Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fabulous Favorites

As children we learn by associating new concepts with what we know and comparing what we know to what we are newly experiencing.  We ask questions.  We've all been on the receiving end of a pre-schoolers endless inquisition, "why", "how", "what is that" and so on until the evolve into a bit more sophisticated line of questioning.  The next step is for a child to ask what our favorite is so they can compare our answer to what they know and what they already think or have experienced.  "What is your favorite movie," may really mean, "Do you and I like the same thing?"  In fact, I remember being on the answer seeking side of this phase and asking everyone what their favorite color was to see if we shared a love for a particular hue.  Silly?

It's taken me over 40 years to figure out the answer to the simple, "What is your favorite color" question and of course, it is in the form of a series of short answers rather than a direct, one word answer I am sure a small child would prefer.

I love the fabulous blue of a New York sky after a snow storm has cleared.  It is intense and complete.  It is endless, calming and serene.

I love the green the spring rain leaves behind.  The buds, the leaves, the single blades of grass seem to try to shine and illuminate the otherwise dreary landscape left behind by winter and before the glow of summer.  If colors had a smell, I would love to bottle green and keep it on hand for gray days.  It would likely smell a bit like laundry dried in sunshine, a soft embrace for the senses...

The red of a beach umbrella at the beach.  Vibrant. Strong.  

And always the red of a ripe strawberry -

The oranges, yellows, golds of a sunset - especially over water - whether the ocean, a lake or river.  The warmth that lingers as the day fades and yields to night...

Pinks and purples bring to mind the endless varieties of flowers, soft petals, some with light and pleasant perfumes.

A love for black and white comes in the form of memories, not harsh division lines.

A child may be disappointed in my answer, but now, it is the one these older eyes sees - many fabulous favorites.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What do you believe?

It's not really about glasses being half full or empty, it's more about being happy to have something to drink really, don't you agree?

Reality is, we will all face adversity, tragedy, loss, illness and low points.  I wonder if the trick is to appreciate the days we don't have to and enjoy them.  Granted, we will not feel like singing like Snow White among the forest creatures on a daily basis, but isn't it a bit more comfortable to at least refrain from constantly pointing out all that is wrong, negative or the catastrophe that is surely about to occur?  I find those people quite draining and they seem to suck the happiness right out of me after a time.

I once worked with someone who said, "She is the kind of person who would complain if you gave her 99 cents."  And, of course at first I didn't understand the meaning of the statement so they explained, "You know, she would ask you for the other penny, even though you are simply giving her 99 cents, she would ask why you couldn't just make it an even dollar."  Ahhh.  That person.

It feels odd to me that someone could find faults or flaws in almost every aspect of life, but for some, that is what they live for and they simply doubt any genuine happiness.  Sad.  I choose to continue to find moments of fabulous and remember them for they are the treasures in each day, the memories I hope to keep and share or draw on when life really is challenging.  Hope you had a fabulous moment or two today.  I'm going to finish my half a cup of tea and enjoy each fabulous sip.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


To learn, one must observe, immerse themselves in new situations or experiences, be aware and be open, and the true trick is to remember.

While taking photographs of a local holiday event I was aware of a photographer from the well-read, well-known, area daily newspaper. The square footage of the occasion was relatively small and so we were frequently next to, in front or across from each other at displays or activities. I felt such a wide range of emotions; jealousy, fear, intimidation, curiousity, surprise and happy. Happy that I was able to be in this situation and know I could compare my work to that of a seasoned professional and sort of see where I landed - gauge my eye and skill.

While a few of our published shots were those the public expects to see; child with Santa, holiday parade, elves, a few were of course, quite unique. I tend to want to close in on the action and was struggling to capture ballerinas posing behind glass. Ugh. I didn't want my reflection, I didn't want crowd reflection, I wanted to zoom in on the dancer. Mistake.

The professional pulled way back. His image captured not only the actual girls in the studio window, but the crowd watching, the festive mood and atmosphere, the decorations. My shot could not tell a story. His was a thousand stories. Jealous. But, a fabulous lesson and one I am learning to apply to other areas as well.

I had to learn how to let the observer decide what they want to concentrate on in the shot more so than what I was struggling to force them to see.

I am a true lover of the close-up, the details, in everything in life from menu planning, to parties, agendas, meetings, and writing. I may concentrate on one single aspect and struggle to find the right words to describe the varying shades of gray in a cloudy sky rather than the bucking horses that whiny in fear of the impending storm, the trees bending in the wind and the shutter banging against the house. Two very different points of view to the same story.

The fabulous bits are recognizing the opportunity to learn and applying it to life.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Disadvantage PC

A glorious and sunny spring Saturday on the deck soaking up some sun, feet up, a borrowed lap top in place. With a to-do list that fills an entire page, I always elect to first read and write over chores and housework. How to do what I want and enjoy some of nature's gifts on this fine day? My PC, my life and keyboard are all quite stationary. My cell phone while capable of being used for this purpose is simply not practical and if I say, "later" then I know I will instead turn to what should be done rather than what I want to do during this time. Advantage laptop.

Though the feel is certainly like using someone elses toy, it may be something to finally and seriously consider.

I watch gadget users embrace their i-electronics: pads, tablets, pods, along side Kindles, Nooks and the like and I kind of peek at them from a distance. How does it work? What about my fat fingertips sliding off the e-keyboard rather than raised letters? What about screen size? How much can it hold in terms of word documents and photos?

I also hesitate to get rid of our landline.

What generation am I really? My birth year says I am quite young enough to be a part of all this new fangled gadgetry and have had a long and loving relationship with my Blackberry, but this seems like living in another country to me. The old, "It's a great place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there," kind of scenario. For now.

However, technology has made this fabulous blog a part of a fabulous sunny day on the deck. Something to consider.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cross it Off!

I am a list maker. I can't help it. To do, grocery, tasks for work, writing assignments, ideas, I simply make lists.

Sometimes, yes, I can't find the list. Fortunately the act of writing it out does help me imprint the list in my memory. Usually. Hate it when I am in the grocery store, without my list, think I did end up with everything I meant to, until I pull the car in the garage and remember I need milk. Ugh.

I also procrastinate. Looking at the list I sometimes simply want to get through the items for the simple joy of crossing them off. Nothing is more gratifying than dragging a pen or pencil through an item on a list and simply sighing, "Ah, done." The really tough ones may even be cause for a bit of pressure and going back and forth over the item multiple times - sort of an underline for crossing it off.

Last night, I completed a complicated writing assignment that I had been letting slide for a bit too long. I have 5 lines through it on my to-do list. It looks fabulous that way!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fabulous Passion

Children have it, they just can't help themselves, when they truly love something, want to do something, need to - over and over - whether it is hearing the same book, watching the same movie, singing the same song or doing an activity - they simply have passion. In time, through school and structured rituals, the passions sometimes fade or more accurately defined, they are forced to be buried. How many times have parents told the begging child, "Not now. We have to..." or "Would you please stop that and get ready for..."? I'm guilty. I've been on both sides.

I cringe when I think of the times I told my older son to stop playing with his Matchbox cars. And he remembers. We read "The Truck Book," until it fell apart. He watched big truck videos in the VCR until I thought the images would wear away from the tape. Where could this have gone? No answer is available, it is still happening, he is still interested in engines, racing his quad, how things work and improving what is available.

For awhile, my younger son had a sketch pad that was to become his own comic book. Hours were spent recreating cartoon super heroes until the entire project was discarded. Once in awhile he sketches words and letters, but could it have been more? Does he have a struggling artist within that he forces aside for the tasks he has to or should complete? Is it something all together different? Something more?

My youngest nephews have their own outward passions and sometimes they may seem to consume too much of their time and attention. Now, in a non-mother role, I say fuel them! Get them to baseball camp, buy yarn, let one take a computer programming class and design his own game, whatever it takes, keep the fires burning. Better now then when we become adults and revisit our childhood interests anyway, fanning the glowing embers, trying to recreate and recapture a bit of what might have been, should have been and can still become.

I keep my passions nearby and answer their call when the ringing is loud like an annoying alarm clock and I can simply not hit snooze any longer. They push their way to the top of the water like fish fighting for food in a tank.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Just One Moment

Some days are a string of fabulous moments and it actually quite difficult to narrow it down to selecting just one to remember. Luckily, today was one of those days.

However, I often remember thinking of one of my husband's cousins who passed away far too young but was one of those souls who seemed to just "get it." He had an appreciation for the little things, the details and could express those thoughts with words and art. His was one of the most beautiful funerals I'd ever been to because those who knew and loved him stood and shared stories of his life. This is how I think it should be for us all, but I am getting away from the point. A story was shared about how he could have a conversation about the skin of a grape. If you think about it, the skin of a grape is really quite remarkable - thin yet incredible tensile strength, crisp to the bite, and does it ever really break down?

This morning my husband was driving in front of me in our truck with my nephews and I followed in my car since I would have to leave our fishing trip to cover a story for the newspaper. As we neared the private farm, I looked out my window at a small pond and thought, "Nothing is more beautiful than the glare of the sun on water."

I simply love the water. Fresh or salt. Lake or ocean. If I had to pick just one, it would be the ocean, but really, I just want to be near the water.

When we arrived at our final destination, I stood still for just a moment and admired the sun sparkling across the peaks created by the wind on the water. Glistening. Twinkling. Fabulous.

Friday, April 6, 2012

All that is Fabulous About Ted - yes, Nugent

About a bazillion years ago when dinosaurs were recently extinct, I went to rock concerts with friends. We traveled in packs, we bought shirts, screamed, thought we went deaf and had a fabulous time. We went to the Civic Center, the Chance, the Fairgrounds, the arenas and Music Mountain. As we grew older and a bit more of the "Glory Days" age, we share our stories, reminisce and listen to new "oldies" stations (Thank you Stacey for convincing me about 93.3 by the way) and dread the times we hear our songs played elevator music style.

Turns out, my husband and I just missed each other at several concerts, same place, same time, star crossed. He is a HUGE Ted Nugent fan and I was a fan of going out with my friends and so at some time in our lives we were both at Music Mountain as Mr. Cat Scratch had his fever on stage with a wild animal tail pinned to his white pants. Hubby was in love. I remember thinking how I barely knew a handful of the songs, but I was there, fist pumping before we knew what it was and smiling.

Today, doing the errands of a holiday weekend included a quick stop at the post office. It's a rare occasion, but once in awhile something has to be weighed and mailed the old fashioned way. I held the door for an older gentleman and thought for a minute I could hear a familiar tune. No, can't be. I'm practically in an institution and plus, I looked around, everyone here has white or at least salt and pepper hair, this simply isn't possible. Indeed, Cat Scratch Fever. I couldn't help but smile and wonder, when did this happen? It wasn't even a watered down musical version, it was the original, the one, the only, repeat Cat Scratch Fever.

"Anything else today," I was asked after my transaction.

"Um, no. I am happy to hear Ted being played in the post office though," I laughed.

"Shhhhh," I was told, "It's not too loud is it?"

I just laughed and remembered the time I saw Twisted Sister and worried about how I would explain to my parents that as a result of standing next to the speakers, I was now deaf.

Click on the link to enjoy some Live Ted...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Special Treats

Part of what makes family time and holidays a little extra memorable are the special treats - we drive to those out of the way places and pick up the "good" cakes, pies, and kielbasi. This year we will be enjoying "Deadly" carrot cake and Key Lime pie from Jones Farm in Cornwall. I wrote about this lovely 5th generation business in Hudson Valley Parent magazine last year and as part of the research I had just a carrot cake cupcake and was so excited I couldn't wait to get home to eat it but snacked in the car!

I also ventured out during my lunch today and purchased the good kielbasi at: - the Mahwah location.

Our Easter bread is a modified recipe handed down from my Great Grandmother (Nana) who I was lucky to have in my life until I was 20 years old. Though some may say things like "Babka" or "raisin bread" - for her the only name was, "Easter Bread." Some years I am able to participate in the assembly line style of prepping and baking along side my mother and sister though sometimes I have not been able to join in due to work conflicts. I will always remember the story of my sister's first time punching the dough down, literally.

And the dying of the eggs, the creative process, the children (once mine, now my nephews), writing names or meaningful designs to personalize one for each family member or guest.

Group photos. Learning that if special guests are included, family photos should be taken with and without them as they sometimes do not stay a part of our lives.

The traditions also include a children's hunt for filled plastic eggs, but the moments we all wait for with a bit of teasing and anticipation are the kickball game and if weather permits, kite flying. A fabulous event!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Immerse Thyself

I used to think of retreats as simply for religious folks. Vacations are for winding down, getting away from work and being with family or friends. So what if I simply want to put on my most comfortable clothes and stay in my own house and do what I want, when I want, at the pace I want, eat when I want and answer to no one? Well, besides being called selfish, I would actually struggle with this concept.

I have a book idea (no really, I know...), but almost any time I sit down at the computer, I wander through the internet, answer phone calls, emails and write the pieces I am paid to produce. This is not a complaint or rant, just the details of what happens when I sit in front of the monitor.

This past winter I promised myself I would spend more time working during snow days. Guess how many snow days we had in the North East this year? Exactly.

Why is it what I complain and moan about that I want to do the most, yet I spend a good portion of time avoiding, complaining, procrastinating???? Or coming up with the "if" plans - "If I have a snow day," or "If only I had a good chunk of time to sit undisturbed..." These if's will never happen. So, on a Tuesday, I will postpone just a bit longer, after all I have to get ready for Easter next Sunday (not really), but soon I will be typing my fingerpads off from morning to midnight. I will lock myself away, turn off the cell phone, maybe disconnect the internet somehow and only access my Word program - maybe.

Monday, April 2, 2012

To forgive, fabulous

You know that person you judge, all the time, that you hold accountable for everything, even things beyond their control? Well, why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we play back those bits that are now beyond our grasp, wondering what we could have done differently? It's too late now. Isn't it?

We've all heard about learning from our mistakes and that's probably the best we can do. Many claim to look back and have no regrets, but for me, I spend a bit of time looking at the bad choices and poor decisions and have a good wrestling match for awhile until my sore, sorry self surrenders. For what? I don't know. Why do some people pick the scab?

Mind you, it's not a daily event, but when the occasion arises, it is difficult to pack all the garbage up again. And, it never fits as neatly back in the bag it came out of. Every time we touch it, we are stained again by the goo that remains. Best to leave it, learn from it, forgive and move on.