Posts Tagged ‘home’

I met with a friend yesterday. We were chatting about this and that. Traveling was one of the topics. Specifically about airports.

Jenny mentioned a line from the movie, “Love, Actually” which claims that the Arrival Gate at the airport is the happiest place to be.

Yes, that’s so true.

Even though an arrival gate can be quite chaotic.

Go through the doors and there’s a mess of humanity staring you directly in the face. Before they quickly dismiss you as not being their person.They continue searching for their loved one. Holding signs. Flowers.

Anxiously waiting.

Then the cries of joy. The smiles and laughter. The hugs.

It’s overwhelming when it’s face to face-on the same floor level. For the ones coming out of the gate. Especially if you are a shorty like me! Desperately looking for their own loved one in the sea of bodies.

What I always liked about the small airport in my home state is that you had to ride down the escalator to the waiting crowd. It allowed a bird’s eye view, while descending, to scan the masses and seek out your own people.

Also allowed them to look up and find you gliding down slowly.

And I would see my parents. Standing together and smiling when they saw us.

Would nudge my kids, “Hey, there they are! There’s Nana and Papa!”

Although they would have already spotted them on their own.

I went home last summer and then again for Christmas and it was different.

My father would never again be waiting at the Arrival Gate for me.

So, we passed through the excited crowds, collected our baggage and hopped into a taxi.

The Arrival Gate is a happy place. Love everywhere.

But not always. Sometimes it’s a memory of love everywhere.

And those memories are truly cherished.


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This past weekend my husband and I were chatting on the patio. Talking about this and that. And the conversation veered toward that hot topic that comes up now and again.

Where will we live next? Where should we buy a house? Texas? California? East Coast?

Not owning a place in our home country causes us a bit of agita when we get thinking about it. We try to keep the heartburn at bay by thinking about the insurance, taxes, maintenance, etc. that we would pay in absentia.

But we lobbed the pros and cons back and forth across the table just the same.

Texas makes the most sense. California beckons.

He says, “I’m going to call Jim.”

This is after we reminisced about our place in Dana Point, California and our beloved neighbor Jim.

We did a bit of googling also.

Husband says there’s a house for sale on our old street. It looked like Jim’s.

Jim had been talking about downsizing in the past. He has another place in Arizona.

If we bought Jim’s place it would be in absolute pristine condition because he is a bit of a neatnik and a fanatic about everything being just so. Maybe that’s a Scottish thing.

If it wasn’t Jim’s place for sale then we’d have him as a neighbor again and that would be even better.

He ended up sending Jim an email telling him that we were reminiscing about our fabulous neighbors.

In the evening my husband said, “Jim hasn’t replied to my email.”

It just so happened that Jim had been on my mind all week.

My neighbor Nancy, here in Malaysia, had a rat in her kitchen the previous Saturday. She called me. And I ran over to her place. Not knowing what I would or could do. Laugh out loud.

When we lived in Dana Point, the city had cleared an embankment of brush to avoid the infamous California wildfires. It resulted in roof rats/Norwegian rats losing their stomping grounds.

Yup, we soon had those furry visitors in the attic. And Jim was my man. The neighbor I called. My go to guy.

And he always responded promptly.

My first thought? He was most likely visiting family or spending the weekend in Arizona.

Second thought? Jim is going to be absolutely thrilled that we are even considering buying a place in Southern California.

Good neighbors are a true blessing. And even better if they are your friends.




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It’s September 11th and it is hard for so many not to remember that day. I remember as if it were yesterday.

We were emotional. Like every other aching American. We also had other worries. Whether there would be repercussions because of my husband’s first name. Because his mother, who was visiting us at the time, wore a hijab. We were afraid to take her to the milk store. Maybe he wouldn’t get a new job. And on and on.

Anyway, that’s not why I am writing. I could write pages and pages about that time. I prefer not to go on about it now. But I do want to share one memory.

I remember a telephone conversation with my mother. About two days after the tragedy. When I was staring at empty skies from my backyard patio.

She told me that my beloved grandmother in Rhode Island had taken a turn for the worse. That she might not make it.

I cried. Because I loved my grandmother so much. And also because I was afraid to get on a plane. The thought absolutely terrified me. I confessed this fear to my mother. She replied, “Oh honey, I totally understand. And Nana would understand.”

I cried even harder.

That’s the thing I love about my family. They dole out the guilt in small doses. Like any family. But not when it comes to the big stuff. They pick you up.

My husband saw me crying. I told him why.

He looked at me and immediately said, “I will drive you to Rhode Island.”

It was 1,800 miles away.

There are moments that I really love him. Like my heart is full. And then there are moments that I really love him. Like my heart will burst. That was one of those moments.

One sentence.

Not because he said those words. But because he meant them. Because he knew how much it would mean to me. Not him. Me.

Nana rallied and we did not need to make that trip. But when she died in November I was able to attend the wake and funeral. Because my husband felt that we needed to be with my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas that year. He had made the reservations.

So, I didn’t ever need that ride to Rhode Island. But I won’t ever forget that I had a ride if I needed it.

For our twenty-fifth anniversary he wanted to get me a new ring. A piece of jewelry. I told him no. I wouldn’t appreciate it. I didn’t need another piece of jewelry.

We are coming up on our twenty-seventh anniversary and he’ll be starting again. And I will tell him no.

What I want is what I already have. A heart that sometimes feels like it will burst. Because of those very moments.That is what I appreciate.

And maybe one day he will realize that, as faulty as my memory can be, there are just some things that I will never, ever forget.

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I loved staying home with my second child, Annie. It was a new experience for me because I had always worked outside the home. I just finished a fourteen year stint with a telecommunications company and was ready for a change. Let’s see what I missed with my older daughter, Rory, who was in daycare while I toiled away in the office all those years.

It was so very different being at home. All the time. Because at work you put in so many hours and then you punch the time clock and leave. You also have the freedom to make a phone call without interruption. Oh, and let’s not forget enjoying a meal without leaning the entire top half of your body in front of your co-worker and cutting up their meat into tiny little pieces. Sure, no one wants a fellow employee to choke on a bone but you leave it to their discretion. They’ve all heard the rumors about Mama Cass. They’ll be fine.

Being at home with a little one puts you on an “on call” status twenty four hours a day.  Like a firefighter. Except they actually sleep. And eat good food.

My physical examination with my Doctor, one year after Annie’s birth, went something like this.

I solemnly say, “Dr., I think something’s wrong with me.”

Dr. asks, “Why?”

I answer, “I am so tired! Utter fatigue!”

She chuckles and replies, “Mary, of course you are tired. You are the mother of a one year old.”

I adamantly state, “Oh, no, that’s not it. I just think there might be something wrong with my thyroid. Or something else that causes extreme tiredness. Maybe the pesky appendix? What’s that thing for anyway?”

She’s like, “Hmmm, okay, I doubt it but I can run some tests.”

The test results arrived about five days later. Like opening the front door to find a crowd, cameras flashing and being informed that you are the winner of the grand prize in a Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.

Congratulations! You are the mother of a one year old! And a seven year old! And you are working eighteen hour days! 

Sure, it was a relief. But sort of disappointing in a weird way. Don’t get me wrong! I did not want to be ill. God forbid. But I certainly did not think that I would be so fatigued from something like “not working” and from something that I was actually enjoying. Time consuming? Yes! But I did love being home with her. I just really wish all the “experts” out there had given me a heads up. Lots o’ talk about fatigue during pregnancy. No one said anything about it lasting for two years.


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Merry Christmas!

I have not posted in some time. So, so sorry!

I suppose it is the frame of mind. Not the lack of time. Because my dear friend Mary Ann always said, “You make time for the things you really want to do.” She’s right.

But I was battling a sinus thing for the last month in Malaysia. Three rounds of antibiotics due to three months of rain that produce, I am quite certain, more than its fair share of airborne mold spores.

And our household has expanded with two more people due to the war in Syria. Once again I have to ask, “How can that “leader” sleep at night?”

Also don’t have a proper desk set up (will rectify in January when I arrive back home) so I fear carpal tunnel syndrome. Do not like the laptop sitting on my stomach (not that I need the ovaries but still) for any length of time as I am lying supine on the sofa.

Anyway, I am now more than halfway across the world to celebrate Christmas in New England. Long trip! Six hours to Japan. Four hours layover and then twelve and half hours from Tokyo to Boston. Dang, baby!

At one point, in my haze, I thought, “How freaking unnatural is this?” I put it out of my head so as not to slide into an anxiety attack and let my head bob in sleep somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. Quite naturally. Uncomfortable but natural, I suppose.

I love Malaysia and my new friends and life there. But it’s different. It just is.

So let me share some of the different things I am experiencing in this nippy part of the world.

1) I am not sweating.

2)My hair actually looks the same at the end of the day as it did after the morning blow dry.

3) Not having to shave a thing!

4) No worrying about a pedicure. I wore brown flip flops nearly every day for six months. I am now going to wear out my black leather boots in ten days.

5) Opening up the local newspaper and knowing the names. Happy and sad.

6) Last minute Christmas shopping and running into an old AT&T co-worker, a high school friend and a cousin. The only one who recognized me right away was the one with the shared DNA.

7) A good night’s sleep. Flannel nightgown, socks, sheets, spreads and additional quilts all make for a toasty night.

8) The smell and sound of bacon popping in Mom’s kitchen. Smelling it right now. Heaven.

9) Being with family. I am desperately missing my husband and Rory who are staying in Malaysia during the holidays. But still glad that I am here.

10) Not a big football fan but happy to be able to watch the Patriots later today with my Dad and brothers.  Not looking forward to them yelling at the television (like it can answer them back.)

11) I am able to hug my niece and nephew who live in the town beside Newtown. My niece attended preschool with Noah. And the family really is only one person removed from most victims or their families. Heart breaking. My niece and nephew had to crouch under their school desks that day while their school (and many others) was in lock down mode. Originally thought to be a terrorist attack. Come to find out…. it was. What kind of world is this? I hope the reverberations of fear will fade for all. Especially the young ones.

The positive? The love that is being transmitted to Connecticut is unbelievable. While Newtown is a community that does not need things in the way of material goods it does need love and support. And they are getting that. I hope that the reverberations of love continue forever.

My sister-in-law set up a Facebook page for the Newtown Volunteer Task Force. She is a part of this group that shares volunteer opportunities. The response has been amazing. My hope is that this spirit of helping others will spread throughout communities all over America. Even the world.

This posting is ending differently than it started. Because (almost like a Ouija Board) my fingers involuntarily typed toward “others” and “community.”

As we get ready to make the resolutions for the new year maybe we could all consider how to move our fingers closer to “others” and “community.”

And if you are on Facebook please “like” my sister-in-law’s page so you have access to volunteer opportunities. Maybe even near you. By the way, she is not in the photo since she took the picture and didn’t want to be in it. Behind the scenes gal.

I wish you all, my faithful readers, a very Merry Christmas and a new year filled with many blessings. Thank you for continuing to read my drivel year after year.

Can you feel those vibrations??? That is my love being sent to you. Serious love.



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Feeling Great

It is my father’s birthday today. He is eighty one.

My younger one, Annie, was on the phone with him this evening. I heard her sing happy birthday to him up in her room. Hey, it’s a small place. Sound resonates.

And then when she was finished warbling I heard her ask, “Papa, do you feel eighty one?”

Of course, I couldn’t hear his response.

Then I heard her ask, “Well, do you feel twenty?”

Later on, I went up and asked her what he said.

She said that in response to her first question, Papa answered, “No, I don’t feel eighty one.”

His reply to her “Do you feel twenty?” question was this, “Let me put it this way…I feel great.”

Okay, you all know I love my dad and am so thankful that God put him (and Eileen) in charge of my upbringing.

But I think if there is one thing that he has that I hope to inherit (besides his big bucks) it is that. The ability to say “I feel great” and really, really mean it.

I hope that man lives for eighty one more years. Because I really don’t know what I would do without him. Seriously.

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