Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jan 30, 2010

It was a pretty uneventful week. It seems lately that, though I have quite a list of things I want to do, I feel stalled out. Here at the house, I wander from one project to another, putting things down and moving on before I really even get started. It's frustrating.

Getting out of the house is the best medicine. It doesn't help at all with getting me drawn into my projects, but it does get me doing something. I'm enjoying being out on these brisk winter days.

On Friday, my friend and I went to explore the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. It had been recommended by a Long Island birding enthusiasts site as a good place to see a nice variety of winter waterfowl. We weren't particularly blessed in that regard that day but we discovered their beautiful hiking trails.

It was supposed to be in the mid 40's on Friday, but it started out below freezing. While we were walking the trail, the most beautiful snow began to fall. It was big fluffy flakes that would stick to my checks and lashes. Walking the trail was like walking in a fairy tale. I was positively jubilant. I just LOVE winter.



The wildlife refuge also has a sanctuary for distressed wildlife and birds of prey that have been rescued but are unable to be returned to the wild. I'll be posting images of some captive bird of prey on my photoblog. Come see...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Makes YOU Happy?

This challenge was presented to me as one of the participating contributors to Women On...

I RARELY do memes. But this one seems to have come along at a time when I feel open to the idea. Maybe it's because I know it would do me good to really think about what makes me remember that there are some things that make me feel completely alive.

And are ten. Not necessarily a TOP ten, and in no particular order.

My Camera - Having my camera in my hands, anticipating the moment to press the button and seeing that I captured what I saw in my mind's eye. It makes me so happy to see that I have created a beautiful image. It makes me delighted when someone else tells me an image I've made speaks to them.

Music - I am initially attracted to the music I love by it's structure. Lyrics are usually secondary. I want the sound to take me somewhere and when it does, I am ecstatic. I love live music, when I can experience the passion of the musician visually as well. At the very tip top of my music happiness list....a Bruce Hornsby concert.

Dancing - Goes hand in hand with music. But, dancing with a partner stifles me. I'm a whirl and twirl, dance with reckless abandon girl.

Water - Any body of water delights me, from the ocean to the pool. I love the sounds of water, crashing waves, babbling streams, thundering waterfalls, the quiet lapping at the edge of a lake, the sparkle in the sun, the perfect parallel ripples, and of course, the life it attracts. I love to be IN water. I love to be wet and feel the sun shining on me. I love to swim and splash. I love muffled silence below the surface. And I love to close my eyes and just float.

Hugging My Children - I can't exactly classify being a parent as a "happy" experience. There are many happy times, and plenty of frustrations. But, holding one of my children just kind of sums it all up for me. It says how much love we share and how much we want to keep each other close. I hug my children every chance I get.

Dogs - There's nothing like a dog. I love all dogs, and of course mine in particular. Who cares if they are furry and often smelly? They are demonstrative in their affection, they are loyal, accepting, engaging and funny. It especially makes me happy when my dogs welcome me home....or into the room. They love me, they want to be near me, and they make me laugh.

Real Friends - The people who I know I could go to any time and share my highest highs and my lowest lows. The people who get me, and appreciate my quirks. Some of these people have been face to face friends, some I've met and come to know via the internet. But, they're all REAL friends and they let me know that. I love them and it makes me SO happy that we share our lives, the hard times as well as the good.

Spending Time With My Sister - She is one of the most precious people in my life. I had three sisters. One, I never knew....she died when she was a baby. For 45 years, I had two sisters and there was nothing like that relationship. I was so happy when I was with them. I loved how we could all burst into laughter spontaneously at an unspoken joke. I love how a bit of the child I was surfaces when I am with my sister. I have one sister left, and unfortunately, I don't see her near enough. That makes the time we do have together even more treasured.

Exploring and Discovering - I'm thinking of walking on the beach, eyeing the flotsom and jetsom that has washed up. I love finding unusual broken shells, beautiful feathers, bits of driftwood, interesting stones, colorful seaweed, etc. But I do the same in the woods, or along the side of the road. I think I'm drawn to the wabi-sabi nature of it. I find dried plants to have a sculptural quality. I love finding new life peeking out through the detritus of the previous year. I marvel at the shape, line and color of natural design. The diversity of life on earth takes my breath away as does the evidence of the passage of time. As much as I try to keep my eyes open and not "miss a thing", I have to wonder how many hidden gems I walk right by.

Having Creative Time - I want to be an artist when I grow up. I don't consider myself one in the traditional sense, but I love to take time and try and create. I love dabbling with all types of mediums, but my favorites are textiles and photographs. It makes me happy to see things that I have created around my house. These creations will allow my children and my grandchildren to have a sense of who I was. Not only do I have the pleasure of making these things, but I have the sense that I will be leaving something behind. An additional layer of happiness comes from receiving affirmation....that someone else appreciates what I have created and it brings them a moment of pleasure or joy.

I need more....which is good news. I thought I'd have a difficult time coming up with ten but I could go on, I'm sorry that I have to leave anything out. This was a much better exercise than I had anticipated...THAT makes me happy. I'll stop after this one last happiness item of note.

Sunrise - It is my spiritual time of day. It stops me in my tracks. It makes me want to sing and dance. It is a promise of possibility. It is a gift of another day.

Part of this challenge was to pass it on to ten more people. I won't do that part. Putting anyone in on "the spot" doesn't make me happy. But, if you decide to give it a try, please leave me a link so I can come by.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I posted a few recent phots from a little winter walk at the beach at my photoblog. I don't know if anyone's watching it an longer, so I thought I'd make and announcement.

We've had quite a hassle with Aaron's car this week. Who needs all these fancy features? It's infuriating.

I drive a beater of a Chysler minivan. Aaron drives an Acura.

On New Years Day we hit a crater of a pot hole on the Cross Bronx Expressway while driving back from PA. It was so huge, we blew out a tire. We pulled over to the right onto a little strip of shoulder between the Cross Bronx and another highway merging in from the right. We came up right behind another driver who was out changing his tire which was apparently blown out in the same pot hole.

Aaron changed the tire fairly quickly and we were on our way. Over the next couple of days he did some research and decided on what tires he wanted to purchase to replace the current ones. He called a local place asking about them and they said they'd have to do some checking to get back to us. We didn't hear from them for days and then Aaron had to leave for a business trip. I'm on tire aquisition duty. The place Aaron had been working with is staffed with lazy dolts. They never did get back to us and when I did a follow up call, he "checked the computer" and told me that no one had that tire.

I made a few more calls and finally found someone who had them, but there were a little more than Aaron expected to spend. I was done doing leg work so...this was the place that was going to win our business this time.

By now the car had sat in the garage without moving for 5 days. I went out to put the damaged tire back in the trunk, and the trunk latch wouldn't work. So, I went to get into the car to open it from the driver's latch and noticed that the car door was ajar. That's the battery is dead. While feeling a bit put out, I knew this was only a minor set back. My van was parked just a few feet away.

I don't know a lot about cars, but since my first cars were VWs....I learned the basics early. I CAN change a tire and jump a battery. I opened the hood of Aaron's car, and the battery is nowhere to be found. Everything in the engine compartment of that car is covered. I tried to open a couple of the covers but they had no obvious release and they didn't want to come off. I'm scared to force anything like that.

No problem, I headed to the glove box for the owners manual....which wasn't there. There were several other little booklets, but I no reference where I could look at a little map of the engine and find the battery. I did find a toll free number for road side assistance. Surely they could tell me where the battery is hidden.

I called and got a very polite representative who was only too willing to help too much. He kept insisting they could send a service truck to my rescue.'s not really necessary....just tell me where the battery is. No, no,'s not that type of assistance. They'll be happy to come help this poor damsel. I finally agreed while asking "how long?" He assured me that it wouldn't be too long, the average wait was about an hour.

This was just plain silly to me. I have cables, the other car is just a couple of feet away. If they'd just tell me WHERE THE BATTERY IS....I can have this done in about 30 seconds. Why would they insist on incurring the cost of sending someone out when they can just give me the information I need and I'm on my way. He insisted his job was to send out assistance and if I wanted this information, I needed to call the dealer.

By the time talked to a service rep at the dealer, I was so frustrated I was near tears. He told me which cover to open and how to get it opened without breaking it and voila....I clipped on the jumpers, tuned the keys and I was done.

Why do things need to be so ridiculously complicated.

So, now the car is running and the tire issue is resolved. But Arielle went with me to pick up the car and drive it home. Apparently, since the power was drained, the GPS/audio system will not reboot without a code number. Aaron doesn't remember the code, it's not in the owner's manual (which Aaron had taken from the car and put in the office), and the number suggested by the dealer didn't work.

Where's my VW?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Jan 8 2010

After two days a naseau and shivering under 40 blankets, I have returned to walk among the living. Unfortunately, tonight Arielle is sick. There's definitely a bug in the house. The good news is that Aaron is in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show and out of range of infection. Husbands are the biggest babies...

For those who asked....YES!! I certainly DID go dance on the stage at Hair. Would YOU pass up the chance to dance on a Broadway stage? It was clearly the only way I was ever going to get there. It was great!

I have a little story to tell about Joel, but first a little background. If you read my blog WAAAAYY might recall that he

a) digs his stubborn heels in about homework and

b) he is the world's pickiest eater. He's actually gotten worse in this regard, with his list of acceptable foods dwindling to about 5 choices...most of them white.

This semester he has been in his third year of Spanish. He's never done very well in Spanish as he made up his mind on day one he HATED Spanish and that it was just "too hard." But, he's coasted along in the C range. It caught up with him this year. He was behind from the start and rather than do the work he needed to do to catch up.....he just fell further and further behind.

He has asked me repeatedly to allow him to drop out of this class. But, I've refused to consider it on the premise that letting him out of it because he's decided to slack is just the wrong message. What's to keep him from deciding to slack in all the rest of his courses next year? It would be worth a try for him if he knew he had the option to bail. It's a path a want to avoid.

But, both his guidance counselor and his teacher have come to me with the recommendation that he drop the course. They feel that at this point, the pressure we're all applying to the spanish situation is having a negative impact on his performance in his other classes. So, I have finally decided to bend on this on the condition that he steps into another elective next semester. Dropping Spanish does not buy him a free period.

His counselor emailed me yesterday and told me that the only available elective that will fit in his schedule foods. The ultimate irony. I wrote her back...."Have you met my son?" But I decided this would be an interesting test. Would he opt for a course where he'd be faced with "exotic" food, or would he suck it up and decide maybe spanish wasn't quite so bad/impossible?

Well, he chose the food.

He knows he'll have to handle and cook food, but he seems pretty sure that they can't force him to eat it. His counselor has told him that he can't go in there and start immediately making a stink about how none of the food is anything he would consider eating. At the very least, he will (hopefully) learn to at least politely push the food around on his plate. Maybe.....just maybe....if no one makes a huge deal about it, he might even TRY something new when no one is looking. I can always hope, right?

These situations are not in the parent's manual. I know....I checked.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Jan 6 2010

Just got back from an overnight in Manhattan. Arielle and I went in to meet up with our dear friends from Allentown, Janet and Emily.

Now that we no longer live across the street, and the girls are on college, Janet and I both feel we need to build some travel traditions as a foursome. This little jaunt was great and we're ready to start planning the next one.

Arielle and I drove in this time. It was only my second experience navigating the streets of NY by car but I'm proud to say, it went very smoothly. We got around without getting lost (and NO GPS) and we only got caught in a gridlock once. There's so much to watch for....the street signs, the pedestrians, the cabs, the bikes, the busses, the double parked trucks. It's a challenge. But I feel like I have a better sense of the lay of the city than ever before. I wouldn't hesitate to drive in again. That's something I never expected to hear myself say.

We ate great food and spent some time in a museum and saw Hair on Broadway. At the end of the show, the cast extends an invitation to the audience for all to come onto the stage and dance. That is RIGHT up my ally....but no one else in our group was game. Are you kidding?!?! When again will I have the opportunity to dance on a Broadway stage? Gotta do it!

Adrienne went back to Pittsburgh today for her final semester. Aaron's also gone for the next 10 days for business. Arielle doesn't have to head back to Massachusetts until Jan 17. I'm glad she'll be here for awhile longer. If we can find a nice day, I think we're going to go in to the Bronx Zoo. I think it would be terrific to go in the winter when no on else is there.

It's taking some time to learn my way around this new computer. So far, I'm liking it. I downloaded the trial version of photoshop for Mac. It's a bit different and I'm trying not to get frustrated. I've been very uninspired photographically over the last few months. The display on this Mac is gorgeous though, so I'm itching to drag out the archives and play around. Maybe, I'm on my way back.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Jan 4 2010

That's my first time to write or type 2010. It often seems that 2009 was this fresh and new no more than a month ago. It goes WAY too fast!

I'm starting the new year, and decade with a cold and a new computer. I'm also starting with a new commitment to blogging. I really, REALLY hope is sticks.

This past year, I've felt that every time I sat down to try and write, I was whining. There were more than a few entries that were written then deleted on that premise. I can't guarantee an absence of whining, but the sand is starting to shift here and I think I'm going to need the outlet.

I'm not going to get into a lot of backstory and detail today, but I think this year may hold in it another move. The situation is in it's infancy but the signs are impossible to ignore. Another year of very tough choices, of working to accept what cannot be changed, and trying to find the tranquility to just live with what life throws at us.

All this is so new...too new to really even begin to talk about. Aaron and I have had a handful of conversations. But I feel like I'm sitting on a time bomb. My head's full of questions and concerns, my heart is unsettled and I know I'll need feedback and support from somewhere. I hope that place is here. year, new decade....another redefinition of life.