It really feels like Christmas!

Today it is bitter cold, we have had no fewer than five storms, but only a little is left on the ground. Still it is December and it is white which is a good start.2016 220 I have visited Amazon and will do some more visiting tonight to try to get the main Christmas items here in time for Christmas. The older I get the more I hate shopping in stores, so except for a trip to Big Al’s for stocking stuffers, and a trip to a local business Reny’s , I hope I can complete my Christmas list. As the kids get older their needs are less, and so I focus on the grands most of all. I remember someone who once said four presents are a good guideline: one you want, one you need, one for fun, and one to give to someone else. Not a bad idea- removes a lot of the overspending on Christmas.

November started out great- the blue wave materialized, especially in Maine. Governor, both houses, and House of Representatives all went blue.  The latter is still under examination since our incumbent and loser, Bruce Poliquin is demanding a recount, in part because we used ranked choice balloting for the first time.  In a ranked choice, you get to vote from the heart the first time, even if your choice has no hope of winning, and then you get to chose your second, third, fourth choice.  Poloquin had a small lead (law requires that if no one gets more than 50% of the vote after the first counting, then the ranked choice kicks in), but lost it when the second choice ballots were counted. Either leading candidate has the potential to gain the lead by having these second choice votes counted, and when it was over his Democratic opponent received more than Mr. Poloquin.  This upsets Mr. P understandably, but the fact is he avoided his offices, kept his arrivals back to Maine quiet, and did not return calls/letters to voters,  hoping to avoid those who were very unhappy with his decisions in Washington DC, and those folks, remembered and worked hard to turn out a vote in favor of the democratic candidate. As this is written he has stopped the recount and lost his legal bid to reverse rank choice voting. Finally, something we voted for, is implemented!This mid-term election felt so much better than the one in 2016, and left many of us hopeful for 2020. Update: Mr. P has finally conceded, but our outgoing Govenor who is somewhat of an imbecile, signed the verification for Jred Golden and then wrote (stolen election).  Isn’t that classy?  The good news is that Mr. LePage is taking his brilliance to Florida as we speak!

November ended and December began with Dave getting seriously ill.  The VA team of doctors: hospital floor Dr., oncology, infectious disease, and gastroenterology- all worked hard to figure out what was happening. Several opinions were put forth, and one by one, with the bloods tests and MRI’s each was discarded. He was discharged with no final answers.  Can’t say enough for the VA, it was not  lack of trying. The doctors and nurses listened to us, even far fetched suggestions, like exposure to Three Mile Island  (the nurse, considerably younger than either of us- looked at us and said what is TMI?)We looked at combat related factors (Agent Orange), genetic factors, environmental factors, medication side effects and of course the wonderful little ticks that have spread so much disease in Maine.  In fact for a time Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis   were the lead contenders ( till blood tests ruled them out) due to our many camping trips and outdoor activities. mh-mr id 212 Our nurse was wonderful, keeping us up to date and explaining what all the numbers were. Like I said, we could not have asked for better care, even if no one could explain what was happening.  Dave’s liver biopsy came back negative as well as all other tests, and while his blood counts are rising again, as he finishes his antibiotics we will have to keep a close eye on him. All the while I was getting over pneumonia, as my Mom was hospitalized for the same, and hospice care has begun, now that she is back at Assisted Living. Nothing like a little stress before Christmas!

The tree is up, decorations will be on tonight. We are working towards a low key church and family Christmas.  We recognized how blessed we are to have such great kids and grandkids, siblings, one parent, and enough good friends to warm your heart. And we have each other, and after having a somewhat colorful and volatile 50 plus years together, the peace of retirement together is refreshing, goes to show you it is never too late to get your act together.

006God is good.

Advertisements

Fall: Where did it go?

 

 

This is an old post. Life has been wild these past two months, so I am trying to start fresh with the new year.  Get these posted and out of the way.

 

I find it comical that in my 67th year I still think about different professions I would have liked to try in my life.  Nursing and Veterinary School were my first interests long ago, discouraged by the fact that in 1968 nursing schools, by and large, did not accept married students.  My Veterinary School hopes were dashed when I discovered how far I had to move to enroll in one. Did not think I could sell Dave on that.  Of course, just a few short years later, after we moved to PA, Tufts set up a wonderful Veterinary program in Grafton MA just a few miles from home. Such is life. Later, I fell into case management at the county Mental Health program and loved it, from there I felt called to serve churches in the Northeast. After being active in church life for more than 20 years I knew that many church issues revolved around personal issues of the parishioners. It was odd that in seminary there was far more instruction in other areas rather than the intersection of mental health/family systems.  I knew that Maine and NH did not have the community mental health support system I was used to in PA and so I knew there would be challenges there.  I have never regretted not becoming a nurse or a vet, but I still love the process of medical diagnosis and forensic science, knowing it is both an art and a science and most of all a puzzle to be sorted through and solved, a process that can be applied to church life as well.

This October, as I watched the most beautiful fall foliage emerge almost overnight, I decided another profession I would have loved, would have been the person who gets to name the new Crayola crayon colors.  As a kid I loved Burnt Sienna, and was enthralled by the nuances of the different shades of green, yellow, red, blue, and indigo. Dawn Amethyst for that gray/muted purple crayon, or Swamp Maple Red (those of you from New England recognize that one) which is distinctly different from the Sugar Maple Red. And then there is Fiery Orange, and Eggplant.  What a great job that would be playing around with colors and brainstorming names, imagine the joy of watching all those open boxes of pure color roll down the conveyor belt to the scores of waiting kindergartners!

So for a color fanatic like me, October is the most glorious month, but it is also glorious for other reasons.  Not long after the color show subsides, the North West wind begins to make it rain leaves. Colors swirl around your feet, every step is a crunch, a bits of leaves get caught in your hair.  The smell of falling leaves is wonderful and brings back fall football games, bonfires, and hand-in-hand walks. But yet there is more! As the humidity permanently retreats back to the southern states (and this year it certainly took it’s sweet time) the night sky gets unbearably beautiful. Stars which have been obscured by summer haze are now out in full complement in the crystal clear night skies. It is easy to see satellites orbiting the earth, jets doing their refueling dance thousands of feet up in the air, and  the northern lights.  It is so crisp, so fresh, and smells so sweet, that as Barry Manilow once said “I hate to see October go”. Halloween is approaching, the first snowflakes have fallen and we know Thanksgiving is not far behind. I am grateful for the 31 days this month, because it stretches out a most beautiful, almost magical month.

The loom rooms have a couple of new mascots: Isaac, otherwise known as Lord Isaac of Sidney, and Champagne. Isaac is all white, fifteen years old and so fluffy. He has sea-glass blue eyes and weighs in at 14 lbs.  Champagne is a short-haired brown striped tiger, all three pounds of her, and she is also three years old. She may look like a 9 month old kitty but she is more worldly (she was pregnant when she arrived at the shelter) and she is a magnificent mouse and squirrel chasing machine.  Zane is getting used to them and they to him. Isaac is like Goldilocks, tries out each bed and decides where he will spend most of the night. The little one stays downstairs where it is warmer, her favorite spot is on top of the heater vents. They love to explore our old house, it has so many wonderful hiding places that the little one, especially, loves. The big looms provide a place where they can be near me and protected from the three-legged large black dog.  I had forgotten how wonderful it is to take a nap with a cat on your lap. Naps are an important part of our day.

We celebrated birthdays for the oldest and youngest in our extended family: my Mom celebrated her 98th and little Will his 4th. How time seems to warp depending on which end of the age spectrum you are on at the time.  It seems to Mom that the days crawl by, sleeping much of the time, and each week that goes by a little more of Mom has disappeared. It crawls for the rest of us too, as visits get harder, but most times she knows who I am and that is something to be thankful for.  For little Will waiting for vacations, birthdays and Christmas are painful, time seems to him to move extra slowly this time of year, yet, I remember being his age and waiting, waiting, waiting for the Sears catalogue to marvel over the toys available for Christmas. It was our version of the internet and it did  seem to take forever to get to Christmas, and we wore it thin before Christmas ever got there.   At 67, the months and the years seem to me to fly by. Sometimes I remember 30 years ago like it was yesterday, and nothing flies by like the first few years when the grands are babies.  I would love to slow time down a bit and just wallow in the little kisses, the bed time stories and pure delight that hide-and-seek brings. Funny how that happens.

It will probably be December before I find my pictures for this blog, meanwhile I will start the next one.

Au revoir.

 

 

 

 

\

 

\

The Happiest Place on Earth

This summer was blessed hot.  In Maine we had more than 40 days of dewpoints above 70 and many of them above 90 degrees, in fact, we set a record of a dew point of 78. Maine is known for its temperate summers, in 16 years we have not needed an air conditioner in our home till this year.  We did not succumb this year, but should next year be as warm, I am certain we will have to give in.  This summer felt like the summers in PA, something we happily left behind to move to Maine, and we began to wonder if we would need to move to Canada if global warming results in considerably higher temperatures year round in Maine.

I found with the heat of the summer, I lost interest in weaving, and spent time reading in the shade of the huge willow tree in the side yard.  My late mother-in-law used to tell me willows were “dirty” trees, and it is true, if you are dedicated to never having a leaf on your yard, a willow is not for you. But if reading in the filtered sunlight, with the breeze gently blowing the weeping branches is your cup of tea, our side yard is for you.

Just when I thought I could not stand one more hot day in Maine, I flew to Florida to join Monica, Josh and Will at Disney World.  I arrived for a long weekend so that I could enjoy seeing what Will thought of his Disney adventure.  For an almost four-year old he did well, loving the exhibits that featured dinosaurs, bugs and the bird show, and this child loves rides. He is his mother’s son!  As for me,  I thought Maine was hot but FL surpassed it with an even higher humidity and 90 degree average temperatures.  Two and a half hours at the Animal Kingdom and we arrived back at our motel to get lunch and rest during a thunderstorm. I had to literally peel off my clothes as I was soaked through all layers of clothing.  It is funny what curious questions come to your head when you are having trouble breathing and walking at the same time.  As we wandered through the various kingdoms we discovered many air-conditioned stores that opened their doors, something we appreciated as we passed by, but I did have to wonder about how much it must cost to air condition everything. Usually in Maine we lose jobs to the southern states and our cost of heating is cited as a reason.  Certainly it does cost money to heat homes and businesses, but air conditioning is not free either. I did enjoy the music at Pop Century and I will say that their rooms were blissfully cold.

September ended with a trip to PA to attend my 50th class reunion. I had a really good time, and realized that social media has reconnected many of us in the last few years. Having seen pictures of families, houses and vacations, and yes, having an inkling of where we stand politically made the reunion all the sweeter. I also got to visit with my dear friend Carolyn and get some Rocco’s subs, which, after 16 years, I still miss.

Speaking of politics, I keep thinking things can’t get worse and then they do. The hearings for the nominee for SCOTUS have turned into a zoo. When will people believe the credibility of survivors? Who would volunteer to have to reveal to the world some of the most intimate and terrifying events and how they felt powerless? Is it so hard to understand how one might not want to report it knowing you would not be believed? I understand the cynicism of police officers sometimes, but it feels terrible to know you are not believed, that your judgment, your assessment of the situation despite the years experience you have, and the potential for danger that existed, is called into question because you are female, or a civilian, or both. You get the look, ” Are you sure you didn’t misunderstand?”  No.. I did not. Thanks for your help anyway. I wonder at the people who feel that being pinned down and having your mouth covered is really no big thing. I wonder at a man who believes he was legal to drink at 17 in the state of Maryland, clearly referred to keg parties in his yearbook and yet was insulted when a female Senator (whose parent was an alcoholic) asked if he had ever blacked out from drinking. A reasonable question. Instead he fired back, “did you?” If Republican senators could put themselves in Judge Kavanaugh’s position and give him a by on his angry, belligerent response, why can’t they understand that many women can easily identify with Dr. Ford.

As for October I am looking forward to crisp autumn days, wonderful Macoun apples, and the absolutely gorgeous fall colors surround us here in the North.

 

 

 

50 years – can you believe it?

This summer has been outstanding for several reasons, both good and not so good.  First it has been exceptionally hot and humid. A common experience for people who live in the deep South, but very unusual for Maine, a place known for its temperate summers and beautiful fresh air. 2018 has broken all the records for number of days over 90 and dew point indexes (what really makes a hot day really miserable) that exceeded 70 for more than 30 days this summer, and on one memorable night even made it to a dew point of 78, unheard of for Maine. It has made for unusual camping – too hot to have a campfire!  Not having air conditioning in our house, we retreated to the air conditioned camper just to survive, on occasion. Truthfully, it was hard to breathe some days and getting through the day seemed exhausting and we are retired!  The second reason was 2018 is a milestone year for us.  50 years since I graduated from high school, 50 years of marriage, and 50 years since Dave left for Vietnam, and just a couple of weeks ago 50 years of the anniversary of being wounded in combat (at least the first time).

June 29th marked our 50th anniversary. We celebrated quietly- no big parties or celebrations.  We have had enough fireworks and drama in our life. We now look forward to a quiet life, doing things together that make us happy. Occasionally we consider a travel adventure, but at this point in our life simple pleasures are the best. Sitting at Pemaquid lighthouse on a lovely summer day, or a wild winter one. Spending tiIMG_2996[1]me with family, loving our grandchildren, and sitting out under the big willow in the dooryard reading and watching the day go by. After many therapists and psychologists, and hours and hours of counseling, we can finally say that this marriage thing is going to work, it may have taken us a long time but we are learning to be life partners.

Dave and I met as teens at a Baptist youth group, the closest thing we had to belonging to “a crowd”. 006It was a tiny church (about 50 members) and our youth group had 30 members, most of our parents did not belong to this church. The congregation loved us anyway and we loved them. We both remember that time with happy memories.  Then there was a big change. Boston Edison was putting a new power line right through our property in Hopkinton, and my folks decided to move to South Central Pennsylvania. I was  a junior in high school and enrolled in Girls Club, Yearbook, trying out for cheerleading, and looking forward to Prom. Not only did we have to move but they were going to tear down our 1800’s cape. It was the home and I could not imagine a bulldozer knocking it down. We moved to PA and I discovered a world of difference between Massachusetts schools and this rural southcentral PA regional school and its inhabitants. Accents, customs, classes were very different, the entire culture was different.  To say I did not fit in, is an understatement- I felt like a skunk at a lawn party. I was probably bullied some, especially by the boys, but the girls were more subtle, I was painfully aware that I was an outsider. Graduation could not come soon enough,

Dave and I married on a beautiful day in June at a UCC church in Westborough MA, just a few weeks after my graduation.

It was his family’s church, his Mom had been the Sunday School Superintendent, his Grandma sat 2/3 from the front on the left side of the church, you could easily find her spot, there was a pillow to ease the hard pew, and a little footstool for a very short Grandma. The weather was beautiful, and the day went by in sort of a blur, but it is fair to say that our memories of that time, and the honeymoon after are colored by the fact that he was leaving for Vietnam in just a month.  No matter how we tried to have fun, to forget what was coming and “be in the moment” was hard, it hung over us like a thundercloud.

I thought the past year or so had been tough, with the move, some relationship angst over being separated by the move and by the Army, along with the two assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, it seemed like our world was upside down.  The year he was in Vietnam (’68-69) was horrible. I was 17, three weeks after Dave left when one day I got a call to tell me to stay where I was – someone was coming out to see me. I looked out upon our dirt road and saw the mailman leave a large package- it was our wedding photos. As I looked at them, I periodically watched the top of the hill looking for the cloud of trailing dust indicating a car was on its way in.  Like in Saving Private Ryan, I wanted to see what kind of car was coming: an Army car with an officer or a cab with a telegram. When the dust cleared I saw the cab and knew that Dave was at least alive.

I did not handle that year with any kind of maturity, I was miserable, I had no direction in life, it was like life went on all around me and I was invisible.  Dave, of course, was given no choice but to grow up fast in a nasty war. He was one of the older draftees at age 21, and tried his best to keep the guys in A troop alive. Of course, although he did his very best, he could not. It was the time when 500 American young men were killed per week in the fighting and it was inevitable that some would have been his friends. The homecoming was a collision between a teenager and battle hardened veteran with a thousand-yard stare. It is amazing that we somehow managed to get through it.

When Dave returned from Vietnam we had only a couple of close friends, mostly family.  The country was not comfortable with the returning veterans and it is safe to say that Dave was uncomfortable around crowds and at social gatherings. Vietnam continued to cast a pall over our relationship- but neither of us could see how the experience and our response to it was slowly shaping our marriage.  I gave a lot of thought this year about how we made it together so long. We had some highs and lows and there were the years when it was gruesome, when divorce almost became a given. In truth,  I guess we just never gave up at the same time.  We can see now that we have been blessed despite “our issues”.  We have three wonderful kids, their wonderful spouses, and of course, the grandchildren.   As Garth Brooks says, “I’m glad that I didn’t know the way it all would end, the way it all would go. My life, is better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, but I would have to miss the dance. ” That we can continue to dance, has been made possible by the many counselors/social workers/clinical psychologists of the VA who underwrote untold number of hours of counseling.  We had some dedicated and intrepid folks who hung in there with us while we struggled with marrying too young and trying to grow up within a marriage, making some poor choices, living with the aftermath of war and PTSD, and our individual quirks .

So, to my grandchildren and anyone else who cares here is my top 5 observations about being married for 50 years, we will see how it goes. First, is you will know you have a keeper when you feel “at peace’ with one another, even, or especially, if you are not necessarily peaceful people.  If you had asked me if I felt at peace with Dave when we were first married I would have looked at you funny and said , “I guess”.  I was not old enough or mature enough to know what is meant by that or why it is important. We were lucky we managed to gain a degree of that contentment.

The next pearl of wisdom is very much related to the first, you will know you are with the right person if you can be open and vulnerable with them.  If you can reveal whatever it is, good, bad or ugly, to them and you are still safe with them. They might be disappointed in your action but in fact their first thought gives you the benefit of the doubt. There is a level of trust that your failures will not be thrown back into your face as  verbal bullets.  The person you love for life should know you and love you for all your good qualities and, yes , tolerate the bad, and will continue to love you through your less than stellar moments.

I know there are married couples who claim they never fought, I am not calling them liars, I am just saying that most couples I know fight. They fight over in-laws, raising children, money, friends, sex, and ambitions. They fight over religion, politics and leaving the toilet seat up or the cap off the toothpaste. They fight over where to live and how to live. We fight and if we fight well, we make up.  If we fight poorly, hurt feelings fester and get shoved underground to come back with a vengeance.  So speaking of fights, keep it simple.  Stay on topic. Do not drag out the kitchen sink of every little error the other person has done to you since you first said hello.  Words matter. Say them carefully. Words matter. The Bible says do not let the sun go down on your anger, and be slow to anger. Listen, really listen to what your beloved is saying. Context matters, tone matters and always, words matter. It is better to ask for a time out than say something so hurtful that it fractures the trust and safety between the two of you.

The fourth pearl of wisdom is to know yourself- spend some time thinking about your relationship. Where are your ouchie places? Where are his? Do you need professional help to tune up your marriage? Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara were a pair of comedians who had a long marriage that I think was quite volatile at times.  Jerry was Jewish, Anne was Irish, and she converted and took her conversion very seriously- Jerry said he was never more Jewish than when he married Anne.  They were in a television interview just a couple years before she died. They had been married 39 years, a long time in Hollywood, and she quipped, “we have been in counseling for 36 of those 39 years”.  He looked at her as if to hush her for revealing such a personal matter. She looked at him with love and said, “its okay honey, we are worth it”. Make your marriage worth it. One person cannot carry a marriage, both of you need to be committed, vulnerable, and willing to go to the mat for the other.

You should be able to be safe with your beloved.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially.  If there are mixed messages in any of these areas they need to be attended to: it is hard enough to live together for all these years but it is near impossible if there is abuse present.  You do not have to agree on everything: but you do have to respect the other person, and be able to trust your beloved’s responses.

Financial surprises like unknown loans, gambling, retail therapy and other behaviors are stressors you do not need to add to a marriage.  Physical safety is not just not being hit or slapped, and not being threatened with fire arms, it is also not submitting your spouse and children to road rage. It is living life without threats stated or implicit. Emotional  abuse can be as damaging to a marriage, to mental health and to a family as physical abuse. We know many veterans suffer from PTSD, but PTSD can also develop from living in a situation where you are not physically or emotionally safe.

Emotional safety speaks to believing that what is best for your spouse is best, period. If this person is someone who matters to you, who gives you joy, then you want them to be the best the best that they can be and so you will be their biggest cheerleader. And they will be yours. If your spouse wants something you simply cannot live with or goes against all your values then by all means speak up,  get some professional help and work it out. Good communication and developing realistic expectations are not something that we all bring to marriages, so develop them, and being on the same page goes a long way to making for a happy marriage.

The Native Americans used to intentionally make a mistake in their weaving, allowing room for the Spirit to enter the piece.   Mistakes do not have to ruin something, they can give it character, and  represent the flawed humans that we are who, long to love and be loved.  Our failures can teach us instead, to look for the beauty of lessons learned; accepting your own accountability, and holding the other accountable as well; the joy and grace of forgiveness; and the celebration of growing wiser, stronger and healthier.

Ok enough… Gram will get off her bully pulpit, but as you read this- know that I love you and wish for your happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow I will do it….

I have been wondering when being retired got so busy!  I often think I should sit down and write something for this “electronic journal”, and then I think “oh I have a little more time tomorrow” and then of course, I do not.  I have been wanting to relearn how to include pictures in this, because dear grandchildren, I hope that one day you will discover this and you will enjoy seeing the pictures, and hearing the stories from Gram’s perspective, it will be like getting a chance to visit again. I watch GG and wonder if I will be that way someday, so I am writing this down now just in case.  Watching you grow has been a joy and it is impossible to tell you how much I love you. You have so much of life in front to you, sometimes it will get bumpy,  your heart will get broken and other times you may be the one who is doing the breaking, if that is the case, please be kind. If there is one thing I could give you at all the important times of your life, kindness would be it, it is never a wrong choice. Know that I love you unconditionally- no matter what. You have my heart.

 

Growing up I loved getting letters, I loved going to the mailbox and finding one waiting for me. I love writing them, it almost always made me smile, even though sometimes there were tears too.  I used to get letters from my family, pen pals, your grandpa, and my best friend. There was, and still is,  joy in seeing that dear, familiar, handwriting on the envelope, the anticipation as you tear open the letter to read all the news.  Each letter contains wonderful surprises- the chuckle you can hear in the midst of a funny story, the  little inside joke in last paragraph.  You read and reread  “I love you” again and again, and your heart warms at the thought. You write back, and then there was a delightful anticipation of waiting for the next one. I know, you are thinking that now we can swap emails or texts in seconds, it is amazing how small our world has become, but I have to tell you it is not quite the same thing.

The thing is my lovies, is that letters can be read over and over again. On a day when nothing goes right, you can read the words someone wrote to you because they loved you, and were thinking about you, and the world seems just a little better. If you reread them years later, you discover that you might find something “new” in those familiar words, some new insight you missed before. Do you remember on our Christmas tree each year, I would hang the old and fragile ornaments near the top?  With the pretty glass ones were two thin paper ornaments , I think one was a red Christmas stockings?  They had a twisted red and white strings on them.  They are little Christmas cards, probably from the early 1950’s. One of them has my Great Aunt’s signature. My Great-Aunts were my favorite people growing up, they loved us  kids unconditionally. Each year seeing her signature reminds me of long, hot, summer days on King’s beach in Lynn, MA, when Aunt Sal and Aunt Ruthie , both of them near 70 years old, dressed in the layers of slips, corsets, stockings and high button shoes that were the fashion then, patiently watched your Grammy, Uncle Jeff and Aunt Diane build sandcastles and run screaming into the surf that was always frigid. Those memories are all there in that paper Christmas ornament and they all come back to me as I look at that sweet, familiar writing, even after all these years.

I hope someday you will learn to read cursive writing, but if you don’t this blog is my version of writing letters to you.  I hope these words one day will trigger some memories for you and I just want you to know just how much I have loved being a Grammy.  From the first moment I held each one of you, through all of the times we sat on the floor and played dolls or horses (and watched Spirit).  You taught me so much about dinosaurs Ethan and now I play them with Will.  How much fun we had reading books and drawing. Gracie when you read this,  I hope you will laugh when when I tell you that my heart races everytime  we go out for driving practice and you say ” hang on Gramma I am coming in hot”. (You have indeed inherited my lead foot.)  Camping, playing Rummy, War, and Sorry with you kids is great fun. It was great fun to play  Cards Against Humanity with your uncles and aunts, -your Uncle Josh believes he has been scarred for life by that experience (I think it is just because I won).

My weaving has taken a back seat these last few months, I have been reoccupied with other stuff, maybe some of that will show up on another blog.

Grace and Ethan, Lucas James and Will, I love you all: more, more, more. Every day I get to spend with you is a wonderful gift, and youIMG_3018[1] have made it all worthwhile.

Gram

May and Lord Stanley’s Cup

Just as the days finally begin to warm, it is time for playoff hockey.  We have our favorites (Bruins, Devils, Predators, and Capitals) and our common nemesis (Penguins). The Bruins are my favorites and I agonize through tight games, just as I did for the Patriots during football season.  So, while the piles of snow shrink and disappear and the daffodils come out, I dig out the shorts, and watch more hockey in a few weeks than I watch all year.

My love of hockey began many years ago when my Dad got some tickets to Boston Garden given to him by one of his clients as my Dad was a route salesman for a dry cleaners establishment. It seems like another world back then.  Your milkman delivered your milk to the back door early in the morning, and the local dry cleaners would offer pick up and delivery. This was a time when doors were not locked, or if they were, the owners gave my Dad a key, and the clothes were picked up and delivered two days later all pressed and cleaned and hung in a closet. Dad would go in, leave the clothes, give the dog a treat and pat the cat.  Periodically one of his clients would pass along tickets to the Bruins, or something else, and of course at Christmas there was always a gift left in an envelope that just said “Mark”. What fun we had counting the “loot”, given that we hardly had two nickels to rub together even a couple of wrinkled dollar bills were a treasure!

Well my  brother and I got to sit right behind the Bruins goalie in the front row.  There was a huge thick piece of glass between us and the players and when they were practicing they would shoot pucks straight at the glass where we would jump up and down. The goalie wore only a small little mask, or no mask at all, and no one wore helmuts. Stitches and broken teeth were the norm. My favorite player of all time is Bobby Orr.  He made skating look so easy it was like he was flying!  Now that the Bruins are eliminated from the playoffs, I am rooting for the Washington Caps.

 

Spring has arrived in Maine, the days are beautiful- 60’s and 70’s- light breeze, and every day a new tree or bush is blooming in the garden. I have encountered a skunk or two (fortunately I saw them before they saw me), but we have been blessed with no porcupines hiding in the garage, only the birds building nests in all the regular places. The barn swallows have several nests in the stalls in the “car barn”, and then there is the one that insists on building her nest in my kayak. Given that the water is still frigid, kayaking will not commence for a couple of months given that I do not have a dry suit to stop hypothermia, should I tip over.  Hoping to kayak the Kennebec River again with either Josh or Ethan to keep me company. I am looking for some other retired ladies who might like to kayak and might want a kayak buddy.

Trying to clear out my drafts, so there will be a flurry of postings.

 

 

Spring and other fairy tales

Each March we advance our clocks an hour forward and the official beginning of spring arrives. At least it is supposed to.  Despite the fact that the days are lengthening and the angle of the sun is higher and warmer, March is a winter month in Maine and so we get regular snow storms right through April.  High winds, beach erosion and higher than normal tides along with 8-20 inches of snow per storm makes for an interesting end of winter.

The blizzards that arrive in March and even April are dreaded by most of us, tired of winter and wishing for spring, but even in Maine, the spring snow does not last, one warm day, particularly with fog and rain will eliminate a three-foot snowpack quicker than  you can find a Dunkin Donuts, and if you have ever been to the NorthEast you know that there are DD’s on every corner.

This year is no different from others, March arrived and so did four nor’easters, one after another.  Two dumped significant snow (10 and 20 inches) and one joined up with astronomical high tides to cause destruction in the southern part of Maine where people ignore the strength of sea and build right along the coast despite repeated episodes where someone’s house falls into the sea.   I guarantee the houses will be rebuilt, some boulders will be brought in and sand will be added, and next year there will be another “hundred” year storm and it will do the same all over again.

Dave and I have, for the last three years, traveled this time of year.  Leave behind the mud season and return to Maine when the flowers are blooming. This year we are hunkered down for the storms and we plan our summer and fall vacations.  A trip to an air show, a national clock meet,  a quick trip to Disney World with the youngest grandchild, and perhaps a trip to the Outer Banks or maybe a Canadian trip in September.  This year we celebrate 50 years of marriage- not sure what we are going to do to celebrate- we are not cruise people, and the older we get the less we like flying. So, I pour over the map and pick out a state or province and find interesting sites to see.

 

Another reason for not traveling this spring was a planned surgery to replace my cataracts with remedial lenses.  I heard over and over that it was a piece of cake, that I would have better depth of vision and see colors so much brighter.  Maybe that is how it is for most folks, but of course, not for me.  My eyes feel like I have an entire sand beach in them. I am living on eye drops and while I can see 20/20 without glasses, my eyes look tired and weary. It is one of the few times in my life, I have actually felt my age. I am hoping that in a few months, my eyes will feel better, and I will have worked out the different strengths of glasses I need for close-up work, right now “cheaters”, those inexpensive drug store glasses pass muster for close reading, but their clarity leaves something to be desired.

One high light of April has been celebrating the adoption of our grandson Lucas James Smith. After 1904 days in the foster care system, on 4/9/18,  Lucas has a forever home.  He is such a sweet heart and it is wonderful to see how happy Ben, Trish and Lucas are. He is doing well in school, and it’s pretty clear that having a family of his own is making such a difference.  He not only got a set of parents, he got cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. I am not sure how prepared he was to be adopted by our crazy extended family.

Lastly, Maine voted to use ranked choice voting, allowing you to vote for more than one candidate and rank them. This is in response to having two candidates that split the democratic/independent vote and resulted in our having 8 years of Paul LePage, which is only marginally better than having 8 years of Donald Trump. The people of Maine are great folks, and they have been repeatedly embarrassed by the behavior of our Governor. He got in with something like 33% of the vote because the rest were split, not once but twice. Supposedly it will work that we can vote for one candidate and if that one does not have a majority, the second highest will be counted-  with the aggregate providing a majority.

While we can only use this right now for primaries, we are working on changing the Constitution of Maine to allow it for the state offices, maybe even Presidential?? Never have I called as many representatives and senators and marched in protests as I have these past 8 years. Vote! Vote! Vote! folks.

Maybe by next month I will master inserting photos again!