Saturday, December 25, 2010

Growing Up

Last night, Jonathan "caught me" in the bathroom closet, filling Christmas stockings. He looked at me and said, "So, it's true!" My heart sank. Nobody had ever really TOLD him...and bless his heart, he still held a spark of longing for the wonder. So, my boy grew up a little bit tonight, and I never expected it. As my husband said, "Well, at least now we don't have to eat those cookies and drink that beer he always leaves for Santa!"

And, true, this is the first year that Jonathan has not left a note for Santa, and some carrots for the reindeer, and a beer to quench that fat old man's thirst. And, true, we don't have to write a reply with our left hand, thanking him for his generosity!

Life changes, and things stay the same. It's all so interesting and beautiful and confusing and sad. But mostly it's a lesson in learning, and that's a good thing.

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm a Genius!!

Well, we finally brought the Christmas tree up from the cellar this afternoon! It got put together pretty fast, with help from Warren. And then...

...I worked each branch into a "natural" form. This took quite awhile to finish - it's a 10' tree! I took a bit of a rest, and then went over to the Christmas boxes.

"What are you doing?" Warren asked, a look of fear on his face.
"I'm going to put the lights on the tree!" I replied, hoping for the next question ("Need help?") which did not occur.
"Well, isn't that nice!" he said.

Many years ago, I remember dropping by my parents' home one evening in December. I put my key in the lock and helped myself into the house. My dad was sitting on the couch, reading. "Hi Dad!" He grumbled some response. I noticed that their table-top artificial tree had been put up. I also noticed the lights and thought, "OMG! Those lights are horrible!" I walked into the kitchen, in search of my mother, who I hoped would be happier to see me than my dad was!

Mom was in the kitchen, rinsing some dishes in the sink. I saw her wiping her eyes.

"What's wrong, Mom?" I asked.
"Oh, honey, nothing's wrong. I'm just being stupid about the Christmas tree lights." she replied.
I gave her a kiss and said, "Hang on. I'll take care of it."

I went back into the living room and sat by my dad, making some small talk. Then I said, "The tree sure looks nice! Wow, those lights are really something." And they were. They were very heavily laden on the branches - as if someone had sort of dropped the whole strand and they landed, and they were done. They were horrid.

Thinking to myself that this would be a very bold move, but reminding myself that I no longer lived there so would not have to endure the after-effects of my actions, I stood up and began re-arranging the lights. My dad kept reading. I think he was so mad he didn't care if I had removed all of them. My mom stayed in the kitchen.

I worked and worked. By the time I was finished, that little tree looked all lit up, but there was not one sign of a cord in sight. Somehow, I'd woven them all into the branches. Felling pretty proud of myself, I said "Don't you think that looks a little better?" My dad said, "What do I know? Ask your mother!"

So I did. Mom came out of the kitchen and her face just lit up. "Thank you, Mary! It looks so much better! I tried to tell your dad that's not how you put lights on a tree, but he just got mad at me."

Tonight, I remembered this story as I wove the cords of lights between the branches. It was a lot of work! By the time I finished, I was sweating. Warren came over - right as I was finishing - and said, "Wow! You're a genious!"

I said, "I am?"

"Yes! It looks great!" he insisted.

Who knew? I think I learned how to be a genius from my mom. My temper, I learned from my dad! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Feeling Loved

This evening, after hearing the news of Elizabeth Edwards' young life coming to it earthly end, I received two emails from two people who know me pretty well. They thought about me when they heard of her death. She is one of my life heroes. I want to share these emails with you, and my responses to them.

Dear Mary,
   Don just told me he’d read on Google that Elizabeth Edwards had died.   I know you will grieve over this and that you were a great fan of this lovely lady.   Know I have you in my heart.   Peace and good - Sally

I’m so saddened by this news. I found out before your email came. Just hung up from talking to Amy. What a great woman. Now I MUST read her second book; her first was incredible.

Thanks for the love.


Dearest Mary,

I know you must be grieving deeply today, for I remember how much Elizabeth's books and her life meant to you.
Are you okay?

Anne Marie

How sweet of you, Anne Marie! Thank you. Yes, my heart is very heavy tonight. I watched a beautiful report on her on MSNBC this morning, and remember thinking, “I hope she lives past Christmas.” I didn’t have any idea she was so gravely ill.

Her spirit will live on in millions of women who probably believed in her much more than her husband. I have to keep reminding myself that SHE is the winner in all this, even though it appears he is. I just ache for her children, more than anything. She’s fine now.

As it turns out, tonight was the monthly Healing Service at St. Luke’s, so I had the opportunity to sit quietly and think about her and say an extra prayer for her children. I’m okay. God’s in charge. There’s nothing I can do. God will take care of me and you and everyone else who will miss her passionate and lovely presence on this earth.

Perhaps I should make a SoulCollage card about her. And I’ll start wearing that button I have: Elizabeth Edwards for First Lady. She sure won that campaign, didn’t she?

Love you. Thanks so much.


May God bless her beautiful children, and may her light perpetual shine upon all of us. Thank you, God, for sharing this beautiful woman with us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Late, as usual!

You'd think, being the "First Family" of a church, that we'd be the "first" to have our Christmas decorations up and lights in the windows. We always talk about it. It just never happens. So, here we are on December 6th and still no tree up! I did put battery-operated tea lights in the windows, but they've already gone dead!

So tonight, I remembered the lights I'd strung around our mantle this summer - to brighten things up. They are still there, my only invitation so far into this season of Advent - waiting - for Christmas to happen. I rather love the effect these lights have on me.

Late or not, at least the feeling of Christmas is in the air. And did I mention that our Christmas Cactus is blooming - right on time!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Something Creative

Yesterday was kind of a strange day for me. It was Tuesday, so I had to work. Work was frustrating. I just felt like my time was being wasted with really trivial things, and it didn't make me feel important or necessary. 

I met my friend for coffee after work, and that was fun. It was good to hear someone else "complain" besides my own thoughts in my own head. It's always good to get together with someone and get a different perspective on life!

Warren and Jonathan went to bed early. I spent too much time on the internet, but it was interesting! It's so easy to get carried away, catching up on people and places. Anyway, suddenly it was after 11 p.m. and I was dripping with fatigue. But I could not go to bed, as I had not done one thing even remotely creative all day.

So, I took a deep breath. I walked into the dining room - where my journal was waiting - and looked at a blank page. I picked up a pen. With my left hand, in large letters, I wrote "SOMETHING CREATIVE." Then I took almost every one of my rubber stamps and imprinted them on the page. I picked up some pastels (which I haven't touched in almost four years) and spread them around on the page. Here's the result.
Well, I was so pleased with myself, how could I ever go to bed? I had to do some more. So I made this page, which underneath says, "Because she just had to."

 I still had one more in me, and this one - my favorite of the evening - is what happened:

 Needless to say, I went to bed (finally!) smiling, and slept better than I have in ages.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Foot Stompin' Music and High Church

So far, it's been a pretty wild weekend, at least for us! Two big events in less than 24 hours - needless to say, we are exhausted!

Yesterday we surprised Jonathan with tickets to see our favorite household band, The Subdudes. They were playing at The Narrows in Fall River, MA. We went for an early dinner, then headed southeast. It wasn't until we arrived that Jonathan figured out what was going on, and he was pretty excited! Lucky boy, that kid. Although we've had the tickets for awhile, we decided to make it a celebration of his great mid-term report card; also, Friday was National Adoption Day, so we threw that in as an excuse as well.

Before the show, Jonathan hung out in the "rest room" with the band and during the show, they even dedicated a song to him! One of the band members is a childhood friend of mine. John Magnie and his family lived across the street from us when we lived on St. Paul Street in Denver. His sister and I were best friends for a long time, even after we moved and they moved. We never lived far from each other, but sort of lost touch over the years.

My mom and their mom were best friends for over 50 years, so it was always easy to keep tabs on them. And, we all knew that "those Magnie kids" were perfect because we were frequently asked, "Why can't you be more like the Magnies?" John and I laughed about that last night, actually. It was great to see him again. Here's a picture of me and Jonathan with John "Soul Patch" Magnie.

We got home well after midnight and had to sleep fast, because this morning we were going to see the Presiding Bishop!

Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori was celebrating Eucharist at All Saints Church here in Worcester, in honor of their 175 anniversary, and also to honor the ministries of all the Episcopal churches here in Worcester. I've admired this woman ever since she was elected, and thought how lucky I was just to be able to attend this service. Little did I know how important it would be to "hang out" with my son!

We were standing inside the side entrance to the church, waiting for Warren to come back and help us figure out where to sit. The door opened, and in walked this woman with a big suitcase. Jonathan immediately recognized her, and walked over to where the Rector of All Saints was standing, greeting her. After she said hello to him, Jonathan stuck his hand out and shook hers and said, "Hi! I'm Jonathan!" Since I was standing right behind him, she turned to me AND SHOOK MY HAND, TOO! Unbelievable, but true. My son, Mr. How Do You Do!

The service was great - a huge choir, made up of choirs from around Worcester, a brilliant sermon delivered by the PB, and - as it turned out - we had 3rd row seats! So we even got great pictures during the service. Afterward, there was a nice reception and I met a few nice people (imagine that!) and saw some familiar faces. As we were getting ready to leave, we had to go back to the church to pick up the St. Luke's Charter, which had been presented to the PB as part of the service. Jonathan saw her in a room behind the altar, filling out the attendance book, and made a bee line for her. Warren and I followed, and next thing we knew, this happened.

And then, Warren asked if I'd take his picture with her...
And THANKFULLY someone in the room offered to take a family photo. So now I'm really happy, as you can probably imagine!
She's a really nice, gentle-spirited person. We had a little bit of a conversation before we left, and she's just very, very kind. I'm so happy I got to meet her! Thanks, Jonathan!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sweet Katie!

I spent about 30 minutes out front this afternoon, blowing bubbles! It was such a beautiful day - clear and crisp - but the afternoon sun sort of put the wind at ease for awhile.

And so, in honor of our Katie on what would be her 20th birthday, I stood on the front walk and blew bubbles. I'd forgotten about the little "church bubbles" we passed out the morning after her Memorial Service. Everyone there that morning sat and blew bubbles. It was quite emotional. Doing this simple act this afternoon reminded me of many wonderful people who were there for us during a really difficult time. My heart swelled with gladness, knowing that we do not walk the rough paths alone. I'm grateful for every friend I have who reminds me on days like today "I am thinking of you" and I know that I am blessed

Blowing bubbles...such a simple act! I watched the bubbles, taking their wings and going off to do what they do. It soothed my soul. Although it was impossible to watch the path of each bubble, part of me wants to believe that at least one made it to heaven, and that Katie was there to catch it - laughing in her funny little way of laughing!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Amy!

Today is my baby sister Amy's birthday. She just had some serious surgery a few weeks ago...I did not go be with her because she asked me to wait and come when she felt good, "So we can do something FUN together!" So I'm waiting...missing her on her birthday, knowing she is okay, wishing I was there. It's really hard being away from my family. Tomorrow is my brother Mark's birthday. He's much older than Amy, but always says that "Amy's birth ruined my birthday!" It's a family joke.

Amy was such a blessing to us. She was born just a few years after our sister, Anne Loretto, died of leukemia at the age of five years. We wanted a girl so badly! Back in "the day" parents just had to wait to find out what they were getting. Early in the evening on November 4, 1965, my dad called the house to day, "IT'S A GIRL!" Well, all mayhem broke loose. We (kids) pulled every pot and pan and lid and spoon we could find out of the cupboard and MARCHED up and down Fillmore Street shouting, "IT'S A GIRL!" All the neighbors came out and started clapping. We were so excited. We had a new girl in the house, and it was a good thing.

But poor Mark! Nobody hardly paid attention to his (11th) birthday that year. It was all about Amy. Luckily, he never held it against her; they are good friends, and always have been.

So, Happy Birthday Amy...and Happy Birthday Mark tomorrow! I love you guys, and wish I was closer so we could celebrate together -- you know, go dancing or something - like old times! (Just kidding!) If I was there, we'd go out for a beer and talk about inconsequential stuff and go home feeling like we were on top of the world. That's how families get along...talking about the inconsequentials. Gotta love it!

Blessings on you both. XOXOXOXOXO

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Celebrating Those We Love But See No More

The first Tuesday evening of every month, St. Luke's has a Healing Service. There's a core group of about 8-10 people who faithfully attend, and there is a team of folks who are available to offer healing prayers for those who request it. It's all very "private" yet public - they are in front of the church, but with music playing it makes it a more private experience. In other words, the folks in the pews don't have to try to strain to hear what's being prayed for - they can't hear it, so there's no need to try. Does this make sense?

Well, tonight's service was a little bit different in that we were also acknowledging All Souls Day. Yesterday was All Saints Day - which honors all the "famous" saints (like Luke, Anthony, Mother Theresa, etc.). All Souls Day is to honor those people we love who perhaps didn't make a big mark in their public life, but left great big marks on our hearts.

In many cultures, this is a big deal. I'm most familiar with the Mexican tradition of Dio de los Muertos, or "Day of the Dead." We first learned about it when we lived in Austin, and celebrated our own saints there every year...and have done so - privately in our home - ever since. We have a few little decorations that we put out. One thing people like to do is to "try to lure" the deceased person's spirit back by leaving out things that the person loved - like chocolate, cookies, or tequila! They use lots of flowers - mostly marigolds - and it's a festive occasion, not a sad one.

So, at St. Luke's last Sunday, we set up a space and people brought in photos and mementos of their precious saints. We, of course, took a picture of Katie and of bowl of "Runts" candy. When she was little, she would only fall asleep in her old car seat, in her bedroom, on the floor. And she had to have a bowl of Runts in her lap, otherwise she would not go to sleep! Call it crazy, but it worked. Long story...later. Others brought chocolate...someone even set a Dunkin' Donuts coffee cup next to the picture of their saint!

During this particular service, we also read aloud the names of people who are "saints" to members of our congregation. It was very touching, especially to recognize so many of them. After these names were read, people were given time to recite even more names of departed who were not on the lists.

I was kneeling next to Jonathan during this part of the service. This child of ours - who fifteen minutes before had been the bane of our existence, knelt there are prayed - out loud - for "those who lost their lives on 9/11...for all the astronauts who have died in service to our country...for all the firemen who died in the Cold Storage fire...for victims of the earthquake in Haiti...and he went on and on. It was so touching to me. I just started weeping! Where did all that come from? How could this child become so centered and prayerful, while I was just seething at him a few minutes ago? Then it occurred to me that God was present, and Jonathan had been tapped on the shoulder and encouraged to go with his heart. Why not me? Probably because I wasn't paying attention. Well, let me tell you, after that I did start paying attention and things turned around for me. That church was filled with something tonight, and it wasn't incense! It was the love of God, sitting among us, tapping us each on the shoulder as a reminder of how much we are loved and valued and precious to God. Each of us! All the time! How cool is that?

Jonathan is finishing up his homework, but all I want to do is sit on the couch and just snuggle up with him and get some of that wonderful energy of his to flow into me. I will never forget this night, his prayers, God's presence, and...hopefully, my very own preciousness in God's sight.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Before I begin, let me just say one thing. When I lived in Texas, I learned that you can say anything about anybody, no matter what it is, as long as you finish it with "Bless his/her heart." Remember this for later.

This afternoon was interesting. I came home from work, having gotten the church newsletter finished just under the gun - as usual - ugh. What I wanted to do was come home and finish a little bit of creativity I'd started this morning. And I did. At least, I WAS working on it.

I heard the dog barking, so went out on the deck to see what was up. While out there, I heard the leaf blower of our "behind the church" neighbors going. That's not unusual, as they are out there almost every day blowing leaves. But today was different.

I know his name is Al because he used to own a flower shop called Flor-Al's. And one night at the Worcester Art Museum, I saw him there. Everyone was calling him Al. I heard him before I saw him; if he hadn't been making such efforts to be heard I probably wouldn't have given him a second thought. But the instant I saw him there, I knew it was my neighbor. It was very interesting to watch him - glad handing everyone and telling them how wonderful life is "now that I've sold the business and am teaching Spanish at St. John's!" I could not take my eyes off of this man. He was really having fun - and he wasn't even the star of the show! Part of me wanted to introduce myself to him, but after much thought on the matter, I decided it would be more fun to know so much about him with him not knowing me.

Anyway, this afternoon Al was out blowing leaves...again. Today he was working on their front lawn. What I noticed was that he was blowing all the leaves from their front lawn, across their driveway, and onto the church property - way past their driveway, so as to prevent them from blowing back onto their lawn. I watched in amazement for a bit, then went and walked over to where he could see me. He seemed surprised that I was standing there. I didn't know what to do, but was glad he had seen me watching. But it didn't stop him! Which made me madder...

I was raised that "Fair is Fair" and you can argue with me until I'm blue in the face, but you will never convince me that what he was doing was fair!

A few minutes later, I went back out. Without getting too close, I said to him (over the roar of the blower), "Would you mind not blowing the leaves onto the church lawn?" Without skipping a beat, he said to me, "These are YOUR leaves!" I started to reply, and he said, "These aren't MY leaves, they're YOURS!" Baffled, I muttered something under my breath that might have included the word "pig" but not so loud he could hear it. I came back home, dumbfounded. Shaking. Angry. Crazy with the difference between right and wrong.

So, our neighbor is a jerk. I'm not going to get into a pissing contest with a skunk, but I'd sure love to mail a box full of leaves to him! It saddens me to know that this man - who has never even tried to be neighborly with us - is such a jerk. It's his stuff, not mine. He's probably been blowing those leaves back onto the church lawn for years and never "been caught" before. Maybe our little interaction this afternoon will make him re-think his actions. I'm guessing not, and am still pretty upset about it, but like I said, I'm not going to start something I can't finish.

In reply I would like to say to my neighbor, FLOR-AL, that even though you are a jerk, I know that God loves you at least as much as God loves me. And that's really what baffles me. It just doesn't make sense. It just doesn't seem fair. Tonight in my dreams, I'll go outside and quietly rake all those leaves back onto your front lawn. I'll get up early and watch the look on your face when you realize what's happened. I'll laugh, knowing that you have been bitten with your own poison. And then I'll wake up and realize it was a dream and think, "Oh, well. It could have been fun. Bless his heart."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I just got off the phone with my brother, Jamie. He and his family (wife and 14-year-old daughter) live in Urbana, IL. I'd heard about the terrible weather there, so just called to check on them. It's been months since I spoke to Jamie.

I am eight years older than Jamie. He and his younger brother, David, are "Irish Twins" - meaning, they are only 15 months apart in age. What a pair they were! And cute? Well, don't even get me started...except to say that my sister and I used to love to dress them up as little girls and put them in the wagon and walk them around the neighborhood! Thank goodness, they don't remember that. But they were both so precious.

Jamie had dimples - BIG dimples - as a baby. He still has them, but you can only see them if he shaves. One of my favorite pictures of Jamie is one that my dad took of him. It's a profile shot, with Jamie holding one one of my dad's (unlit) cigars in his mouth. Precious.

Jamie and David used to play "Mary Poppins." Jamie was always Burt, in his blue and black striped sweater and a little cap. David was always Mary Poppins, wearing a straw hat with fake flowers on it. For years, those two played Mary Poppins. They would probably die if they were reading this...but, maybe they would laugh. They were so much fun!

When my mom got diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer three years ago (almost to the day), Jamie and I both flew to Denver to be with her for a few days. We sort of re-connected then. I can't explain it, but I think we both felt a renewed fondness for each other after years of disconnection.

When mom became terminal, just after Thanksgiving, Jamie and I arrived in Denver again. He had brought his family, but Mary Beth and Mimi went back home and Jamie stayed. I arrived with Warren and Jonathan, and they both left together, leaving me behind. Jamie and I and Amy (baby sister) pretty much spent the next several days taking care of mom 24/7. It was a really difficult time, but we had so much fun! I felt a renewed spiritual connection with Jamie. And Amy, of course, just added to the whole wonderfulness of it all.

The morning that mom died, Jamie woke me (I was on the couch just outside her room) and said, "Mom's making some different sounds. You might want to come and see what's going on." Immediately upon walking into the room I said, "Go wake up Dad and get him down here." Less than an hour later, Mom died. I'm so thankful that my dad was there next to her, holding her hand, when she died. When it "was all over" Amy lay down on the bed next to mom for a long time. We called the rest of the family, and as folks began to trickle in, the sun started to rise.

And rise it did! It took several hours for our Hospice nurse to come - we wouldn't have anyone but her there. We all stood around the bed while she did her "last testing" of mom's frail body. She was dead! I took mom's wedding rings off her finger and gave them to my dad. A few minutes later, the guys from the mortuary arrived. They asked us to all pay our last respects - to take our time. Then they did what they had to do - behind a closed door - and brought mom out on a stretcher, her face still uncovered and available to us for one last brush of her hair and a kiss on her cheek. It was tearful; it was joyful. She was no longer meant for this world, and we knew that.

We all stood outside and watched as the mortuary guys put her into the van. The sunrise was incredible! After the van drove away, we all stood and watched this incredible expression of God's love that seemed, to us, as some sort of a message that our mom/wife/friend was destined for a place much more beautiful than we could ever imagine.

There wasn't much "shock" regarding mom's death. We all knew it was coming. We went into preparation mode (but had actually been preparing for it for weeks). Once we were all together, we started having more and more fun. Incredibly, our mother's death brought her children closer together than I believe they had ever been before. A room full of adults who grew up together, laughing and crying and playing music and teasing each other - mom would have loved being in that room...every night!...I know my Dad loved sitting there watching us!

When I flew back to Worcester after Mom's funeral I was sad to leave my family, but mostly sad to say goodbye to Jamie. We had had such a wonderful time together! I didn't want to lose that.

Sadly, we did lose that. Tonight was the first time in three years that I feel like he was interested in hearing about me and my life and my family. And we laughed! Oh, we laughed so much. About silly stuff, about serious stuff. About dad, about family, about our jobs. We laughed. I feel so renewed and so refreshed by that telephone conversation! Should I thank God for the horrible storm in Chicago yesterday, which encouraged me to call Jamie and see if they were okay? Alright, I will! Thank you God! Thank you for giving me the incentive to call and say "I'm thinking about you. How are you?" And the rest of the conversation - history now - will remain in my heart.

Little brother Jamie with the dimples who loved to play Burt and who grew up to be so smart and have a beautiful family - I LOVE YOU! Thank you for giving me YOU tonight. I will sleep well, with you in my heart.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Staying Up Late

Last night I stayed up until after 1 a.m., working on the background for the current Journey of Journals  journal (DJ's) I have through CCS. Being Sunday morning when I went to bed, waking up "later that morning" really hit me hard! I'm not kidding you - at church, during the Prayers of the People, Jonathan poked me and said, "Mom! Are you sleeping?" I was. So, after church I came home and lay on the couch for an hour and felt much better.

Tonight will not be a repeat of last night, but I will be up later than "the rest of the house." Since I do not have to go to work tomorrow, I always look at Sunday night as one of my nights off -- and I will stay up and play more with my ideas for the JOJ and wake up, excited to see the results from the night before.

I'm feeling so alive with my creativity right now, and it couldn't come at a better time. There are some real-life issues which are really troubling me right now...I won't go into details because they have nothing to do with what I'm talking about now. But they are at the forefront of my mind. Working on DJ's journal has helped those "forefront thoughts" become less and less vivid, and I'm finding myself relaxing about all of it. When it's the right time, I'll blog about it. But it's not the right time. Trust me.

Life throws us curve balls when we expect sliders, I guess. Right now, I'm up to bat and hoping for a home run. If all I get is a single to first base, I'll be's not about scoring, it's about playing the game.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Face

Yesterday after work I watched a video - part of a free online course I happened across - and spent over an hour watching this woman teach people how to draw a face. Amazing stuff. The whole time I was watching, all I could think was, "I cannot do this!"

While I don't consider myself to be "an artist" I do love the artistic process. I love getting my hands dirty with paint and making backgrounds and thinking of words to write in my art journals. This creative outlet is so good for me!

Last night I was so tired. Part of me wanted to do something "fun" before I went to bed, but nothing was feeling interesting. But I knew I'd sleep better if I just did one little thing. So, I decided to try to draw a face. It was interesting to use the instructor's guidelines and really see something take form...not anything outstanding, mind you, but it was a face! Then I grabbed some paints and the more it went along, the more excited I became. I was drawing a face - that looked like a face!

Here is the result of that last-minute-before-bed artistic expression. I call her "First Face" and this morning, I've been holding her in different light and looking at her in many different ways. She's not perfect (like me), and she's somewhat mysterious (like me!), but she's looking right through me at something I can't name right now. She can't be recreated (nor can I...or can I?). She is who she is, and she's good enough for me (like me!).

Thanks for having a look. Comments are welcome, but if all my friends who are museum curates could hold their comments, I'd appreciate it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Remembering my Nicho

A friend from my online artsy-fartsy group happened to mention "vessels" and how she is doing a series of items using old cigar boxes, jewelry boxes, etc. to make a series of dioramas. While she had me at the word "vessel" her comment also reminded me of my Nicho - my "Little Altar" which hadn't been given a thought in a long time. It's displayed very proudly on the shelf in our living room, but who looks at what's on their shelves after awhile?

So there I went with my camera, having a look at my old friend and hopefully turning it into a gift to share with friends. Let me tell you its story.

When my husband was in Seminary in Austin, TX, I signed up for a course called "Art & Soul." The name would have been enough for me to find interest, but the description of the course had me panting, hoping that this seminary spouse would be welcome to "sit in for free" and participate with "the paying" students.

It was this course that got my heart burning for my artistic self to shine through. I can remember it like it was yesterday, rushing home to begin my assignment and forgetting about all time and space while doing so. I even forgot (sometimes) that we were living in Austin!

Anyway, one night we were all told to choose from a selection of cigar boxes which had been provided. I chose a wooden one with a little clasp. It still smelled good (yes, like cigars) and I liked the feel of it when it was closed. We were then told about Nichos, and were assigned the project of making our own.

My Nicho is painted purple. I intentionally did not cover the outside with gesso because I did not want to lose "what it was" so the name of the cigar company still shows through on the box. For the inside, I painted a little random color on some paper. I glued little colored beads all around the inside edges (some have fallen out, I see...). On the left side, I cut two images out of Christmas cards. The gold image is of the Holy Family following the Star. But it reminded me of us - Warren, Jonathan and I - following OUR star by following our hearts and leaving our home in Denver to move to Austin and then to...who knew? This image gave me much peace of mind, allowing my insecurities to be real, but also comforting my "unknowns."

On the right side, you see two silver posts. These are just wooden objects that I painted, but are placed there as an opening - a gate, if you will - inviting us in to share ourselves with others. The little icon was a gift which seemed appropriate there as it again symbolizes us - our family. (Not that we are "Holy" just that we are "Family!") The little colored discs to the left represent problems and worries. Everyone has different concerns for themselves and for others. Some are bigger than others. The colors represent the myriad of things that people pray for and worry about. 

The little red watering can is "me" - the vessel - the one who sometimes needs to be poured out, but often needs to be filled up. Sometimes my vessel leaks, at which time I need to figure out where the leak is and have it repaired. Other times, my vessel becomes cracked. This is not always a bad thing! When it's a "good" crack, I'm flowing with being in a good reference point in my life journey...I'm being creative, my family is well, and my worries are more trivial. However, when my "crack" is a bad one, what flows out of me is like bad water and nobody wants to drink it, not even me! This is the time that I need to not find a "quick fix" but take a serious look at just what is behind this flaw and why it has become such a prominent part of who I am at that moment. Some days are better than others...I guess I'm only human!

There is one more part to my Nicho, which is barely visible (oh, my!) in the photo. It's a little brass angel hanging from a chain at the top right. It's Katie's presence in my/our lives - sometimes she moves with the breeze, other times she is steady. Same as us. Some days, she's more visible to me than others. You might say, "That's normal after 13 years" but I'm here to tell you that there is nothing normal in missing your child the way we miss Katie.

I do love my Nicho so much! Writing about it right now feels like writing about it eight years ago when I first made it. Some things leave a mark on your heart in a way you can never forget what it's there for.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Food, Glorious Food!

My kitchen skills are improving...practice makes perfect? Maybe not, but it's such a joy for me to be able to take products in hand and create fulfilling meals with them.

This week has been especially fulfilling for me. I've had lots of time to spend working in my art journals, which gives me great pleasure...and probably makes me an easier person to live with! Here is some of what I've been doing with my art journals:

First, I honored one of my life heroes - John Lennon - on his 70th birthday. I miss you, John Lennon!

The Halloween-themed spread is not my usual style, but I had fun tearing paper, painting the background for the moon and the letters, and sketching/cutting out the witch silhouette! That's just a taste of this week's fun stuff...don't want to overwhelm anyone with a bunch of pictures.

Last night's dinner was roast pork tenderloin, sweet potato fries, and braised shredded cabbage and carrots with spinach.

This morning was spent catching up with my dear friend over coffee - time well spent for each of us "away from our normal borders" and we just talked and laughed.

Later in the day, after getting a consensus from "the boys" I made meat loaf, roasted potatoes and roasted Brussels Sprouts for dinner. Every plate was clean. Warren (my chef-turned-priest husband) said it was the best meat loaf he had ever tasted! I thought it looked like more of a Meat Blob, but it was tasty!

The sunset this evening was exquisite! The clouds were challenging the sun to see which could get out of the area the fastest. The colors took my breath away!

Tomorrow is Sunday...back to "the routine." At least the high winds are dissipating and the temps are rising. Perhaps tomorrow will bring a drive to look at the beautiful foliage -- and some photos!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All Will Be Well...

It's been an emotional day. I just feel so far away from my sister, who had some major surgery this morning. She came through fine. I'm still worried! Amy's like a daughter to me. So I cried at work this morning "because nobody here knows me or cares about me." Then, after I got home, I got an unexpected email of love and support and prayers and cried "because somebody cares about me!"

This afternoon I practiced blowing bubbles again. A lady honked and waved when she drove by, proof that you CAN give someone an extra smile in her day...a little free gift. It made me so happy, I kept blowing bubbles for ten more minutes!

Actually, it as the lovely sunset that sent me running inside to grab my camera:

Jonathan requested GLOPP for dinner, so I obliged...fresh Italian sausage baked with black olives, fresh green beans and tomatoes, finished off with a blend of five Italian cheeses. Not bad for someone who had no idea what kind of GLOPP to make when she started!

Now, I'm feeling a bit beat up, so will call it a night. All will be well.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Feeling Chuffed?

I'm part of an online group of eclectic folks who love art, writing, poetry, photography, and just plain thinking. During September, many of us took part in a challenge to "do something creative" every day. My endeavors spread the gamut - I wrote (check out, I cooked, I worked in my art journal, and I took pictures of my world.

Some of us decided to extend the challenge for the month of October. One of these people started a discussion "about what we aren't doing" which prompted this reply from me yesterday:

"When I read your "intro" to this discussion the word "chuffed" caught my eye. Had not ever heard that word before, until Abi's blog about Ramazan. Once she explained it to me, I wondered how I'd missed that word!

Do I feel "chuffed" about the last 50 days of creating? No. But I'm inspired because in everything that's been encountered, with this "accomplishment" in mind, things are seen differently. Things like the sound of my wind chimes on my porch. That's something that can't be shared, but it inspires me to look more closely and pay attention to just what's behind the sound. The wind may be too strong for my liking, but at the same time, it's creating music for my soul.

96+ hours of rain...makes me feel dreadful, but it reminds me to think about the earth and the dirt and the roots of the trees and the plants, and how much it means to them. That's another sound that can't be shared. But it's a feeling that we all our souls being fed...with something that we'll crave once the season changes.

If I had the time, I'd love to sit on my porch and just blow bubbles. Heck, I'd stand out on the street and blow bubbles at the cars whizzing by. Doing so would make me happy, and hopefully would give the drivers of those speeding bullets a moment of a smile...something to take with them...something unexpected, like a gift they had no idea was coming.

My outlook is changing, but so is my inlook, if you will. That's where I need to focus, personally, because some days are harder than others (duh!) but my goal is to make every day worth remembering."

Today, I went to the store to buy a big bottle of bubbles. Can you believe they call that a "seasonal" product? Much to my dismay! Tomorrow, I will try again. The thought of standing in front of my house during afternoon rush hour, blowing bubbles, and helping just one person gift him/herself with an extra smile makes me very excited. I'm thinking about getting other people who live on the street to join me - maybe one afternoon a week - and see how many extra smiles we can gift people with, just from blowing bubbles.

And, hopefully you are smiling unexpectedly after reading this, my friend! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Regarding Marigolds

I started planting marigolds in my garden back in 1995. My garden was so beautiful; I would spend hours out there every day - deadheading marigolds and petunias, pulling weeds, watering. I was so very proud of my garden.

In early Spring of 1996, we brought our son Jonathan home. He was ten months old. We were already the parents of Katie, a special needs child whom we had adopted at the age of 3 1/2 months. Our life was full. But bringing Jonathan home sort of "wrapped everything up" for us. We felt complete.

Katie and Jonathan loved each other so much, and it was fun being their parents. Katie was progressing well in school - learning to talk better, eating (sometimes), and learning how to be in relationship with people. She was definitely bonded to us. We were so happy.

On Mother's Day, 1996, we brought Jonathan home "for good." He and Katie sat in a chair in our living room and let us take their picture. The really loved each other, from the first moment they met. They shared a room and toys and a swing set. Not much got between either one of them. They were great, being brother and sister by adoption. We, as parents, were even better.

When Katie was in second grade, she got in the habit of picking a few marigolds from my garden to take to her teacher every day. I never discouraged her; what could it hurt? Every morning, until the frost killed them, she would walk out the door and pick some flowers on her way to catch the bus. I never talked to her teacher about it, but part of me knew that her teacher must love this daily offering.

This same school year, on February 16, 1998, Katie died. It was a holiday - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Katie had been sick with a cold, but nothing we thought was too serious. We had been in touch with her doctor. They didn't even want us to bring her to the clinic because of all the respiratory viruses going around. So we just took care of her the best we knew how. The night before she died, I fed her warm, liquid jell-o because she liked it.

The next morning, she asked me to come and lie down with her. I took her to her bed and said, "I'll be right back. Let me put on a Barney video for Jonathan." So I did. In the few minutes that it took me to do that, Katie died. When I went into her room, she was unresponsive. I immediately called 911 and started mouth-to-mouth, only to hear bubbling sounds come from her lungs. The fire department was there in less than two minutes. Everything they tried was to no avail. Paramedics showed up a few minutes later. Nothing was working.

"What is happening?" I kept wondering. Jonathan crawled up the stairs after hearing the footsteps from above. I picked him up and held him. As it turns out, he didn't miss a thing...this 2 1/2 year old boy remembers almost every moment of that morning.

I called Warren to tell him to come home. He did. The paramedics took Katie in the ambulance; Warren rode with her. Somebody gave me a ride to the hospital. By the time I got there, the chaplain was waiting for me. I knew, riding to the hospital, that my little girl was not going to make it.

By some miracle, we were able to contact our family members...except for my and Warren's parents. My parents were in Illinois visiting my brother; Warren's parents were in Africa working at an orphanage. But those of us who were nearby gathered together and held hands and prayed in the ER room where Katie lay. Warren and I cut some of her hair, as keepsakes.

What does this have to do with marigolds, you might ask? Well, the next day when word began to spread about Katie's death, her teacher called me. "Mrs. Hicks, I have called every florist I can find in every part of the United States and nobody has any marigolds!" She was beside herself, needing to give marigolds back to me as an expression of her love for Katie.

So...after almost 13 years of missing my little girl, she still makes me smile when I see a marigold. And there's nothing I love more than giving a bouquet of marigolds to someone I love.

And that's all I'm going to say tonight. If you read this, God bless you...and thank you. Now you know me, for what it's worth.


Monday, September 20, 2010

SHOUT OUTS About my Silent Retreat

Last weekend, I attended a Silent Retreat at St. Margaret's Convent in Roxbury, MA which is a suburb of Boston. It's a beautiful place! The sisters are so welcoming and smiling all the time. The chapel is beautiful, with so much natural light shining in from the clear and stained glass windows. I went to chapel a lot, except I did not attend Morning Prayer at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday! There are very few things I do at 6:00 a.m., and I decided the night before that Morning Prayer is one of them! No guilt.

Our silence began Friday night, after supper. It was a wonderful meal of baked salmon, baked cod, lovely vegetables and fresh salad bar. I did not have dessert, so don't remember what that was. Anyway, as it turns out, I sat at a table with a husband/wife couple and another woman for dinner. We were exchanging pleasantries when the gentleman "started in on me." For starters:

"I saw your husband at the polling place last Tuesday but didn't have a chance to speak with him. How's he doing from his surgeries? Is his hip and knee behaving? Is he getting back to normal?"

I looked at him, wondering "Who are you?" Then I asked, "My husband being who?" He looked at me rather quizzically and asked, "Aren't you from St. Luke's?" I replied that yes, I was, but my husband did not have hip surgery. I went on to explain that he had had both knee and intestinal surgery. "Oh!" he exclaimed. "Well, how's he doing now?" I said that my husband was doing fine. (He still had not referred to either one of us by name.)

He then started inquiring about our son. "Is he in elementary school?" "No," I explained, "he just started at Worcester Tech."

"REALLY! How old is he?"

"Fifteen" I responded.

"WOW! That's awesome! Did he have to take a lot of advance placement courses to get in at such a young age?"

I'm beginning to wonder if this guy really does "know" me... "No, he just filled out the application and was accepted. He would have been thrilled to go to Doherty High, but was ecstatic to be accepted at Tech."

He replied, "That's amazing!"

At this point, his wife - who had been eavesdropping during her conversation with the other woman at our table - chimed in. "I heard you say your son is a student at Worcester Tech! How old did you say he was?"

"Fifteen" I replied.

"Isn't that something? What an incredible opportunity for him. And at such a young age! You must be thrilled!"

I said that, yes, we were pretty thrilled and excited for him. Then she asked me what areas of study he was looking at. "Oh, he's interested in Veterinary Asst., Culinary, Allied Health...but he's going to be exploring all of those things." And then, her face sort of fell. And then, it hit me.

"Did you think I was talking about Worcester Polytechnic Institute?" I asked. She admitted that, yes, that was the case. And then, she slapped the side of my arm and said, "If you were FROM here, you'd know that WPI was always called Worcester Tech and that Worcester Tech was previously known as Worcester Voc."

I looked her in the eye and said (without slapping the side of her arm), "Well, I live here NOW, and I know that on the front of the building it says "Worcester Technical High School."" She turned and started another conversation with the other lady.

But, the husband was not yet finished. He leaned on his elbow and wondered, "So, Mary, do you work outside of the home or do you just maintain the Rectory?"

Swallow or spit food at him? Hold my fork or stab him with it? Laugh with my mouth full or be the submissive Rector's wife he wants me to be? For some stupid reason, I became the latter and told him about my two part-time jobs. Part of me felt like he'd stripped me of my garments in front of the whole room. Part of me felt like he was one of the rudest people I've ever "not met!" Part of me wanted to just get up and walk away and maybe pass gas as I did. But I didn't. I was polite. I was me, being the nice girl.

Later, re-telling this experience to a friend, I was not saying anything kind about this man whom I do not know yet who knows so much about me! After telling Warren about this experience, he seems to recall having met this man, but doesn't recall the circumstances.

All I know is, if and when I encounter this ungentleman again, I will think long and hard before answering his questions. I will probably come up with outlandish replies to them, which I'm sure will get repeated and will come back to haunt me. But at least I'll have had the satisfaction of "not being nice" in a nice sort of way. The joke really is on him, not me.

Good grief! Would you look at the time? I've been here way too long, and have some serious Rectory maintenance to tend to! Must go and get things done so I can rise early and do my 6:00 a.m. Morning Prayers.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Going to bed mad!

I'm really frustrated with my family right now. There have been "things" going on which (I think) require the attention of everyone called family. When Michael's accident first occurred, I was bombarded with text messages and phone calls updating me on his status. This is good!

Once Michael's surgery was completed, my phone and my computer family terms...silent. I've been waiting for over a week to hear an update on Michael's status. The most recent update I had was from my sister Julie - who is in upstate New York - that he is home. Why did Julie know this? Because Julie is on facebook. I'm not even sure she's spoken to Amy since Michael's accident.

Well, I'm not on facebook and don't intend to be. The fact that I am being left out on updates regarding Michael's progress offends me greatly. Tonight, I sat on my porch and really did wait for my phone to ring. It didn't. I sent a text to: Amy, David, and Luana. Nobody responded.

I'm sorry I'm not there with them in Colorado! There's no place I'd rather be -- and I say that with my whole heart and my entire being. I miss my family.

Do any of those people I call "family" have any idea how hard it is to live so far away from your "entire" family? Especially with something "important" going on...I want to be there to help! I want to be there to take Amy out for coffee or out for a beer. But I can't. I'm in fucking Massachusetts...fucking Worcester! What the heck am I supposed to do? Why won't anybody be in touch with me?

When mom died, it was such a wonderful experience for me. Yes, it was sad, and tragic. But Jamie, Amy, Mark, David, Julie and I were together. Almost 24/7, we were there. We  re-created the bond that had started 25 years ago. It was beautiful. It was fun. It made me a new person, because I felt like I had a new family...horrible as the whole experience was. Now? Not so much.

I miss my family. I don't want to go to bed angry with them. But my phone's not ringing, and nobody is texting me, so I guess I'll just go to bed mad.

Do I think they'll call tomorrow? Maybe. Maybe I won't feel like talking. Maybe I'll still be mad. Do I like this? NO!

I'm feeling very frustrated. And I'm still waiting for my birthday card from my dad...two weeks overdue!...that he told me a week ago was in the mail. NOT! Thanks, Dad. This is a first. Mom would be so very embarrassed. I miss Mom so much.

Yup, it's about Mom. It's not about the dysFUNctional family. It's about Mom. We're lost without her. God bless you, Patricia Jewel Johnson Hutchinson! You were here earlier, running your fingers through my new haircut, loving it. Thanks for that special moment!

As for the "rest of the family" - BIG RASPBERRIES to you. Have fun, whatever you're doing. Please don't bother to take the time to try to remember me in any of your family activities.

I'm off to bed now....MAD!!!

Time Flies...

...summer is dwindling away! I was sitting on the porch tonight, watching the changes.

...Traffic on Pleasant Street has increased significantly since all the college students are returning, beginning their new "season" of study and whatever else it is that college students do, besides drive too fast down Pleasant Street...

...The light is changing, oh so rapidly! Every night, the sun sets a little earlier. It's not light at 8:00 any more, hardly even at 7:00. I'll miss the light, especially after the dreaded time change, ugh...

...The evenings are cooling times, of a sort. Today was pretty hot, so this evening was "warm" but not unbearable in comparison to the rest of the summer. I do welcome the cool evenings...

...Worcester Public Schools begin tomorrow. Buses will be filling the streets in the mornings and afternoons. Our son will take his first bus ride to high school tomorrow, catching his bus at 6:45 a.m. Whew! I will walk with him to the bus stop tomorrow, but just this once, just because I'm the mom and I need to...

...the Fall colors will soon be upon us, bringing with them the Fall coolness and the beautifully lit days. I love the Fall in New England! I know that the snow will not begin to fly until November/December. The rains will precede the snow, but we'll just stay dry and warm and light a fire in the fireplace...

...all will be well, and then before we know it Spring will shine her beautiful face in our eyes and we'll wonder, "What happened?" as we do every year. And it will all begin again, as promised.

Sometimes I think Summer is more of a "dormant" season than an "alive" season. Sometimes I think there is more to learn living through a Summer or a Winter, than through a Spring or a Fall. There are so many underlying changes going on in Summer and Winter - things we never even think about. Spring and Fall are almost the "vulnerable" seasons, where nature exposes her strengths and weaknesses in such beautiful, indescribable ways that we take more delight in them than sorrow that nature has no privacy.

Sometimes, I go through seasons in my life where I'm more vulnerable and "exposed" than I am growing and mysteriously changing. Which is better for me? I don't know the answer to that. Now that I've asked it, I'll probably pay attention. Life is strange, and beautiful. Life is complicated, and simple. Life is nothing, and creative. Life is life. Nature is nature.

We are what we are. And I thank God that I've been given this life on this beautiful place called Earth to watch and change with every season.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thinking about feet...

I've been thinking about my favorite vacation photo - the very first one, of my feet. Last year I took one just like it, and it became my favorite and my background on both my computer and my cell phone.

Searsport, Maine - August, 2010

This picture reminds me of rest and relaxation...just what feet need. It occurred to me that our feet need R&R as much as our minds do - perhaps more. When I think about all the work and abuse our feet go through in a day, a month, a year - if I was a foot, I'd have taken early retirement long ago!

This does not go without saying that my feet bother me, almost constantly. One foot has severe mid-foot arthritis from a bad sprain in a car accident 25 years ago. The other one is (finally) suffering from a sprained arch which occurred during my walking-to-high-school days...wearing heels, usually. Go figure. Time does take a toll on us!

But I love my feet. And I love to "dress them up" either by beautiful shoes, or with a pedicure. I've only had one pedicure this year, as it took me forever to get my feet looking good enough to "expose" them to anyone publicly who would have to treat them with care. After that pedicure, however, I felt new and pretty. It was a good thing!

As the pedicure begins to show its wear, and the weather gets cooler, I'm confronted with what shoes to wear. I have way too many shoes in my closet, and the ones I do wear on a regular basis do not begin to outnumber the pairs left in my closet. Kind of sad, isn't it? There's nothing worse than shoes nobody wears, if you ask me!

The other day I pulled out a pair of sandals that had not been worn in a couple of years. My hammer toe was giving me fits, so comfort was of utmost importance. As soon as I put these shoes on, I knew that I'd been missing out on something good for too long. They held my feet lovingly all day, and now I want to wear them every day.
Criss Cross 08/26/2010

There's another pair of sandals that give me good comfort, too. I know I've had them for several years, but don't remember where I purchased them...wish I did, because I'd buy them in every color! The main reason I like them is because they give me a sense of "support" while allowing room for exposure. They are great!
 Faves! July, 2010

Although they aren't sandals, there is another pair of shoes which gives me great comfort. They are actually men's shoes, which I bought at great discount late last summer. I wore them until the snow began to fly (they have holes in the sides of them). When summer and vacation rolled around this year, out they came. I think I wore them more than any other shoes this summer!

My Men's Shoes - August, 2010
"Sitting on my garden bench" you have favorite shoes? Do you hate shoes? Do you love shoes? Let's talk about feet and caring for them, and how they take us from place to place. If you were one of your feet, what would you tell yourself?

Happy end of summer. Pretty soon, I'll post pictures of my "warm" shoes...which doesn't sound like much fun right now, but maybe I'll have a new pair to show off by then!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Rainy Day Randomness

It's been seven days since we pulled into the driveway last Monday, after almost two weeks away...relaxing, reading, soaking up the sun. At first, the "re-entry" was fairly easy. Then, all of a sudden, life began to happen.

On Wednesday, Warren returned to work to hear that the father of one of our parishioners had died. So, he began the process of planning a memorial service...

Our nephew, who has been suffering from Krohn's Disease, had a bad reaction to the steroid treatment he'd been administered. Lots of questions and worry about all that, especially as he's getting ready to become a Junior in high school...

Our son, who was an absolute delight and banner child on vacation, disappointed us greatly with his bad choice one afternoon when he was left alone. It wasn't life threatening, and it didn't hurt anyone. Nonetheless, it made us question our trust...

My sister was supposed to come visit for the weekend, to celebrate my birthday with me. The morning she was to drive out, she called to say she was sick and couldn't come...

Part of us was happy about that, because we can't afford to be sick right now. But to me, it would have been nice to have somebody here for my birthday. I love my birthday...

...Warren had to go to Springfield on Friday for a meeting. He called in the morning to see if we wanted to go see the Worcester Tornadoes play that night. "Sure! Great idea!" So, we went to the game (which they won in the bottom of the 8th) and saw the Friday Night Fireworks that went along with our ticket. Great show!!...

...while we were there, Warren got a text from our friends' daughter, Laynie, that she had committed to Holy Cross College (in Worcester) for Volleyball in the fall of 2011. We were so excited to hear that news! We started figuring out how we could get tickets and re-learn how to score volleyball before she got here...

...Saturday, my birthday arrived. There was a card from my brother and one from a parishioner in the mail. My mother-in-law had sent a package earlier in the week, which I was saving. Warren was doing the funeral Saturday morning, and Jonathan had decided to caddy, so I spent the morning quietly by myself. There's nothing like reading the Telegram & Gazette, drinking coffee, and eating little slices of hard salami to make a person happy! I was having a great day...

...Jonathan called for a ride home. We stopped by the Anniversary Open House at Tatnuck Pet Store on the way back. I had a free hot dog; Jonathan had some popcorn. We picked up free samples of dog food, and talked to the guy about what kind of fish Jonathan should consider to live with his shark in his tank...

...Warren was home when we got back. He and Jonathan went off "to do some monkey business." I had a 3 p.m. manicure...

...shortly after I got home with my beautifully polished nails, I received a text message from my sister, Amy: "Michael has a broken pelvis and will have surgery tomorrow." I read it to Warren and he said, "CALL HER RIGHT NOW!"...

...Michael had been broadsided at a big intersection on the west side of Denver, near where they live in Golden. Someone ran a red light and T-Boned him. Their 10-year-old son, Tony, was in the back seat (thankfully on the passenger side of the car) and seemed to be okay, but was taken by ambulence to the hospital with his dad... the time Amy got a call and figured out where the accident was and arrived there, Michael and Tony had already been transported. The police asked her to stay and give them information regarding insurance, etc. She still did not know if Tony had been hurt, and did not know the extent of Michael's injuries. She was frantic, to say the least. When she left, she headed for St. Anthony Hospital - not too far away - and rushed into the ER...

..This is a brand new facility, and apparently they aren't even open for patients yet. She found out that her loved ones were at the St. A's Central, several miles to the east. As she was rushing out of the ER there, the security guard stopped her and said, "I need you to calm down. It wouldn't be good for you to be in an accident on your way to Central, would it?" Poor Amy! She didn't know what to do but get in her car and drive...

...She arrived at St. A's Central and rushed into Tony's room in the ER. When he saw her, they both started crying. (This is the part I can really relate to...and cry about...) She was so happy to see him, to see him whole and acknowledging her and wanting her to love him...

...Michael was in a nearby room. The diagnosis is a broken pelvis, which will require surgery (now scheduled for 8/24). After surgery, he will require at least 8 weeks of non-weight-bearing on his hip, which pretty much means he can't even begin rehab until at least eight weeks after his surgery is completed. It's going to be a long road...

...Warren fixed us a great meal for my birthday: Rib Eye steaks with roasted new potatoes and green beans, fresh corn on the cob, and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream for dessert! I opened my presents after dinner (just like I used to do as a kid!) and it was a happy time, spiced with worry for Amy and Michael and Tony...

...Sunday was sort of the real "back to work" day for Warren, what with having to preach and all. It's really draining, sometimes even for me. I can't explain it. Being a Rector's wife is interesting. Yes, it's interesting...

...Sunday afternoon we were all so tired! We sat around, and then Warren and Jonathan went upstairs to watch a movie. I came in towards the end, right during the really stressful part. When it was over, we were all exhausted...

...Warren fixed another awesome meal. We had downloaded "Date Night" to our NetFlix and decided to spend the evening watching that. I almost immediately fell asleep after it began! By the time it was over, I had "napped" and could not get to sleep for the life of me. So I sat up and played Hearts on my computer for a couple of hours...

...This morning, we all went out to breakfast to the Miss Worcester Diner, a.k.a. Miss Woo. What a great breakfast! I won't tell you what we had, but will say that we all got some exercise of some sort this afternoon, despite the rain...

...I got cabin fever after being inside for almost two days due to the rain, so took myself out of the house and went bumming. It was a good outing! Picked up some things we needed, and a couple of things I'll probably need sometime...

...another great meal tonight: Italian Sausage Panini with roasted cauliflower and fresh, green salad...

...then the phone rang. Our friends from Austin are in such deep distress. Their daughter has made a really bad choice in behavior, which could ruin her chances for a college future with scholarships of any kind. Warren and I are heartbroken for them...

...and exhausted from the week. Thank goodness we were refreshed when it began, otherwise we'd be unable to function. This week has made me realize how important it is for people to get away from the day-to-day and really take time to relax and not feel pressure from outside sources. We felt like that's what we did on our vacation. Thank goodness we did...

...tomorrow will be a nother day. Jonathan starts his high school orientation tomorrow; I go to work at St. Andrew's; Warren will be in the church office...

...welcome back to the madness! Here we go again...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vacation thoughts and some sharing...
We left Worcester and headed for Glens Falls, NY...well, Fourth Lake, to be totally correct (you'll have an easier time finding Glens Falls on a map). We spent two nights with Julie and Steve at "High and Dry" and it was a great time. Julie and Jonathan had fun in the lake on Wednesday afternoon while Steve took a nap (on the his chair), Warren read a book, and Mary just did some serious people watching. We had two glorious lunches and dinners with them. Jonathan, Julie, and I spent lots of time on that wonderful screened-in porch they have. Skip was pretty well-behaved. Once we figured out he was troubled by the squirrel-with-the-prickly-tail statue, and we moved it, he calmed down considerably in his crate on the porch. Thursday morning we headed out to Maine.
The rain caught up with us as we entered New Hampshire and crossed Vermont, and it was sort of a drizzly/foggy drive. But so beautiful! We saw mountains -- bigger than we knew existed in this part of the country. It was great to drive through the towns and feel like we were in Colorado, as many of them have more winter tourist business than they have summer tourist business. So many new, wonderful sights.
When we finally pulled in to Searsport Shores Ocean Campground in Searsport, Maine we were engulfed in fog. Setting up camp was fast and furious, but it felt so good to be there that we just kept working until we were done. It was after 8:30 when we finally finished, then we were off to find dinner...which turned out to be "Pizza Hut Italian Bistro" in Belfast. Who knew? We all actually enjoyed our dinner and went back to camp ready for a good night's sleep. It had been a long day.
Friday morning greeted us with bright sunshine and a beautiful low tide. Warren and I set up our chairs, and the hammock, and began our job of "unwinding" -- which took a couple of days to actually accomplish. Jonathan was off on his bike making new friends, meeting old friends, and becoming a helper of Steve, the campground owner. Steve encouraged Jonathan to attend the clam digging demo on Saturday afternoon, and Jonathan decided to buy a 3-day license. His first day out, he dug 11 clams. His third day out, however, he was able to dig up 30 nice clams. We had a great dinner that night, and Jonathan invited Steve down and saved him the biggest clam.
Jonathan ended up helping Steve a lot around the campground, and Steve was so very encouraging and a very good friend. Warren and I kept a close eye on Jonathan from afar while we sat and read, napped, read, walked on the beach, and read some more. Our most extensive conversations were about what to have for dinner. I did most of the grocery runs to Tozier's but didn't mind. Warren did almost all of the cooking, and didn't mind. It was all so good. We only ate out five times in 10 days.
One "eat out" day was at Young's Lobster Farm in Belfast. OMG, it's always so good! We sat on their outdoor patio on the wharf and enjoyed every minute of our lobsters. Another "eat out" was in Rockland. We'd driven down their for an art festival. When we arrived, we found out it was a $12 admission, and pets weren't allowed. So we decided not to pay $12 each to walk around and spend money on festival food. Instead, we went across the street and ordered Lobster Rolls to go. They were incredible! Toasted buns loaded with lobster claw and knuckle meat, drizzled with a touch of mayo. Man, oh man - it was like heaven. My only complaint is that by the time I ate, I was so hungry I couldn't really enjoy the feast. It was the best Lobster Roll I've ever had, by far.
We spent one day in Belfast, just being tourists. We ate at a local was okay. After we ate, we went strolling and window shopping. Jonathan found a camouflage shirt at the Army/Navy store and was ecstatic! Warren and Jonathan dropped me off at the Co-Op so I could check it out while they drove out to the smoked salmon company (whose products Warren used to sell). I discovered a bevy of wonderful edible treasures there, and Warren and I decided he would drive back and meet me there. While I was waiting, I walked next door to a little shop...
...and upon entering the shop heard the screeching of wheels, silence, a scream, and lots of loud that order. I said out loud, "That did not sound good!" I walked out of the shop and over to Main Street and turned right. Just in front of the Army/Navy store, someone had "hit the gas" thinking he was in reverse and hit a stroller containing a small child. Luckily, the child was not injured. No buildings were damaged. It really shook me up to see all of this happening. The man who was driving the car had a 3-year old son in his car seat, and his son was terrified. I watched that man get his son out of the car and comfort him, all the while reeling over what he had just done. I wanted to help him, but the fire department showed up and shooed everyone away so they could do their job. The next day, I bought the Belfast newspaper and the pictures and story just horrified me. But, the best part is that nobody was seriously injured. It was almost like witnessing a miracle.
Warren took several good paddles out to the island, which is so good for him. I stayed back, walking Skip on the beach or reading or napping...all in all, I read 7 books this trip - one more than last year! One, "On Folly Beach" I loaned to our camping neighbor. She wasn't quite finished with it when they left on Sunday, and was ready to go buy one and read the end. I told her to "take it with you, finish it, and share it!" She was so happy. I'd recommend that book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Another book I read, "Charlie St. Cloud" still has me mesmerized. This is a book you must read - before you see the movie, which I intend to see very soon. It's the kind of book you have to go back and read some parts because it's so incredible. Would love to know what you think!
During my walks on the beach, I picked up lots of little rocks, shells, and sea glass. I had bought a cheap plastic bowl at Ocean State Job lot to keep it all in. On Saturday night, I poured it all out and made a "Sea Lover's Pizza" collage of it all. It was so much fun to show to our neighbors! Now, I'm trying to figure out how to reconstruct it and make it permanent here in Worcester. Glass? Wood? Other ideas? My last morning on the beach, there was "something big and blue" settled on a rock. I mapped my way through the kelp and finally reached this "thing" which turned out NOT to be a bag filled with $100 million dollars (as I'd led myself to believe while imagining what I was going to find), but a helium balloon from who-know-where which had become entangled around a piece of kelp and brought in by the tide. Now I understand how those plastic balloons can be so bad for small animals AND FISH. I also found "my rock" and used it to pop that balloon when I got back to the campground!
Monday morning was foggy, and as we began loading up it became more and more dense. We were pretty damp by the time we finally got everything locked up and connected and ready for the trip back to Worcester. Only one hour late, we stopped into the office. Steve was there, and it was hard for all of us to tell him goodbye. But we've already made our reservations for next year! That is exciting, knowing we've finally learned how to VACATE and relax.
We stopped in Kittery, ME at Bob's Clam Hut for fried clams/scallops on the way back. The traffic in Kittery was bumper to bumper...amazing to us, since we'd seen nothing like this since the accident in Belfast! While we sat outside eating our lunch, watching the traffic trickle by, Warren and I both agreed that it was more like Las Vegas than a small town in Maine. We were so happy we didn't have to ever spend more than about 90 minutes a year there, eating fried clams! We were in and out in a flash, and happy to head back to Worcester.