Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday, Monday

My alarm went off on time. I did not hear it and so slept on. At 6:40 am I heard the door close downstairs as Sergio left for work. I had 20 minutes to shower, get dressed, dry my hair, and get to work on time. I almost made it, except a couple of trains, going opposite directions, decided to hold me up for several minutes. I clocked in at 7:32.

Hot dogs. I think they might be every daycare center cook's nightmare. They come in a bulk package of anywhere from 39 to 43. (I'm guessing...) I had 46 children to feed, more or less. Our three babies had leftover chicken and rice, and you might think I had exactly enough hot dogs, but the number of children in our rooms kept changing as children showed up (or didn't). First I didn't have enough hot dogs, then I had exactly what I needed, then I didn't have enough again, and in the end, there were two left over. I like lunches like goulash or Spanish rice.

Crazy. It started out crazy. And it promises to be a very busy week. During lunch my boss called me into her office. She had a serious look on her face... She said she had a paper for me to sign... And then she told me they were very happy with my performance in the kitchen, and with the babies, and they gave me a raise. I was so surprised I hardly knew what to say! 

(I was in such a rush this morning that I didn't even realize how cold it was until my car thermometer read 0 degrees. By the time I got to work it said -2!)

 * Photos from Saturday's chilly walk in the woods.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Winter Surprise!

Weekends are for snowstorms and bitter cold temperatures. Or maybe that is winter in general. The temperature gauge in my van read 54 degree on my way to work yesterday morning. By the time I went home nine hours later, it was reading 34. As the rain continued to fall, the temperature continued to drop. By this morning we had about two feet of snow in the driveway. I had my reservations when I saw Sergio's snowblower last weekend, but it is doing the job and has earned its keep in just seven days.

The snow must have fallen all night long. Rarely have I seen so many vehicles literally buried in snow. While Sergio ran the snowblower, I took the shovel and cleaned the house and garage sides of my car. Soft, fluffy and light on top, heavy and slushy underneath. It's crazy to think that yesterday morning there was literally no snow in the driveway or yard, just dirty, leftover piles along the edge of the street.

People are commenting on the "crazy weather" we've been having, but this is exactly what I remember it being like when I was a little girl, and that held true all the way through my high school years. In fact, I've often found myself wondering why we so rarely get crazy snowstorms anymore.

I even took a walk around the corner and down to the woods this afternoon. (I'm reliving my childhood whenever possible...) I came home with snow up to my knees and finally took off the wet jeans and traded them in for flannel jammie pants. And then I shivered for what felt like hours. Ha ha! (I'm toasty warm now.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Double Checking

My mind has been on spoons today. Not all day, but here and there. I had to take another look this morning, just to make sure I hadn't made some silly mistake, but there it was. "CHOICE" just like I saw it yesterday. A piece of me desperately wants to buy a replacement spoon so I can take one home... (Do you think it would be weird to ask? Ha ha!)

Twenty-four. Twenty-four spoons with the word choice on the back, for no apparent reason. I looked at a few of the old spoons that matched, but not one said anything remotely similar. They said "Winco 0002-01" and "Windsor Medium Weight 18/0" maybe even "stainless steel," but nothing else even slightly curious. I guess you could say I'm a little astounded.

Tomorrow I start my next pottery class. I am hopeful to make great strides in the finished product. Maybe even something I'm proud to call "good."  Taking one class after another has to have some benefits, right?

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Life is Weird

Spoons get scarce at work, especially when the afternoon snack is yogurt. Just imagine passing out snacks to 65 children and you'll be able to understand. Today we got two little boxes of new spoons. Twelve individually wrapped spoons in each box. I decided maybe they should go through the dishwasher before I pass them out for breakfast tomorrow. Do you know that on the back of each spoon the word "CHOICE" is engraved? It doesn't say choice on the box, and when I found them online it says nothing about choice...

I decided to try out a new support group at church tonight. One of the books they recommend reading is "Life's Healing Choices" by John Baker. ... Choices. I know I've kind of made myself super aware of the word, but this still feels a little uncanny.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Free to Chose

"Because of Calvary, I am free to choose." Max Lucado, Grace for the Moment

Well, Wanda, I had some time to kill before my CoDA meeting tonight, so I stopped in Barnes and Noble to look for a book. I chose the expensive one with a soft leather-like cover, and  "easy-to-read comfort-size print." And when the cashier mentioned something about a free cookie in the cafe, I decided to buy a small coffee and inquire on the offer. ("Buy one get one free," the barista said, and so I chose 2 oatmeal raisin cookies.)

It not so much about getting answers as making choices, and so I will practice choosing. (And quite honestly, I think God really is answering, even if He isn't answering in quite the way I'd expected.)

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Glacial Slide

A glacier has formed upon the garage and is slowly sliding down like a curtain... We're taking bets on when it will fall but so far it's hanging on.

Sergio's snowblower arrived this morning. He had already shoveled the barrier at the end of the driveway, the one created by the snowplow, and then proceeded to clean up the rest of it. Idris had fun watching his daddy out the window.

I slept in this morning, since I couldn't have gotten out of the driveway n time for church. Thankfully, messages appear online and I was able to watch and listen this afternoon. Not the same as being there, but better than nothing at all.

I took my boy (he's 30 now...), to see a movie this evening. The Greatest Showman. Interesting movie. He said he liked it but he wasn't sure how much. Ha ha! It was thought provoking and we did something together. I find it difficult to keep up with all my kids, so it was nice to spend a little bit of time with him.

Back to work tomorrow. It feels like the weekend just started and it's over already. How disappointing...

The weather is forecast to warm up a bit. Perhaps some snowmen will pop up somewhere along the way. That would be cool.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Winter's Blast

It's been bitterly cold. I probably don't have to tell you that. You likely already know.

I got stuck in the driveway yesterday afternoon and we didn't bother trying to remedy the situation. It's just too cold out there and we had nowhere to go today. We stayed in, and the van stayed put. Zero with a windchill of who-knows-what is nothing to toy with. It's not in the street and tomorrow's temperatures are forecast to be more tolerable and so we will worry about it then. Looks like I won't make it to the 9 am service at church...

It was a lazy headachy kind of day. More of what plagued me last week, a regular weekend thing. I'm beginning to think it psychological, or maybe it's from being tired...  I kept waking up counting babies who would or wouldn't be at the daycare yesterday. This afternoon I took some Nyquil for the sinus pressure and conked out  on the couch. I woke up a few hours later feeling much better.

Since the windchill is below booger freezing, I only dared poke my camera out the windows today. Yup. It's cold out there.

Thursday, January 04, 2018


So... I've been looking for answers. I've prayed for answers, and sometimes God has given them, but I have a tendency to question His answers, which leaves me looking for answers all over again, and wondering why He doesn't answer... (Do you understand what I'm saying?) Perhaps I am pained at the answer. Quite honestly, He probably couldn't give an answer I like no matter what He said, and therein lies the real problem...

He asked what I needed again. I may or may not have said "answers" and the conversation turned to answers vs choices. Here I am, the ever indecisive, needing to make hard choices. Choices I don't want to make, but in life we are forced over and over again to look at the options before us and make choices. Even hard choices. Even choices we don't really like.

I've already made hard choices and followed through on them. Impossibly hard choices. That is why I am here in this little attic room. This year, if I want to move forward, there will be more choices. Some will be easy, and other will be hard. It is the hard choices that help us grow and make us strong. 

I was looking for a word for this year. maybe it is "choices."

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

When Dreams are Really Memories

During the course of my life I've had a few recurring dreams. One of them begins at the top of a snowy wooded hill in the depths of winter. We pile onto a sled (or maybe it's just me) and fly over the snow and down the hill through the woods of pine trees in the dark of night. It's a long but smooth ride to the bottom (if there is one) with snow flying and the cold stinging my face. If I could compare it to something familiar, it might be a bit like the Polar Express roaring through the dark of night toward the North Pole.

I never knew why I dreamed this, or what might have inspired the adventure, until about a month ago. One of my mother's favorite cousins passed away in October. His son, a few years younger than me, shared some thoughts he and his youngest brother had written. In the midst of their memories was mention of a sledding run down the wooded hill on their property. Their memory clicked with me, and though these two brothers are younger, there had been a set of older brothers as well, brothers a few years older than me. Could it be that on a visit to their house my own older brother had taken me on a sled ride down the darkened hill through the pines one night? I believe that is exactly what happened. The dream wasn't just a made up story from my imagination, but a vague and all but forgotten childhood memory.

No photos of the actual place, just a few of my own kids on a local sledding hill. Look at 'em go!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Hello 2018

The first day of 2018 has come and is almost gone. I pray this year brings the answers I've so desperately been seeking the past two and a half years. I know God hears my prayers, and there are times when He has answered in astonishingly clear ways, and other times when He leaves me waiting.. or perhaps second guessing His answers.

The Cabinetmaker and I have been living in separate residences for five months now. We are not enemies... perhaps we are friends, or perhaps we are working toward becoming friends... It can be hard to tell as I sort through the many mixed emotions that come with our situation. We have been plodding through dark forests and trudging slowly up this mountain for what seems a very long and exhausting amount of time. I've been told slow is the preferred speed... Moving forward so slowly feels painful, but racing blindly without a clear destination would be disastrous, so slowly on we go.

I spent some time doing a puzzle with my sister this afternoon before driving out to the house for a bowl of soup and a game of Scrabble with The Man. I won, which is highly unusual (and due to the luck of placing a letter "z" on a triple letter tile and getting 60 points for writing "za" in two different directions). I don't win any more often than once every four or five years, so it won't be likely to happen again any time soon. ha ha!

Back to work and the babies tomorrow.

(Pictures are from yesterday's drive to see my brother.)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye to 2017

I woke up this morning in a Winter Wonderland. Before leaving for church I brushed the snow off my car into the street so Sergio didn't have to clean that shovelful (or two or three) off the driveway, 'cause I'm nice like that, and drove through a Christmas Card world. On the way home the snow fell off wires and branches in huge fluffy clumps. It was glorious!

On the way home I stopped to get gas, and then ran in Barnes and Nobel to pick up a couple of books that didn't come in time for the holidays. I meant to buy only the two books I'd ordered, but the fifty percent off Christmas sale sucked me in. I found a nice holiday puzzle, and a picture book to give my grandkids next year (I bought five copies.) and then I saw these really cool Advent calendars with no chocolate involved. (I bought six. One for me because it feels like I've lost the excitement of Jesus' birth in the commercialism.) I'm hoping to recapture some of the wonder I felt as a small child as the birth of Christ drew near, and hopefully pass some of it on to my grandchildren.

Rachel and I took our brother out for a ride through the frozen countryside this afternoon. She has good snow tires and it's a good thing. We drove down snowy back roads past snow covered bison and the Brantling Ski Slope where die-hard skiers were braving frigid wind chills. Brave souls! Tim was treated to his "small chocolate Frosty, please"before we returned him to the house. I am blessed to hear him speak short words and phrases, and grace us with hugs when it's time to go. He watches out the window as we get in the car and drive away.

Tonight, although I was invited for chicken soup at the house in Williamson, I am here in my attic room. It's cold and blustery, and I've been fighting that sinus pressure again this weekend. I decided to toast the New Year with a capful of Nyquil and tuck myself into bed. 2017 will soon be a memory. It was a year full of joys and challenges, laughter and tears. I can't say I'm glad to see it go... Some people are always bidding good riddance to the past year, as if it was some kind of plague... The New Year will come bringing its own blessings and sorrow. There will be pain and celebration, just like always, and many reason to smile and be grateful.

The Barn Collective

The sun was bright. I decided to take Lake Road along the southern shore of Lake Ontario before turning south again. Past field, farm, and rolling lake waves I went, stopping now and again to snap a picture and then turned south toward home.
Typically hidden by trees and foliage, and still hiding even without the greenery, this decrepit property on Stony Lonesome Road caught my eye on Christmas on my way to our holiday gathering. "Posted." It's likely the sign that has always kept me at bay, although I've often considered taking a walk through the trees to get a closer look. The house, covered in vines, will soon succumb to the elements. Heavy snows, fierce winds, and icy gales could wrest it to the ground before the warm winds of spring return... Perhaps a walk one winter day when I am back in the area. Perhaps.

The barn, not so well hidden by trees and brush, appears to be faring much better than its companion. Maybe it's that metal roof, or maybe it's the plain and simple fact that the farmer tending the trees saw more value in the outbuilding than the house. Either way, barring catastrophe, the barn looks ready to brave another decade of winters.

Perhaps there is a correlation to life mixed into this setting... but I think I'll save that for another day. ha ha!

Visit The Barn Collective with me!

Thursday, December 28, 2017


It's time for me to go to sleep now, and I will be doing that soon. I've taken my cold medicine and something to help me feel drowsy because I had a rather lengthy nap after coming home from work early again this afternoon. I felt tired and achy and made up my mind it was good that they'd not needed me to stay until closing. I'd fallen asleep to the sound of a family interacting downstairs and woke to the voice of my grandson playing with his young uncle. My eyes, swollen and sticky from congestion, preferred to stay shut, but I knew I would never sleep at night if I didn't pull myself out of bed.

It's been a strange kind of week. One day blurs into the next and I find myself purposely concentrating on what day of the week this is. It hardly seems possible tomorrow is Friday. By the time I return to work on Tuesday, another short week ahead, the New Year will have begun. 2018. What does it have in store for me? What adventures will it bring?

2017 was a hard year. An impossibly difficult one. God has not left me alone or to myself. He is, rather, growing me in ways I never imagined. I've found in Him the strength to go hard places and do hard things. He has made me courageous in spite of fear and strong in spite of weakness. He has filled my days with just the right amounts of people and activity, given me a job I enjoy, and love and affection to go with it. I have new friends and deepened relationships with old ones. My family has begun the long and arduous process of healing and recovery. If you are the praying type, I covet your prayers for us. God knows exactly what we need and when, and He is providing. When I am lonely, I am never really alone because He is never far away. It's been a hard year, but a good one too.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Short Week at Work

I got out of work at break time today, so I came home and took a nap. We're having some blustery weather, but what really sent me home was the center being short on children. Tomorrow I will clean some more kitchen cabinets and cook up a vegetable lasagna. And then we'll see if I get to leave early again.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Checking In

Yesterday was Christmas. We gathered as a family, ate the traditional lasagna, and watched A Muppet Christmas Carol. It was a good day. I didn't feel stressed aside from the knotted muscle that made it feel like there was a knife in my shoulder blade. I haven't yet decided if I slept wrong or my body is stressed when my mind isn't.

I had a surprise package awaiting me at the house. I should have taken more pictures, but in the midst of the chaos that is Christmas, I didn't. It came in a Barnes and Noble box. I'd ordered a few books from Barnes and Noble but they for pick up at the store and I hadn't paid for them yet. The return address said Owego, NY. I looked at the name on the box and realized it was a package from my cousin Ondra. Inside was a card, a pound of coffee, and a box that contained something that looked like a camera lens.

I took it out of the box and handed it to my small grandson. Number Nine knew just what it was. He held it up to his mouth and tipped his head back. (He's brilliant, I tell you!) The Cabinetmaker hadn't seen it yet. "Hey, James," I called. "Catch!" And before he could think, I tossed it to him. He looked startled, then worried, and scrambled to catch it, hardly believing I would carelessly toss such an expensive piece of equipment. He fumbled and dropped it on the floor and was terribly relieved to find it was a travel mug and not an actual camera lens. Ha ha!

Surprise gifts are the best and this one is very cool.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

I wore my tartan plaid jammy pants to bed last night and had waffles for breakfast this morning. There is a blanket of freshly fallen Christmas now on the ground, and all is well. I am okay. Better than last year when I pushed my way through for the sake of others, but wasn't being honest with myself or my family. I am okay.

Last night was spent with three other single women. We ate dinner, watched a video, shared some cookies and hot chocolate, and visited. I came home early enough to stay with my sleeping grandson so his mom and dad could venture out and then fell asleep downstairs, so I could hear the child if he awoke, and stumbled upstairs when Hannah and Sergio returned. It was a nice, calm evening.

Soon I will pack up my presents and pumpkin pie ingredients, brush the fresh snow off my car, and venture out to "Dad's House." We will have Christmas and be a family, because no matter where this journey takes us, we are family forever. Bruised and broken perhaps, but family.

I am looking forward to lasagna and laughter, but mostly to seeing my grandchildren. I miss them.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

It's Almost Christmas

It's Sunday morning and Christmas Eve. I am here in my attic bedroom instead of heading out the door to church. My head is stuffy and my body aches. I am hoping an abundance of fluids and a bit of quiet will help with a miraculous recovery. In the meantime, I will be thankful for the gift of discomfort that provides a bit of understanding for terribly cranky, runny-nosed babies and small children at work who are unable to explain why all they want is to cry and be cuddled.

It another different kind of Christmas. I am not at "home" and yet I am... I spent all my childhood Christmases here. The walls reverberate with memories, and the falling snow transports me quickly and quietly back in time to days of Mom baking cookies in the little galley kitchen, Dad leafing through Ideal magazines while he sips coffee in his corner rocking chair, and my sisters and I playing in the presents underneath the Christmas tree. The snow drifts down in fat, fluffy flakes and we are safe and warm...

Tomorrow, sick or not, I will travel through the snow to spend Christmas Day in my "other home," the one my kids now call "Dad's house." My heart will swell and ache as I sift through memories and emotions. I may come home sad and confused, or perhaps God will grant me the gift of clearer understanding as to where I am headed.

I've missed baking Christmas cookies, assembling graham crackers houses, and trimming the family tree this year, but it's been a season full of blessings. My heart may ache, but it is full as well. My son met me at the Christmas Eve Eve service last night. He has a new job he loves and I am one blessed mom. What better Christmas gift is there than knowing your child is happy and encouraged?

Monday, December 18, 2017

Counting Down

Christmas is just one week away. Am I ready? Will I be? I suppose it will be what it will be. I've wrapped most of the books I got my grandchildren. That's a good start. I've burned CD's for my kids, and that's good too. I think even the ones who aren't country/bluegrass fans will appreciate listening to their grandfather play his banjo and harmonica. I know I do, but then again he was my daddy. I watched and listened to him play my entire life. Soothing, calming, reassuring.

I am less stressed out this holiday season. I am more stressed by the birthday I missed today. Number Two turned nine. I didn't hear of there being a party for a grandmother to attend, and I failed to find a proper gift. I so want to be a good grandma and feel so much like I am falling short. I hardly ever see them anymore... How can I be a good grandma if I don't see them? And how can I see them when I work full time? It is an unfamiliar season of life and terribly different than I imagined it would be. Not terrible, just terribly different.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Change of Plans

There are now 20 sets of CD's awaiting distribution. They are the gifts I most wanted to give this Christmas. Dad playing his banjo or mandolin, and harmonica. I've already given away three sets to Ben, James, and Hannah and I know others are anxious to have theirs too.

I spent most of the day with The Cabinetmaker. We made Boston Brown Bread for Uncle Chuck's holiday dinner, and burned CD's. We were almost to the party house when Rachel called to tell us the venue had double booked and we were relocating. The gathering was now an hour away from Williamson and we opted to turn around and go home instead. We ordered a pizza with Ben and watched The Santa Clause, although I have inherited my mother's innate inability to stay awake through an entire movie. I fell asleep when Scott and Charlie arrived at the North Pole, and aside from the scene where Judy brings him hot chocolate, didn't wake up until it was over.

One more day to my weekend. I need to have my oil changed, pay my Target bill, and return a book tomorrow before going to see Tim with Rachel. This time we'll take him out for a ride and one small chocolate Frosty. And maybe if I am diligent, I will wrap the rest of those story books I got my grandchildren for Christmas.

Tim's Christmas Party

We hadn't come to take him out for a ride, but he wasn't about to take no for an answer, so off we went for a ride around the block before finding a spot at the table in the dining area. He is all about routines. Well routines and food. Mostly food. Especially if that food is cookies.

The past two Christmases have come and gone with no family invitation to a Christmas Party, but the Cobblestone House always has one. It's where Tim lived for many years before his non-ambulatory status took him to the single level residence across the street. It's wonderful to see him back "home" in the Cobblestone again, and with people who know and love him.

It was a good visit. He scarfed down his chili and snacks (They have him count to ten to slow him down a little...), stole the snacks off Rachel's plate, and ate my cookie. He ate every cookie he could get his hands on. All he could think about was cookies.

And then there was the gift Rachel had put together and wrapped. She held it up to talk with him about it. "What does this say?" she asked him. It was a test because although we "know" he can read, we're always looking for a little more assurance. "Thankful for you!" he replied in his hurried, monotone voice and we smiled, knowing all over again there is more going on inside of this brother than we can typically see on the outside.

Before leaving we had a staff member take our picture. He wrapped his arms around us but couldn't get his eyes and concentration off the snacks in the kitchen. "Give me cookie, please!" he begged, as if he hadn't already consumed half a dozen. Ha ha!

I told him we were ready to go but would be back to take him out for a ride on Sunday. He gave us a hug and literally showed us the door. I mean he dragged us over there and then watched us go through the window.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Bits and Pieces

* Weeks are long and short.

* In daycare babies "move up." I do not like this piece of the picture, but am grateful I can still visit them and pass out hugs, even if the teacher doesn't always appear to appreciate my presence.

* I am achy. Perhaps it is whatever gets passed around in childcare facilities, perhaps I am getting old and decrepit, or perhaps my inner pains are manifesting in physical symptoms.

* It's cold outside. It is suddenly winter. Did I mention that it's cold?

* I signed up for another pottery class. Same one as before. Same time, same instructor. It starts in January.

* I am not ready for Christmas, but that's okay. If I can find a spot of time to wrap the books I bought my grandies, I will be almost ready.

* I want to decorate cookies and build graham cracker houses.

* I miss The Naughties.

* I am torn in little, bitty pieces.

* Tomorrow is another day and after work I am going to meet my sister at our brother's Christmas Party. I've missed this yearly celebration. His other house didn't ever invite us to a Christmas Party.

* Saturday afternoon is a family holiday dinner with my Uncle Chuck. I have no clue what to bring.

* Sunday is our bi-weekly visit with Tim.

* Perhaps I can put my camera to work this weekend.