Thursday, December 31, 2009

Champagne, Twitter, and the New Year

A twitterati I follow gave me some very sage advice last week--- advice I plan to follow in the new year. He said that one should never pass a Four Seasons hotel in any city for any reason without stopping in to have a glass of champagne. It reminded me of a line in "The Prisoner of Zenda" that delightful late 19th-century novel of love and pretense, in which the reader is exhorted never to pass through Paris without spending 24 hours there, and drinking champagne.

Since I have never passed through Paris, and have no plans to do so in 2010, I will instead embrace the travel advice from the ether. I hereby resolve to stop in at any Four Seasons hotel I see (or any other swanky hotel that strikes my fancy) and drink a champagne toast to whoever is on my mind.

So if you feel waves of good wishes coming your way, it just might be me, sitting at a hotel and drinking to your health. Happy New Year and best wishes to you and yours.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


"Hey sweet baby" is my standard greeting to my teen-aged son (but not where anyone else can hear.) It looks a little weird written down, but the word "hey" is a substitute for "hello" where I grew up, "sweet" modifies almost everything in Southern vernacular, and in that part of the world one can legitimately be referred to as "baby" by one's parents, aunts, and uncles until death do us all part.

Cute aside: One of my sisters called her son "sweet pea" when he was little. She occasionally called him "sweet potato." He returned the endearment one day by calling her "sweet corn." That still makes me smile.

So . . .last week I was helping my son with homework---an English assignment to write about James Fenimore (10/10/09) Cooper's "The Deerslayer." I remembered a book of Mark Twain essays that I have been carrying around so long that the binding has long since given out. The book includes some of his searingly funny critiques of Cooper. If you haven't read them, I highly recommend it.

Inside the book, in handwriting only vaguely familiar, was the inscription:

Hey Sweet Nina,

I surely did miss you while I was in Washington, and thought you might like this book.


Daddy. October 15, 1974

I had forgotten that was there. Well, I really have liked the book, Daddy. Thanks for leaving me something from you that I can unreservedly share with your grandson.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

rediscovering an old friend

I'm back to my old friend, my blog, after a summer hiatus. It was a summer of working hard, visiting with friends (but not enough) gardening, and, of course, my old hobby, worrying. Many days went by and I considered giving up this guilty pleasure of blogging. After all, I really don't have anything all that interesting to say. I much prefer reading/listening to what other people are saying.

But blogging is a way for me to keep an eye on myself. Its a way to help me stay a little less frantic and a little less panicked by the world around me. So, I'm back.

And I'll be heading off to Mississippi with my son in a few days--to celebrate the 50th birthday of a sister. I can't wait! The last time I was in northern Mississippi I was my son's age, and was traveling across small towns to link back up with friends in Arkansas. And I was with my now-50 year-old sister. I haven't been back since.

This will be a very interesting trip. I'm sure I'll need to write about it a lot to process it, so brace yourself!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My travels

I've been in eastern Europe for several days now, and I've been in this particular city enough to be appreciative of small changes and improvements to the quality of life. Even in a global recession this country has shown growth, because it still has so very very far to go.

The weather here is beautiful, the people have been gracious, and the trip is going well. I didn't sleep at all last night worrying about how my family is getting by without me. Despite some bumps in the road, they seem to be doing fine. Just like when our son was a baby, I have to step back and let my husband parent his own way. It's harder now, since I am the "primary" parent who is home every day---it's hard to let go.

I still have a few more days here, which I will spend with children who are deeply disadvantaged in this world. Abandoned children, children with physical and intellectual disabilties (in a world with few options for them other than institutionalization and marginalization) children of crushing poverty living in an alcohol and drug-saturated world . . . .to say it's heartbreaking is trite, stale, and uninforming. How fortunate my own family is.

I will do what I can, and then I will leave. I leave them my meager offerings---vitamins, hand sanitizer, school supplies, clothes, and frisbees (easy to pack, and fun to play with.) Each time I leave I am afraid for them. Who will be gone the next time I come?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Mine was spent with the baltimore orioles, and they commemorated the occasion by losing to the Yankees. I can't speak with much authority on the quality of the baseball played, but I can tell you that they make a nice margarita---just the right amount of salt.

Slowly, but I think surely, I am learning to like baltimore. I'm looking forward to going to some summer games and enjoying the city.---learning the local haunts and getting comfortable. I'll keep you posted . . .


Thursday, May 7, 2009


So many things happening in my little life-----things that keep me way too busy.

Work on my house continues---onward to my bedroom, which will hopefully have built-in shelving/cabinetry soon. I have many many books, and I like it that way, but I need more shelf space!

While planning this next step with the carpenter who will do the work, we had the usual polite exchange----you know, the "how's work; are you busy" kind of small talk one has. I said I was busy, but that I know that work s a privilege, and that being busy is a good thing. He stopped completely what he was doing and gave me a hard look.

"Parenting" he said sternly "is a privilege. Your job is not a privilege, it's a necessity. Parenting is the greatest privilege you'll ever have. Pay attention to that."
And then he went back to work.


Then later in the week at Chinese class, Ma Lao Shi told me that she and her husband have suspended all travel for the year because they need to be home and available to their children, who are all right around the age of mine. She too looked at me sternly and told me to focus on parenting. Wo hen mang, I told her. She didn't smile.

So, as I plan a week-long business trip to Eastern Europe, I am torn. Perhaps I should put a moratorium on my travel. It is a lot. Perhaps the universe is telling me to focus on what's really important in my life.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another new day

We've had wonderfully unseasonably warm weather here, and I'm choosing to think of it as a birthday gift to me from the universe.  So, thank you!

Also for my birthday a 15-year old bottle of Laphroaig showed up at my house, partly in honor of another 15 year-old.  Good gracious, people grow up quickly around here . . . .

Things are difficult at work, but that's nothing new, and certainly not worth writing about.  Work on the house continues, and that's encouraging.  It's starting to look like a house I want to live in, which is nice.  I'm reading a really interesting book about Gypsies, Bury Me Standing, by Isabel Fonseca.  I have an upcoming trip to eastern Europe, so I'll pay more attention this time.


Enjoy the Day!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The sun is shining.

The sun is shining today, and my office is actually hot, since the windows are south-facing.

The daffodils are starting to bloom, and the forsythia is definitely yellow. Maybe I'll survive another northern winter after all. The hyacinth is showing, I've put the rosemary (that's for remembrance) back outside, and I've begun to hack back the butterfly bushes that are noxious weeds in this part of the world, but pretty all the same.

Thanks for all the kind comments and support when I fell off the "no whining" wagon. Chin up! Shoulders back! It's a new day and the sun is shining.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

wrong again.

This is as predictable as the seasons themselves. I think I'm prepared for the vagaries of what passes for four seasons in this part of the world ("aren't we lucky", people say, "to have four complete seasons to enjoy" while I fume to myself) and then I find out that I'm not. I'm as vulnerable as I was my first "spring" away from home when I realized to my horror that what I thought was normal weather for March, was actually normal weather for June here.

So today is the day when I am not fit to be around. I'm stomping around like a two-year old, and I'm just plain angry and frustrated that it's cold outside. I know its childish, but I can still be reduced to tears by this. I'm trying not to whine, I really am. I'll be better tomorrow. But for today, just give me a little space. I just want to be warm. I am heartsick, I am lonely, I am depressed. I just want to be warm.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Despite what the calendar says, this is the vernal equinox where I live. The sun rose at 7:16 and set at 7:16. Tomorrow there will be more daylight than darkness, and the temperature should reach the mid 60's. Birds are singing and the tulips are pushing up. This is the year a new tree in the front yard should make its presence known ( first year sleeping, second year creeping, third year leaping!) and the forsythia is getting red-tipped, which is what it does just before leafing.

Ahh. Spring is here at last. We may have a blast of cold, and I still have to bundle up for the 5:00 am dog walks, but spring is definitely here.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

the country that invented the automobile

Like many Americans, I was listening to the President last night. I paid particular attention (or so I thought) to the part wherein he spoke of the US auto industry---I drive a GM car and even I think they should be cut loose from the taxpayer purse strings.

So when I heard the President say the the country that invented the automobile would not be backing away from it, I was startled but intrigued. Was Germany really coming to our aid? That would be great, since Sweden has backed away. And Germany, after all, owes the world a bit of debt after the 20th century--this would be a great start for the 21st----you know, bailing out the US auto industry and all.

But I now see from the blogosphere that I misinterpreted the President's remark. Apparently he meant the US. Did it really escape the attention of a billion (or so) speechwriters that the US did not invent the automobile? Jeepers. Take some of the stimulus money and hire a fact checker.

And chalk one up for the hundreds of rounds of "go to the head of the class" that I played on the McConnell's front porch in Little Rock, ARK. How far away . . .

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Susquehanna Service Dogs needs our help

Susquehanna Service Dogs needs our help.  SSD is a Pennsylvania-based service dog organization that is accredited by Assistance Dogs International and is highly acclaimed for their ground-breaking work.  SSD breeds, raises, trains, and then partners service dogs with partners.  SSD is  almost entirely dependent on donations to fund this amazing work, and this economic downturn is really hurting them.  Their incredible work is done almost entirely by volunteers, but it still takes almost $20,000 to raise and train one service dog, who then goes on to change someone's life---priceless.

PittRehab posted recently about SSD and his service dog SSD Nala.  My family is greatly enhanced by retired SSD Wyatt.   Wyatt wasn't retired when he joined us, so we know directly how a service dog can change a life.    Please help SSD continue their work  by donating.   I'll match the first $100 of donations that mention my blog or Pitt Rehab.  Please consider donating today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thanks to a Friend

Thanks  Greg,  for the great Valentines Day present of the Friend Award.  Greg is the blogger of note behind the great blog, Pitt Rehab.

I was  away for a few days and when I came back this morning to catch up on all the news, I saw the post on his blog.  The criteria for the award are:

These blogs are exceedingly charming.  These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends.  They are not interested in self-aggrandizement.  Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.  Please give your attention to these writers.  Deliver this award to 8 more, and include this cleverly written text in the body of your awards.

So, before I list my 8, let me just say that never before has anything I have done been called "exceedingly charming."  That's pretty darn cool!

My charming blogs are:

And that's it!  Can I vote for each of those twice? 

thanks again, Greg.

Friday, February 13, 2009

on the road

My son, dog, and I have all decided to take a long weekend and go visit our husband/dad/companion (respectively) in Charm City ( the nickname Baltimore has given itself.) The weather isn't cooperating, and there is snow and sleet in the forecast, but we're loading up and heading out anyway.

The house presents a challenge for our dog SSD Wyatt (ret.) who is increasingly challenged by stairs. The house we are renting in the heart of CC, is a cute historic row house that is anything but accessible. Lots and lots of narrow stairs. We'll be looking for something a bit more suitable while we are there. This rental only lasts until early summer, so we need to find something anyway.

It's also a challenge for me--the Queen of the directionally challenged. Hopefully Tom, the new GPS, an get me there without too much angst. It will be an adventure, and fun to spend a bit of time with my son---a captive audience for a couple of hours.

It will be good to get away for a few days--although we have to be back on Sunday for the start of Lacrosse practice. Life goes on . . . .

Monday, February 9, 2009

on my way back

After a bit of a setback at work, I think I'm on my way back.  I was working on a project that was more than a bit consuming, and I think I lost my perspective.  To make a year-long story short, I suppose you could technically call all my efforts  a failure, but things are rarely that binary in real life.  

Dare I say that I learned a lot?  I did.  I am much more seasoned than I was a year ago. I am a soupcon more cynical, quite a bit more connected, and a great deal more grounded.  I'm trying hard to gather what's left of my wits, square my shoulders, and move on.

So, dear blog, if I've sounded a bit preoccupied for the last six months, I have been.  It's time to write more, reflect more, parent more, and get my head back into the real world.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

a shadow of my former self

A consequence of living in Pennsylvania during February is the endless focus on Octorara Orrie and Punxsatawney Phil----the two competing groundhog prognosticators.  I don't follow these things closely, but it appears as though they saw shadows and we are in for six more weeks of winter.

two thoughts:  

1.  Don't they ALWAYS see their shadows?

2.  Why didn't I see my shadow?  

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Remember me?

When I went to my blog this morning, being in possession of a rare extra few minutes, I was prepared to post about work, about winter, or about parenting. But then I was struck by the friendly question under the login box. Remember me? it asked, rather plaintively, it seemed.

I do remember you, dear blog, and I remember to follow the blogs I enjoy. I'm just a little underground at the moment. Big doings at work are doing a number on me, I'm afraid.

I'll be back, with some stories to tell, I think . . .


Thursday, January 8, 2009

onward to 09

Christmas was lovely, and it was delightful to be with family.  One of my sisters gave me a gorgeous djembe, which was equal part drum and metaphor.  I can't really think through yet how to piece together a post on the Berlin mini-marathon, drumming, and metaphor, but I'm working on it. . . .stay tuned for the sound of drumming.