Hey Mom, It’s snowing!

Two years ago this weekend, in the United States, we were marveling at an unseasonably early snowstorm.

It was beautiful. It packed a lot of snow. We went to bed, the world a frozen tundra under our feet, and woke up to a pure white carpet of snow. It hung heavy from the tree branches. It covered the ground, untouched yet by footsteps. It brought back happy memories of days gone by. Days when, as children, we’d hope and dream and keep our fingers crossed for the snow to come. And, when that first snowfall did finally arrive, the reaction was always the same. You’d wake up and peek out your window in amazement with a feeling of pure joy.

The first snowfall of the year is always magical. There’s something so special about seeing the ground covered in a carpet of white. And, through the frosty window pane, even before you’ve had a chance to walk out into the elements, you can just tell that the air is frigid.

There’s something so pure about the first snow. It’s peaceful. It feels like a little piece of heaven on earth.

This week, the world unitedly came to a halt and watched in horror as Paris was attacked and so many innocent people lost their lives prematurely. It was a cold reminder that this world can often be ugly and cruel.   And recently, terror seems to be a common thread that binds us all together.

In a world that can at times be a very harsh place to live in, let’s remember that it’s also a world filled with blessings and goodness. At times like these, when evil rears it’s ugly head, it’s important that we come together as a humanity that is there for each other. Life is hard. But, love is stronger.

Like a first snowfall that is pure and peaceful, let hope and faith and love wash over you during these difficult weeks ahead.

After a weekend of sadness, fear and devastation, we can all use a little happy in our lives.  My contribution to that “happy” is to reblog a post that I originally posted  two years ago this weekend, when rather than terror, the peaceful, pure snow was on our minds.

Being Margaret

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Snow – Everything about it reminds me of my youth.   It reminds me of my parents.  And, It reminds me of growing up in South Bend, Indiana.  The snow always seemed to be piled high from November through March.  Every year.  Not just on years that were considered  “the year of the polar vortex,” but always.  You could count on a beautiful white blanket of snow throughout winter just as sure as you could count on presents under your tree on Christmas morning.  The two-way neighborhood roads would turn into single lane paths that you’d wield your car down.  Snow piled high on both shoulders along your way.

Maybe this is why I still love the snow so much.  It’s beauty takes me back to my childhood.  And, to a time when I was living under the same roof with my 4 siblings and my parents.  Every year you…

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Pray For Paris

Pray for Paris

Who knew that when I woke up yesterday morning and created this print, that by end of the day it would be so fitting to the world events going on.

Keep Paris and everyone touched by this horrific tragedy in your thoughts and prayers. The world can be such a cold place.  We will always need each other.

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Mamma Mia!!

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It’s Monday morning and normally I’d be pulling the house back together from the weekend.  Instead, I’m having coffee with one of my besties, Jeri.  She and I have a standing coffee date that I wrote about here.  Thursdays are our day!  We meet come rain or shine, snow or hail.  It’s written in stone and nothing comes between us and our coffee dates.

Except Dr’s. appointments.  More recently because of repairmen who seem to only be able to make house-calls on Thursday mornings.  What gives! 

So we’ve adjusted and tweaked our schedules a bit.  Monday’s are now the day.  (At least for the immediate future.)  Our coffee dates have turned an ordinarily dreaded and hated day of the week into a day that I now look forward to.  Hurray!!  Monday’s are fab!

This morning, while catching up with each other and everything that’s happened in our lives since last week, we decided that we’d make this upcoming holiday season super special and go see a play in the city.  There’s nothing we love more than to spend time downtown.  The people, the lights, the beautiful river walk, the restaurants and lively bar scenes make for such fun.

So, a play for the holidays it is!!  It was all decided!  After discussing it for a while we settled on  Mamma Mia!!  YAY!!

I was put in charge of looking for good seats.  No problem!  I love this kind of task.  I’m a self-declared event planner.  I could plan, coordinate and execute events like there’s no tomorrow!  A regular party girl, that’s me!  Now that I think of it, I probably should have been a concierge at some big, swanky city hotel or high-end specialty retail store because of my love for (a)  events, and (b) all things swanky!!

After coffee, I raced home and got out my computer.  I looked at the seats that were still available for the date that we had agreed upon.  Lots of availability popped up.  Hurray!!  I carefully studied the seating chart (just as a professional event planner would do!) and chose two seats where I knew there would be nothing obstructing our view.  We were on our way!!  Great!

Or, so I thought.  I went from the “select your seat” page to the  “security” page” when things started to go awry.  What is with these security pages that pop up all over the Internet when trying to purchase any kind of venue tickets?  They’re annoying.  And, impossible to read.

The security screen that popped up informed me that in order to help “fight bots” I was to type the letters that appeared on the image in front of me.

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Huh?  It was like trying to decipher Russian.  No, it was worse than Russian.   The image I was staring at was like a big mass of scribbles.  Who could read it?  Not me.  And worse yet, there was a timer counting down the number of minutes I had to complete the purchase before I would lose the seats.  It was making me nervous.  It had big red flashing letters that said “You’ve got 3 minutes before you lose your selected seats.”  YIKES!  I quickly typed out random letters that I thought I was seeing.  Nope.  Wrong letters. Nuts!  A new combination popped up.  It was worse than the first set of letters.

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I glanced up at the timer..  “You’ve got 1 minute 32 seconds before you lose your selected seats.”  Good Grief!  I was going to lose my perfectly thought out seats if I didn’t guess the right combination.

I noticed a large button next to the alien image. It said to click if you wanted a new image.  YES!  I want a new image!  An image that people can actually read!  I clicked the button.  Nope, couldn’t read the image either.  I was starting to sweat.  My fingers which normally sailed over the keyboard effortlessly now felt damp and clumsy.  I think I was making typo’s but what did it matter?  I was randomly guessing and typing  any old letters in hopes of hitting the jackpot.

And then – “ding ding ding” – the page went black.  My shoulders slumped in defeat.  My hands fell off the keyboard and down to my sides.  I had lost our seats.  I stared at the blank screen.  What had just happened?  If these sites have an option to press a button for a new image, then they must be aware that nobody can read their STUPID IMAGES in the first place!

Well!  I was going to give somebody a piece of my mind!  I was going to call the theater and demand to talk to the manager.  I wanted those seats that just two minutes ago were in my online cart.  I was going to tell them that no normal human being on the planet can decipher what that secret scrambled image says.  Ever.

I quickly googled the number of the theater and called it.  It rang a few times and then was picked up….. by a recording.   Oyyyyyy!  Another pet peeve!  I listened to a mechanical sounding voice on the other end and was given a list of prompts.  I pressed the number associated with talking to an agent and was transferred.  The phone rang again.  One ring…two ring…three ring…  BINGO!  The line was picked up…by a recorded voice.  It stated that tickets could only be purchased at the box office and that the box office was only opened during performances.  Some good that would do me!

Okay, it was on to plan B.

Or, plan A revisited.  I went back to the theater’s website.  This time I was prepared.  I knew what was coming.  I plugged in all of my information.  Our seats were still there.  Hurray for small miracles!!  I added them to my online cart. Andddd, there it was.  The crazy security image.  I stayed calm and stared at it.  I plugged in some letters.  Wrong.  Tried again.  Nope.  And one more time.  YES!  It worked!!  I had no idea what letters I had plugged in or how I got them to work but I wasn’t going to question it.  I hit “purchase” and Wallah!!  The tickets were ours!  Mamma Mia here we come!!

I knewww I was a talented event planner!

Trees

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When I was in grade school we were expected to memorize the poem Trees, by Joyce Kilmer It was during  4th grade, I think.  I sat at my desk reading the words over and over.  Then I would close my eyes and try to recall one sentence at a time,  peeking down at my paper each time I needed a prompt.  Silently starting at the beginning of the poem again each time I had mastered a new line.  Closing my eyes  over and over and mouthing the words silently until I had memorized the entire poem.

In 4th grade, when I was 9-10, the emotion behind these words were lost on me.  The poem was strictly an assignment.  A task that I needed to work through until complete.  When I was finished, we moved on to a different assignment.

Today, the words and the meaning behind the words are not lost on me.  Especially at this time of year.  In autumn when the trees are so full of beauty and rich color, the words to this poem wash over you and fill you with a feeling of gratitude and appreciation for all of God’s wonderful gifts to us.  I’m so grateful for the beauty of autumn and for the sense of renewal that goes hand in hand with this beautiful season.

The trees seem to be at their peak color in the Midwest right now.  My favorite season.  Fall.  It’s like floating over a carpet of bursting, vibrant colors every time you walk out your front door.


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Trees

I think that I shall never see

a poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

against the sweet earth’s flowing breast

 A tree that looks at God all day,toamna-Toamna-природа-xxx-outdoors-ana-music-Good-Morning-yellow-fall-animation-erotik-animated-nature-gifs-nice_large

And lifts her leafy arms to pray

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

tree-within-tree-autumnUpon whose bosom snow has lain

Who intimately lives with rain

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

 – Joyce Kilmer (1856-1918)


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Santa Fe

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Ask anyone who has ever traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico and you’ll get the same response – It’s a dream come true.  My adventurous hubs, Clark, and I had the opportunity to travel to this lovely southwestern city in September and within hours of our arrival, it was easy to see that Santa Fe could have earned it’s state’s nickname – ‘the land of enchantment’ – all by itself.

This beautiful New Mexico city is both the oldest and highest capital city in the US. It’s  special in that the area is a gorgeous combination of both mountains and desert.  It’s population of approximately 70,000 residents, is small by comparison to other U.S. state capitals, but extremely rich in native American culture and history.

Santa Fe is known for its art scene, which is the 3rd largest in the U.S. by sales. It is home to the 20th century American artist Georgia O’Keeffe and the Georgia O’Keeffe museum where you can see her accomplished works.   You’ll find talented artists by the hundreds all around its charming downtown square, up and down the lovely boutique filled streets and especially on its famous Canyon Road which is dotted with one gallery after another.

This winsome city is nestled amidst the Sangre de Cristo mountains. This combined with the striking Adobe architecture makes for delightful and breathtaking sceneries.  It’s beauty surrounds you in every direction.

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With a large selection of amazing restaurants to choose from for dining, it’s no surprise that this city earns a top ranking among foodies.  Geronimo’s on Canyon Road is rated #1 among many of the locals and tourists alike as well as being named in the top 100 restaurants in the U.S.  It’s thick adobe walls, Kiva Fireplaces and wood beams which surround you make it warm and inviting. Executive Chef/Partner Eric DiStefano and Chef de Cusine Sllin Cruz create a wonderfully eclectic menu which changes seasonally.  Additionally, this Southwestern city’s food scene is probably best known for the fire-roasted green chili.  We were there at the peak of the chili season and saw it pop up on everything from your dinner rolls to the top of your cheeseburger and even on your breakfast burritos’ – a popular breakfast choice for locals.

Santa Fe’s beauty and endless list of activities makes it a top tourist destination in the U.S.  This fabulous city offers everything from hiking to museums as well as wine tours, shopping and art.  It has something for everyone and is a great destination for families.  I highly recommend that this ‘land of enchantment’ be put on everyone’s bucket list.

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I carry my stain stick with me – Im officially my mother.

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We’ve been told all our lives that the day would come.  The day when we will officially turn into our Moms.  It’s universal.  It’s a mysterious phenomenon that can not be avoided and can not be controlled.  One day you wake up and bam! – You can’t keep your kids names straight, you remind people to grab a jacket before leaving the house and you’ve become a bit more judgmental.  *You’re going to wear that?*

I noticed the change slowly. I shrugged off the first few warnings, thinking it was just paranoia. I brushed off the comments when people started saying I looked so much like her. I ignored the first few signs, thinking they were just coincidences.  A little similarity here and there.  A comment about turning this car around, which I swore I’d never utter.  The gestures.  The mannerisms.  All the little things.   I’d catch myself standing with my hands on my hips, with a “because I said so” attitude all over the place.  I chalked it up to a bad day, while in the back of my mind a quiet voice whispered to me, Good Lord, it’s happening.  

I’ve noticed recently that I’m prone to spilling little bits of my lunch or dinner on my shirt.  Something my Mom was famous for.  It happens most when Clark is with me.  “You’ve got a big blob of something on your shirt”  I got tired of today’s young food servers staring dumbfounded at me, a look of confusion on their little freckled faces when I asked for a small glass of soda water to dab on my spill.  So, I’ve started carrying stain sticks around in my purse.  That’s right.  I admit it.  I carry stain sticks.  Oh, I’ve seen older men just eat with a napkin tucked in around their neck to catch the spillage, like a big adult sized bib, but I think I’m a few years away from that yet.

The metamorphism has taken place slowly.  Suddenly, running three errands to three different stores in a single day is exhausting.  It’s just too much.  And, I run the errands early because I feel the need to be home by 4:00 to start thinking about dinner.  (By the time Clark gets home from work, I’ve usually got the restaurant all picked out.  Hurray!!)  It’s not that we don’t have enough food in the house to cook a dinner.  No, we have plenty of food.  After-all, I’ve started to stock up on things (just like my mom did) because if a storm or inclement weather is predicted, God forbid we don’t have enough tuna in the house.  Or, frozen bread. My mom stocked up on things because there was a big sale she could not pass up – even if it was for something she never used.  I’m on the lookout for that habit to start creeping into my everyday happenings.

So, why is it that our biggest fear in life is that we’re turning into our mothers? As a young girl, it’s a dream to be just like your mom.  But, as you grow older it’s more like every woman’s nightmare.  No matter how amazing our moms are, (and let’s face it, they truly are amazing) there is something scary about turning into them.

But, is it truly the fear of turning into them that has us all tied up in knots?  Or, could it be the acknowledgment that we’re simply getting older. We suddenly start to walk into rooms and completely forget why we went there in the first place.  *what was I looking for?*  Our tolerance for alcohol started to diminish.  It’s that second Cabernet or Martini that always puts me over the edge. (But what harm’s a little cockie now and then?)  We shut the drapes at dusk so we can get into our jammies and be comfy and we get up at the crack of dawn declaring ourselves “morning people” when in reality, we are just getting older and need less sleep.  We start to choose to stay in on weekend nights rather than go out and when we do go out, we go close to home.

So, have Mom’s been getting a bad rap all these years?  Are we really so opposed to “becoming” the women who raised us and nurtured us and guided us through everything we know about life?

They were there for us when puberty turned us ugly and hostile.  They stood by us when we resented their very beings and didn’t hold anything against us when we came out on the other side and became human again.  And, as we grew into adulthood our mom’s actually became our friends – someone we enjoyed spending time with and talking to.  All in all, when you really think about it, there probably are worse people we could morph into.

So, remember what your mom always told you.  One day someone is going to be thinking the same about you!

How Absurd – we’re cool!  Who wouldn’t want to be like us??

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Where Were You On October 2, 1998?

It feels a bit like cheating.  But, some words are worth repeating.

I woke up this morning thinking about this exact post and knew it was worth re-posting.  For those of you out there whose hearts are tender – to the new readers to my blog since I last ran this piece, I dedicate this to you.


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Where were you on October 2, 1998?

You probably have no clue.  If you racked your brain trying to remember, you probably would not be able to recall.   But, if I asked you where you were on other significant dates in history, chances are you’d probably not only recall where you were, but what you were doing and who you were with.

Where were you September 11th, 2001?  Where were you when Kennedy got shot?  Or, when Pearl Harbor got bombed?  Some of you may recall where you were when Nixon resigned.  Or, when John Lennon got shot.  Or, when Elvis died.

These significant days in history act as markers on the timeline of our lives.  Because they were so catastrophic and life altering, we can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing in that specific moment in time.

We can also recall our specific whereabouts in our times of personal crisis and joy.  When a baby is born.  When a loved one dies.  When a best friend calls us up and tells us they are getting married.

October 2, 1998 – a significant day in my life.

You may not recall where you exactly were then, but I know exactly where I was.  That was the day my Dad lost his battle with Cancer.  I was with him.  My Mom and one of my two Brothers were there, too.  16 years ago today.  (That’s so hard to believe!!) I was sitting on the side of his bed holding his hand.  It was the first time I was with someone when they took their last breath.  It was the first time I held someones hand and felt them go completely still and feel their life end.  It was surreal.  And sad.  And at the moment, something I could not wrap my brain around.  Even tho I knew he was near the end of his life, nothing quite prepares you for that moment when your parent actually passes away.  Breathing in life one moment – and in the next instance, complete stillness.  Their soul moving towards Heaven.  It was a powerful moment in my life and a precise moment on my personal timeline where I will always remember where I was and what I was doing.

I’ve lost both of my parents now.  My Dad 16 years ago and my Mom more recently – just 20 months ago.  February 14th – Valentines Day 2014.  I did not have the privilege to be with her and tell her goodbye when her time to leave this earth arrived.  But I’m confident that she knew exactly how I felt and how much I loved and respected her.  I’m confident that she knew how much all of my siblings loved her.

While I’m still adjusting to life without my Mom, the old saying really is true – “Time Heals All Wounds.”  You start to come out of the fog gradually and learn to smile and laugh again.

My Dad was Irish.  He was hardworking and funny and sentimental.  He liked sports, Notre Dame and beer.  He passed his sense of humor and hard work ethic on to all of us.  Thanks Dad!!  When my brothers and sisters and I get together, all we have to do is say one word to each other or give each other one look that was his and we all start laughing.  And we laugh long and hard.  And we remember him with fondness and joy and with the sentimentality that he unknowingly passed on to all of us.  Time heals all wounds.

We remember and speak of our personal experiences and that helps to keep those collective memories of history and personal tragedy and triumph vivid and fresh.  And then, suddenly, 10 years have passed.  Or, 20.  Or, 50

I miss my Dad.  Especially today.  I miss my Mom, too.  I will never quite get used to them being gone – or not being able to pick up the phone to talk to them.  And, I’ll never get used to no longer being able to just get in the car to take a road trip to see them.  But I am grateful for two such loving, selfless parents who showered me with unconditional love.  I’m grateful for the memories of their laughter and smiles.  And kindness.

When was YOUR October 2, 1998??  We all have them.

The good new is, Time Heals all Wounds.

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Source: Where Were You On October 2, 1998?

Is keeping it simple really better?


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I’ve been revamping my blog since I started writing again after my summer hiatus. A tweak here. A small change there.  A new format.  A new look.

I have two blogs. One where I showcase my amateur photography skills. Another to write musings and to detail my observances on any given day.  I’ve been thinking about combining the two. In the long run it might be simpler.  One place for readers to visit instead of two.  Only one notification going out to email subscribers, not multiple. It might be simpler keeping up with my blog if I only had one domain to maintain.   Not to mention one yearly domain fee to pay.  The fee is just a small price to pay tho to have a creative outlet and space of my own for an entire year. And as Clark always says, why pay for one blog when you can pay for two – *sarcasm* – he says he thinks I seem to think there’s a money tree in the backyard. I say it’s not easy being married to a high maintenance woman.  That usually earns me a smile and shake of his head.

Ok. Full disclosure. In all honesty, I have three domains and three blogs. (Are you reading this, Clark?  Why would I pay for one blog when I can pay for three. *wink*)   My third blog is private at this time. I’m not ready for the big reveal yet. I can share with you tho that it’s content is the likes of which I have never seen yet on any blogging venue.  Anywhere. When the idea hit me, it was like winning the lottery! Or, hitting the jackpot! It’s a million dollar idea and I’m sure publishing houses everywhere are going to be clamoring on my doorstep to sign a book deal with me to have exclusive rights to my million dollar blog. Move over Human’s of New York – there’s a new kid in town. (Have I peeked your curiosity? Good. Sit tight and be patient.)

So, back to my original point. Is it easier to combine all areas of creativity and simply cram them into one combined blog? Or, Is it confusing to your audience if you combine different genre’s into one’s creative outlet just to save time and a few pennies? Is simpler really better?

Confucius said – “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

Leonardo da Vinci said – “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Pete Seeger says – “Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.”

Well, darn it, I’m sophisticated. And, genius!  I’m able to scale things back and simplify just as well as the next Joe Schmoe.  I don’t need to ‘have it all.’  After all, isn’t it the simple things in life that reap the best rewards and make us happiest?

  • the first snowfall of winter
  • a warm meal
  • laughter with friends
  • a good book
  • holding the hand of someone you love
  •  a sunny day

Simplicity. I do believe it’s best when applied to certain situations and circumstances.  Like perhaps, a blog. It can’t hurt to try. Right?  So, for now, possibly temporary or possibly not, I will experiment and continue to tweak my blog.  This month concentrating on  consolidation and simplicity.  It may just work out well to scale back on the double domains (triple – if you count my super secret private blog!)  It will be like a grab bag for my readers.  When you get a notice of a new posting, you’ll not know what to expect until you follow the link.  It will be like a treasure hunt! And, who doesn’t love finding a treasure?

Simplicity – It does a body good.  Keep it simple, my friends

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