Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Here is number nine on the “Is it April yet?” list.

Find something to serve as a cheerful reminder that sunny days are just around the corner.

I have a few items scattered around my house for this very reason. I really love these guys.

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They were a gift so I can’t take any credit for finding them. My daughter, Norah, bought them for my birthday last October.

I love everything about them.

Recycled/renewed. Unique. Useful.

I’m  even happy that I received them after the herb season ended.

Because that gives me just one more thing to look forward to this Spring.

They are displayed on a trunk right by the back door. Ready and waiting!

Find a cheerful reminder. Sunny days are just around the corner.

 

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In my last post, I promised to share more information about a couple of the books that are in this photo.

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Going to the neighborhood library and appreciating your tax dollars at work was #5 on Mary’s “Wintry Mix” list.

In that same vein (sort of) I respectfully piggy back on the reading theme in this post for #6.

Go local.

Okay, I really wanted to type “Go loco” above instead of Go local. But I didn’t.

Support not just your local library but the local authors and bookstores. And authors who write about your locale or community.

Honestly, not sure why but I always feel like I’ve got some skin in the game when I’ve got one of those books in my hands.

Like I get all, “That’s my neighborhood. My town. My state. My people.” You can just imagine me with a puffed out chest. And not a puffed out post menopausal belly. Full of pride.

About two months ago I met Jeanne Mc Williams Blasberg at this literary event in Providence. She was on her own so there were a couple of extra chairs begging for middle-aged occupants. Jeanne was kind enough to allow me (and a friend) to sit at her table.

Got chatting, as one does, and I absolutely did the whole Rhode Island thing. That is to relentlessly dig until you find out what or who we have in common. I usually have the energy for it. That night was no exception.

Well, we are both mothers, both lived in California and both did the expat overseas gig. Okay, sure, that could be enough to keep a semi-decent conversation going between people who just met- before the event and during intermission.

Then I found out she was an author.

Wait, what?

She has a book “Eden” floating out there and a new one being published soon.

Truthfully, between you and me, I think I might be an authorphile. You could put me in a room with Tom Brady and a writer and I be like, “Tom, I will totally hook up with you in a few. I swear. Just gotta catch up with Jeanne here.”

Tom Brady dropped like a hot potato by JBM. True story. Ain’t gonna lie.

I’m always curious about every human being but now I have questions galore for this stranger at my table. Her table. She was there first.

“Wait, how do you spell your name? Plasberg? Is that with a P? What’s it about? Where does it take place?”

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I might have been a little loud because, well, I am loud. That’s who I am. And it was in a dark bistro (I know that dark should not matter for sound but neither should immediate radio music turn down when looking for a house number while driving) with a crowd of other ladies all excited to be at a watering hole with their ilk. So their noise level didn’t help mine.

“Eden” is set in my home state of Rhode Island. A fictional coastal town many natives might recognize. A novel about a family and secrets. How the lens might originally be black and white but gets a little grainy and gray (Thank you, Jesus!) with each new generation.

I really enjoyed it. Jeanne incorporates historical events-whether economic collapse or a world war-as a back drop to give the reader a feel for the time and its social mores.

Okay, Jeanne is not native to Rhode Island but she has a place with us now. Not everyone can be born here. We just don’t have the room. But as people leave or the older folks depart then spaces open up and we need to be welcoming. And then supportive.

When I was at the library poking around I noticed they had a section, by the check out desk, that had books written by local authors or about the area.

Well, why wouldn’t I read them?

I brought home Mary Cantwell’s “American Girl: Scenes from a Small-Town Childhood.” Mary was an editor and columnist for the New York Times but grew up in Bristol, Rhode Island. This book is filled with lovely memories of her childhood in this seaside town during the 1940s and 1950s. It’s like finding someone’s diary. I feel like everyone has a story. Hers was a pleasant one. Added bonus was I had a better understanding of the town’s history after reading this simple, old-fashioned memoir.

As you can see in the photo I had also grabbed Bernie Mulligan’s, “I Made It.” A story set in the town of East Providence where I was raised. I didn’t read it yet but I will. I had too many open books at the time.

This book is about a woman who was fully paralyzed from polio. She also had four sons under the age of seven when it happened! Can you even imagine?

I am so surprised I never knew about this. It’s a story of family love and commitment. Her husband fixed up an old bus so that she and her family could travel. When he passed away the neighborhood kids collected 6000 books of Green Stamps to buy a Winnebago. Or a caravan for my European readers. The newly licensed young neighbors all took turns driving her across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Oh my gosh. That’s God’s work right there. Makes me proud to be a Townie. I definitely have to read this.

Couple of books from Ann Leary in that photo. Northeast girl living in New England. I love her books. She just gets me. LOL I mean, I just get her. She’s married to comedian Denis Leary but I feel like she actually might be the funny one in that relationship. These two books (in the photo) were good but I loved, “The Good House.” I remember laughing out loud while reading it. Very few authors make me LOL. I also really liked her book “The Children.”

Not in the above photo but here is another book I recently enjoyed. Staying with the local vibe.

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When I was born my parents lived in a tenement. I get it. When my husband and I bought our first home it was in Providence. A condo on the East Side. In a freaking tenement! I still haven’t heard the end of that one. But when I walked in, after the Boston group that owned it did their rehab and tagged the three floors as condos, I fell in love with the original wood floors gleaming on a sunny day. I coveted the fireplace that had been there for ages.

We’ll take it!

What I didn’t consider was that the bathroom had no heating. At all. That original, like the drafty windows we could barely open, wasn’t always a good thing.

Still. So many fabulous memories in that place. No regrets.

Anyway.

I consider the purchase of this book a trifecta. I supported a local book store Twenty Stories, a Providence author and really enjoyed this memoir. Filled with quirky tenants, boyfriends and lore.

That’s it for my #6 on getting through winter! Enough about books already. I’ll lay off bookspeak for awhile. I’m exhausted. Yes, it has to do with books. I will tell you why in another blog posting. Not the next one. But someday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s add this to Mary’s “Embrace the Fall and Winter” list. I believe this will be number three. It’s definitely not a ranking of importance. Just a numbering system of what pops into my head at any given moment.

Take a class.

It doesn’t have to be a big commitment like night school. Check to see what is available in your area. There might be cooking, soap making, painting, music and other classes going on near you.

As my faithful readers know, I live near the beach and as a result of my daily beach combing have amassed quite the collection of sea glass.

Over the summer, I noticed that our local Audubon Society was offering classes at their Nature Center. It was a jewelry making course. With sea glass. Well, that just called out my name. But unfortunately, after consulting my calendar, I had another commitment and wouldn’t be able to attend.

Drats!

But I figured it couldn’t hurt to give them a quick buzz. I called them and asked if there would be any future classes. They advised me that there would be additional offerings. In the Fall.

Perfect!

My friend and I signed up, paid and marked our calendars.

It was just a couple of hours on a Saturday. We walked to the center on the East Bay bike path. And thoroughly enjoyed the morning.

It was time with my friend. Also met and chatted with new people. Had a couple of laughs. Learned something new. Got out of the house. Communed with nature.

Here is the result. Mine is the lavender one-top left.

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The thing is this. You never know what will ignite your passion.

My cousin, Elizabeth, learned how to knit awhile ago and now she’s a freaking yarn junkie. She had no clue that it would hit her like that.

Maybe sea glass jewelry making won’t be your thing. Or knitting. Or painting. But there might be something out there that could end up being a match made in heaven. Your new passion.

Or it might just be a nice couple of hours out of the house in autumn or winter. A respite from cabin fever.

Expanding your horizons. Being in adult company. Maybe meeting a new best friend. Adding to your skill set.

Check the community board at your library. Grocery stores usually have these types of notices taped to their windows. Locally owned  businesses are always happy to share fun events. If all else fails search Google. 🙂

Go seek fun and cheer.

 

 

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I missed Autumn in New England when I was away.

Leaf peepers visit from all over the country and the world to experience the changing foliage. It’s so beautiful.

And who doesn’t love bright orange pumpkins?

I remember, when we lived in Kuala Lumpur, my neighbor Jean’s husband got very creative one Halloween night. There weren’t any orange pumpkins available in our tropical environs so he got his hands on a watermelon and carved it accordingly. Made me chuckle but also realize how humans acclimate.

When our children were young it was always fun to visit the pumpkin patch and pick out the perfect pumpkin. We’d bring it home to decorate and/or carve it. Scooped out the innards, rinsed the stringy seeds, dried them and later roasted them in the oven.

Here is an old photo of Hannie and her carved pumpkin when we lived in California. 25 was our house number at the time. Placed by the front door to greet trick or treaters. Snagged the idea from my old friend, Betsy. Visit her site Farmhouse Wares for cool home and garden items.

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Hannie is a bit older now and in her second year of university. She came home for a weekend in October to celebrate my birthday. So appreciated! Of course, we went to find the perfect pumpkins.

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Some things have changed since then. Like the number of our house. But some things remain the same. Like our happiness while decorating pumpkins.

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Consider this as #2 on my previously mentioned “cheerful list.” The things that add a bit of brightness to my day once the days of summer have passed. Even though it really is more than just pumpkins. It is time spent outdoors. Togetherness. Creativity. And yes, eating pumpkin seeds.

 

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I have said it more than once.

Autumn came so quickly.

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Seemed like I was just sitting on the shore, drink in hand and watching the evening sunset.

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Then this. Wham! My youngest was heading back to university.

Once the kid left it seemed there were changes every place I looked. Of course, I found some sadness in this. It was like a scorecard I was keeping. Yup, check off one more not-so-happy thing.

Keep in mind, I was also experiencing a New England autumn after being away twenty-four years during this very season. Lot of transitioning. On many different levels.

Leaves on the trees turned glorious, riotous shades and then fluttered to the ground. Skeletons in their wake.

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The ice cream shops were now sporting signs like “Closed For The Season” and “See You In The Spring!”

Del’s, an extremely popular Rhode Island frozen lemonade business, shuttered their stands and trucks instantly went into hibernation.

The birds, who were annoyingly loud outside our bedroom window in the wee hours of the morning, silenced overnight.

All of the neat little nests dotting our yard and stuffed under the eaves had “vacancy” signs on them.

No more pleasure boats zipping down the bay. Now they are white, shrink wrapped objects perched on steel stands and peppering boatyards all over the state.

The sun setting just minutes after my afternoon tea. Okay, I don’t have an afternoon tea but it sounded so good. My point is the sunset was no longer an evening thing.

Even our compost bin eventually went quiet. Crickets. Anyone who composts food and plant scraps knows you practically need a pair of goggles or a gas mask when you open the lid in the summer. Especially if it wasn’t recently turned. Smells and a million, billion fruit flies make a fruit-line to your face. No activity, at all, once temperatures drop.

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But there was one thing that really made me realize the wonderful summer season came to an end and it sort of made me sad. Not as sad as the youngest leaving or as sad as losing and missing our loved ones. But still. Like it was the last and final straw of summer.

The osprey left.

Ospreys are magnificent birds of prey. Huge raptors. Looks like a big hawk or eagle. Moonlight as fishermen. Has a few young ones in the Spring. And then once autumn arrives it quickly flies off in the direction of South America. The ginormous nests, a convenient five minute walk from our house, are in the marshland and built on tall wooden roosts. Now totally empty.

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When I saw the empty nest my eyes filled up. Silly really. Because I know they are coming back in the Spring. I also realize it was some type of temporary Mommy transference phenomenon.

Summer was truly gone.

So, what to do?

The only thing is to shake if off and approach autumn with gusto. Enjoy every minute. Be glad of the different seasons because it is a continual promise. When one ends another beautiful season begins.

Sometimes that is easier said than done. Especially when the afternoon sky is dark and it gets cold. Autumn quickly becomes winter.

In the coming days I will share things that have enhanced and cheered my autumn and winter. I’m normally a happy sort and have been enjoying it. It does not have to be gloomy. It’s all up to me. It’s all up to you.

While we sit and wait for the osprey’s return.

 

 

 

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My youngest daughter, home for the holidays, walked out of our pantry and commented, “Really, Mom?”

She had a glass jar in her hand. In black print was a single word.

Flour.

Wait. That’s not unusual for a pantry staple, is it???

flour

Except, to her dismay, it didn’t actually contain flour.

I glanced over and said, “Ah. Never mind. Just turn it around.”

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She turned the container around and it now displayed, “Light Brown Sugar.”

All was right in the world again.

Got me thinking. What a great piece of advice for this new year. For you and me.

Just turn it around. 

It might be about making small changes. Or big!  Could be our attitude or how we are dealing with something.

Just turn it around.

It’s not just for pantry items anymore.

 

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I was reading an article about 2,000 Nebraskans attending the funeral of a Vietnam veteran. The report said he had no known family. And asked the public to attend. Lovely gesture.

This fellow served our country and deserved a proper goodbye.

Drumroll. Marching in my little girl idealism. Hope I never get too old for it.

Wouldn’t it be so beautiful if everyone had a proper goodbye?

Maybe it’s religion, culture and tradition that warps my thinking. We (my people) have wakes, funerals, month’s minds, annual and memorial Masses. All a part of the farewell.

But that is providing that one actually has family and friends who organize the wake and funeral with the mortuary. Will attend the gatherings. Visit the graveside. Remember to contact the church to have Masses said in the decedent’s memory.

What if those people don’t exist?

Not everyone has family. But for those who don’t have family one hopes that there are, at least, friends.

This past Spring, an old work chum named Peter, posted a message, “No one should go alone.”

He wrote, “Don’t put all of your eggs in the “family basket” or you might find yourself alone at the end of the journey. Make sure to put half of your eggs in the “friend basket.” Said it was important to have one person that you can trust. Even if a neighbor or a landlord.

A couple of weeks later, Peter mentioned that it was his tenant, Bob, he was referring to in the previous post. Said that Bob earned his wings. He had been renting from Peter for three years. Bob became an instant friend and the family soon called him, “Uncle Bob.” Peter’s grandchildren would check on him, send up the mail or newspaper to him.

Uncle Bob was a bachelor and eighty-nine years old when he died. Only survivor was an elderly sister in Delaware.

Peter said that he and his wife would be attending a memorial service for Bob the following week. Wanted to make sure there were at least two people attending Bob’s funeral. 😦

He immediately got lots of comments from his Facebook friends saying how sorry they were for his loss. No one noted or seemed to pick up on the fact that Peter would be the only person attending this man’s funeral.

I was in Delhi preparing to come back home for the summer. I also chimed in and told Peter I was sorry for his loss and if I were back in the U.S.A. I would surely join him at the memorial service. He said, as of that moment, the only attendees would be the undertaker, the lawyer (will), Peter and his wife.

That made me so very sad. He told me the date of the service. I would have some jet lag, for sure, but I thought I could make it.

I showed up at the cemetery that morning. Joined Peter, his wife, the undertaker and the lawyer in saying goodbye to a stranger. Who also happened to be a fellow human being.

Wouldn’t it be so beautiful if everyone had a proper goodbye?

We’re all just walking each other home.

 

 

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