Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It's Not Easy...

Have you seen the (link) Baltimore Mom-Gone-Viral on the news? She's worth watching. A single mother with four daughters and one son. Yes, one son who decided to walk the walk with other rioters in Maryland… that is…

…till Mom took charge. Mothering, at best, is a challenge. There is no judging the Mom next door, unless you've walked in her shoes. I'm reminded of a Black Mom with whom I was friendly, years ago. We met each other via our sons; they became great friends. Sadly, she passed away at far too young an age... but not before I learned from her…

She'd no worries about her younger son, the one in our lives. He didn't put himself in potentially-toxic situations. But her older boy was a different story. She knew that even though he was a good kid, he sometimes exposed himself to iffy situations. She once told me that she was fearful, every time he walked out the door. I never forgot that. Thing is…

She exercised control as best she could. But I immediately thought of fearful thoughts imparted, when I saw Baltimore Mom. Kudos to her. Many are calling her "Mother of The Year." She responds, as you'll see in the video, by explaining that her son is not perfect, but he's HERS, and she'll do what she has to do to protect him.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Done Deal!

Well, that didn't take long. Finding a home for those coffee filter blooms pictured in my post below, that is. At the LakeHouse:

 A nice, branchy-branch did the trick, placed in that empty candy jar from Christmastime. Next step? Set upon Mom's antique dresser, one of the two (Dad's, too!) I refinished last summer. Remember? They went from white to black, with hardware transformed from brass to pewter-finish. What a great and rewarding project that was. My parents would be beyond thrilled. And… what better way to finish off the ensemble than to include the converted kerosene lamp Joe gifted me, many moons ago…
Love the bonus of walking down the hallway and peeking in…

Getting Crafty Again

While we wait for THIS to happen…
I made a bouquet of coffee-filter blooms. They're not yet placed, but rather look so pretty piled up and waiting for the proper space.
Next up? A headboard! Yep, that's right. Queen-sized. With fabulous, funky fabric for our LakeHouse bedroom. Please meet our friendly Home Depot guy, below, cutting boards for my project. What a cool service HD offers, wouldn't you agree?
Please stay tuned. It's a first for me and I'm totally psyched. Oh, and wish me luck!!

In Case One Thinks Little Of The Power Of Suggestion

Pollyanna is taking a break for a few in order to bring you the answer to questions Joe and I pondered over dinner, last night:

"HOW, WHY did rioting grow to the extent it did in Maryland?? Wasn't it supposed to be a peaceful demonstration?"

The answer, my Friends, lies in a reader's explanation included in this morning's NY TIMES article. If one thinks for even a millisecond that what kids are watching doesn't effect their trains of thought, this'll change your minds.
NY TIMES Photo and Text

Explaining ‘The Purge’

"Police Commissioner, Anthony W. Batts, said the violence on Monday began with word of a “purge” set to take place at Mondawmin Mall, led by local high school students. Those students confronted about 200 police officers and attacked the police with rocks and cinderblocks after school let out.
But Commissioner Batts failed to explain a key detail: What is a “purge”?
In this case, the word refers to a science-fiction film from 2013. The film, “The Purge” is set in 2022, during an annual 12-hour national holiday in which Americans are legally absolved from every crime, including robbery and homicide.
Critics generally described the movie as a heavy-handed dystopian satire filled with blood and gore. It was a hit with young audiences who adopted the term, though, and in a few cases, young people have been accused of threatening to mimic the film’s anarchic premise.
Last fall, police in Windsor, Conn., tightened security in response to rumors of a “Windsor Purge,” in which teenagers were allegedly planning to spread chaos with BB and paintball guns. No purge occurred.
Indeed, some rumors of purges have proven to be just that — rumors. Last July, a web site published an article claiming that a group of teenagers re-enacting the plot of a sequel to “The Purge” had murdered over 112 people in Chicago. It turned out to be nothing more than satire.
A month later, rumors of another purge spread through social media from Louisville to other cities, including Detroit and Cleveland. Police later said it appeared to have been a hoax.
In Baltimore, the police have offered few details on who instigated the supposed purge on Monday. Commissioner Batts simply said that police gathered at the mall in the afternoon, around the same time that students arrived after school."

Are You Watching "The Voice" This Season?

Powerful female voices dominate… there are several stars in the making… however, it's the simple kid from Upstate New York who gets our vote. Sawyer Fredericks. Seems strange to go from the charm of 74-year-old Mr. D. to finding such appeal in a 16-year-old. But this kid has an old soul.
A possible winner…

Monday, April 27, 2015

Okay, That's It!

Bruce Jenner, child stars, Robert Looks Twice and Uncle Neil… it's been a celebrity run, for a while. Now, it's back to basics. All this peripheral "talkin'" is exhausting, but fun. Now, it's back to basics, as well as laundry, dinner prep and bill paying. See ya tomorrow…

That's all she wrote!

Uncle Neil Diamond

As you know, we refer to him as Neil, around here. No need to identify further. :-) But back in the day, the kids teased us by adding "Uncle," as though just "Neil" wasn't enough for an old friend or family member. I still chuckle…

The fact is, (link) our concert this tour was amazing. Hmmm, I've already established that fact - I know. But there's more…

At 74, he's continued this World Tour since "our" show to rave reviews and many surprises. He's switched up the setlist with so many gems from his big diamond of a catalogue, giving fans what they want - those old and yearned-for deep cuts. And in Mexico City, he graced fifteen thousand fans with one of their own folk songs, delivered in Spanish. The excitement and appreciation was palpable all the way to New York. I could feel it.

As a fan of fifty years, it's spellbinding to witness the give and take of what Brother Love does best. Sharing it all with Katie can't be a hindrance! Clearly, she's enhanced his perspective.

Kudos, Uncle Neil. We look forward to another show before this tour is over. In the interim, we wish you continued success. Thank you.

On A Happier Note, Consider Brick Heck

Having acknowledged "Raymond" in the sad post below, I'd be remiss were I not to give mention to "The Middle." It's my favorite sitcom. I'm busy catching up with scores of reruns in the pre-dinnertime slot, mentioned in my post below. I've not gotten to current shows, though it's still in production. And...

My favorite character? Brick Heck, played by Atticus Shaffer. Are you familiar?

Honestly, without this kid, there'd be no show, in my opinion. By far the most lovable nerd I've ever met, his starring moments always make me laugh aloud or shed a compassionate tear. His adoration of books is surpassed by none, lending extra charm to his character. But most importantly...

He, in addition to all cast members, contribute to the messages that always punctuate this show with I-get-it moments and and exclamation points.

Go, Atticus-as-Brick, 'cause you're changing the world... even sitcom-hater Joe chuckles on occasion. And…

I herein extend an invitation for you to come visit us in Upstate NY.

Child Stars

We were saddened to hear of Sawyer Sweeten's suicide. Nineteen. A son.
A brother. A twin. A twin.

The news would have troubled us, regardless, but its impact was multiplied by the fact that we just recently began watching "Everybody Loves Raymond" reruns.

Not to bring up the long, hard winter yet again, except to say it factored in to our TV viewing time. A respite of sorts. And I found myself avoiding the ever-depressing evening news, choosing instead to watch some sitcoms before dinner, "Raymond" being one of them. We never watched while in production, so there was a lot of catching up to do.

We are saddened by the loss of Mr. Sweeten… we were just getting to "know" you. RIP

A Happy Update - Robert Looks Twice

It's hard to believe that so many years have passed since my blog (link) about Robert and a memorable Columbus Day. Jeesh, he was just a boy with an old soul… and what an incredible story we heard, via Diane Sawyer's 20/20. (Ms. Sawyer is becoming a regular around here, considering my more recent post, yes?) Back to Robert…

He's grown up and has received an honor and an opportunity.
(link) Go see for yourself.
And if he touches your , you can help

One never knows - he just might fulfill his dream to be president, some day!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lake Steak

Tonight is our first, sleeping at the renovated LakeHouse. It's pretty exciting. We had steak by sunset. We've TV and Internet. And Netflix. :-) We hope to take a hike, in the morning. Mambo is loving his new bed. We'll be giving ours a first sleep. Hope it's comfy, 'cause we're exhausted. Got a lot accomplished, in completing the final steps to make our campout cozy. Wish us luck 'n' sweet dreams…
As I share the magnificent view with you.

Friday Fare

Typically, Friday night's TV menu includes a "Dateline" murder mystery. We often watch. According to advertising hype, though, this week's "most anticipated" show would be the Bruce Jenner interview with Diane Sawyer. With a going-to-the-circus attitude, we watched. Well, I did. Joe fell asleep about midway through - he was exhausted and disinterested. I, however, quickly lost that circus-y feel.

The age-old question of "How?" or "Why?" gender confusion happens was not (and never shall be) answered. But the effects of it are as obvious as the day is long. And I don't mean just the visuals. 'Tis a sad story.

Mr. Jenner appeared for the last time as a male. Next time we see him, he'll be as a female. So, with that vision yet to be fully completed, it's tough to get Olympic Bruce out of my mind's eye…

Same as when Chastity Bono became Chaz. I could only "see" that little blonde girl with her famous parents. That smile. It never did change.

The numbers of people afflicted with gender confusion are staggering. The challenges are often beyond description. The suicide rate is high. Society's acceptance level is low.

It was pointed out during the show that by now, we all know a gay or lesbian couple. Most are "out" and mainstreamed and part of a society that no longer flinches, but rather accepts. Not the case for transgender men and women. They've a long way to go… and so do we. For starters...

Bruce Jenner accomplished something in our living room. He, soon to be she, found empathy. I speak only for myself! It's still impossible to understand the "…but what happens when…?" unanswered questions. But while we wait for understanding, maybe we can start with tolerance and hope that he and others find peace. Happiness is another story.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


We awakened to a "dusting," this morning. Wrong type, though… should've been a dusting of yellow pollen.
There's something seriously wrong with this picture.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hmmm… Dad's Poetic Offerings… Of Daisies 'n' Woodchucks

Dad was my hero, and although gone from this earthly place for thirty-eight years, still he touches my daily life. Yes, he was a loving husband and father. A great provider. A terrific carpenter, an avid and knowledgable reader, a super story-teller, an excellent chef, a superior gardener. An honorable and honest human being. A rock with a terrific sense of humor. A poet, however, he was NOTAnd herein lies a connection of sorts. Mom's name and a backyard pest poetically united. Really...

Bernadette at the (link) PILOT wrote a super-duper column about nicknames. Her mention of Nicholas and Marguerite especially caught my attention...

My parents opted for Nicki over longer versions such as Nicolette or Nicole. I was named a nickname, after my maternal G'pa, Nicholas. Yes, Bernie :-) cited the traditional nickname as Nicky, albeit spelled differently. But… is it short enough? I'm Nick to those closest to me. Gotta love it. I do.

Moving on to Margaret and Marguerite. Who knew Daisy sometimes replaces Margaret, because Margaret is a derivative of Marguerite, which is French for… yep… a daisy. So, my beautiful Italian Mom had a French name. Not to worry. Though she loved flowers of all varieties, her nickname was Marge. Harsh-sounding by comparison to Marguerite, but you know - three syllables can be tough for everyday usage (inside humor for Bernie). I digress. Back to Dad and his poetic attempts. For Mom, just a teenager when they met, he wrote a ditty. Something special. Ahem…

Marguerite, go wash your feet
The Board of Health is across the street…
Ain't she neat, ain't she sweet
But smell the stink of her dirty feet.

Hey, be nice. I warned you! Enter the woodchuck.

We've always chased the big rats 'cause they've a tendency to nest under our pool shed. I've noticed the shed tilting, over the last few years, but have never made the connection, till now

A burrowing ten-pounder has invaded our yard, getting by two fencing systems. A Google search tells me that this architectural tendency can cause the weakening and collapse of small structures. In sharing the info with Bri, it turns out that his shed is suffering the loss of a pier on one corner, causing its partial fall. Yep. He had nesters of his own. Don't ask

As if this isn't enough, there's quite an arched entranceway gnawed into our shed. Did you know that these rodents possess teeth that never stop growing? Instead, they need to file them down, daily, so any available wood becomes their grinder… bringing me to more of Dad's poetry, this time borrowed-from-an-unknown author...

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Okay, okay, it's not Frost. However, it addresses the problem of what will soon reproduce to five destructive monsters. The problem is, trapping and transporting these pests is not allowed by the DEC. Illegal. Seems the department is not interested in our falling shed and doesn't want the problem added to more significant conservation issues. What to do…

You don't want to know. Great White Hunter is pissed at the prospect of fixing the shed. Oh, and did I mention the woodchuck's vegan diet? There won't be a daisy left, if…
Well, as Dad would rhyme, "This guy is cruisin' for a bruisin'."

Sunday, April 19, 2015

It Must Be Spring!

I know. For sure. Cases in point are abundant...


The birds are busy. There are red and yellow buds on huge trees that appear to be touching the sky. Sunshine is brilliant, temps are warm. The grass is turning green. There are pointy leaves popping up all over our gardens, as well as Autumn Joy. The neighbor's crocus flowers look gorgeous. I seem to have a paint brush in one hand and a can of spray paint in the other. And wherever I look, there are projects. One of my favorite things to do is to transform the old into something new and fresh… you know, like the rebirth that springtime represents. 

Consider Gran's and my dressing table and bench that separated our twin beds. That's right. Fifty-something  years ago, we began using them in our shared room. Honestly, I can picture Gran brushing out that long, long hair of hers, at bedtime. Out of the bun it would come and she'd make two braids. It was fantabulous to have the honor of sharing space with such an always-cool-and-before-her-time GrandLady. And so, I'll think of her daily as I enter the LakeHouse, drop my keys on the table and sit to take off those lace-up boots of mine. Yesterday, I made a cushion from leftover OldHomestead chair and valance fabric. Lovin' the results.

Left: Gav medaling at a recent tae kwon do competition
The symbolic Myrtle Beach ferris wheel and a reminder to…
 "forever possess la joie de vivre"

Aubs happy to have a summer snuggle with Mambo '14
Right: Chloe singing to us during an upstate visit '14
Lyla 'n' Rabbit, welcoming us on Easter Sunday '15
Excited Hunter on Christmas Day '14, receiving his iPad Mini

Then, there are those once-green and gold frames, formerly on the Homestead dining-room walls. They've been out of commission since we freshened up that room's grasscloth and changed the artwork. Hmmm. Perfect spaces to put some of my own photos of the GrandLoves, printed on my good old Epson. Those faces. Those expressions. Those special occasions, whenever we are with them. They've a place of honor at the lake, on the great-room wall - our Beauties.

Today's break-time included a hike around various lake roads, as we checked out different views of Old Wanaksink. No matter the angle, it is gorgeous and appreciated by all, proven by whimsical, hand-made wooden signs tucked into trees by mystery walkers. Clearly, they've a grasp on the joy of life.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Where's Pharrell When I'm Wanting to Sing "Happy"...

Why, you ask??? Gorgeous day. Gorgeous lake. Gorgeous water and no more ice!!
Bring on the kayaks!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Salad Stuff - A Recipe

Hunter and Chloe love salad. Long after his cousins and sisters have been excused from the table, it's not unusual to find Hunter still seated and enjoying a second plate of greens. We have ours as a last dinner course, Italian style. It's made with a mix of high-nutrition lettuces and other traditional and not-so-traditional stuff. And then there's the dressing they truly enjoy. We've not purchased bottled varieties in about two decades. They simply cannot compete with healthy, homemade varieties.
Recipe for Hunter's 'n' Chloe's Favorite

Mix up a jarful with one part of your best EVOO and two or three parts balsamic, depending upon how tangy you like it. Add about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and herbs and spices of your choice. I like oregano and freshly ground pepper. Shake well. When ready to use, pour amount you'll need into separate jar or bowl and add mashed avocado; whisk or shake again. Dress the entire salad, rather than individual portions. That's what makes it so good, so good. The rest of the mixture will keep well for days. No avocados in the house? Not to worry; it's delicious without, too.

We aim to please.
Mouths of Babes - Hunter

"What does that word mean, G'ma?"

"'Eat' in Italian, Honey."

"I like how it sounds in Italian!"

Mangia! Buon Appetito!

Getting Serious for Just a Moment

Not sure if I'll be out of commission next week or not… a second, long-planned surgery might be calling. But wanted to mention this issue, just in case and before too much time goes by…

I'm not at liberty to say what exactly occurred… nor can I use certain GrandLove pics because of a certain incident. What I can say, though, is please be careful and extra watchful with your kids and grands when it comes to the Internet. This means keeping an eye on their circle of friends, too, as you mightn't be happy with what others do (or capture) around your own. These kids are way too savvy, some having way, way too much freedom with their devices. Unkindness is bullying and never acceptable.

Just sayin'... 

Winding Down

Man, it got quiet… after the kids left, that is. We played catch-up on Saturday and also had appointments with contractors on both that day and Sunday, after which we thought to grab a cuppa Dunkin' and head to the reservoir. We know the eagles are currently nesting. It was a magnificent, sixty-something, blue-sky day. But there was not a bird-in-the-wild to be seen. Just lots of fishermen, some walking into the water, sporting high waders. We drank in the scenery and our java, before heading back home, the long way... 
We passed Philwold, the B 'n' B that touts its own exotic animal farm. It's a tad bizarre to see and hear the huge resident camel that promptly walked over to the fence, where we lingered for a few. Further in, we spotted a donkey and llamas. No one opened locked gates to invite us for a tour, though… I'd love to see that place up close and personal. 
The springlike weather is awe-inspiring. Again yesterday, sunny temps reached even warmer seventies. I celebrated by giving Mambo a haircut. He's now sporting a new do and looking quite handsome. Don't you think? Exotic in his own big and beautiful way, gotta love the Dude.

Kids' Corner

Ah, yes, the joy of life. And so we experienced it, Easter week.
Littlest Girlfriend greeted us, along with her pal-with-ears. She's getting so big… and… so fast, it seems! After a well-planned-and-rehearsed show from our musical GrandLoves, we headed out for a spectacular buffet. Thanks to C and D, we experienced more ears (on a bigger scale), spectacular food, a chocolate fountain no Easter Sunday should be without, and - most importantly - the warmth of family. Afterwards…
We headed home with the H-man and C-girl in tow. Have to say, these two possess incredible levels of la joie de vivre. Every little thing excites. Soooo, when we spotted the huge eagle's nest just outside of Kingston, we pulled over for them to oooh and aaah. We were four lanes over, on the opposite side of the highway, and shot with my medium lens. Believe it or not, blown up one can see the white head of a nesting parent eagle. 'Tis the season. And speaking of seasons…
Monday rolled around, turning out to be a spectacular Spring day for the four kids to enjoy. They had a blast. Hmmm… now that's a no-brainer! In and out… Minecraft in the corner… in and out… food… in and out… berries… in and out… "What's for dinner?"… in and out… more Minecraft… in and out… more strawberries. You get the gist, right? But you're curious about the corner? Well, it goes like this…

Looking at the fireplace, the left-hand corner is a popular spot. When Aubs was younger, she used it as her private dressing room in which to change in and out of her swimsuit. It now seems to have become the place in which to gather to play wicked games of Minecraft. That's right, in this great big, well furnished house, this is where my GrandLoves choose to compete for whatever the heck they're striving for.

For nighttime reading, I brought forth Christian's "Creative Writing Stories" from fourth grade. The kids were enormously engrossed in the illustrated tales their Daddy had written at the age of nine. Heartwarming.

We very happily survived with no fevers or ailments. Hallelujah! We kept busy hitting various restaurants and ice cream haunts, the roller rink in Chester, the movies for "Home," the LakeHouse, etc. Mambo cuddles and artwork made the repertoire. Oh, and the kitchen… did I mention how I'd forgotten the full-time effort involved in keeping kids' appetites satiated. A rhetorical question.
Vacation weeks fell differently for the upstaters and locals, but we managed another play-date, after which B 'n' K met us at the lake for pizza and wings. Our couches came in and we needed to test them for comfort. They passed. Whew! Rave reviews from all were touching, as it was deemed by Hunter that, "…we'll have lots of fun down here, G'ma!" 

Own it. La joie de vivre. It's ours for the taking. Children bring it, big-time…
and then there are the little things in life.
Giving thanks.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

This Week's Netflix and Then...

It's all looney loony. Yep, the psychological thriller, "The Fall," all eleven episodes (Seasons 1 and 2) currently available on Netflix. We watched. It's not sit-back-and-relax entertainment, but it certainly holds one's attention. Great acting. Filmed on location in Belfast, Ireland. Will be back for a third season, presented by the BBC. Recommended. I think.

Then there's Bugs and "Looney Tunes," so perfect to demonstrate my point, this Easter week. We'll be switching to kids' stuff, as of tomorrow evening. Hunter and Chloe shall call the shots. Excitement is mounting. Here's to rabbit ears…

My Queen Mary ♡

In the midst of Spring holidays comes a huge one for our family… Gran's birthday. You've
met Mary T. countless times, here on CMI. I amaze even myself when I search "Gran," so as to recapture special anecdotes.

There's no such thing as closure. Maybe acceptance of something we can't change. Gran's in my life every day, still. It takes very little to trigger a fond and loving memory of her blind, inspiring love for me…

"Honey, you have hands of gold." 

Happy Birthday, Gran. I'll forever love you to the moon and back.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mouths of Babes - Chloe ♡

Excitement is peaking for an Easter visit to our upstate GrandLoves and then, Chloe's and Hunter's return trip with us. Honestly, the kids are so danged cute. Y'all might recall that Little Missy had a high fever on Christmas morn and missed the holiday here, as did Lyla and Dawn. Thankfully, the men-children, Christian and Hunter, made it, but so much time has gone by… we miss each other…

…and so, this was our exchange, last night. I'm the blue and Chloe is the other. Makes me wonder, how long will a visit to us be considered as best days… but for sure, these few words made my day.