For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The "Snaggle Tooth" Gene

We all have something about ourselves that we wish we could change, I'm sure.
Ever since my adult teeth grew in, I've been self-conscious about a tooth right next to my front teeth that is crooked.  If I was born in later times, I probably would have had braces to straighten my teeth.
But back then, you only got braces if your teeth were really bad.  And my problem was just one tooth!

Whenever possible, I would try to turn my head so that ugly tooth wouldn't show in pictures.

 In this picture with Vance shortly after we were married, I made sure my tooth didn't show. 
Vance called it my "snaggle tooth".

Over the years, teeth shift and get pushed closer together.
Over time, it became less and less noticeable.

By the time my kids were in grade school, I didn't really worry about it anymore!

As I've been going through old family photos, I saw the following picture:
This is a picture of my father (right) with his sister and brother in his younger days.
Take a look at his "snaggle tooth".
 The same tooth but on the opposite side of the face!

 His teeth must have changed over the years too, because I don't remember his "snaggle tooth".

Is it wierd that I somehow feel connected to my Dad through our "snaggle" teeth?
It's a part of him that is in me, and it's nice to think about that!
It must be in the genes.

I wonder if it will show up in future generations?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Here Comes 53!

Every now and then I like to assess my life.  I think it helps put everything in perspective as I travel from age to age.  It also enables me to stop, rethink, and set goals. As I approach my 53rd birthday in May, I have many things to be thankful for and some things I am not happy about.

I always like to end on a positive note, so here are a few things I am not happy about:

1.  The pile of jeans I can't fit into. 
      I have an assortment of jeans in an assortment
      of sizes and styles that have fit me perfectly at
      one point or another.  However, at my current
      size, which is larger than I've ever been,
      NONE of them fit.  I am currently making strides
      toward becoming a smaller me.

2.  My relationship with two of my siblings.
     It would be nice to have one big happy family,
     but I've come to accept that it most likely
     will never happen.

3.  My parents are both gone.
     I know I can't change this, but miss them terribly.

4.  My husband's snoring.
     Again, it's something I have to live with. 
     However, getting a good night's sleep in the spare
     bedroom helps.  It's the quality of the time spent
     together during the waking hours that matter the most.

5.  Rachel from cardholder services.
     I know I'm not alone on this one.  Rachel calls
     me almost every day, on my home and cell phones.
     I've tried blocking the incoming number, but she calls
     from a variety of numbers.  There is a Facebook page
     entitled "Shut Down Rachel from Cardholder Services",
     so I know she has been bothering more people than
     just me.  If a presidential candidate promised to shut her
     down,  he would probably win the election.

And on a positive note:

1.  My parents are both gone.
     I know this doesn't sound very positive, but two of the
     things I've always dreaded in life was losing my mother
     and losing my father.  Those worries are over and done.
2.  My husband.
     We have made it through the tough years of raising
     our family and have settled into a comfortable, relaxed
     time when we can enjoy our almost-grown children
     and spend more time together.

3.  My kids.
     I have three wonderful but very different children who
     are all at exciting times in their lives.  I am loving watching
     them continue to grow into adulthood.  It's nice to see we've
     done a good job as parents.

4.  Creative outlets.
     My personality needs creative outlets in order to be
     truly happy and excited about life.  I love writing this blog
     because it forces me to reflect on what's going on around
     me and write about it.  I love my photography and the endless
     possibilities it gives me to capture the beauty of the world. 
     And I love gardening because it lets me work hands-on
     to make my physical world beautiful.
5.  Contentment.
     I am content with the person I am.  I pretty much don't
     worry about what other people think about me anymore
     like I used to.  I know that I'm a good person with good
     intentions.  Everyone living in this world is different. 
     Sometimes we understand each other and sometimes we
     don't.  Sometimes we like each other's ways and at other
     times we clash.  I don't have to be like you and you don't
     have to be like me. 

6.  God.
     I have learned that I can worry less,  knowing that I am
     not the one in control.   No matter what happens,
     it will all work out, sometimes in ways you could never

“Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beyond the Obvious

“There's nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater,you realize that you've been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.”
                          ~ Dave Barry

I came downstairs yesterday morning and looked out the windows of my kitchen into the yard.  Everything was a little wet, so I knew it must have rained during the night.  It was still a little misty outside too.

At first, looking out through the screening of the porch,
this is what I saw.  My backyard.
Sometimes, we see what we expect to see.
Sometimes, in our attempt to get the big picture,
      we miss out on all the possibilities out there.

That morning, I changed my focus slightly.
It's funny how you are able to see the world differently
    with a slight change of focus.

The pattern of the raindrops on the screen sent me rushing to get my camera!

It's moments like these that make a photographer's day!

Focusing on the raindrops instead of the yard changed the picture entirely!

But then, what would it look like if I got a little closer?

Knowing I wouldn't be able to hold the camera still enough,
I got my tripod out and attached the camera.

Then I changed the focus again.

 As the focus changed, I captured more new and unexpected beauty!

 Until finally the image was sharp once again.

It was at this point that I knew where the real picture was.
I would NEVER have imagined what I saw!
It was sooooo cool!

But I needed my macro lens.

Going even closer, this is what I noticed.

If you look into each droplet of water, what do you see?

I'll get even closer.

In each droplet, I could see an upside-down reflection of my yard.  In this picture the grey shed with white trim is obvious.

In this picture, I changed position and now you can see the pathway and gate leading into the yard.

And here is a nice view of my deck with an ornament which hangs right in front of the screen!

The world has so much to offer if we take the time to look.
Dig a little deeper.
Change your perspective.
Adjust your focus.

In your world, your life, your relationships.

Look beyond the obvious and you might find the real beauty.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Those Awkward School Pictures!

School pictures.

Back in my day there was no "retouching" option.

Back in my day, it meant sleeping in pin curls and my bangs taped to my forehead the night before. 

Back in my day ...

Ok, it's kind of embarrassing, but I'll show you a few of my school pictures.

First grade was the only school picture I really liked.

This was one of my favorite dresses.
My bangs weren't looking great - but then again I have always been challenged with my hair.

I have a very high forehead with a widow's peak.
My mom used to call it a "heart shaped face".
My hair is really fine and really straight and there were no curling irons back then.
Hence, the pin curls and tape.

This photo was either 2nd or 3rd grade.
The pin curls didn't work out well this year!

But my bangs were a little longer.
The slight curve at the bottom of the bangs was achieved by taping my damp bangs to my forehead
before I went to bed (with scotch tape!) so they would dry that way as I slept.

I used to like this dress with the red bow and peter pan collar.
My huge honker front teeth had come in - but they came in yellow instead of white!
Why does that happen that way?
All in all, this picture wasn't that bad.

When I saw this picture, I knew I had sunk to an all time low.
My mother should have stopped trying to make my hair curl every year!
This year it looked frizzy!
The side part was not flattering either!
Neither was the space in between my two front teeth
   or the "snaggle tooth" sticking out on one side!
I hated the "jumper" and red shirt.
Fourth grade was just NOT a good year for school pictures!

Fifth Grade.  Or maybe 6th.
I felt I made a come-back compared to the disaster of 4th grade.
I had grown out my bangs.
We should have given up on the curls too!
We had moved on from pin curls to hard, pink plastic rollers that I had to try to sleep in.
This plaid dress with the Nehru collar was "in" at the time and I loved it.
Little did I know that by next year puberty would have hit
            and gone would be the flawless skin of youth!

I think this was 7th grade.
My face was probably covered in clearsil.
It was ALWAYS shiny too!
But the curls are gone!
My "snaggle tooth" is still there - I never did get braces!

I didn't like this picture either.

I had thought 4th grade would be my all-time least favorite
school picture, but I was wrong.
It was 8th grade.

The center part was popular - but didn't do anything for me!
My complexion was not good.
My hair was so oily I had to wash it twice a day sometimes!
My teeth were dingy yellow - I didn't whiten them until I was 40 years old!
My purple striped sweater was very hip, I thought.
I think I wore it with my purple skirt.
I'd like to believe I really didn't look like this.
But I probably did.

I don't have any school pictures from high school.
Thank God!

Monday, March 19, 2012

I'm Trying to Understand

I got really angry at my parents this past week.

I know they loved and cherished us.
I know they were good parents.
They would have laid down their lives for us - I have no doubt.

As I went through the old photos, I was particularly interested in finding pictures of ME when I was a baby and toddler.

When I found them, I noticed that most of the pictures had something in common.
It made me angry.
It made me scared.
It made me sick.

Here I am drinking from a baby bottle.
Do you notice anything else?

How about in this next picture?
A cozy family shot, with me sitting in my mother's lap.
Let me zoom in a little closer...

Here's another one.  
Notice the baby on the right.

If you haven't figured it out yet, here is a picture of my father.

I'll never understand how they could possibly think it was ok.
But in all fairness, I did a little research.

I was born in 1959.

In 1950, more than half of the people in the U.S. were smokers.
In 1950, a major study found a link between smoking and lung cancer.

I found this quote in a website documenting the history of cigarette smoking.

"Is the new evidence against the cigarette really valid, really conclusive?
Has tobacco been found guilty of endangering health and even lives?
Or have many of us been scared, unnecessarily scared, by sensationalized stories about limited, inconclusive and controversial research? 

Fortunately, for those of us who love to smoke, the latter seems to be the case. Some scientists have, tentatively, indicted tobacco. But a tremendous gap exists between such tentative indictment and a full-scale conviction shared by all scientists. This doesn’t mean that you ought to sit back and laugh if your doctor suggests that you cut down on smoking. Tobacco—like fat foods, lean foods, exercise, lack of exercise, too much sunshine, too little sunshine, and a host of other factors—may be undesirable from a health standpoint for some individuals in certain circumstances. On the other hand, if you have nothing much wrong with you, tobacco—despite all the scare stories—probably is the one indulgence least likely to send you reeling toward the hospital or the grave. . . ."

In another study published my the American Medical Association, doctors at Columbia found

"when they take their heart patients abruptly off their tobacco ration, mild depressions often ensue. 

They find that among their neurotic and nervous patients, the denial of cigarettes often produces outbreaks of other, and far less desirable, nervous habits. Such people unable to channel their energies into puffing, become face-pickers, foot-tappers, icebox raiders.

Even the appetite-depressing effect of cigarettes, which seems to be scientifically well established, is now being recognized as not by any means always an evil. The smoker who starves himself into malnutrition is an extremely rare, if not a totally nonexistent, phenomenon. But the man who smokes to stifle a tendency toward overeating is familiar to most doctors."

And it took another 36 years after that to recognize that second-hand smoke was harmful.

I know my parents smoked around us when we were young, when we were teen-agers, when we were adults.  Unless we were in the car, we were able to get away from it somewhat.  We didn't like the smell.  We were afraid for THEIR health.

But for some reason, I believed they had the sense not to smoke around their babies!

As I'm sitting here writing this, I can smell cigarette smoke in my nostrils.
As I look at these pictures, I want to pull the cigarettes out of their hands.
Not around your precious babies, Mom!
You're smarter than that, Dad!

I'm trying to understand them.
I just can't.

I am soooo thankful to live in a world where my right to breath clean air is now protected.
And I'm thankful that my children have never been exposed to cigarette smoke.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Scanning the Past

I've spent much of this week in the past.

I've watched my mother grow into a beautiful young woman.
I've acquainted myself with family members long gone.
I've reacquainted myself with uncles and aunts.
I've witnessed the beginnings of my parent's love.
And so much more.

I'm finally tackling a job I've been meaning to do ever since I took home a huge rubbermaid bin full of family photos and memorabilia  from my parent's house after they passed away.

I bought a good photo scanner to make matters easier.
For the past two days I've been scanning old photos
                  to digitalise them.

I THOUGHT I was going to pick the best of the best
to minimize the work.
But no.

I find it hard to leave anything out.  I'm doing it all!
And not only scanning, but restoring them as much as possible to their original state.

It's amazing what Photoshop can do!

And I'm having fun taking away all of those distracting specks of dust that were on the film, the creases and tears across the faces of my loved ones, and restoring vibrance  to the photos.

This photo of my mother's Uncle Harry was not in good shape.

 But now he's good as new!

 I made some photos brighter...

And made other photos darker.

I also couldn't help but note family resemblances...

The little girl in the photo (above) is my mother.
My niece (left below) looks sooo much like her with her smile and dimples!

 Just as my sister (right above) looks amazingly like my mother in the picture below!

 And then there's me...

I can't help but see my dad  (on the bike) in me (below). 

But when I look at this picture of my mom (below), 
I think I look very much like she did at about the same age!

So, I will keep plugging along until I'm done.
I'll talk to my relatives and try to identify those
             who are unknown to me.
Then I will attempt to put together the story of my family.

And pass it along to my children and future grandchildren.
Maybe one of them will recognize my face in their own one day!
Hopefully one of them will carry on
      and continue writing the story!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Green Beans and Life

As a parent,  you watch your children grow.
They go through "phases" that come and go.
They learn about life.
They change.
They become.

Sometimes, though,  there is a certain quality
that is so much a part of their being
that you see it appear again and again in their lives.

Yesterday, I was reminded of this with Adam.

From the time he was a little boy,
Adam has had a gentle, caring spirit.

When playing with his sisters,
there was rarely a fight because
he tried to make his sisters happy.

If there was an insect in the house,
he would capture it and take it outside
to continue its life.

He was happy to forgo birthday gifts
to donate to the local soup kitchen.

Another priceless example of his kindness
even extended to his vegetable garden when
he was 13.

He picked his first two green beans and named them Steve and Sherry.

But he hated the idea of cutting them and putting
them in boiling water.  So Kerry helped him out!

In college, it makes him happy to volunteer at a food pantry in Middlebury.

And at the end of last semester he brought in pastries and coffee for a breakfast in his dorm for the students to meet the custodial staff and let them know they are appreciated.

Currently, he is studying abroad in Rome.

He tries to write a little bit each day about his experiences in an online blog

It was yesterday's post that reminded me once again of his kindness.
It reminded me of the depth of his caring.
It made me proud.

Here it is:

Last night, I walk by the train station on my way home. (Confession: I’m not here intentionally. I’m lost and looking for a bus stop). Across the street, I see heaps of blankets piled on the sidewalk under the eaves of the station. I quickly realize that under these blankets are people, huddled together for warmth.
I’ve been told that the senzatetto (homeless) come here at night to sleep, but the sight of it elicits in me a visceral reaction, as if I’d just been punched in the gut by some cruel invisible fist. The image sears itself painfully into my memory.
Today, I’m out walking (this time, I’m not lost) and am amused by the three young kids strolling ahead of me — perhaps seven years old. They seem to be alone, maybe walking home from school, chatting, giggling, and enjoying the sunny afternoon.
They proceed past an elderly woman, begging for money. After continuing a short distance, I see them collectively hesitate, then pause in unison. Wordlessly glancing at each other, they reach into their pockets. Several moments of fumbling around for change, and one of kids manages to find a coin. Together they turn around and gingerly drop it into the feeble old woman’s cup. I’m grateful to be privy to this scene. It etches itself redemptively into my memory.

"There is nothing so strong as gentleness,
and there is nothing so gentle as real strength."
                ~Sir Francis de Sates

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Have you seen a poster or Facebook status lately that looks like this:

KONY 2012

At first, I just assumed it was another political candidate
that I've never heard of.

But after reading a few angry Facebook statuses,
I was intrigued to investigate further.

After I did, I felt I should do my part to spread the word.

The following film is 29 minutes and 59 seconds long.

When I saw this, I never thought I would watch the whole thing.

I didn't have the time.

I intended to watch just enough to find out what it was all about.

I watched all 29 minutes and 59 seconds of it.

When Vance came home today, I wanted him to watch it too.

He was in a hurry - had work to do.

He agreed to watch a couple of minutes with me.

Before I knew it, he had pulled up a chair.

He watched all 29 minutes and 59 seconds too.

So did Kerry.

It is extremely well done.
It is extremely informative.
It is extremely interesting.
It is remarkable.
It is extremely important.


How long did you watch? 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Going WEST to EASTman

Annie and I left on a road trip on Sunday 
for her first college visit.

 We headed about 5 hours to the West.  The sunny day turned to snow as we neared our destination.

 Rochester, New York.

Rochester is home to ...

We walked into the main building, home to the Eastman Theater and Kodak Hall.  The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra was midway through a concert.  As visitors to the school, we were let inside to listen to an amazing concert and see the amazing concert hall!

Everything about the school was grand.  
Everyone we met couldn't have been friendlier, from the students, to the faculty, to the custodial staff.
They went out of their way to be helpful.

There was a newer section of the school with state of the art recital halls and

a bright modern feel.

The 3 story library had stacks and stacks of books devoted to one topic - music.

It was really cold, so we decided to drive around the city to see what it had to offer besides Eastman.
There was a nice skating rink and warming hut in Manhattan Square Park.

The rink was next to the Museum of Play. 

 This picture demonstrates why it's so important to look at the surroundings whenever you take a picture!

We felt that perhaps Rochester was not at its finest on a dreary
winter day. We could only imagine how it would be in other
seasons.  A small campus in the middle of a city is so different
than Adam and Kerry's experiences in Vermont.

But there is no doubt Eastman would provide a top-notch
music education.

So we will continue to visit more music schools and use our experience at Eastman as a basis of comparison with the others.

With our first college visit under our belts,
we headed to Ithaca, NY to tour Ithaca College
and see what it has to offer.