Wednesday, July 30, 2014

VBS, Pretty Flowers, and Paperwork

It's Vacation Bible School week at church. I've not done more than drop a child off and pick her up, but I still get just a small taste of the excitement. VBS was always fun when I was a little girl. We went to the one at our own church mornings one week of the summer, and another week we attended a neighboring church for an evening VBS. This year there are six children I have babysat in the past few years (Oops, make that seven. I forgot the pastor's grandson), along with three of my grandchildren, attending our church VBS. It's been fun to see them and get a hug or two. Rocky gives a mean hug!

I cut some zinnias from my garden flower beds this afternoon and put them in a vase on my mom's table. She would have found them pretty and likely told me so. Maybe next year I'll have a big flower garden just for the fun of it.

My mom's table is not only home to a vase of pretty flowers, but lately also home to varying stacks of papers. Every time I think I have a job taken care of and mailed away, part of it comes back. It's happened with almost every insurance policy for which I've had the privilege of filling out paperwork. Last week new (or should I say "old"?) ones were brought to my attention; childhood policies. A letter came in the mail and we found the original paperwork tucked away in an out of the way file box. I have no idea what they are worth and my dad is still listed as the beneficiary. Perhaps the paperwork shall never end. We haven't even started on what to do with the house.

In spite of the looming paperwork (I say looming, but it's really getting done...), I am having a very nice summer. I still have things I'd like to check off my to-do list, like meet some more cousins, go to Canada, and maybe climb a tree, but I do have plans for a few of the others. I'm going to the Adirondack Mountains with my sister next week, and in early to mid September I have plans to both meet a blog friend (Wanda) and see my faraway grandson. Since I like to stretch summer way into September, perhaps I will get to check several more items off my list before the season is over. Not sure I'll get to visit all the Finger Lakes... Maybe I'll do that in the fall instead. :0)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Deliciously Dark and Dreary

I am a big fan of bright, sunny days, but my childhood in upstate western NY also brings a love for the dark, dreary overcast kind of day, the one where doing nothing is okay, naps are expected, and books are wont to be read. This was such a day.

The rain fell, the winds blew, and the clouds hid any sign of sunshine. It was quiet. I did not bake, I did not clean, I did not go out shopping. I did venture out to retrieve one child from Vacation Bible School. I did do a load of laundry, wash a sinkful of dishes, and take the garbage to the street. I made my bed, checked the 'puter (repeatedly), took a few photos, and caught a shortish (well, kind of shortish...) nap.  I haven't been sleeping much at night and thought it a good idea to take advantage of the dark and dreariness.

It's been dark all day long. It would have been a wonderful day to sleep in, or maybe even out, with the rain pattering on the rooftop. I checked my "rain gauge" and found that we had a good amount of precipitation. Perhaps I need to collect up my candle jars and put them away for a while.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hannah's Party

Halfway through yesterday afternoon, in the midst of party preparations, I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I tried shutting them on purpose, but sleep didn't come and my mind kept going over all I had to do to be ready for Hannah's party. Finally, after two cups of coffee and the arrival of a few guests, I began to come back to life again.

I'm pretty sure Hannah was blessed by the party this year. I worked hard to make up for my lack of giving her even a small birthday gathering last year. Many times through the past 12 months I've bought her something and told her with a smile, "It's for your birthday," but nothing really beats a genuine birthday celebration. Oreo joined us for the picnic and found some guests sympathetic to a famished yet friendly feline.

There were enough young people for a game of Ultimate Frisbee on the far side of the yard. It was fun to watch.





 I have to say, one of the biggest blessings for me was having my family together for a family gathering and feeling like we are whole again. We were missing Joe, who had to work, and Jim and Michele who live too far away, but otherwise we were together; kids and significant others, grandkids, and friends. Made me miss my mom and dad but I'm pretty sure if they could see us, they'd be smiling too.

Thank you, Hannah, for being part of our lives, for wishing for a "surprise" party, and blessing us just by being you.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Full of Beans

Tomorrow is Hannah's birthday party/ bonfire. It's sure to be a busy one, as was today, so if you don't hear from me tomorrow, that'll be why.

I hadn't planned on making a bean salad for tomorrow, but my visit to the garden this morning made me think otherwise. Three Bean Salad was a favorite of my parents and made an appearance at almost every summer picnic. Mom used canned beans, but today I used garden fresh ones instead. My Darling is a fan of this dish but my brothers in law are not so much so it gives my sisters a chance to enjoy the treat without making it themselves.

I had three small berry pickers here for the day. I sent them to the ragged blueberry patch while I picked beans and they each picked a box of sour berries to munch. They were quite pleased with themselves.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Inspiration

Hannah braided her own hair this morning and Lucas had something to say about it. "You look like Frozen right now," he told her.

"And you smell pretty," said Simon.

 They're not always full of compliments so it was really cute. And it inspired me to take a picture. I just hope she doesn't start building an ice castle or making snowmen in July...

And then there's Aubrey who is typically out on the swing set singing, "...the cold never bothered me anyway..." at the top of her lungs.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Out to Lunch (again)

I have purposed to wear myself out this week and, with a little help from My Darling, am doing a very good job. He has been making sure I don't slack off too much while I play.

Today Priscilla and I met our cousin Kim for lunch. We went to a little Italian deli in Canandaigua where Kim and I ordered the strawberry spinach salad and Priscilla opted for a sandwich. We ate outside on the patio where the breeze whirled Kim's hair around her head, threw a feather at her, and we could hear each other talk without having to shout. I have decided I really like meeting cousins and learning more about who they are. It's too bad there aren't any grand family reunions anymore...

(The photo is a very old one from a family picnic at Kim's grandparent's house. That's me with the white hair and Priscilla is the baby sitting on the lap of my dad's cousin Patty. The little boy is Kim's cousin Larry who is now a doctor. Our grandmas are sitting behind.)

I took my camera along with me today, even had it at the restaurant, but didn't take any pictures. Bad, I know.

After lunch with Kim, Priscilla and I met Rachel in Newark, NY for a visit with our brother Tim. He is in a now residence now, one with handicap accessibility and just across the side street from his other residence.

I don't always know exactly how to communicate with this brother of mine, so I often take the "little sister" approach and try picking on him a little. He was in the front seat on our ride, Priscilla and I were in back. I put my bare foot up between the seats and gave his arm a few taps with my toes. Rachel made reference to my "stinky feet" and he laughed out loud which made us laugh too. Later she said something else, which I can't recall, and he laughed again. It's so good to hear and see those kind of things.

He seemed happy in his new home and they claim to love him already. I'm liking that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Minding My Busy-ness

Staying busy. I thought perhaps I would take some time to relax this week... ha ha! Not happening.

We're doing a summer cleanup over at Mom's house. I've been pulling weeds from the brick sidewalk. My fingers are worn out, poked by prickers, dry, and sore, but the bricks are looking better.

Tomorrow I am meeting my second cousin Kim for lunch. I know we've crossed paths in the past but this will be our first real meeting. She is an artist and the granddaughter of my grandma's sister. Her blog, "Coffee Makes Me Happy" is on my sidebar, but she doesn't take comments. :(

I missed my walk with the ladies' from church this afternoon, choosing instead to take my daughter out to lunch and pick up some things for her birthday party/bonfire this Saturday. I hope it turns out to be a good day for her, but I think I'll have a hard time beating a busload of kids in Grenada singing "Happy Birthday".

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kayaking

For years now I have wished to go kayaking. Today my wish came true when Rachel and I headed down to the Baycreek Paddling Center. We opted for two single kayaks and headed out on Irondequoit creek and into the Ellison Wetlands. It was a beautiful morning.



At one point Rachel asked me if I'd seen any alligators... I didn't see any and we paddled on. We saw dragonflies, water lilies, ducks, and... wait! what was that? It wasn't an alligator, it was a crock. (ha ha!)


I loved our trip up the creek and back. We didn't travel too far, but were out for an hour and had a great time together.


Dragonflies were abundant. They're one of my favorites. I credit that to my mom who always made a big deal about how pretty they are.


Apparently ducks love the swamp. There were several pairs wondering what in the world we were doing.


 We paddled as far as this little "island" in the middle of the creek, and doubled back around it. In some ways I felt like I could stay out there for hours, but my shoulders and wrists were getting tired, and my back, not used to sitting on my butt with my feet straight out in front of me, was starting to ache, so we headed back toward the bay.


Rachel and I enjoyed lunch together at Panera Bread. I filled my soda cup with brewed tea. I didn't taste it until I had already eaten most of my soup and salad. I remarked to Rachel at how dark it looked, and she replied that it must be very strong. One taste told me it wasn't tea at all, but cold, black coffee. Oops. Wonder who messed that one up? I opted to make it into iced coffee and fixed it up with some half and half and several packets of sugar.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Staycation, of Sorts

It's been a nice "stay- cation". We stayed home while Hannah was away. While I was dreading the thought of missing our daughter, My Darling was looking at it in a different way. He had to work, and I had to babysit, but we took
advantage of our weekends and evenings together, and I made pretty good use of my daytime hours too. We went out to eat, stopped down at the lake, walked in the orchard, visited friends, made some scrumptious dinners at home, and generally enjoyed each other's company. All we were missing was a bottle or two of wine... It's been a nice week after all.
:0)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

Happy Birthday to my beautiful youngest daughter, Hannah You are a treasure. I am blessed by you each and every day and am proud of the person you have become. I hope you know how much love you!





Vacation Bible School is over and the Grenada team will be heading home tomorrow. Hannah's not quite ready to come  home, even though she can't stay. It's never fun leaving friends behind, especially when you don't know when or if you'll ever see them again. She posted this on Facebook tonight...

"Today on the bus a little boy happened to ask me when my birthday was. I smiled and told him that it's today and the next thing I know the entire bus full of kids is singing me Happy Birthday. I'm going to miss them so much. Best birthday ever!"

I'm so glad she had a special birthday with memories she'll treasure for many years to come.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Oreo Cookie

It's been a good week so far. I am feeling more relaxed than I have in a very long time. I have a plan or two in the works, one of which involves a getaway in August with my sister Priscilla. I also have a plan with Rachel that involves a local waterway and a couple of kayaks. And, in September a trip that includes and airplane ride or two. So exciting!

So anyway, back to Oreo... I took the skinny old boy to the vet yesterday. I was relieved to have him see the "old fashioned male veterinarian" who was tactfully truthful and didn't treat my cat like he was an ailing child instead of a pet. (see my past rant here) The hard truth is that Oreo is an old cat. He is in pretty good shape for 15 and still happy. He is
 likely suffering from gradual kidney failure but is not in any pain or distress. We could run blood tests to verify this fact, but whatever the tests show, there is little to nothing that can be done and no point in spending extra money when that will not change the prognosis. So, I thanked the kind vet and took my irritated to be at the vet cat home again. I have peace of mind and something to tell those who are concerned about my cat's lack of bulk and muscle tone. He can still enjoy his bit of milk each morning, his drink out of the fish bowl whenever he chooses, and there is no need to change his diet. He can even keep up with hunting if he so chooses. All he needs from me is love and I think I can do that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hannah in Grenada

I'm sorry for those who don't like computers because I love the ability to connect across the world in no time at all at very little cost. Look at what showed up on my Facebook newsfeed this afternoon, my daughter and few friends in Grenada. I think that's pretty cool.
Hannah is wearing the yellow shirt. Aw, isn't she cute?


Monday, July 14, 2014

The Weekend Gazette

I've been really bad at fostering friendships the past few years, so if you're one of the few people whose blog I actually post on, I'm not sure whether that makes you lucky or not. (ha ha)

My days have slowed down dramatically. I should have my house spotless by now, but I don't. Somewhere between raising seven children and caring for my mother, I lost track of how to keep a clutter-free home. Truthfully, part of me doesn't really care, and since I hoard only the "normal" stuff, I'm not too worried about whether or not it will eventually be clutter-free or not.  We can still sit on furniture, the floors are visible, I can usually find what I'm looking for, and we still take the trash to the curb on a regular weekly basis, unless we forget. Yes, we do have counter tops and they are visible... Today I made Avocado Gazpacho (recipe here), mowed a good section of lawn, and did the dishes. I don't feel terribly accomplished, but there have been a few accomplishments none the less. Maybe I can do something else wonderful before My Darling arrives home.

We had a very nice weekend together. We stopped at the Original Candy Kitchen for a fish fry Friday evening, took a walk around the block in town, and stopped to visit some friends on the way home. I failed at my attempt to find someone who wanted to go to the Cornhill Arts Festival in Rochester on Saturday morning, but I did find a husband willing to spend time with me after a half day of work. We went to Homearama but found ourselves unimpressed. I guess high-end expensive homes just don't have the allure they might have possessed 20 years ago. Toward evening we took a ride down to Sodus Point and then got a burger at Orbakers before a quick stop at Yia Yia's for a baby sized cone. Sunday morning we visited Calvary Chapel in Webster, went out for breakfast, and spent the afternoon at Dave and Leta's for Aubrey's birthday dinner.

I guess it's been a pretty productive weekend over all. I even squeezed in a little grocery shopping Saturday morning and every day I try to send a Facebook note or two to Hannah. I don't want her to forget about me or anything. :0)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer

It finally feels like summer. Bring on the iced tea! We can sit out on the back porch and watch the  barn swallows and their crazy aerial antics.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Kid Day!

Today I had grandkids and I had them all by myself and I survived! First I took them up to the school playground and then we went to a park in the next town over. After lunch we braved the "wampoween" in my own backyard. Do you know that bouncing on a trampoline is hard work? My poor butt muscles were hurting. Maybe I've found a new exercise program...


I fed three small children and one pudgy grandma ice cream sandwiches. (They're my favorite.)

While Bethany took Jakie to visit the doctor, the kids did some more bouncing and played in the little house called "Hannah's Place". Poor Jakie has an ear infection but he still felt good enough to enjoy a cookie and a ride in a Cozy Coupe car.



It was a fun day filled with sunshine and silliness.


This evening My Darling and I enjoy dinner at the Original Candy Kitchen, a walk around the block in town, and a visit with a couple of friends. And tonight I have an email telling me the group has arrived safely in Grenada and made it through customs with no problems.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

There She Goes!

Hannah has been transported to a friend's house for the night. In the wee hours of the morning, like 3am, a few of them will rise and meet up with the rest of the group at church. Tomorrow morning they will take off for Miami and from there they will fly to Grenada. I can't remember how I felt about all this last year, but this year I miss her already. She'll be back in a week. In the meantime, I will plan her a birthday party. She'll be 19 when she returns.


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Thursday Thirteen

It's Thursday. It's Thursday Thirteen. A little randomness for today...

1. It's not Thursday after all. It's Wednesday. *blush*

It was a longish kind of day. Maybe that's why I'm feeling like it ought to be Thursday. It isn't because yesterday felt like Wednesday, because yesterday was definitely a Tuesday kind of day. Maybe it's because Hannah is all packed up and ready to go. The group leaves Friday morning in the wee hours. She's going to stay "overnight", at least what little night there will be, at the home of another group member. I'm not going to know how to behave without her around...

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Happy Birthday!

My sweet granddaughter turned 3 years old today!




Happy Birthday, Aubrey!

Monday, July 07, 2014

"Mom's Room"

We used to call it the dining room, but from now until the time we move out of this house, it will likely be referred to as "Mom's room".

I finally have it put back together, this room... Once my mother's place of refuge, it is now a mix of memories and possessions, both hers and mine. The hospital bed, months ago donated, has been replaced by a futon. It will be a good overnight resting place for out of town guests should they ever chance to arrive. Great Great Grandpa Shafer's portrait, the one that looks so much like my dad, has been moved from its resting place on the floor behind a chair, and hung on the wall.

The china cabinet full of glass will remain in the corner, holding its treasure, my grandma Plotzker's china set along with some of my mother's glassware, and the antique glass bookcase, whose shelves I've slowly rearranged, will also stay. Mom's cut glass cruet collection fit perfectly in the top case. Aunt Harriet's painting of the mill in Ashantee, NY still hangs on the wall. Treasures, earthly treasures, reminders of those we love who've now passed on.

The secretary's desk that was a wedding gift to my mother's parents has been moved upstairs. Shelves have been emptied and refilled with my own things in an attempt to make the room mine once again... There are still a few boxes to be sorted and disposed of. The table will stay, a gathering place for friends and family who come to share dessert and a cup of coffee. And maybe in the winter a puzzle will grace the table and, if I use my imagination, Mom and I will sit and work a puzzle together once again

Saturday, July 05, 2014

A Little Detour

After a relatively (because it was pretty much relatives) small picnic gathering yesterday, several of us decided to go watch the fireworks down at Canandaigua Lake. We set off in three different cars with the intent to possibly meet up upon our arrival, but thanks to some extenuating circumstances, my carload did not arrive until after the show had already begun.

We took a detour to grab an ice cream on the way out of town (I owed Josiah a cone from a few visits back...) and took a slightly different route than usual to Canandaigua which put us directly behind a vehicle that blew a tire in front of us. BOOM! Thankfully, that vehicle was just pulling up to or away from a 4-way stop when the blowout occurred. There was no hideous accident and we are all grateful. As they pulled off the road and into the grass, we pulled over beside them to see if everything was alright and if they had a phone.

They had a phone, but their spare tire was back at the woman's apartment another town over.When the state police pulled up, we offered to take the woman, who spoke limited English, and one of her companions to get the spare tire. To make a long story short, the "spare" was probably the original and had already encountered some trouble of its own. When we took it to get air, it only leaked back out with a loud hiss. Fix-a-flat wouldn't have helped.

To make more of the long story short, we found the woman, and her daughter, who was now accompanying us as a translator, were from El Salvador, which excited Bethany greatly. (She was there five years ago.) We ended up taking the woman and her daughter to meet the rest of their group at their church as the pastor had gone to the vehicle to retrieve the others and they were no longer stranded. The woman tried to pay me for my "trouble" but we took hugs and a "gracias" or two instead, and assured them they could pay us in pupusas at some point in the future. So, anyway, we did get to Canandaigua, just in time to catch of bit of the show, just not in time to find the rest of our group.



Thursday, July 03, 2014

A Surprise Blessing

Yesterday after lunch at Panera Bread, my sisters and I decided to do a little shopping and walked down the sidewalk to Target and then Dress Barn. We were about to leave Dress Barn when another group of women came in. I immediately recognized them as two sisters and a mom from my church. For some reason, unknown even to me, I looked at them, put my finger up to my lips, and said, "Shhhhh...." The mother of the group, who is a bit older than me, got a big smile on her face and did it right back. We all laughed, I called her by name, and hugged this woman who really doesn't know me at all.

At one time MJ home schooled her ten children and sometimes I saw her when we visited her church for Vacation Bible School one week out of the summer. She may have known my name back then, perhaps she would have recognized me, or known that we also have a carload of children and were home schooling, but today she is a different woman from those days. Alzheimer's disease has stolen MJ's memory away. Sometimes she isn't even sure who her own children are, but for a brief moment, there at the door of the Dress Barn, she and I made a connection and I was blessed. I hope that she and her girls were too.