Looking Beyond Tomorrow

Today is the day when many make their New Year Resolutions. As I’ve stated before, I make goals not resolutions. So without further ado the goals for 2022.

🐭 Last year, for the second time, Geowoodstock was cancelled. I’m pinning my hopes on 2022 – 3rd time’s a charm. I’m ready to go. I have my passport, the ArriveCan app on my phone, my vaccination certificate and my booster. We have worked out the timing for the “molecular testing” and will be hoping that everything goes according to plan.

🐭 The publishing of the poetry didn’t happen. There were too many road blocks, money being only one. But I’m not giving up it is on the list of goals this year. I think I’m going to enlist the aid of a friend who works at a printing company. Perhaps he can assist in the copy editing and maybe help steer me to a local print shop…

🐭 I’m going to straighten the basement storage area. I’m going to brave the spider infested basement and declutter and organize… That screaming you hear is just me stirring up the 8-leggers.

🐭 I’m going to get rid of some excess clothing and maybe a few pairs of shoes. Yes, I know. The shoes is a BIG maybe…

🐭 I’m going to finally shed that extra 7 pounds that have been clinging. I almost had them on the run but the pandemic closed the gym. The plan is to see if I can get back into the swing but at Planet Fitness instead of at the University.

🐭 I did manage 12 new recipes last year. This year will be 6 main dishes and 6 side dishes. First up will be a stuffed flank steak. I had this at a dinner many years ago and got the recipe but never tried it. This is the year!

🐭 I’m going to read one book a month. I am hopeful that I’ll shatter that goal! I have a list.

🐭 I’m going to watch one movie a month – either on Netflix, on DVD or in the movie theater. I think this will be entirely doable. I may surprise myself and exceed the goal…

🐭 I’m going to send birthday cards. I’ve gotten very lazy and let FB remind me and then end up just posting on their timeline. It isn’t the same as a snail mail card. Besides I have a ton of cards just sitting there waiting to be sent!

🐭 I’m getting more involved at church. I already do the organizing and stocking of the food pantry. I joined the Rosary Society just as the pandemic hit. Now I’m going to start attending the meetings. I am also part of the “Luncheon Brigade” which is a group of volunteers to make food for all the funeral luncheons. I really hope I don’t have to make anything this new year – because I really hope no one dies anytime soon.

🐭 The travel goal this year will be to take a trip to FL to visit my sister probably in late January/February. We will also head to PA to visit my sister because it is the thing to do. And at some point we might plan a visit to Montana to see Sparky’s sister. I do not want to go to Montana in the winter!!! And that brings us to BC, Canada in August. Keep your fingers crossed. I’m thinking that if Canada is scrubbed (again), we will head to Hawaii or Alaska instead. In this pandemic climate, being flexible is mandatory.

🐭 This year marks the “countdown” year before I’m fully retired. I hope to complete the training of my former work place staff before I’m “outta here”! It will be interesting to say the least to see how many will be scrambling to get my help before the clock runs out.

🐭 Another goal is to complete a couple craft projects. The first is doing some illustrations for a couple of poems that I want to give as gifts. The other involves beads and wire. It is an experiment – cross your fingers. If it works out I will post a photo!

🐭 My geocaching goal for this year is to reach the milestone of 4000 caches found so that Geowoodstock is #4000! Since at this writing I’m at 3699, I think that is entirely possible. If Geowoodstock doesn’t happen (again for the 3rd year) I’m willing to make the goal 5000 for 2023.

🐭 This is the year that I’m going to do the one chore that I abhor – washing the Venetian blinds. This involves taking them down, filling a bathtub with soapy water and letting them soak. After a good soak holding them up and spraying them off. Of course that is followed by the drying of the blinds which can take up to a week. I really would almost prefer to spend the money and just buy new ones. Sadly we have odd sized windows and these were custom made…

🐭 My last goal is an easy one. We will have Sparky’s parents over for dinner at least once a month (but not on a new recipe night). We took dinner to them several times early in the pandemic and ate outside. Now that we are all vaccinated and have had boosters, I feel it is safe for them to come to our house more often.

Thanks for reading this long long post. Do you make resolutions?

Looking to Flaunt It

We are approaching New Year’s Eve and many are preparing to go to fancy parties. I was at the thrift store and all the sequined gowns were being passed between a group of college aged women. For good measure there were also a number of form fitting and strapless dresses being tried on. Most of the dresses had thigh high slits in the long skirts. Some of the strapless dresses were examples of feats of engineering in how they managed to stay up. Growing up the phrase that was often bandied about when observing girls at Prom in revealing dresses was “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Since I’ve never been an exhibitionist and my mother made almost all my Prom dresses, I was never that girl. But seeing the group of women trying on dresses (and coming out of the dressing rooms to get input from their friends), I couldn’t help but hear that familiar refrain “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” There was one voice of reason who asked several of her friends, “Can you sit down in that dress?” She also commented to the girl in the scarlet red dress that was strapless and backless, “Do you think it will stay up when you dance?” I didn’t see what dresses they decided to purchase but I hope they chose wisely. We will be staying in this New Years Eve.

Our traditional New Year’s Eve restaurant has gone out of business and we are avoiding crowds since the new variants of the coronavirus are running rampant. Instead we will have a small gathering of a few close friends and family (maybe 6 counting Sparky and myself). We are ordering dinner from a fancy restaurant and I’m making a decadent dessert. We’ll watch the ball drop in NYC and maybe crack open a bottle of bubbly left over from 3 years ago…

What was I thinking
A slinky dress
Red as sin
Skin shows
Skin shows
Red as sin
A slinky dress
What was I thinking

Above is a Decastich poem. It is 10 lines long and written with a strict syllable count with a mirror feature in that the first 5 lines are mirrored in the second 5 lines. The syllable count is: 5/4/3/2/1/1/2/3/4/5

Looking Over the Rainbow

There are many interpretations of rainbows. Some are religious or spiritual and others have a social significance. The motif of a rainbow is found throughout media including in written word, performance, and music. Today has me humming that song, made famous by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It has a more somber meaning for me, at least today. They say that things happen in threes. Maybe it is only sad things that come in these trios.

My mother passed the day after Thanksgiving. It was “Black Friday” and now Black Friday will have an ominous overtone that was missing before. The day of her funeral, a geocaching friend lost his life after a valiant fight with cancer. He lived nearly a year longer than the doctors predicted. He too will be missed. I’m counting and that is two. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Ten days ago my friend saintvi lost her canine companion Oreo. He was very old and had been in failing health. The surgery for splenic carcinoma gave him another 4 months. Only a few hours later another friend called in a panic, her bunny of 10 years was having a health crisis. I was on my way home from an errand and was within a block of her house. I stopped. BeBe was not eating and had developed profuse and uncontrollable diarrhea. I advised her to call the vet and get BeBe in ASAP. She didn’t make it through the night. That’s two. And I’m sad.

At the end of this year, I’m reflecting on all the loss. Far too many deaths have occurred in a short space. I’m really hoping that there are no more between now and the start of the new year. Many people like to imagine there is a Rainbow Bridge, even though it is not supported by any religion and was never a thing until the 1980s. It is the idea that after a beloved pet dies, they go to a wonderful place of happiness where they wait for their human. Once the human arrives, they cross a rainbow bridge into heaven together. My vision is more that of a car speeding to heaven, it slows briefly, a door opens and the pet is scooped into the back seat. From there the car disappears in a burst (as if entering hyperspace) and arrives instantaneously in paradise. I think one must just fly over the rainbow….

Looking at Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve day. Traditionally we have breakfast with the Godparents of our boys and not incidentally our very oldest friends. This year due to the pandemic, I was prepared to host the breakfast at my house. I’d planned Overnight French Toast and omelets. It was decided that we should be brave and try for breakfast out.  As you read this we are on our way to an eatery that specializes in breakfast. We will return to our house to do a gift exchange and listen to our favorite Christmas music. By lunch our friends will depart for their family obligations. Sparky is still singing with the church choir and will have to be there by 9:30 PM. The midnight Mass will start at 10:00 PM and I will be attending. Between breakfast and Mass tonight, I have lots to do. There are a couple gifts for Sparky that need to be wrapped. I have to do some food preparations for tomorrow’s Christmas feast. Plus that last minute cleaning that is necessary when there will be lots of guests over. So I leave you with our Christmas Card photo for your enjoyment and a little poem describing what must be the state for many parents on this night.

Curled up near the warming fire
Heavy head from working prior
A cup of hot tea
Balanced on the knee
Not yet free
To retire

The above is another Welsh poetry form, the Clogyrnach, which is a syllabic and rhyming poem. It requires 6 lines per stanza with a syllable count of 8/8/5/5/3/3 and a rhyme scheme of a/a/b/b/b/a
Merry Christmas!

Blogmas entry: Our first Christmas card as a married couple featured our cat under the Christmas tree. It was a photocard that was free because of a Purina Cat Food promotion (I’d never had a photocard done before as that was what rich people did). A few years later we decided to do a photo card because we were now new parents and had the perfect prop (that is a photogenic baby). From that point on, we did Christmas photocards – featuring sons#1 & #2. Later we added the dog, Ranger to the cards. Finally when both boys moved out, Ranger took center stage. He was so good posing for cards – wearing Santa hats, gold antlers, elf hats with bells, wrapped in lights, and wearing a white beard and moustache (and hat too). Once Ranger was gone we were forced to take photos of ourselves! Every year we try to do a theme. This year was different and with no snow and having had a really rough month, we defaulted to a picture in front of the tree…

Looking for Shoe Laces

I have shoes, lots of shoes. It is not a secret. However I only have a few (3) pair that require laces. Sparky on the other hand has fewer shoes but ALL of his lace up. Recently his special, most expensive ones he paid full price for, Abeo walking shoes had a malfunction. The lace on one broke. He was upset. So much so that he wanted me to fix it immediately so he could wear them to work… Unfortunately all the laces I had were, um, unsuitable. I do have laces but most are left over from when the rage was double laced athletic shoes. Do you remember? Anyway I never liked the look so would only use one lace keeping the others as extras. With 2 sons I amassed a huge collection of laces – but none that were black flat laces and not a single one was 48 inches. (I had measured the length.)

It was with dismay that I realized that the demolition on Mishawaka Avenue (where there is currently only rubble) included Violi’s Shoe Repair! Mr. Violi was the very last cobbler in town. His little shop had a vast selection of shoe laces, heel pads, innersoles, and orthotics. That was my first choice. I drove on. I stopped at Target – no luck but they had a nice selection of novelty laces if I wanted unicorns or hearts. I tried DWS which was not productive. I stopped at Burlington Coat Factory – because it was next to DWS and they tend to have a variety but not that day. I went to several shoe stores in the Mall all of which were more than willing to sell me new shoes but didn’t have laces. I then decided to go to the store where we purchased the shoes – sadly they suggested I purchase Abeo laces online. So I searched for some – too expensive (when you factor in shipping). I was about to give up but I needed to pick up hotdog buns since we were going to have brats for dinner. I figured that maybe Meijer had laces.

Yay!! They did in both black and brown 36″ or 54″ laces. There was one pair of 45″ laces in neon orange. Hmm. I decided to purchase one each of the black laces. Once home I laced them up with the 36″. Nope. Too short. So I switched to the 54″. They are fine. They will work. I considered cutting them but I didn’t want to lose the aglets on the ends. Sparky will just have to tie them in some double knots to take up a little of the extra length. He has no idea that buying shoe laces is an act of selfless love…

Blogmas entry: Every year during Advent I was invited to multiple parties. Because they were work sponsored, I was obligated to attend (because you know, team player, leadership, setting an example, etc.). Many were casual but there were two every year that required you to dress up. I wore nurses’ shoes all day everyday. I had only one pair of high heels. And they killed me. By the time I had walked from the parking lot to the party, my feet were screaming. I was always relieved when I had my plate and could extract my feet from the shoes under the table. At one party I was not the only one with my shoes off, and the woman next to me went up to get her dessert wearing one of my shoes! We had a good laugh but afterwards I bought a pair of dressy shoes that actually fit so it wouldn’t happen again!

Looking Past Want

How slight the shift from want to need
Coveting what others own
Delighting in another’s groan
How slight the shift from want to need

Coveting what others own
Envy’s seed takes root and grows
Leaving us in Satan’s throes
Coveting what others own

Envy’s seed takes root and grows
Jealousy leads down a perilous path
Earning family and friends’ wrath
Envy’s seed takes root and grows

Jealousy leads down a perilous path
How slight the shift from want to need
Use deceit and lies to assuage greed
Jealousy leads down a perilous path

How slight the shift from want to need
Coveting what others own
Delighting in another’s groan
How slight the shift from want to need

The above poem is a Catena Rondo. The term rondo refers to a repeating line or theme and such is the case with this form. There are any number of quatrains (4 line stanzas) with a rhyme scheme of A/b/b/A where the first and last lines of the stanza are identical. In addition the second line of the stanza becomes the 1st line of the following stanza. This is repeated until the last stanza which is identical to the first stanza… If is sounds confusing just look a little more closely at the poem and it all becomes clear!

Most of what I write is prompted by some life experience and this one is no exception. The season of gift giving and greed is upon us. I cringe when I think of parents attempting to salve their guilt or make amends for divorce by going into debt. The idea of an extravagant holiday was always tempered by the budget. Fortunately that was also the way Sparky was reared. When the boys were little we made a point of distinguishing between want and need. It made many decisions easier and provided a palatable explanation for the inevitable question of “why”. Soon they would express a want instead of a need. They caught on that needs would be provided without question but wants had to be justified and reasonable. They needed new shoes – done. They needed a drink of water – no question it was immediately provided. They needed a Gameboy – (insert sound of needle skidding across a vinyl record) wait one cotton picking minute! Please explain how a Gameboy is essential for your health, education, growth, or spiritual well-being. I have smart kids. They were told that we (the parental units) were not spending money on an expensive toy and that when they moved out of the house and were earning their own living they could spend their money however they saw fit. That didn’t mean that wants were disregarded. It meant that wants, when provided were special gifts. This was of course not a one time discussion. We had regular discussions on the repercussions of confusing need and want. In the end they grew up and bought their own gaming systems. They also learned the difference between want and need and as a bonus they developed a mind set that allows them to cope with delayed gratification. Neither one is in debt. They have been able to save and then judiciously spend their money. Unlike some of their friends whose parents failed to use that most useful word in the parental vocabulary – NO.

Blogmas entry: The Christmas when the boys were still young enough to consider that Santa might be real, Sparky made soccer goals. They were designed to be taken apart for storage but we wanted to have them assembled for Christmas morning. They were huge. So he put them up on the roof very early in the morning and it started to snow. We wrote them a letter “from Santa” and put it under the tree. It said that there was a gift that wouldn’t fit down the chimney so he left it on the roof. They were a little skeptical but the snow had obliterated all of Sparky’s foot prints on the ground. On the roof you could just make out a few footprints and what looked like sleigh runner tracks (from the ladder). They were convinced that Santa was real – at least for another year…

Looking in the Recipe Box

I was thinking about meals my mother made that were either wonderful or wretched. I’m sure there are a few meals that as a child you loathed and possibly have never had since. On the reverse there are favorite meals you enjoyed enough to now make for yourself.
1. Fried chicken – She would make fried chicken and it was delicious. It was just like her mother made. For health reasons I don’t fry much of anything anymore but I might just have to do some fried chicken again one of these days…
2. Pirogans – These are sort of like the Russian pierogies but not. She would make liver and onions and then grind the leftovers into a pate. With the leftover mashed potatoes she’d add an egg and a little flour to make a potato dough and fill circles of dough with the liver, seal them up into logs and fry. They were crunchy on the outside and soft inside! I’ve made this a couple of times but once the boys were in double digits there was never any leftover liver!
3. Cinnamon tea ring – She was never good with cakes or cookies but she’d make a sweet dough and fill it with a brown sugar cinnamon mixture and some pecans or raisins. If she sliced it into circles they’d be cinnamon rolls but if she joined the ends it would become a wreath. She would make cuts and twist each section to lay flat. Once baked it was heavenly…
4. Pot roast – Her pot roast was always so very tender and would just melt in your mouth. Her gravy was luscious. Mine isn’t any different. It is on the menu for this week.

NOT Favorites
1. Cooked canned spinach – This was awful. She would add vinegar to the slimy canned spinach and heat it on the stove. It wasn’t until I was an adult and tasted fresh spinach that I discovered that I liked it – without vinegar!!
2. Chipped beef on toast – during some “lean” years my mother would fix this as an evening meal. We ate it in silence and under duress. Even my father was not a fan. You could add a whole shaker of salt and pepper and it wouldn’t help. I’ve never made this for my family – ever.
3. Vegetable Soup – I did not care for my mother’s version of vegetable soup. Others seemed to love it but I’m not in that number. I think that green beans and cabbage should NOT be the two predominant veggies present followed closely by celery.
4. Pickled beets – I have never liked the smell or taste of vinegar and anything pickled is off the list. As an adult I have had candied beets and roasted beets which aren’t my favorites but I will eat them (without gagging even). But pickled beets are heinous!

So what childhood dish served up have you vowed to never subject your spouse/children/self to ever again or make for them frequently?

Blogmas memory: My mother would make a heavenly tea ring every Christmas (actually she’d make several). That would be our Christmas breakfast – practically the only time we’d get pastry for breakfast! It would have been baked ahead of time and frozen. While we opened gifts it would be warming in the oven. When it was removed, she would drizzle a glaze made with powdered sugar and orange marmalade over the top that would pool and drip and make it moist and oh so good! To this day a cinnamon roll with an orange marmalade glaze screams Christmas to me!

Looking at Sticky Fingers

So many art cards and so little time! I ran out of glue sticks and had to use the old fashion liquid Elmer’s Glue. It wasn’t too bad in the beginning but by the time I finished putting the first poem on the card, my fingers were sticking to everything and everything was sticking to my fingers. It was so bad that I decided to wash my hands and use toothpicks to position the words on subsequent cards. As the glue was taking a little longer to dry than the stick glue, I had multiple cards in progress. That actually sped up the process. It is hard to see but the angel on the blue background has a halo of glitter glue. Here are some additional cards that were completed. I’ve already given some of these away to friends. They can be used as book marks among other uses. One friend suggested I sell them at a craft bazaar. I’m not that ambitious!

I found him patient
His intended appeal low
What must young ones do
Wishing to connect
Intention in life’s meaning
Quality of age
Receive word made man
Powerful acclamations
Benefit us all
Our ways malignant
Separated us from Christ
The enemy came
Your liquid free time
Code for future week’s daily high
Music with static
People will suggest
Purpose and perfect balance
For soul’s salvation

Blogmas memory: My sisters and I went together to purchase my mother new, matching flatware (I think I was in 8th grade). We stealthily placed it in the kitchen drawer and then packaged the old mismatched pieces in the box. When she unwrapped it Christmas morning she glowered. Looking piercingly at each of us in turn, pronounced, “You girls are going to have to wash all this and put it back before we can have breakfast!” As we all laughed and indicated that we weren’t going to ever wash those pieces again, it dawned on her what had happened. She jumped up and dashed to the kitchen. After a few moments she hurried back and hugged us. When she moved to live with my sister she had a rummage sale. I bought what was left of that set for son#1 & #2 as they were scraping by with a few pieces they’d purchased at a garage sale, so it is still in the family!

Looking Loved

What does it mean to be loved? Being the recipient of love is something that you cannot demand. There is no set limit on quantity or depth. It does not require any prerequisites and it doesn’t set a timer. Being loved is not dependent on loving in return. We spend a whole lot of effort in trying to suss out the criteria for being loved. Just look at any woman’s magazine if you don’t believe me. My husband and I celebrated 38 years of being married this year. This does not count the 5 years of dating. So it is no wonder that I’ve had the question rolling around for a couple of months. We are all about loving but no one ever talks about being loved.

It is different. It is a gift. So I want to take a minute to muse on what it means and what it does to us. First we don’t get to choose who loves us. That is entirely out of our control. And we all want control. That means accepting love is to relinquish control over another person. Secondly we should learn how to accept the gift. Being loved requires that we acknowledge the gift. That means that if we don’t want it we can’t dash it to the ground and punt it into the neighbor’s yard! Hopefully your parents taught you better! You smile and graciously accept. The gift of love is very tough stuff but the giver is not. They have tender hearts so treat them with a gentleness. It is okay to thank them and then never reciprocate but do it with kindness. Remember there are many types of love.

Third, love poured out for you can change you for the better. Being loved is an invitation to see yourself through another’s eyes. Hopefully you like what you see. If not, you have the power to change. Love in itself doesn’t change you but the revealed you has the power to be better. Being loved gives you permission to love in return (a very powerful invitation), it allows you to express how you feel and say what you think in the safe confines of acceptance. Being able to be your authentic self is a freedom few take advantage of.

And lastly, being loved causes others to see you as worthy – despite or possibly because of your flaws. We are so focused on earning love that when it is offered without an attached price we become suspicious. Each of us is deserving of love. We may not have the ideal body (according to Cosmopolitan) or flawless complexions (see Elle), we may not have chosen a career that is glamorous (Seventeen magazine), but that doesn’t mean we are unlovable. It is kind of the way employment works – a currently employed applicant is considered more desirable than an unemployed candidate. If we are loved, others see us as worthy of love. And back to that being loved warts and all, we may not be perfect but we are perfect for someone! BELIEVE IT!

My Blogmas addition: I remember the Christmas when I was in 2nd grade. I wanted a bicycle more than anything. I’d learned to ride on the neighbor’s bike but we couldn’t ride together since she only had one. Christmas morning as we rushed to the tree, there blocking the way were 2 beautiful blue Schwinn bikes – one for me and one for my younger sister. Mine was a 26″ bicycle that was so big that I couldn’t sit on the seat and pedal because my legs weren’t long enough. My father had spent most of the night putting the bikes together (I knew that my parents were “Santa”). What I also knew was that they loved me. That gift was proof positive!!

Looking to Behave

Here it is 2nd week of December and I’m already tired of the Christmas music. It hasn’t helped that the radio has been playing it since just after Halloween. The other issue has been the plethora of horrible songs. I know that Dr. Demento appeals to many. And yes, we own that record in vinyl, cassette tape, and even as a CD. But there is a limit to how many times I can listen to “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” or “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” before I go a little crazy. But the one that really makes my skin crawl is that awful version of Jingle Bells by Jingle Dogs/The Singing Dogs. I’d rather hear the Puppini Sisters do Christmas carols, or maybe the Roches (except for their version of Frosty the Snowman). Or even the Beatles Christmas Album!

But I’m trying to behave. This admonition always confused me. I was always behaving – sometime I behaved well except when I behaved badly. December is when parents double down on telling their children “to behave”! And the kids all know that what they are really saying is that they want them to behave well, to follow the rules, stay out of trouble and to follow directions! Of course there is often the unspoken innuendo that failure will result in a marked decrease in Santa’s generosity. December is the child version of the adult’s New Year Resolutions. The kids promise to “behave”. All is going well for a couple days, then there is a slip. Perhaps it is an eye roll or a shove of a sibling. They remember a moment too late and are crushed. They beg forgiveness and try to make amends. Again they manage to walk that narrow line for a few more days before the inevitable – they lose their temper, forget to make the bed, or any number of kid infractions. The cycle continues. Christmas morning is one of expectation and dread – Did Santa remember that slip up when they stuck their tongue out at their older sister or beaned the little brother with the wet sponge? Did the extra chores and sharing their cookie make up for it?

For your reading pleasure I present a Decima. A 10 line poem with 8 syllables per line and a rhyme scheme of a/b/b/a/a/c/c/d/d/c.

December and I want to sing
The days see frosty winds that blow
And overnight finds deep the snow
When silver bells and sleigh bells ring
And on the tree bright lights we’ll string
From good behavior we’ll not stray
Wishing presents from Santa’s sleigh
We’ll cut and paste and gifts create
Christmas is coming we can’t wait
Anxiously hoping for Christmas day

This is a Blogmas post as suggested by Shine Bright Like a Smile. So I’m going to join the fun and add a little something to each of my posts in Advent, either a memory or story or a gratitude or two.