie set, it was behind the bars of jail, where he will be sitting for about the next ten years or so. You may have read it in the paper, high on drugs, looking for more drugs, making the wrong choice, he got wrapped up with a guy who shot an off duty police officer. The cop heard glass breaking and called it in, made a choice, made the right choice, investigated it, and it cost him his life. And now Lillo Brancato is being asked if he remembers the last line of The Bronx Tale. Of course he does, and he quotes it as above. And it started me thinking, about the choices we make. How one split second decision can alter the course of your life. I guess I was on that subject on Friday because I had gotten a letter from my cousin, who is in jail, for murdering his mother and step father. Whenever I hear from him, it makes me wonder, how did that happen, how did a good, loving sensitive kid end up with a double life prison term. You can ask him, he probably doesn't know either. But it has to do with choices. Some choices are planned out, plotted, prepared, and executed with precision. But many are not, many are split second judgment calls. Hey, we all have made them, and looking back, I have made a lot of very poor judgment calls in my life, but somehow they worked out okay. I have made a lot of good judgment calls too, but at those moments,I wasn't thinking, good or bad, yes or no, pro or con, I just picked one, and thankfully it was the right one. So when I was thinking about this today, I was thinking life is full of choices, the gift of free will made it so. Each day, each moment, presents us with a choice, whispers in our ear, like the angel and the devil on opposing shoulders. And like Calogero C. Anello, said in the Bronx Tale, the choices you make will shape your life forever.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

An unexpected bonus

You know, you kind of just don't know if people like what you do or not. Like Christmas, for instance. It was a rough year, for everybody. Our family put a halt on gifts, but I just wanted to do something. I made up scarfs and hats for my children and their significant others. I made about a dozen soap savers and bought some fancy soaps on sale and made a little gift packet to give to relatives and friends. I made a lot of pumpkin bread . . . . a lot! I made a lot of fudge too, and ate way too much of it! I wrapped them in Christmas paper and tied them with ribbons and gave them away as gifts. I found some placemats on the clearance table and made them into crochet hook holders and even monogrammed them to give to some friends who crocheted. Now, they really like them, and you could tell they appreciated the work that went into them. (Why wouldn't they, they crochet too!) Anyway, I thought I was doing really good. I was giving stuff made with love from the heart with my own wrinkly stubby fingers. So the reactions were . . . . well, not always what I expected or hoped. Everybody seemed to like the food gifts. But the handmade stuff, hmmm, not so sure. I asked one person to whom I had given the soap saver, if she liked it, well . . . yea, I'll find something to use it for. I said, you are supposed to put your soap in it. Oh, she repeated, well, I'll find something to do with it. Ugh. Then another one, after I asked, said, well, I really liked the way the soap smells, I didn't open it yet, but I could smell it. I told her, well, you can put the soap in the holder, and it sort of acts like a washcloth and catches all the remnants of the soap. Ok, so I am realizing, not everybody is enthusiastic about the stuff I make. I was just starting to feel pretty dejected about it. I mean, after all, I did try to give something to everyone, in the spirt of Christmas. And then my daughter's friend stopped by, with her beautiful baby, and he was wearing the set I made for him and gave to her at her baby shower. She told me she adores it, and he wears it all the time. She also loves the assortment of hats that I have been giving her. The picture attached is of beautiful Isaiah laying on his blanket that I made for him before he was even born. I felt like Sally Field! You like it, you really really like it! So I am starting to accept that not everyone is flipping out over the stuff I make. But you know what, there are a lot of people that do. Today, in fact, I reconnected with a former co-worker who moved to North Carolina. She ended her email, with a by the way, remember that little Irish doll you made me. I still have it! I had made her a little dolly to take with her since she was driving alone to North Carolina and I felt she should have a traveling companion. (Ok, now that I read it, it does sound weird, but that's me) I have made and given away a lot of afghans, and every once in a while I get an email or a comment from someone who tells me that it is their favorite comfort blanket. I am sure that there is an equal number that just shoved them into the bottom of their closets! But you know what, I am just going to keep on creating and keep on giving my stuff away. My husband keeps telling me, you are never going to make any money if you keep giving your hats away! Of course, I would love it if somebody actually bought something! But the joy is in the creation, the sense of accomplishment of a task completed, and the sharing of myself. And if along the way someone actually likes what I made for them, that is the unexpected bonus!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Procrastination gets the last laugh at the Crochet Nanny

Well, December 10th, last day I blogged. Where has she been they ask. My friend says, "I keep checking to see if there is something new" . . . New? Yea, there is something new all right! In fact, it rhymes with new, sort of like the name game. The first letter is not the same, replace it and you have the name, new, drop the n, add bl, and you got it. B L E W! My hard drive blew, as in fried, dead as a doornail, virtual mortuary, computer cemetery, electronic crematory. Remember how I said I was a procrastinator? Remember how I was talking about all this stuff I wanted to do, like, SAVE MY PICTURES ONTO A DISK! There are on a disk alright, a hard drive disk that is wrapped in a plastic Walmart bag and sitting on a table down here. I heard the clickety clackety sound. It certainly wasn't Santa on the rooftop. But did I even think to wonder what it was? No o o o o , just kept downloading, surfing, emailing, scrolling, doing my puzzles, playing Hidden Object, everything but backing up. That was something I was going to get to. My son in law needed directions to the NJ Devils, game, sure said I, mapquest, google earth,, msn maps, hey, I have been on them all. Take your pick, do you want the scenic route, or the direct, fastest, or less miles? Do you want me to print it right from their website with a picture of the stadium? I'm good at this I think as I walk over to the computer that is always on by the way. I'm looking at my screen, it says hard disk error. He is still on the phone, so I say, hold on, I have to reboot. He says with his Romanian accent, "I don't think you should do that, you should call someone." Did I listen? You know the answer already. So, control/alt/delete, reboot, hard reboot, trip the surge protector, pull the plug out of the wall, yea that should do it. It didn't, same message. Ok, so not to panic. My friend's husband plays with computers, he takes all our old computers from work, breaks them down into parts. He assures me, "I have a whole closet of hard drives, let me see what I can do." I am sweating a little at this point, my grandson, he is 6, every stinking day of his life is on that computer. Ever meet a first time grandmother with a digital camera? My pictures thingy said I had 3,000 pictures stored on it. That can't be possible, can it? Anyway, I pleaded, "I don't care about anything, just get me my pictures of my grandson" I felt like I was negotiating with a kidnapper. Maybe I should have gotten a SWAT team involved. It didn't take him long to call. My friend was on the phone, he was on the extension, I guess they were going to double tag team break it to me. It was done, there was nothing that could be done. It was dead, he knew it as soon as he turned it on and heard that clicking/buzzing sound. "How long has that been going on?" , not too long, I answered sheepishly, not wanting to admit that it had to be a few (gulp!) months. "Well, I'll throw a new hard drive in there" . Still hopeful, I asked, "what about my pictures, can I get them?" He said best I can do is give you the old harddrive back. They have places that supposedly can try to retrieve stuff from dead hard drives. I picture a dark alley, exchanging cash, sweaty palms, a kid with a mohawk named Moses, saying, what's it to ya, Nanny? It couldn't be that bad. . I asked around, and someone told me that there are places that will retrieve stuff from your driver. I even got the website, and gee, his friend had it done about six years ago and it only cost him $267! Are you kidding me? Anyway, I went on the website. They have a little diagnostic testing thing there. You click on it, and turn on your speakers and it makes all kind of noises and you can identify what is wrong with your computer by the noise. I tested them all, yea, it was the hard drive alright. The website said, if you hear this noise which it then clearly demonstrated, immediately back up all your stuff on disks in case of a hard drive failure. So there sits my hard drive, seven years worth of baby pictures safely locked away for eternity in its sealed tight vault. I guess I could call Geraldo and see if he can send some kind of expedition in to see what he can find like he did with Al Capone's lost treasure. First I took the tower back from my friend and hooked it up. Unfortunately, when I turned it on, it emitted a high ear piercing, usually heard only by dogs, shrill buzzing sound. I tried playing a movie in it, and then a music DVD but it wouldn't mask the sound. It's been a week, my ears are still ringing. Right now my husband hooked up his laptop to my monitor, but it is moving at the speed of, well, slightly slower than a molasses covered snail in January. It just took me an hour and half to download one picture for a new product listing. Problem is, every time I go upstairs, I have to pass that Walmart wrapped tragedy, sitting on the table, taunting me, reminding me of all that was lost. I have tried averting my eyes, but it magnetizes me, like I have a steel plate in my head, my head snaps immediately to it. I can't stop looking at it wistfully, asking, why? why? as if I didn't know why! Stupidity and procrastination have their own revenge. I know you are not going to believe this, but last night, as I flicked off the light and headed up the stairs, I swore I heard it say, "Na na na na na, I told you so . . . . !!!"