Thursday, September 26, 2013

Christmas, only 3 months away!

Time to board the Holiday Shopping Train--Christmas is only 3 months away!

Little bit of Happy

Today I begin a new blog, a notebook for happy times.
It's called
Happy Pink Piggy.

It will start with pink cloud mornings and end with streaked pink sunset evenings. More shine than rain, more happy than sad, more joy than sorrow, see the good not the bad.

Here's my philosophy:  Every day should contain a little bit of happy.

How's that for deep?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Do the best you can, with what you have."
    This phrase pretty much sums up my daily approach to living. I was talking with a bride today, who was on a limited budget for her wedding, and it made me think about my own wedding.  Joe and I are married 30 years, and that old Barry Manilow song is rolling around in my head "Looks Like We Made It."  We had a wonderful wedding despite the fact that the parents of the bride did not support us at all, but the parents of the groom ponied up and paid for a simple yet well-done ceremony and  reception. Joe and I are resourceful, so he handled the music for the reception, and I had friends do the music at the church. We did our own flowers, his sister made the wedding cake, we had the Pittsburgh "cookie table."    It was an outstanding beginning to what would be an extraordinary marriage.  After all, the marriage is the thing.
     In this age of television fantasy weddings, it's hard for a bride and groom to picture something simple and meaningful--but it can be done. Do the best with what you have.  Here is a list of some things you could easily leave out of your wedding:
1) the crash (white cloth runner) for the bride and attendants to walk on, for the procession. It is supposed to keep the bride's dress clean. Unless you are getting married in a barn, this is unnecessary.
2) Platinum ring sets with a crazy amount of diamonds for both the bride and groom. Totally ridiculous. The stones will fall out anyway and you will not be able to afford replacements once you have children.
3) A Hummer Limo, a Limo Bus, or a Helicopter to take your "wedding personnel" from place to place, i.e., church to reception hall.  Don't they have cars?
4) a $5,000-$10,000 wedding gown.
5)  Two $5,00- $10,000 wedding gowns, one for the church, one for the reception.
6) a "theme" for the reception hall.  David Tutera, wedding planner for the stars, is big on this.
He frowns on everything the girls on TV want, because (listen up, brides)--he gets everything for free from his tv show's vendors. All your guests really need is hospitality.
7) Expensive cake. My sister in law made our cake.  It was luscious. Cake is meant to be admired and then quickly inhaled.  Cakes with the continued "theme" in fondant with sculptures, etc., well that's just germy anyway.  As Julia Childs would say, It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate – you KNOW someone’s fingers have been all over it.
8) Open bar and extraordinary amounts of booze.  Wine with dinner, beer if a person wants it, but an open bar invites guests to overindulge, and as a Mom, I don't want potential clean up (yuck) or danger from drinking and driving.  Champagne toast is nice and has a purpose.
9) Kitschy stuff found on Pinterest photos of bride and groom as children hung on the ends of the church pews, sand kits that "intermingle" two colors in symbolic unification  (sand is like glitter--it will inevitably make a mess;) all that stuff to throw at the couple when they stride out of church, like rice, flower petals, birds flying, bubbles, balloons or so called "eco confetti," which dissolves with the rain. If you wanted to be truly ecological, how about asking people to cheer when you come out of church, or blow into their vuvuzelas.
10) Strolling violinist, party favors at the reception, and  King and Queen Squirrel figurines.

Friday, April 29, 2011

GSD (Generational Stress Difference)

I get this a lot from my 20-something daughters:  I text my daughter that there are radio reports of congested traffic and full parking garages downtown because of an NRA convention. I text this, not to pass the time of day, but because this particular daughter lives and works downtown.  Or I hear on CNN that there are riots throughout Syria and a terrorist bomb went off in a cafe in Morocco, and mention this to my other "study abroad" daughter, in case she plans to travel to Morocco this weekend. So here's their response "Oh Mom, stop stressing."  I reply, "I am not stressing, I am informing."They define "information" as "stress," which I find, quite frankly maddening (and stressful.)  So I am wondering today, is this difference in definition a generational thing?

Today I woke up at 5:45 a.m. to enjoy watching coverage of the Royal Wedding of Catherine and William. I really enjoyed it, and it was very informative. I learned about social customs, millinery design, and boys' choirs. But now it's afternoon and I'm wondering what a 20-something royal couple stresses about? Today, obviously, it was stressful for Kate to remember the lyrics to "God Save the Queen," or how to get in and out of those cars and carriage without getting the gown dirty. Of course, when the royal couple gets older, William's stresses may include serious topics, like health worries, world problems, or war.

Here's stress for my 20-something daughters: iphone not working properly; mac laptop warranty voided because one too many beverages have spilled on keyboard; no parking place in the South Side; boyfriend didn't text back quickly enough; out of money and there is still a week 'til payday. And thank goodness these are their stresses right now! I want their lives to run smoothly and peacefully, and contrary to their opinion of me, I do not go looking for things to stress about. Moms just juggle so much at any given moment that if we can avoid a problem, we do. Information can sometimes help us avoid problems.

In my wildest imaginings, I never dreamed my children would all have cellphones and I would be paying the majority of their monthly bill. My goal was to stay connected with them. When the kids were little I actually had conversations with them that lasted more than 30 seconds per topic. Now we have cellphones that supposedly keep us connected (and ironically I remember that computerized electronics used to be used for information gathering...) But i have to admit, despite these devices, and mind you, one of the kids has data accessibility so she can actually go on the internet anywhere or anytime, they have scant desire to stay connected with me or the world. So actually, I am at fault here because I know better. I have helped my children buy into the myth that electronic devices connect you, when the reailty is, you will only "connect" with others if that is your desire.

When I was a child,  it was actually a privilege to get a phone call from someone. My mother taught me to say "Thanks for calling" and she still does that with me. At 6:30 each evening my Gramma telephoned our house and signalled us with two rings. My mom then called her back (it was a toll call for her to phone us.)  Now we get so many calls, it feels intrusive, and since we have caller I.D. we can ignore people. Wow have times changed.

I confess, I am guilty of avoiding dialing the telephone, so I have fallen out of touch with those who are not on facebook or in my email address book. (Connectivity is a two way street, however, and so I am thinking that it is possible that they don't want to stay in touch with me, either!)

No wonder newspapers are failing and so much of what we hear from news sources is unfounded, opinionated drivel.  The world currently doesn't always give a snip about real information, especially if it takes too long to explain. Once again, I admit fault in my own realm: too many movies in our household, too much fiction, not enough reality (well of course there is plenty of reality TV, but that is another post.) I have to work harder to teach my children to discern what is important information for their lives, and to separate the meat from the bone. That's quite the charge--now I'm feeling stressed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse, Winter Solstice

Today is the first day of winter, more formally dubbed The Winter Solstice ( in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway.) Winter arrives at 11:38 pm.  This year's Winter Solstice is an unusually big day because during the wee hours of the morning there was a lunar eclipse which has not coincided with the coming of the winter solstice since the year 1638. Evidently in this part of the city we actually could see the progression of the eclipse last night, because the clouds broke long enough to view it. I like all these moon happenings, but I could not stay up until 2:30 a.m.  However, I am starting this day with a blog post because I respect what a big day it is, and the "number thing" is kind of neat: that we have not had the lunar eclipse/winter solstice coincidence in 372 years. That's a big number. It is a special moment.
And it is a happy day. I am thinking of my friend Bethann who loves this day because now the days are getting longer. It is her favorite day of the year. I remember when Joey was a little boy, he especially liked the gentle Maurice Sendak cartoon called "Little Bear," which was on Nickelodeon. It was Little Bear's family's favorite day, too, when they would feed the wildlife and eat cookies.
In our family on this first day of winter, I will feed my wildlife with crock pot veggie stew and Christmas cookies (I'd better get busy.). Also in our family, ironically we are already thinking about summer vacation, when we enjoy lots of daylight with even more important stuff to accomplish. Winter is a sleepy time (well, at least for adults.)  The sun sets so early and it feels like we should go to sleep and rest up, well, for Summer Solstice.
My happiest Summer Solstices occured when we would be at Yerkey’s Cabins on Lake Chautauqua.  Our  vacation week normally included that June 21 date.  We vacationed with our two other families with children of similar ages. During that week, our children would wear themselves out, enjoying running, playing, roasting marshmallows, and casting their fishing lines into the water late into the evening from the end of the dock. There was barely enough light to bait their hooks, but they could still see their bobbers atop the water which was lit pink from the reflected light of the set sun. The Miller Clock Tower would ring the three-quarter hour tones, which meant it was 9:45 pm! When our children were little, this prolonged daylight made it feel very exciting because normally they were not allowed to stay up so late. It was hard to say goodnight to another day; every minute was special. There were only seven vacation nights a year.
I remember waiting for Joe and Jim to come back from an evening fishing trip, watching for their boat to appear as a small silhouette against a dark peach sky. Even today I can hear the children's little excited exclamations: "There's Daddy!  Here he comes! I see him and cousin Jim! Did they catch a walleye?"
Once the men tied their boat off and lugged in their equipment, we would all don sweaters and hoodies and sit around the fire a little longer, listening to their fishing tales. Then the littlest child's yawns grew louder, and we knew it was time to find our way back to the cabin in the dark; when we got there we marveled at how much we smelled like smoke from the campfire. 
Back then the children in the camp would enact campfire dramas at the end of the week. This was a very important tradition because they would rehearse all week, casting the parts and blocking the movement during the day, then making paper invitations to other members of the camp to "Come to Our Play" on the Friday night of our stay. The story of the wide-mouthed frog was their favorite production. The play's finale was Tommy Avery, a friend from Michigan,  jumping into the lake for dramatic effect. There was another poetic play about immigrants and forks and knives that I spottily recall, but the frog presentation was the best. It even won souvenirs and parting gifts from some of the camp's visitors, they enjoyed it so much.  
The next similar total eclipses of the moon visible from Pittsburgh will occur April 15 and Oct. 8, 2014. (There is actually one Dec. 10, 2011, but we will not be able to view it because the moon will set just before the first dark portion of Earth's shadow touches the disk.)
But this morning's notable coincidence won't happen again until 2094. Most of us will be gone from the earth by then and we will be watching this from somewhere other than the Northern Hemisphere. Isn't it remarkable and wonderful that we celebrate Christ's coming within a few days of the shortest day of the year? We don't have to wait hundreds of years: Christ comes in the darkness. His light gives us hope every day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

...Bought Rock Salt.

We live in Western Pennsylvania. It is widely known that Western Pa. is cold and sometimes snowy at this time of year.

However, for the last few days, there has been what I call "overexposure" of the topics of snow and its associated cold. Just listen to the local television or radio newscasts' lead stories and you'll find out what is really important to us in this city, what really brings in ratings: weather.

If it is possibly to sensationalize weather, we do it well in Pittsburgh, with popping headlines atop blaring music beds. Here's what I've been hearing in the electronic media since 4:45 a.m.:  "Don Smith, Bought Rock Salt;" "Couple Anticipating Cold, Locks Their Doors;" or how about "This Snow is Not Good Packing Snow," which was actually the lead story on our noon television news story today, along with a hands-on demonstration by the reporter. (Followed by of course a story about the Steelers' weekend win; we do have one other interest.)

I'm thinking there MAY be other more important news this morning in the 'burgh. For example, locally: gang violence, murders, high unemployment, our free library system in financial peril; internationally: two wars and a third brewing, tax reform.

Instead, like dripping water, these news editors and reporters find the path of least resistance with story assignments. Well, Christmas is less than two weeks away...and this year we actually may have a shot at a white one. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tis the Season!

So I think today the Christmas Rush officially started for me. I'm starting to feel that numb, edgy feeling, foggy at the edges, get-it-done-while-I-can kinda' panic. My job just heated up--just yesterday!--and since so much of what I do is seasonal, I have to deal with not only increased workload for me, but how to manage 100+ volunteers in what is their busy season, too. I am embarrassed to say I have no different plan this year to get through it or reconstruct it--yet. 
     This blog is called "Different Path" so I need to sift through past Christmases and do something a little different this year. Part of my dilemma is that I secretly don't LOVE Christmas because my career choice makes me work every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I am stuck between what I wish Christmas could be and what it always ends up becoming. My husband and kids have made their own happy Christmas customs without me, and I guess at my age, well, I would like a piece of the action.
     So, look to my next few posts to see how I re-design this season. It's gonna' be good!