A beautiful word or thought that is not accompanied by corresponding acts is like a bright flower that bears no fruit. It would not produce any effect. ~The Buddha

Friday, May 13, 2011


I never intended to have a theme for this week, but life happens, and the theme is "words."

First, let me lay the ground work.  I get my coffee 99.9% of the time at Starbucks.  During the week, I stop on my way to work, and on weekends I drop by when the opportunity presents itself.  I frequent one of two locations.  The people who work there don't know me by name, but they do know my beverage of choice, whether it's the latte in the winter or the iced americano when the nice weather arrives. 

The other morning I placed my order and while I was waiting for my coffee, the Barista who had taken my order said, "you look so pretty lately, are you doing something different?"  Was that a compliment?  I'm not sure because what did I look like before?  Now I realize when I stop in on the weekend after a power walk I may not look my personal best, but during the work week I consistently put some effort into my appearance.  She further queried me as to narrow down what "change" was contributing to the difference.  After a quick review of haircut, color and clothes, neither one of us could come up with anything.  If only she could have left out the word, "lately."

It stayed with my all day, and not in a good way.  I couldn't help but ponder what was different lately?  After careful consideration, I've decided it boils down to a new found confidence, and a little more eyeshadow.  I believe people 'wear' their confidence, and lately I've been feeling pretty good.  The extra eyeshadow is an attempt to give my eyes an extra 'pop' in pictures.  Eye cream only goes so far. 

Did you ever receive a compliment that didn't really feel like one?  I'm listening...


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I would say about five years ago I dropped the word "should" from my vocabulary, and while I might still use it occasionally, I make a conscious effort to work around it in a sentence.  Why?  Because when you think about it, "should' is a very negative word.  How many times do you "should" on yourself or someone else?  For example, I should have written a blog last week.  Turn it around, leave out "should" and instead, I will try harder to blog this week.  Much better.  It isn't an easy exercise at first, but it does get better.

That being said, I'm very sensitive to the overuse of the word.  In my world, my mother is the biggest offender.  I love her, she's my mom, but she wastes an enormous amount of time pondering what other people "should" or "should not" do.  Maybe that's what you do when you're retired, but I sure hope not.  I have an endless supply of examples, but I won't bore you.  I know it  drives her pretty crazy when I won't engage, and in as much as I've explained that "should" is a negative word and I do my best not to "should" on others, it falls on deaf ears.  Sometimes, I find myself concentrating on how many times she's uses the word in one conversation, instead of hearing what she's said. Since I pride myself on being a good listener, I'm trying to break myself of this habit.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  

The next time you're having a conversation with either yourself or someone else,be mindful of how many times you "should" on yourself or someone else?  Turn your 'should' statements into positive statements, and let me know if it makes a difference! 


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding

When it comes to the royal wedding tomorrow, there doesn't seem to be much middle ground.  You're either watching or you're not.  I will admit that I will be watching.  It's a tradition started by my dad back in 1973.  I was 9, and he woke me up to watch Princess Anne marry Mark Phillips.  I believe in England they would say I was gobsmacked by the pomp and circumstance, and was glued to the coverage for what I remember being a very long time.  It was a Wednesday so I assume at some point I got ready for school, but the wedding left an impression.  

When Prince Charles married Diana I was still in school, but fortunately, they were married in the summer.  Again, it was my dad who woke me up, but that was my idea.  I had followed the rather short courtship of Charles and Diana, and for the life of me I couldn't imagine wanting to be a Princess badly enough to marry Charles.  At 32, he seemed like an 'old' man, and she was so young, and pretty, and full of life.  I thought the energy she brought to her role was terrific, and admired her courage and strength and devotion to her charitable work.  I followed her trials and tribulations with the press, and the royal family, and caught glimpses of her life as a mother which from all outward appearances, brought her a lot of joy.  I watched as she really came into her own style and then wasn't at all surprised when her marriage to a man who clearly never loved her, fell apart.  Her death was sad, and I was awake of my own accord to watch the funeral. 

I didn't follow Fergie and Andrew so enthusiastically, but I did watch their wedding, and she has always seemed to give the royals a run for their money which I have found amusing.  That she found success as an author and spokesperson for Weight Watcher's was brilliant.  Of course, it clearly crossed a line when she recently tried to sell access to Prince Andrew.  

And so here we are on the day before the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and no, I will not be up all night, but I will be awake early to tune into the coverage.  I think she, Kate, has a lot going for her, being older than Diana was when she married.  Plus, she is a college grad, and she's had a lot of time to get used to the idea of marrying royalty and living in a fish bowl.  She seems to handle it all in stride which I'm sure comes with maturity.  It doesn't hurt that she and William have spent a long time together and they clearly seem to love each other.  Call me a dreamer, or a hopeless romantic, but just once, it would be nice to get the fairytale ending...      

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Carbon Footprint

I stopped using cloth hand towels about 5 years ago. I really don't consider myself germ-phobic, but think about it, a cloth towel is just a breeding ground for germs.  When I painted my powder room last year, I didn't even put the towel rod back up.  Instead, I have the paper hand towels for guests.  Upstairs, in the bathroom, I have kept a roll of paper towels on the counter. 

While I know this does nothing for my carbon footprint, I do have a couple of pluses in my favor.  First, I use the select-a-size rolls where you can tear off half a sheet.  Also, in the past year, I made the switch from plastic water bottles to one stainless steel bottle.  Considering I drink a lot of water, I have drastically reduced my use of plastic.  Further, I have also cut down on the number of baggies I use for school/work lunches opting instead for plastic reusable containers.  Lastly, I made the switch to CFL bulbs throughout my condo, and installed a low-flow showerhead.  Rationalization at its finest.

Kleenex White Hand Towel (Pack of 6)
Just lately, I replaced the roll of paper towels with the new Kleenex hand towels.  They are even packaged in a nifty box that you can set upside down on your towel rack for handy dispensing.  Cute, right?  Now why didn't I think of that??

Technical Difficulties

I like technical difficulties, like with my computer, almost as much as car trouble which is to say, not at all.  My current laptop is coming to the end of it's life, and although the MIS group where I work would never recommend a Dell, mine has served me well.  I'm pretty sure I've had it for 7+ years.  I'm thankful it has never fried in a thunderstorm or just crashed.  I only just bought a UBS external drive to back up my pictures and my music downloads yesterday.  I know. Not. Smart. But everything on that computer that is important to me is now backed up and the laptop just has to limp along until I find a replacement.  

Although I would love a Mac, I'm pretty certain I'll be going with a HP.  As my aunt has always said, "champagne taste, beer pockets."  In my case, Miller Lite.  

What did we do before computers?  I can't remember, but I know I use mine to stay connected with social networking sites, like Facebook, and email, and to edit/share pictures and download music.  It's my link to the world outside, and on more than one occasion that connectedness has served as a depression buster for me.  What did we do before computers?  I choose not to remember. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I need new sneakers.  Well, actually I've needed them for awhile now, but I'm getting serious about the purchase.  I put many miles on my sneakers and I need good ones especially given that I've had lower back pain from time to time, and it's triggered when I wear shoes that don't have adequate support.

New Balance Women's WR860 Stability Running Shoe,Grey/Pink,9 B USI've had my current pair for awhile, and they are definitely showing signs of wear, and my Dr. Scholl's inserts are not cutting it anymore.  So I've been investigating sneakers and I've confident I've settled on the New Balance Women's 860 Stability Running Shoe.  

When I initially started looking around, I tried the Skechers Shape Ups because I liked the idea that even if I wasn't power walking these sneakers would still be working against the inevitable signs of gravity.  But I tried them on and realized I couldn't walk in them.  I know people like them, but they were not going to work for me.  They were too 'airy' and I felt like I was going to fall over.  I've also been looking at the Reebok Easytones but I haven't always had the best luck with Reebok's durability.     

Just recently Prevention magazine reviewed sneakers, and the analysis seemed pretty thorough, so for me, the New Balance sneaker seems like a good fit...it's just a matter of 7 1/2 or 8. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Live and learn....

A few of my friends recently told me I should write about relationships.  Maybe they didn't see my Oatmeal post, or the one about Valentine's Day, but they were a step in the right direction.  

Of course, my initial reaction is...me?  Somehow, I find this amusing since I apparently am not very good at marriage (twice divorced) and my relationship with my daughter is the longest I've had.  I don't mean that in a bad way, it just doesn't make me a relationship expert, but I will say, I have lived and learned, and that's the place I come from.

It wasn't that I wasn't good at marriage, really, I just didn't make good choices.  I was raised on fairy tales.  You know, Cinderella marries the handsome prince and they live happily-ever-after.  

Commitment I understood, but nobody mentioned the fundamentals that make a marriage work like shared goals/priorities and values.  I only learned about that after I was married the first time, and it wasn't in therapy.  My 'aha' moment came while I was driving and listening to a show on the radio about relationships.  A light bulb went off in my head when I realized that's what was fundamentally wrong with my marriage.  What an eye-opener, and from there, I approached my next, what I thought would be a long-term, relationship in a whole new light.  I had taken the time, to grow as a person, and I was more emotionally equipped plus I had heard Dr. Phil talk at a seminar in Boston.  This was just after his first book was published and long before his talk show.  He talked and I listened, and my biggest takeaway at the time was that I didn't have to be half of a relationship to be a whole person.  It didn't exactly match-up with the whole fairytale ending, but I could completely relate.  By that time I was living and working in Boston, and I had great friends, and a nice life.  I wasn't looking for a relationship the next time around and so it caught me by surprise.  It just never occurred to me that someone would actually lie about his values which led to the imploding of the 2nd marriage in under one year.

It's been 10 years since then, and although I never swore off the idea that the "third time is the charm" I haven't exactly been out there looking either.  Until lately, it had been years since I even ventured out for a 'girl's night.'  At this point in my life, commitment has big shoes to fill, or maybe it's just that I finally expect more.  Now I want what is defined as mature love (about.com) that is built for the long haul.  The concept is pretty basic, and frankly I think we learned these behaviors in Kindergarten.  Now I just want them in my relationship.  Mature love includes acceptance, emotional support, commitment, calmness, respect, caring, kindness, friendship, and consideration.  To encapsulate that and more, I want to be 'cherished.'  In the Merriam Webster Dictionary, to be cherished is defined as, a : to hold dear : feel or show affection for, and b : to keep or cultivate with care and affection.  

It's about time...   

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


It's the first day of Spring, and it couldn't have come soon enough!  Of course, there were tell tale signs of the season approaching.  First, our local Dairy Queen, that closes for the winter, posted their sign announcing that they would re-open on March 19th for the season.  P.S. They actually opened on the 18th!  Then I noticed some crocuses popping up when I was walking last weekend, and this weekend daffodils were sprouting.  Next came the time change and the longer days.  

Then of course, there's March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament and playing a bracket.  I don't follow 'bracketology' but I do like to make predictions and fill out my own bracket for the final four.  As a rule, I don't follow the NBA, and I rarely watch college basketball, but I do get caught up in the tournament.  It started years ago, working somewhere completely different, when I filled out a bracket and entered the company pool.  I did it in the spirit of being a 'team player' and I didn't win, but I was hooked.  This year is no exception.  I found the bracket on the espn.com website, gave some thoughtful consideration to my choices, and boldly filled out my bracket.  I did pretty well in the first round, but in the second round, I wasn't quite so lucky.  Only two of 'my' teams that I predicted would make it to the final four are still standing.  Fortunately, they are my final two.  

Spring is also a time of renewal, and the Easter season.  In the coming weeks everything will get green again, and flowers and shrubs will start blooming.  The Easter candy is already on sale, and it will be time to color eggs soon.  Spring brings with it an energy that lifts my spirits. I've always been much more motivated to 'begin again' at this time of year versus New Year's.  And this year, after one of the worst winter's on record, I'm especially looking forward to the change of season!  You?      

P.S. I'm completely ignoring the fact that it's been snowing on and off today, and we may get a couple of inches between now and Thursday.  I see nothing....     

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shamrock Shake

Remember the McDonald's Shamrock Shake?  Well, they didn't seem to be advertising this year, so I found the recipe online.  Turns out the shake is on the McDonald's menu locally, but many locations were out.  Oh well, this is a tasty rendition! 


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Recently, on vacation, I received one of the nicest compliments. As a little background, we see some of the same families year after year because everyone shares the same February vacation, and we all come from various places to spend the week at the same timeshare complex in sunny Florida. 

One woman, I'll call her "Donna," mom of 4, puts herself in a rather teeny bikini considering she could use a little, well, much more support. While I'm sure this suit works in her own backyard when she's splashing with her kids in their own pool, it really doesn't work, in my opinion, for a family barbecue or at a family resort. While sitting at the pool one sunny afternoon, "Donna" came over to talk to one of my friends. He and his wife were going to see the space shuttle launch and she wanted more information. Apparently she was considering the adventure for her family. I can't remember where his wife was at the time, but my friend told her about the trip, and then when she walked away, he asked me her name. I told him, and he replied, "you should talk to her." Puzzled, I asked, "I should talk to her?...about?" and he said, "modesty."

At the time, I was amused and chuckled, but later I realized that was really a very nice compliment.  I do take great care to consider my bathing suit choices, and even though I'm in shape, I wear a tankini with a full bottom, and a supportive top.  I also use a cover-up when I get up to walk around.  I'm not one to run around in a skimpy bikini whether I could pull it off or not.  Turns out I'm modest, and that's good with me.

P.S. The same friend gave me another compliment when he asked if he could guess my age.  This time, his wife was sitting with me, and both she and I thought he was treading in dangerous waters, until his first guess was 38!  Whew!  

Friday, March 4, 2011


So I'm back in the saddle again!  I didn't stop writing, but I did escape to Florida for winter break.  I spent a week by the pool soaking in the sunshine and reading or playing in the water with my daughter.  We also spent some time on the beach, collecting shells, and standing at the edge of the surf looking at the sharks out in the water. 

I've spent the last week settling back into our routine, getting used to the cold again, and catching up at work. 

I have some new topics to blog about and I'll get to them in the coming weeks.  For now, I'm going to tell you about the books.  The first one, "The Art of Racing in the Rain," has been on the New York Bestseller's List and was given to me by a girlfriend.  To be honest, I had not heard of it.  It's a dog's story told by the dog, Enzo, and it's brilliant.  The dog reflects back on his life, starting from when he was adopted as a puppy, and how his life changed with each stage in his owner's life.  It's well told, and very touching, and if you've ever owned a dog, I highly recommend this book.  

As a follow-up I read "The Blue Bistro" by Elin Hilderbrand.  This is the second book by this author that I've read, and both have stories built around life on Nantucket.  I've spent time on the island myself, and it's fun to read a book when I know the places she's referenced.  It's definitely 'chic-lit' and not a complicated story, but I would say pick it up if you  are looking for a good beach read.

Right before we left for the airport to come home, I finished, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."  I have to admit I was intimidated by this trilogy and it took me a long time to hop on the band wagon.  I had heard that it was hard to get into because it's based in Sweden and there are a lot of of Swedish references, but if you could make it past the first 75 pages it was really very good.  Well, I was hooked before page 30.  It's a fast paced, intricately told thriller with plenty of twists and turns. I will be reading the rest of the series, and I've already picked up "The Girl who Played with Fire!" 

What are you reading?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

So I'm not quite sure where I stand on Valentines Day.  At times I've fallen on the side of it being a "Hallmark" holiday.  At other times I take objection to recognizing the gift of love in your life only once a year.  Even if we don't say, "I love you," I think we do things for each other all year that show our love for each other.  Well, at least I hope that is the case.  I'm sure there are people out there who definitely need that day to express themselves.  I don't happen to be one of them, but for the last 5 years, having a daughter in elementary school, I have gotten into the spirit of the Happy Heart Day.  

There's something magical about watching a child prepare Valentines for friends, and then pour over the Valentines she receives from  them.  Last year, and this year, I even went as far as organizing the Valentines Day party for her classroom because as her teacher told me, "he's a guy and doesn't do that sort of thing."  Okay.  This year my bubble was almost burst because a few other mom's told me their 4th graders thought they were "too old" for Valentines.  Seriously?  What is a Valentines Day party without Valentines?  Fortunately, my faith was restored because with the exception of one boy who said he 'forgot' his, my daughter had a Valentine from every other child in the class.  

Over the weekend we were inundated with commercials and television shows scripted around Valentines Day.  I opted to watch "Nights in Rodanthe" on the Lifetime Movie Channel.  The best line in the movie was at the end, when Diane Lane's character is talking to her daughter, and says, "there's another kind of love, Amanda. One that gives you the courage to be better than you are, not less than you are. One that makes you feel that anything is possible. I want you to know that you could have that. I want you to hold out for it."  Somewhere along the lines I could have used similar advice.  My mother meant well, but she gave some rather poor advice when it came to relationships.  I will hold onto these words of wisdom from the movie and share them with my own daughter early and often.  Hopefully, she will listen, and hold out for that really special Valentine.  In any event if she too grows up and finds herself ambivalent about Valentines Day, it will not be because I jaded her during her formative years.  My conscience will be clear...

Monday, February 7, 2011


I had nothing riding on the game and didn't really follow either of these teams all season, but the only way I could sit down and watch the game was if I sat down and banged out a blog.  It was a a close game, and I couldn't relax.  I was in constant motion, and was even missing the commercials.  While I did sit down to write, the last five minutes I was on my feet.  Just your average case of Superbowl fever.  

I'm no armchair quarterback, and when a flag is thrown I can't call out the penalty before the announcer, but yes, I like football.  I can't remember liking it as a child, and I'm fairly certain I only attended high school games for the social scene, but somewhere along the lines, I learned to understand the game, and then I was hooked.  Officially, I'm a Patriots fan but since they didn't make it to the big dance, I threw my support for SB45 to the Packers.  It was a good game!    

My daughter is a football fan too.  When mom is watching football on Sunday, what's a girl to do?  She, at least, has the fundamentals, and she likes the Patriots.  I have no doubt my enthusiasm for the team has had an impression.  Although she has her own opinions too, and routes for Atlanta when they are playing, because she was born in Georgia.  Of course!

I didn't see any commercials that 'wowed' me but I am pretty taken with the e-Trade baby.

Packers?  Pittsburgh? Where you the least bit interested? 

As a side note, Tom Brady was voted the NFL MVP...indeed!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Annual Exam

Quick disclaimer!  I'm not a medical expert nor do I claim to be, but I do like to pass on information especially when I think it's important.  A few years back, I was quick to share the news that a deficiency in Vitamin D was linked to several cancers.  Frankly, I can't name them all because I stopped listening after my doctor said, "breast cancer" and named her source as The New England Journal of Medicine.  Although, I do remember she mentioned prostate cancer too.  I was quick to jump on the bandwagon, and had a Vitamin D panel done to make sure I wasn't deficient.  I wasn't, but I do take 1,000 iu of D3 on a daily basis.

I think it's important to be your own health advocate and if your doctor hasn't suggested a Vitamin D panel, ask for one.  And while you are having blood drawn anyway, ask for the CA 125 test.  It's an inflammatory marker and this year I'm asking for this one.  I know I'll be having blood work done (cholesterol, etc.) so while they are at it, I want this included on the lab slip.  Why, you ask?  Because  "CA 125 is a protein that is found in greater concentration in tumor cells than in any other cells in the body, and is measured from a blood sample.  Increases in this protein can be seen in ovarian cancer, "the silent killer," as well as malignancies of the uterine tubes, endometrium, lung, breast, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract." 

Of course, as with any test, there are false positives and "a number of benign conditions can cause elevations of the CA 125 level, including pregnancy, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pancreatitis, normal menstruation, pelvic inflammatory disease, and liver disease.  Benign tumors or cysts of the ovaries can cause an abnormal test result."  For me, dealing with a false positive would not be such a bad thing.   

I'm no stranger to asking a doctor for what I want or need for my own sanity.  A little over 12 years ago, my aunt on my mother's side found out she had Factor 5 leiden, an inherited clotting disorder.  I asked my doctor if I could have the test, and she said I didn't need it because I wasn't at risk.  I wasn't smoking, wasn't using an oral birth control, and I had no surgeries planned.  The following year, after another aunt died, as a result of a cardiac embolism, I insisted on the test.  Turns out, the results were positive.  I have found it's useful information to provide in the course of a pregnancy, and further when I travel, I know it's important for me to drink water and get up and walk around if possible (like when I'm flying).  I also know I shouldn't cross my legs.  Slowly she uncrosses her legs as she's typing now.  Asking for the test made me feel empowered, and I was glad I did.  
As a woman in her mid-forties, risks for certain cancers rise, and if this inflammatory marker can detect one of the many "silent killers," the cancer that isn't detected early enough, or before it's to late, than I'm asking.  Will you?
P.S. I would like to give credit to MedicineNet.com for helping me in my research. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I was going to rant about the snow, but it's not going to help.  It's snowing whether I like it or not, and by the way, I don't.  We have yet another major storm coming tonight and it's supposed to dump anywhere between 6-10 inches here in southeastern Connecticut.  I don't pay that much attention, but we must be hitting some kind of record here for snowfall.  

Anyway, snow means school cancellations and early dismissal (like today) so I got caught up on the Academy Award nominations for 2011.  I am pleased to announce I've actually seen a couple of the movies.  It helps that an animated motion picture actually made it into the best picture category because I saw "Toy Story 3" and it's nomination gives my movie going in 2010 some credibility.  It was actually a beautiful coming of age story, and I'm sure it struck a chord with any mom who faced their teenager heading off to college last fall  or in the next couple of years.  It definitely pulled at the emotional heart strings.  

I also saw "The Town," a rental, and that was very good but I have an affection for Ben Affleck and Boston, and this flick featured both so liking it was a given.  It did not get the nod for Best Picture but several of the supporting actors were nominated.  "The Kids are All Right" was another rental, and frankly, I didn't get it. I like Annette Benning, but thought the movie was so-so.  The movie was about the kids of a lesbian couple who find their biological father. All things considered, the kids were all right when the movie started and they were still all right when the movie ended, and nothing much changed in the middle.  

It doesn't count, but I have "Inception" and "The Social Network" in a pile of movies I have yet to watch. I've wanted to see "The Fighter," but so far no luck getting someone to see it with me.  Mark Wahlberg/Boston, yes, there's a common thread.   

"The King's Speech" led the field with 12 nominations, and I haven't seen it along with lots of other movies.  Namely last year's winner, "The Hurt Locker."  Actually, I'm doing pretty good this year, because I was just looking at the winners from 2009 and realized I didn't see any of those, but  I have "Slumdog Millionaire," "Milk," "The Reader," and "Frost Nixon" in the pile of movies to be seen too.  Somehow I always think I'm going to while away a cold, snowy winter day catching up on movies I haven't seen, but it doesn't happen, and that pile grows.

One of these days I'll catch up.  In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the Oscars, and the winner is....?  What do you think? 


Friday, January 21, 2011


I have never been obsessed with cosmetic surgery.  Well, let me back track, a long time ago I would have had a nose job, but I've never been eager to get my first face lift.  Believe me, I have at least two friends who are counting on a little nip and tuck when they turn 50.  I often wonder to myself, why that would be?  What's the point of a taught face with a wrinkly neck?  To me, it's a tell tale sign that someone has had 'work' done.  Oh, and I learned to live with my nose.

So over the years my only 'cosmetic' improvement has been my green contact lenses, and my push-up bra, but that's another story.  Considering my natural eye color is hazel, this improvement is not a huge stretch.  

I'm still not considering any drastic measures, but I have noticed the signs of time marching across my face.  As in I have a few more lines, yes wrinkles, on my forehead, and maybe my skin isn't as firm as it used to be so I'm considering my anti-aging product options.  I'm not in a full blown panic, but the situation does require my attention.  Fortunately, I can rule out products for, ahem, 50 and over, so that narrows things down a bit.  But still, the options are overwhelming, and there's a product out there for everything.    

For now, I've settled on a pretty good eye cream, ANEW Reversalist Illuminating Eye System by Avon, and have gone the extra mile for the lines with Clinique Repairwair Laser Focus.  This maybe overkill but when is it to early?  I will let you know whether or not I see any improvements.  In as much as I'm willing to age 'gracefully,' I don't want to look old before my time, whenever that time maybe?  

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I thought I would re-post this piece I wrote last year when I was trying to process the news, a year ago today, that my uncle had died. 

This morning was a typical Thursday morning.  Up with the alarm, make the bed, hop in the shower, and then I noticed the voicemail message.  In my family, there's only one reason why my cousin would be calling me at 6:15am, and it isn't to spread good news.  This is confirmed by my cousin's voice because I can tell straight away she's trying to remain composed, and in her message, she goes on to say that her father has died during the night.  He was married to my mother's 1st cousin,who was more like a sister, and predeceased him almost 10 1/2 years ago, and while that doesn't officially make him my Uncle, we always called them Aunt and Uncle, and they were a big part of my life.  My cousin and I are also close, and I was the first person she called. 

Of course, I immediately called her back to express my heartfelt sympathy and to find out how or why, he died.  At 69, he wasn't old, and he seemed to be in good health, and he was still going to work everyday.  Apparently, he died, peacefully in his sleep.  In my opinion, this is the way to go, but it still comes as a shock.  His live-in girlfriend, significant other, tried to wake him this morning and he was unresponsive so she called the paramedics, and there was nothing they could do.

This was one morning when I wished I lived closer, my cousin lives in NJ, along with the great majority of my extended family, and I'm here in CT.  I would have called work and headed over to be with her and help in someway.  Instead, I'm struggling through the work day.  Obviously, I'm not actually working, because here I am composing this post, but I thought it would help me process, and then maybe I could get some work done.  

I have a lot of good memories of my Uncle.  I remember the Tic/Tac's (orange) he would bring home from his 2nd job at Shea Stadium when my cousin and I were kids.  It's funny how the mind works, because I hadn't thought of that in years.  However, I still have an affection for Tic/Tac's.  I also have a memory of us sitting in the car with him, waiting in line for gas (remember the 70's?), and him telling goofy jokes to help the time pass.  He also asked us which rock band had a name that you could spell forwards and backwards, and it was still the same?  Abba, of course!  

Our families were on vacation together in Nag's Head, NC, when he took some of his first photos.  He captured an eagle one morning while walking on the beach at sunrise.  Photography would become one of his great passions, and I have a picture of a sunflower he captured and gave me last year hanging on my wall.  Sunflowers are a personal favorite, and this one is beautiful.  I also asked him to be at my daughter's 1st Holy Communion last year and capture the memories like only he could.  The pictures came out beautiful and afterward, I can only hope I expressed my gratitude sufficiently in my thank you note.

I remember how wonderful he was in the aftermath of my aunt dying when he carried on with my cousin's baby shower exactly as she would have wanted, and fortunately sought my guidance when it came to giving my cousin the gift for her unborn baby from her mother.  It was the last gift opened and there wasn't a dry eye in the room.  

In the last ten years, my uncle was a devoted 'pop pop' to his grandson, my cousin's son.  They had a very close bond and I can only imagine how difficult it will be for him to say good-bye.  They have shared a passion for sports, and a silly sense of humor.  Every picture I have of my godson was taken by his grandfather, and they are perfect.

Of course, there were not so good times too.  I was one of the first to realize he was dating again very soon after his wife died, and 'she' was another first cousin of my mother and my aunt.  At the time, I couldn't understand why he would be so blatant about it, but I think he was trusting me because it was all going over my cousins head.  She was just home with her baby and in la la land, and it wasn't time to share the news with her.  In time, she would need to deal with it and I was there for her.  Initially, it caused a little family strife but it's been 10 years, and they were happy (maybe).

We were supposed to see him a couple of weeks ago at my cousins house for a post Christmas, Christmas celebration, and snow canceled our plans.  Snow.  Last time I saw him we were celebrating a christening in Long Island.  I always enjoyed seeing him at our family celebrations over the years.  Inevitably, I would wind up sitting with him, and we always had a great time, and shared lots of laughs.  The next family gathering will be for his wake on Sunday, and the funeral service on Monday.  I did not see that coming. 

Well, I didn't get a lot of work done today, but I do feel better.  Thanks for letting me share. 



Thursday, January 13, 2011


Snow is everywhere.  Lots of snow.  And I mean lots.  While that isn't a big deal for many areas in the country,  in Southeastern Connecticut it's not that common.  I have always touted the mild winters here. So the fact that we got 14" of the white flakes yesterday, is surprising.  The second notable issue about the storm is that the weather people got it right.  We have been warned countless times before about an impending storm that somehow manages to fall apart the minute school is canceled.   

But yesterday, everything fell into place, and we got the snow.  Officially, I've had enough.  While my winter mantra has always been, "everyday is a day closer to spring," this is one year when I really mean it.  

Of course, there are some nice parts, like the stillness after a good old fashioned snow storm.  I stood outside yesterday, just enjoying the quiet.  Until after a few minutes, there was the familiar sound of a plow not too far away.  Momentarily, that was nice.  And yes, the snow is pretty to look at  in the trees, and the way it glistened in the sunshine today did make for a gorgeous picture.  I even noticed that people seemed upbeat today.  They were probably happy to be out from under all the snow, to have power or just to be out of the house.  

Then I fell, and there it is, the downside.  I was heading to my car, and I didn't notice the ice under the packed down snow in the parking lot, and I went down hard.  My lower back and right shoulder will be feeling this fall for days despite the Aleve.  The upside is my Starbucks coffee was not lost in the fall, because somehow I managed to keep it balanced and upright.  That must have been quite a sight. 

So there you have it, there's a lot of winter still to come, and I've officially had enough.       

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lounge Wear

I am not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the lines I've developed an unhealthy obsession with lounge wear.

It started slowly some years ago when I figured out pajama bottoms were comfortable, and started referring to them as 'happy pants.'  By that I mean they are that pair of pants you want to slip on after over-indulging on holiday food.  Which morphed into the pair of pants you want to change into before sitting down on the couch to watch a movie.  Which further evolved into the pair of pants you want to change into after work and maybe even slouch around in all day on Saturday.
Then I discovered lounge wear which is not just your average pair of 'sweats.'   Remember the housedress from years ago? A simple, washable frock, suitable for housework?  Think about what June Cleaver was likely wearing before she dressed to welcome her family home from their day...the skirt, and the pearls.  Well, lounge wear has become the new housedress, and somewhere along the lines my idea of 'happy pants' became fashionable, and they are not just for sitting on the couch anymore.  Brilliant.  I never really saw the  sense of house clothes other than pajamas.  They come in various styles like capri's, low-rise, and yoga pants, and fabrics such as fleece, velour, and heavy cotton.  

To avoid the mall, I do most shopping online, and apparently the retailers have caught on too, because I've noticed lounge wear is it's own category between active wear and sleepwear.  It's one of the first places I look, hence my obsession.  Lounge wear is not too youthful, and it doesn't have to be frumpy, in fact, in some cases, it might even be considered sexy.  I think a woman's personal style evolves overtime, and mine is comfortable. 

Friday, January 7, 2011


I was going to write on a completely different topic today and then I opened my email.  

One of the blogs I read everyday is written by Therese Borchard, called Beyond Blue, which is primarily about her spiritual journey through mental health.  Now and again, she quotes an author, and today it was from the book, "We:  Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love"  by Robert A. Johnson, and how he distinguishes human love, or what I will take one step further, and call "mature" love.  He describes it as the precious, committed love that is with us every day, the "stirring-the-oatmeal" love.  Johnson writes:

"Stirring oatmeal is a humble act--not exciting or thrilling. But it symbolizes a relatedness that brings love down to earth. It represents a willingness to share ordinary human life, to find meaning in the simple, unromantic tasks: earning a living, living within a budget, putting out the garbage, feeding the baby in the middle of the night. To "stir the oatmeal" means to find the relatedness, the value, even the beauty, in simple and ordinary things, not to eternally demand a cosmic drama, an entertainment, or an extraordinary intensity in everything."

Sprinkle the oatmeal with respect, and trust, and there's a relationship for the long haul.  I know it's far too early to be borrowing from the work of other people, but I couldn't have said this better.  Sure, the rush of romantic love or a new relationship is a thrill, but in order to go the distance, you've got to be able to stir the oatmeal, and that suits me perfectly.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Have you noticed that merging has gone by the wayside?  There's certain rules to doing it the 'right' way like not coming to a complete stop at the end of the on ramp in hopes of fitting into traffic cruising by at speeds of 65 or greater.  How is that smart?  Or just moving into traffic without looking to see the tractor trailer barreling down the highway.  The list goes on and on.  And this doesn't just go for coming onto the highway, the drivers already on the interstate have a certain responsibility too like slowing down to let someone in or moving over to the barren left lane.  Simple courtesy or so it seems.  Then there are the side roads, when two lanes are going to become one, isn't better to find a space in the left lane to slide into rather than picking up speed in a desperate attempt to get to the head of the traffic in the left lane.  Where have the rules of the road gone?  

The same thing goes for the morning.  I like to ease into the day.  I don't check messages, any of them, until I've taken a shower.  I'm not in a race to the front of the line.  I like to merge into the day, enjoy the cup of coffee, listen to the radio, glance at the headlines before I head into the steady stream of the day. Call me 'old' school, but just because we have more ways of communicating with each other available to us, doesn't necessarily mean we can't give each other a little space to merge.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy 2011

This isn't going to be about new year's resolutions because frankly, I don't commit to them.  I make up things that I want to do better as I go along.  That's why I'm writing on the 3rd and not the 1st.  

At some point in the summer of 2010, I cut back on coffee and then a little later, sugar, and I'll keep going in 2011.  Although, let me just say, that in trying to cut back on sugar, the most significant change I've made is switching to greek yogurt.  I keep telling myself I'll get used to it, but it's been awhile now, and I eat it but it doesn't get easier!  I also strive to be a better person all of the time...kinder, more patient, etc., and most of the time I manage to pull it off, but some days could still use a little work.  So I'll tweek that some more in the coming year.  

I could say, "I'll join a gym" but I won't.  In the past, the only reason I went to the gym was to participate in the exercise classes, but at that time, I didn't have anyone I needed to get ready for school or help with homework, and classes at our local gym are in the morning or early evening so that's out.  I thought about these new 'anytime' gyms that have been cropping up.  We have two near me, one is Anytime Fitness and the other is Snap Fitness, but I don't see the point of working out at a bigger facility by myself, at let's say 10pm, when I could just as easily do that at home.  But I did buy a workout program on DVD called Physique 57, and I'm going to do my best to incorporate this routine into my exercise regimen.  I may even write a review after I give it some time to make a difference.

So here's my point, at this stage of the game, we're older and wiser so keep doing what's working, purge what's not, and have a positively healthy and happy 2011.