Monday, August 31, 2009

Birthday Boy Tim ! Happy 50th!

Last year I wrote this great birthday wishes for my middle brother Timmy. I was just learning this blog writting and loading pictures.

It's now another year - Tim - just finshed his 50th year! Congratulations. For his 49th year a bit of my tribute to his great guy.

For another birthday wish to Tim, my little brother - the only one left in his 40's (but not for long!) wrote on his blog. Now really - It is cool to turn 50!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Art..... take a few moments

I found this in doing my reading and research ..... You may very well be able to name some of these beauties. It's a couple of minutes long - it took my breath away.
500 Years Of Female Portraits In Western Art - Click here for another funny movie.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Another Blanket

I think everyone needs to have a hobby or two. Some activity that they receive enjoyment from. It needs to be an activity that transcends a period in life, or lasts your lifetime. It may be sports, volunteering, computer related, music, art - there are so many to choose from.

One of my many hobbies is fiber arts. My grandma Nat Nat taught me to crochet and to embroider, mom taught me to knit and to sew, grandma Foley let me assist with the treddle sewing machine when I was really little. From there I taught myself to do latch hook rugs, and lately bobbin lace. I was industrious in sewing while growing up through school. Even to the point of designing my own clothes. Desinged suede purses (from left overs of the indian guide projects) that I sold at school to my friends. Thanks for the support - to dad you didn't yell too much when you found another pin with your foot in the rug and mom who was helping put on the last of a hem as I would be going out the door.

When I was cleaning out my cellar many years ago (about 15 yrs) I found my metal box of crochet hooks and some thread from back when I would crochet with my grandmother. Within about an hour, I was crocheting once again. Something like falling off the bicycle - it comes right back.

At that time, I was awaiting the arrival of my second neice/newphew. Thinking back about the blankets that Nat Nat made for everyone, hmmm I'll make a baby blanket for the next arrival. Jessica was born early December, and I had only a few weeks to make a blanket that I wanted to give to her for Christmas. So off to the store to evaluate yarns, hooks, and patterns. By the time the holiday arrived, I finished the blanket. It was really lovely.

So time continues and six more neices and nephews arrive and I continued to make each of them a blanket. Some original, some adaptations and others straight from patterns. What also begins is making the blankets and shawls to give as presents for other folks, making premi-hats for the babies at the hospital, making prayer shawls to give to the ministry at my mom's church. I can carry most of the projects with me, so while waiting, sitting in a car, and any time not being productive, I'm creating.

Once I completed the baby blankets - my first neice didn't receive a blanket. So she had the opportunity to pick out a "big girl" blanket. As she scanned the dozens of books, she would exclaim "you can make this?". So she decided on a blanket and I went to work. It was a long project, 56 different squares with three dimensional flowers. Let's say she still loves it. Then it was Jessica's turn - it didn't take her long to decide. She selected an award winning quilt like blanket. This was truly a challenge. During Camp this summer - I finished it! She was so pleased she took it to WLC in Washington DC! Here they are.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Yes manners - Is anyone out there teaching manners and life skills? Kids can only learn manners and life skills from their parents. So Parents - are you listening?

It absolutely bugs me that so much of society has let their manners fall by the wayside. "What Every Child Should Learn Before You Let Them Fly the Coop - Life 101" by William Hageman was published in the Courant today. It is a great article.

At Camp Aunt Patty we had a chore list - heck I have a chore list just for me each day so that my daily routine stays pretty much intact so I get a real life and plenty of play time. The kids got to decide what chores they were capable of and those that they needed skills - I taught them.

There are simple skills that by five years old they should be able to set the table, ok not the good china; make a bed; sort clothes for the laundry and answer the phone politely. Of course there is the dinner table etiquette. Come on folks, saying please and thank you, using a napkin, chewing with your mouth closed, not talking with food in your mouth, elbows - yes no elbows on the table while eating. Geez mom, I sound like you! By the time I was six to seven years old, I could navigate a multicourse meal in the company of adults while precariously sitting on several Manhattan phone books to reach the table - thank you Uncle Bob.

One other (only kidding) item that bugs me - meeting someone new. The other weekend I was introduced to a playmate of my oldest niece (13 yr old). Her eyes didn't make contact, she whispered a faint 'hi', and lastly offered a limp dead fish for a hand shake. On the other hand, my nephew was with me at a client's and he was introduced to one of the workman. He stood up, wiped his hand, shook hands well (I checked later - busybody!) and greeted him polietly. Also when we left, he acknowledged the meeting. I was so proud of him and told him so!

So Folks - lets all take a moment in this much to busy world to remember some of the charms of life when we used manners. It's the little things that make all the difference. If you need a refresher - check out Emily's 17th edition, I picked up my newer edition at a used book sale for $2. Looking for a used book sale - find one here in your neighborhood.

Remember that manners do matter!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tomatos - What to do?

Ok - this year I got out there early - before Memorial day - and planted a heirloom plum variety and a grape variety. I covered them at night when it was a bit too chilly. Watered them as they needed it and then........... mother nature delivered rain, rain and more rain. It's rained ever since up until about two weeks ago. Whatever flowers and leaves were on the plants were washed away.

As I write this, I have just pulled the planter out of it's spot and dumped the vine and put it away for the winter. This is a sad state of tomato affairs. I do remember being in grade school and being able to swipe a ripe tomato out of the garden and take it with me to school. Not this year.

Not all was lost as I did get some fruit. The grape variety put out three, I enjoyed two and a critter came for the third one and the plum plant put out one (can you believe that!) that never ripened and some critter took it!

I must say it is a tough summer for many of us that enjoy the home grown tomato off their own vine. I hope your garden has done better!

ps - just wait till next year - I'm going to come up with some type of comtraption that will keep the floods from taking my tomato plants and probably drive my condo board crazy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Change is only constant in our lives

Having had a bit of time to relax driving back from the Catskills, it occured to me that a year ago I was in the midst of selling my former home and I had not fully moved into my current home. Driving gives me a chance to reflect and to ponder and organize the future.

Since then my home was sold, I moved again, lots of construction in the new home, was invited to meet the new neighbors party, took care of my brother's kids for a whole week, missed the holidays with my family due to illness, cousins party in Stockbridge, tax season, went to Florida for a few days in February, went to several lace meetings and even went to lace retreat, handled the door at the book sale, began "summer camp" at Aunt Patty's, family shower, wedding, graduations, confirmations and picnic, finished Jessica's blanket and began Shelby's blanket, and even a get away up to the Catskills for a couple of days.

How has your last twelve months been? Take a moment to review your year, you'll find some joy in thinking about those times and experiences that have brought you to today.

Friday, August 21, 2009

......sizzling now

For us up here in New England, wow - summer just arrived and not too late. We have temps in excess of high 80s and the humidity to match.

While this late arrival hasn't affected my air conditioning bill - that's good. It just almost seems like why bother. In the mid-west, the kids are back to school. Our kids here will be back to school in two weeks, and then it is September!

I was looking at the calendar - oh my goodness - September and lots to do like fairs and such and the BIGE, October and the leaves, reunion and Halloween, then November and we begin the holiday season again and slide right into the new year.

Put that all aside .... pour yourself a cool lemonade and enjoy the weather while we have it. Get out and take a walk at dusk - it's generally refreshing. Maybe I'll see you around the neighborhood.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spencer and the Museum

According to my nephew - this is the greatest museum ever. We spent the day at the CT Science Museum. We met author, Bob Crelin, as he unveiled his new children's book "Faces of the Moon". Of course, if there is a book involved, my nieces and nephews get books, especially if I have the opportunity to have the books personally signed. We got the book, we spoke with the author, even looked through a couple of telescopes, and then Mr. Crelin was kind enough to sign the book to Spencer.

Next it was Dionsaurs at the 3-D movie theatre. It was really good. You could almost imagine the drool dropping into your lap or the tail swish by you. There were a couple of times that I jumped!

We took a quick stroll to see the Dragon Boat Races down on the river front. There was some fierce competition. Unfortunately, we were being kicked out of the Museum and didn't have time to return to see anymore of the Festival. (mark the calendar for next year)

It was off to Level 4, 5, 6 - believe or not, we even missed a couple of exhibits, and we did a few twice. There was sports medicine, racing cars, and it was Space Day at the Museum. We saw a walking space suite that was later doned by a real astronaut. There was "be green exhibit" and it included a movie mc'd by a sheep, and lots of ways to become better at leaving a smaller carbon footprint. Another whole exhibit on the use of wind, water, and biofuels to make our planet a safer place to live. We played in the kids station with all sorts of water games. We raced cars - once Spenc got the hang of it, viola he was leaving me in the dust. Then to the relaxation mind game where two opponents put on a headband that is tied to this table, the one that shows the most relaxation will move the ball the farest. I'm not going to say how that went, but it wasn't any better for me :(

On our way home, we played our car game. I drove him by the Capitol in Hartford as I was telling him that it is my favorite CT building. He brushed me off until he "saw the gold dome"I must say we had a great time today. Dined al fresco once again, and we got to watch Shrek 3 as our movie tonight. I will say, he finished reading the book he brought with him, read the book we brought today, and has another one that we took out from the library. Go Spencer!

It doesn't get better than this - another thankful day :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Day Two

Another great day comes to a close at the best camp going. I need some sleep as he and I were running all day. We spent time in my office, he's earned some bucks for doing the shredding. My ready assistant packed the car with the items I needed for the paint & closet cleanout at the estate I'm handling. Then for our Mystery visit - we picked Noah Webster's home - yes that is our very favorite lexicographer.

Then as I prepared supper, I recommended to my faithful companion that he should take one-half hour to read his book. We dined alfresco on a new recipie of chicken, sausage, & potatoes. Now let me tell you, this boy can eat the potatoes. Though I needed to coax him to have a good helping of salad, and he did without a peep.

One extraordinary event was this a.m. when he awoke and came in to awake me and to see KC. Oh my goodness, he was petting her and she was loving life. This is the biggest break through yet with her.

Spenc refreshed his skills on making lace, finished his own, one-of-a-kind snake bookmark. Cross, Twist, Cross, twist the working pair and close the pin. We had a klondike bar - and got ice cream and chocolate all over us. We closed the night watching a cute movie - Sand Lot 2 and finally turned in with a couple of "thankfuls" to remember the day with.

It Doesn't get much better! Tomorrow - CT Science Museum.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Take me out to the Ball Park

.... as the old song says, and with that session three of Camp Aunt Patty commenced today. My grateful, smart and funny nephew, Spencer, is here for his stay. Agenda is a Rock Cats baseball game, Mystery visit, and then on to the CT Science Museum.

We did our "traditional" lunch at Steve's, then off to the Library for more books and a few movies. My nephew is a master at being a grocery shopping assistant. He's turned me on to Fusion V-8 juice - yum yum.

Then off to the ball park, making sure we packed rain gear - yes - it rained most of the day though just in time for the park to open, the sun slid out and we ended up with the a most enjoyable evening.

First order of business was a souvenier, I gave him a ball cap of his choosing and then off for the autographs by the players.

How exciting this was - these guys play in the Minnesota Twins Farm System AA ball. If you don't know the Farm system, the first level is the Rookie, next up is A, then up to AA, and final stop is AAA before reaching the majors. Spenc and I did a thorough review of the stats of the team members, he dusted off my unused baseball knowledge. One thing I did notice that they were all born in the mid 1980s.

Could this get any better? Of course it could - in the 2nd inning -voila - Spenc gets to catch a foul ball! He's the now proud owner of a AA league baseball. We had great seats - two rows above the home teams' dugout. It was a long game. Tied for the entire game - zero to zero - so off to twelvth inning! Then it was 1 out, man on first and third, and the batter hits the ball, low, a grounder and the guy of third makes it home! Yippie - we were yelling, stomping feet, banging on the seats as that's a baseball thing as the concrete doesn't make much sound. It really doesn't get much better! Thanks Spenc!

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Friday, August 7, 2009

Estate Sale

It's a necessary service to have when it is time to clean out the house of someone who has passed away. I hired such a service, DiDi and Elaine, from a great recommendation from our realtor. We (the family and I) finally decided to close up the house and sell it.

Over the last several weeks, we have been cleaning up the outside, clearing old stuff from closets, and papers, etc. The the last of the personal items to remember "mom & dad" by were removed by the children (grown adults). Our estate folks have been working tirelessly on researching some of the items, pricing, cleaning and fixing just about all that was in the house.

Tomorrow morning before you know it, there will be a line forming outside the home by anxious antique seekers, interested parties, and who knows else. It will be a great time. Keep a good thought so we raise the $$'s for the estate.

Just a thought, as I walked through last night, there was a sense of relief and a sense of nostalgia. There were items for sale I remembered on any one of my visits to their home. It isn't the item per se, it was the memory triggered by seeing the item. Once the items find their new home, those memories will last my lifetime. I'm thankful for that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A New Day - Take Stock

Today was a long day...a good day. A day of good bye's, a day of remembering, and a day to be looking forward. As we listened to the service for Aunt Bea, I felt a sense of peace come over me. How fortunate I have been to have had such a wonderful lady in my life. It brought up a question... How different I may have been had I not this person in my life? Such a life question to ponder?

On my way home, being somewhat inspired and at peace, I stopped at the book store for some new additions to my library. As I was browsing, one of the clerks came by and wanted to know if he could be of help in finding a book. I thanked him, but I told him I was just happy enough looking about. He came back twice again, some what puzzeled that I said I was happy and "wanted to be sure". I told him I was fine, thanked him again, and said "oh yes, there is one thing... I need you to have a great evening". He walked away tickled, and I found some great titles, checked out, and kept the 'sense of peace' glowing in me.

For Today, take a moment to take stock of the absolute abundance you have at your doorstep and I hope that you can find the 'sense of peace' in each of your days.

~~~~~One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.~~ Goethe~~~

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dear Aunt Bea,

Today we had the opportunity to relive some memories, tell stories, and wonder about the future.

My Aunt Bea (great Aunt to be technical) was a solid fixture in my life since childhood. She was married to my Uncle George who was my grandfather's youngest sibling. In my grandfather's family, there were 13 children that lived. My papa was the 2nd oldest. My mom and Aunt Bea were only a few years apart in age, hence her daughter Kathy and I, while separate generations, were only 3 months apart.

During my childhood I spent lots of time at their home. Summer and school vacations. It was always an adventure to be there. In the summer, besides jumping in the little pool in the back yard, we would walk to the school yard, play, make gimp things and just be kids. Though there was one condition, I had to practice my accordian for a minium of one-half hour each day there. When we were good, it was a trip to Crickets for long dogs. If you aren't a native of Stratford and the surrounding area and at least 40 years old, you may only hear of the many tales of this most famous hot dog stand near the beaches there. By the way - they had the best onion rings - real onion rings and the absolute best tomato rice soup I have ever had.

Being from a large family, there are certain ones that no matter where or when, they are always there, in your corner as if time stood still. Kathy and I remain close in a knowing kind of way. I was her maid of honor in her wedding some 33 years ago. Today I spoke with little Cindy, the flower girl, now a beautiful woman, said she still has the dress I designed and sewed for her to be in the wedding. Today we laughed a bit, hugged alot, (Aunt Bea was a great hugger) tears fell. Aunt Bea was sick for the last year and the second fall made going home only a dream. One of her dreams came true, she is now at rest with the love of her life.

She had time for everyone and anyone. She was a great knitter, fiber arts excellence was big in my family. Her Christmas card was one I always looked forward to receiving each year. Since Uncle Georgie left us a long time ago, Aunt Bea was my steady dance partner at all sorts of family events. She wouldn't move until I coaxed her up. One thing about Aunt Bea, you knew where you stood. If you wanted an opinion or not, she was there to give you a gentle push, wise wisdom, or a smack (only kidding)or the raised eyebrow that meant you better listen. She was one of my Aunts that celebrated who I was. So refreshing, not the pushy type that wanted to impose their life onto you. She supported my life for me.

So today, I raise my glass to you, you will always be a grand Aunt to me. Thank you for all your kind lessons. I take each day and continue to strive to be as great a grand Aunt as you were to me as I hope to be to my nieces and nephews. I'll miss you lots, say Hi to Uncle Georgie.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Paper or Cotton?

My vote is for Cotton!

I keep a pretty green home and operate in a green way. It stems back to the late 60s and 70s when I was in the environmental club in high school. Then of course it continues with my common sense and bottom line approach to life. Did your mom often say "waste not, want not"? For me, that was mom, grandmoms,dad and grandpa's, teachers and all those adults that helped shape me in those tender young years.

Facts - Paper towels were invented by Arthur Scott in 1907 because of a mishap in a delivery of paper. Today 3,000 tons, that's 6 million pounds, of paper towels are used by 90% of US households EACH DAY. Make this easier - based on the number of households in the US, average weight per roll, it equates to about 8 rolls a week. A roll of paper towels costs somewhere between 80cents to $1.40. A cotton cloth towel costs somewhere between 49cents and $2 unless you need the designer kind. The later can be used over and over, while the former is a one time use.

Fast forward - when the nieces and nephew spent time here last month, we went through a learning process. First of all, I don't own any paper napkins - you must use cloth napkins. Not that kids use, or think of using napkins, it's better than using your sleeve or forearm. Cloth napkins work better and don't cost me anything.

Then there was the struggle to grab for the paper towels. In my home it takes probably two-three months to go through the roll in the kitchen and almost a year for the roll in the laundry. I'm not a fan of paper, though it has it purpose and as I write this blog I can't think of a reason? I have a stack of cloth towels for the kitchen. I bought batches at chain discount stores over the years. Then my niece was talking, using her hands(it's a family thing) she knocked over a full glass of drink, twice mind you. I grabbed several cloth towels and we mopped it up. The towels were rinsed, set to dry, and then were washed on laundry day. Each day or so, I take out fresh ones and retire the soiled ones to the laundry. Simple enough.

My environmental friends can add on to the amount of trees to be saved, water, electricity and poluntants that would not be emmitted we we all lessened the use of paper towels. What about you? Paper or Cotton? Make a difference, save a few bucks, it only takes one more person to continue to make a difference for all of us.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Happy August 1st!

Can you believe it - seven months have gone by. We are past the "hump" of the year. Summer is ticking by. Five months left of the first decade of this new millenium. Ten years ago.... we were faced with whether or not all the computers in the world would come to a standstill at the stroke of midnight. Here are some other interesting events that happened.
Money and Finance
The Euro was established which ended the multiple currencies used by countries in Europe. The Dow closes for the first time over 10,000. Bill Gates becomes our first One-hundred billionaire. The ExxonMobil merger is completed making it the largest company on the planet. The Roth IRA is introduced to the US Tax Code. Federal spending was $1,700 billion and the debt was $5,900 billion (hmm?) and you need $17 in 1999 to buy what $1 purchased in 1913.
Entertainment and Sports
Napster debuts it's downloading music service and we all know that it began the lawsuit mania. Turin, Italy gets to host the 2006 Olympics; Lance Armstrong wins his first Tour de France. Tori Murden is first woman to row across the Atlantic in 81 days, Hicham El Guerrouj runs the fastest mile at 3:43.13 in Rome and Prescot and Elson set the endurance record at 233 days plus for a hot air balloon ride.
Technology and Science
Microsoft launches Windows 98, Apple brings the first iBook to the market place, China makes huge restrictions on internet cafes. NASA launches lots of satelites and loses the Mars Orbital. Pluto has scientist wonder about it's orbit. Médecins Sans Frontièrs or Doctors Without Borders receives the Nobel Peace Prize.
World News
Yelstin resigns and Putin steps up; the world population exceeds 6 billion people; the Scottish Parliament is opened by Queen Elizabeth; Nanvut becomes the third territory in Canada; peace agreement is reached in Northern Ireland; Nelson Mandela steps down as the first black president of South Africa; Helen Clark becomes the first elected female Prime Minister in New Zealand; George W. Bush seeks the Republican nomination for President of US.
Personal Notes
My youngest niece and nephew were not born yet; my business had just celebrated its first year of success; my youngest brother was in preparation of moving his family to PA; my volunteer work with the Friends was picking up momentum, and my first cat was alive.

Some thoughts... there were many tradegies during the year, Mother Nature threw her weight around with tornados, avalanches, earthquakes, tsunamis; there were wars waging in many places, specific individuals waged their own wars against society. We lost so many people - my thoughts still go to those that remain. If I missed an event you remember, let me know. There was plenty of stuff going on that didn't make the news. Why don't you take a moment to look back and appreciate those folks that were with you then.... Life is a Journey not the Destination. Enjoy Today - Happy August 1st.