...and I am very happy there.

...and I am very happy there.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mainly Vacation

This week I had a chance to return to a few favorite spots in Maine. A friend and I traveled to Boothbay Harbor for the Windjammer Days. This is the start of our journey with a little of how Jim and I came to learn of this beautiful paradise.

The Bells started vacations to Maine the year I started home-schooling our two younger sons. We wanted to go to a real "vacation" spot and were trying to get to Cape Hatteras. When that fell through, we noticed an ad in the local paper for a week-long rental in Owls Head, ME. It sounded perfect: near the beach, private home, all furnished, all linens included. We just had to bring food, beach towels, swimsuits and change of clothing.

So for the first time in our lives we entered Maine. Everyone we had spoken to about Maine told us to be sure to stop at a place called The Marginal Way at Perkins Cove in Ogunquit. So we headed there first.

Benches are placed along the path to sit and enjoy the surf, the birds, and the people.

It's a true taste of Maine and a wonderful way to stretch after driving several hours.

The Marginal Way - Walking Tour

Town of Ogunquit

As you walk along the path, it meanders along the coastline and goes from the cove to the beach. Breathtaking!

The path goes behind many resorts and hotels and at the end of the path you come out in town.

There are many delicious eateries and shops.

This week's trip was the first time I walked the "circle" from Perkins Cove to town and back.

I highly recommend this stop on your trip to Maine.

More "Maine" to follow!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Remembering "Dad"

Today being Father's Day, I have been reflecting on my own dad and the life we shared.

I was number six of his seven children, born eight years after my brother, Jim. My dad was probably thinking his family was finished when I came along.

Though dad loved children, I am sure he wasn't exactly thrilled to have another mouth to feed. We lived in West Shokan, NY on a 75+ acre farm that we didn't farm. We did have animals. I remember chickens and sheep.

Dad was gone a lot working in NYC or construction jobs in the area. When I was little and he was home, I remember feeling our family was complete and all was right with the world.

Dad was a volunteer fireman, a rescue squad volunteer, a carpenter, a plumber, and an organizer of many things for the kids in town like the library and the recreation program.

Olive Free Library

Olive First Aid Unit
Town of Olive Fire Department

My fondest memories are of him sitting on the porch or the lounge chair in the yard or by the creek, reading. He loved the outdoors and and was a reluctant hunter. (Maybe he only did it to put food on the table???)

I remember him reading Grimm's Fairy Tales to me, fishing with me in the stream and helping me with my homework.
      "What the hell kinda story is this? This is rubbish."
      "Look at the those fish, they are just sitting there watching us!"
      "What are they teaching you in school? This isn't math!"
      "If you would learn your schoolwork, like you learn those commercials, you would be a

He was a faithful son, dragging us to visit his mom in Woodhaven, NY just about monthly.

He was a traditional man. Meat and potatoes -- no cursing -- no alcohol -- no smoking.

He loved ice cream sodas and that was our treat whenever a crisis occurred. My three crisises were:  two nails in my foot (two seperate occasions) and a dog attack. Each time it was Dad who took me to the emergency room and then stopped at Babcock's for ice cream sodas before heading home.

I only remember one trip alone with dad to New York. On the way home I was falling asleep in the car when I heard him say, "Some good company you are. You're supposed to keep me awake and you're falling asleep on me."  I knew he was joking.

I remember when I was pretty small, sitting on his lap on the porch as he told me about crickets and cicadas and katydids.

The funniest memory is of Dad in the backseat of the car while I drove having just received my driving permit. When we got home we realized he had eaten half the loaf of Italian bread trying to keep quiet and maintain his sanity!

I used to get a kick out of some of his sayings. When I became an obnoxious teenager I used to tell him, "That doesn't make sense!" or "What exactly does that mean?"

Some like, "Useless as tits on a bull," were obvious.

When he would say to my mom, "Faye, tell your daughter to stop or else..." I used to wonder why he didn't refer to me as his daughter.

Only once do I remember Dad getting down on the floor to play with us. It was a vague but fond memory.

Mostly I remember Dad's smile. He smiled a lot. He loved to tell jokes. He loved to share stories and get a rise out of us. He loved Christmas. He also loved to tease, but I don't remember him teasing us (probably because my mom would yell at him). He admired women and always told us we could do whatever we chose to do.

The day he died he had been to my house for dinner. When he arrived home, he just collapsed inside the door of a massive heart attack. It was quick and that was the way he always said he wanted to go. He also would have enjoyed the humor we shared at his funeral. Dad hated downers. He always tried to see the positive side of everything and the good in people. While he may have appeared prejudiced to some, he was just conservative. So guys with long hair were "hippies" until he got to know them.

He wasn't the perfect dad by any means, but he did the best he could with what God gave him. He raised four sons and three daughters and all have turned out to be pretty decent adults. He was a man for his community and got involved in everything and helped many new startups in town that are still there today. He loved life, his family, his children and grandchildren and his community. I am proud to have had him as my Dad.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Looking Up...

The other day I had a wonderful surprise. I was at a restaurant on the invitation of a dear friend that I met in church and have known for years. While waiting for her at the restaurant, I noticed my old boss from Methods Tooling come in. I wondered if she was there for the same seminar I was, but upon arrival she headed for the bar. I went over to say hi.

Turns out she was at the bar to get wine to ease the pain in her back and then would be attending the seminar. We went back to my table and started to catch up. As fate would have it, she was also friends with the woman I was waiting for and she also brought a friend that knew my friend as well.

So here we sat, four women who knew two or three others out of the group, catching up on our lives. It was wonderful!

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the women I looked up to and who had an impact on my life. I wonder too, if I ever impacted any young woman's life as they did mine.

As a youngster, I looked up to my sisters for guidance and direction. They were two very different women and I gleaned different nuggets of wisdom from them both. First, they taught manners and good grooming habits; then, makeup techniques and studying habits; and later, how to handle dating or life situations.

In my teens, my sisters continued to play an important role in my life, but as they lived outside our home, other girls or women help guide my steps. The moms of some of my friends or even my friends that were a few years older shared their wisdom.

Once I was married and had kids, I was involved in church. I sought out different women of different ages to ask advice. What a wealth of information was received! I especially loved the advice of women who has raised their children beyond the ages of mine so I could "pick their brains" to find out what they did.

When I was going through the teen years with our sons, it was such a blessing to be able to call these women to ask them for advice, prayer, or to babysit while I took care of something involving the other children. It was wonderful to have women I could trust just as I would my mom or sisters.

Many of these women have no idea the impact they played in my life or those of my children, because they help keep me sane in the craziest times. Many of these women still come through my life from time to time just as my former boss did this week and I cherish the memories we stir up as we recall the past from our different perspectives.

As Irene shared with the group how I impacted her life back when I was only in my 20's, I marvel at how we helped each other in ways neither of us was aware.

How are you impacting the lives of those around you? The world today is in need of people to come up alongside others and put an arm around them to guide them in a loving, caring manner. Sometimes a word of advice spoken in love will have a tremendous impact on the person who receives it.

Its not a hard thing to do really. When you suspect someone needs help, ask if you can make a suggestion or offer a hand. This can be done with total strangers as well as friends and family and most times it will be greatly appreciated. Our world is desperate for people waiting for a hug or someone to listen. Keep your senses open to those around you. Someone may be in need of your arms to fall into or your words wisdom to hear.

Reach out and touch someone!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A marathon of a different kind...

Today was a cold day -- at least comparatively speaking. We have had several days in the 90's with high humidity. This, after several days in the 80's. Then we had today....60 was the high and it has been either pouring or raining lightly or just about to rain. So what do I do?

Bake! Broil! Grill!

On chilly mornings, even during the warmer months, I make hot cereal. Today was no exception. Steel oats mixed with a dash of cinnamon, a bit of honey, some raisins, nuts and you have a nourishing hot breakfast to warm your cockles.

Realizing these cooler mornings were limited, I decided to make some oatmeal raisin muffins. While the oven was on, I decided to try something new and made some mini quiches with spinach and artichokes.

Then I got a phone call with a opportunity I couldn't resist, so off I went to meet some friends for... breakfast! But what about all that food I prepared? No problem, we will eat it all week!

After breakfast, I took a trip to the Farmer's Market and bought some organic strawberries, chard and kale.

Once home, I started the oven up again and made some granola. Then came some eggplant rollups for lunch. Continuing to take advantage of the hot oven, I made a vegetable lasagna for dinner.

When dinner time rolled around, I had to heat up the oven once again, so I threw in a pear crisp and used up those pears that were getting a tad ripe.

Sometimes I think I want to be a chef, baker, or cook. But reality sets in and I hear that voice of wisdom say, "if you HAD to do it every day, you wouldn't like it so much." So I will stick with my high production in the kitchen whenever the mood strikes. Jim greatly appreciates all this diverse cuisine. You would think he'd be the size of a house eating all that I prepare. Alas, he still is thin and I on the other hand could stand to stop "tasting" my own cooking for a while. But then that encouraging voice once again shouts out the retort:  "you only live once!", "you made it 'healthy' so you can enjoy it", or in any Italian Grandma's voice, "Mangia! Eat!"

I haven't always been this way...Love to cook -- yes. Cook, bake, broil or grill many things in one day -- no. It wasn't until our kids left home that my style of cooking changed. Jim and I decided to start eating healthier now that we didn't have kids to nag at us about the food I prepared. I tried to get the family to eat healthier when the boys were home and I succeeded only minimally. But now the kids are out, the organics are in and I can experiment all I want. Jim is a willing guinea

I have also learned to cook some family recipes that were daunting to me in years past. I now make the best sauerbraten, turkey with specialty stuffings, lasagna with three different meats and cheeses just like my momma used to make, or tweaked to customize it to my liking. Earlier this week, I made pizza on the grill! And not just an ordinary pizza, but one with beets, cheese and dates. Weird combo, I know, but delicious! Nowadays, I never lack for willing taste testers and requests for repeats.

What's next???? Crepes... rouladin?? The choices are endless. Sorry kids your momma ain't cookin' yo dinna no more!

Melancholy Monday --- I mean Tuesday...(Note:this was written earlier and not published. Hence it is out of sequence according to my other blogs.)

I wrote a draft blog (I never published it) a while back where I described feeling "Melancholy". Today is another one of those days...

The world is a crazy place. My job situation has been up in the air the past few months. Life is a jumble.

We are heading out soon to fly to Florida to see our two younger sons and visit with them.

I am still recuperating from laser surgery for varicose veins.

It's amazing how many things can come into your life and sideswipe you and the emotional range from one end of the spectrum to the other is unbelievable. I keep watching Jim to see how all these things affect him. Men don't. Why is that?

Working backwards here is what has led to my melancholy.

This morning I went to my computer and saw a note from my son (Bryan, the one with the grandchildren) stating they have decided not to come down to Florida while we are down there. Though we had hoped for at the very least a weekend visit, short and sweet, it would have been a chance for all of us to be together. They usually drive down one day visit one or two days and drive back. While I am devastated at not having the chance to see my grandsons, I am sure the current gas situation ($4/gal) or their reasoning is justified something other than that of the the cat needing to get fixed, which is what he said in his message.

I state the above at the risk of making our other sons feel a bit put out because it would seem I am only interested in seeing my grandchildren. Seeing our children AND grandchildren is a HUGE thing for me ... as they live in Florida and Georgia and we still live in NY!!! We have little family here and we were supposed to move closer to them two years ago. But with the economy changes, and the house not being ready to sell, we are stuck here.

Which brings me to the next great news I received...

Yesterday I learned that my one boss is cutting my hours so I will only be working four days a week a.k.a. part-time. That in itself is not too bad -- at least on the surface. I really would like only working four days and have three off.  But when I went down to talk to our HR Dept. to see how this cut affects us, I was shocked. No more life insurance, no more disability insurance, even though my contribution to my heath insurance would have dropped; it won't now.

I can't complain too much because I am paid well for my responsibilities. At least I will still have insurance. But I know from the past any negative blow, even when expected, is still a shock and causes some major adjustments.

I still give thanks to my Provider for he has always provided. Many times in many ways. I try to always remember there are those worse off than me. Therefore I am grateful. I may not like the situation, but I am grateful.

The other thing that plays on the back of my mind is the laser surgery I just had...did it work? I don't seem to notice that much of a difference. I do know the vein has been shut down and others are picking up the blood flow, but the veins in my calf are still showing...maybe more time is needed. Then there is the experience I am having with this vascular group that I chose to do the procedure. While I bragged about their expertise. I realize now that was only attributed to one person in the group and he was not the nurse or the surgeon! So as the weeks have gone by, I see more and more incompetence with this group. Is that why my leg does not appear to have had the result I expected? To be fare, I'll give it some time.

The historical news in the world since Sunday night is the capture and assassination of the beast of a man named Osama Bin Laden (or for some reason, Usama, on Fox). This man ravaged the world, mostly US citizens and those who helped them for more than 20 years. He was the same age as I am. That hit me...Through my years, I have mellowed. How could one person have so much hatred, and evoke so much devastation in his 54 years? I guess the one main difference is he served his god and I serve mine. One justifies hate and the other love. Amazing to me that some say our paths lead to the same end. I think not.

I want to grieve for this man's soul because somewhere along the way he was deceived. He never learned the truth and he sought honor and eternal life by destroying everything in his path --even the poor woman he used as a human shield in his last attempt for survival. Power can do some ugly things to people. Money too. Unfortunately he never learned that there was another life chosen for him yet he chose not to take it. There are many out there doing the same. Not all are in the news or are having such a devastating impact on the world, but they are heading down the same path and my heart grieves for them.

Well, this is a gloomy piece if I must say so myself. But they say we have the power in each of our own minds to see the glass half empty or the glass half full and while this post may leave you thinking I am really down. I am not.

Within the next two weeks I will be in sunny Florida, with Jim, Aaron & Corinn and Dan. We will walk, hike, swim, laugh, eat and share some great stories.

The gifts I bought for my grandsons are shoved up in the closet for another time.

My recovery from laser surgery will not hold me back from my endeavors and WILL eventually be an improvement.

My job frees up a day to do what I want! Whether it be staying home reading a book or helping a friend, it will be MY choice.

Jim will be working soon and that will bring some relief to our finances as well.

While the world appears to be in a death spiral. There is a plan, there is a God who cares, and I know what happens in the end.

For those of you who think I have been duped to believing in fairy tales....I am in my own little world and I like it there very much....if I am wrong -- I have nothing to lose.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Florida Escape

Earlier in May, we headed to the Sunshine State to visit Aaron, Corinn and Dan for some R&R   ... at least that is what we originally planned. Aaron & Corinn decided to move to a house before we arrived so we helped them get settled.

It is funny to see your kids enjoying the work they dreaded when growing up.

For instance, if we had asked Aaron to dig out a drainage trench and remove the roots so water would flow away from the house, well we can just imagine the resistance we would have gotten. But look below! And please note the garbage bags lining the street. See how the yard is devoid of grass? Well, those bags -- all 45 of them -- are filled with the leaves that smothered any blade of grass that tried to sprout there.

Hopefully some grass will fill in the bare areas at some point.

The house is really nice with a big back yard for the dog to rummage around in. (There is a bit of grass back there, but its very sparse.)

They have lots of room but now just need the funds to furnish it.

The neighbors seem nice enough. One loaned Aaron his garbage pails to collect leaves! He is also an avid motorhead, so Aaron introduced him to his dad while we were visiting.

It was fun helping "set up house" with them. One thing I wish I had is a lot more money to buy a few things: like some patio furniture for the back deck, maybe a nice swing for the huge back yard; and some furnishings and decor for the inside, like a dining room table or a snazzy kitchenette set. I ached to go shopping at garage sales!

This trip also included an introduction to the newest member of our family, "Jem". She's a little silkie terrier mix that is just adorable! I am afraid we wore the poor pup out with all our walks.

On Dan's side of town, while his place is now a small one-bedroom apartment, it overlooks Lake Howell. He has great view instead of a back yard.

It's hard to believe the wild life he has outside his window. A family of raccoons live in the tree. A white heron-type bird comes to "fish" every morning. Those cute little lizards dart across the paths, up the walls and through any crack they can find. The squirrels are scrawny by comparison to NY squirrels and run rampant in the woods. And the fish actually jump out of the water in the morning!

 Once on my daily walk, I spotted this unusual sight through the trees. They turned out to be students from Full Sail working on a project. The one young man just happened to be Dan's neighbor. No they are not walking on water, but are standing a the pier.

This is Dan literally "at work". He is of this age of telecommuting and has his whole office in his livingroom. (Three monitors, yes 3!)

He just has to turn his head to look out the sliding glass doors of his apartment to see the peace and serenity beyond.

He is on the second floor and has a screened porch to which he can open the doors and get fresh air on those few days that the weather is not blazing hot and humid.

The walking path to the beach, pool and boat launch runs along the back of Dan's building. There are some great sights to behold on the way to and from these areas.

 I love all the lush green growth on this path. As you come to the end near the pier, you get a Narnia-like feel as you wind out of the forest...

 This opens up into the boat launch circle next to the pier.

This apartment complex must be praised for the beautiful landscaping and thoughtful design that went into the creation of this place.

Here is one of Dan's newest acquisitions, his 2010 Mazda M3 hatchback.

It is the second car he had ever owned. His other one served him well for a used car. Dan tried to run it into the ground but the thing never died...that a credit to good old American engineering!