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I have always loved Christmas decorations — their colors, their sparkle! It seemed like I could never have enough…until now. Whatever I have now, has to be enough. In my new small space I don’t have room for a big Christmas tree. This year my ornament collection of over twenty-five years, painstakingly unpacked, displayed, and repacked annually will stay packed away in storage. This year’s “late” Thanksgiving means this Christmas season is a short one, just 4 weeks (though the stores keep trying to make it seem longer) — definitely not worth digging through boxes in storage. Having anticipated this though, my 4-ft tabletop tree has been riding around in my car’s back seat for weeks. But what will I decorate it with? Surely I won’t be buying more ornaments? Imagination needs to be kicked into gear…But I do have something to draw on — a memory of a Christmas long ago…my Christmas in California.As someone born and bred in the Northeast, that was an oxymoron. Christmas is cold, and snow, and evergreens…

Tabletop Christmas Tree

Decorations to come…from my imagination…

That year my father had taken a temporary position in California. Near the end of his career as a marine draftsman, shipyards were closing and the need for ships was diminished, so he had to work where he could to support his family. I was in college, living in the house back home, while he, my mother, and younger brothers were living in an apartment in California. It was semester break and I was flying out to spend Christmas with them. I remember arriving at LAX two days before Christmas and seeing wreaths on the palm trees, thinking, “This is just wrong!” When we got back to their apartment, there was no Christmas tree! I was really disappointed and immediately complained. (I was young and ungrateful…after all, I should have just been happy to be with my family.) It could have been the start of a miserable holiday for everyone, but something wonderful happened. Always wanting to make me happy, my father said, “Let’s see what we can do…”

I followed him outside, not sure what he had in mind. Were we going out to buy one? Nope, he doesn’t have the car keys. Sticking out of the full dumpster outside was the top of a real Christmas tree; someone must have cut it off because the tree was too tall (or the ceiling too short). My dad pulled it out and said, “Here we go!”

I couldn’t help but smile, and I quickly jumped into the game. I pulled out some crushed soda cans…after all they were shiny and colorful! We got creative — using what we had and attaching things to the tree with bread ties my mother had stashed in a drawer. Our ornaments were stick-on bows, and gift tags, MacDonald’s toys, whatever we could find in the house…and we laughed and felt proud of our ingenuity. Charlie Brown had nothing on us!

I wish I had a picture of our “ugly” little tree to post here for you, but I don’t. I can only share a beautiful memory of a tree I will remember forever. A tree that helps me to remember to be grateful.

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flashMy youngest brother swears my father had a “Flash”#1 comic book. He told me that in excellent condition it is worth over $100,000. “Then why aren’t we finding it right now?” I asked.

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that my much-loved father was somewhat of a hoarder.  I wax non-grammatical and say “somewhat” because it was never as bad as on the “Hoarders” TV show (and I loved him too much to put that label on him), but believe me…there’s a LOT of stuff.  My brother believes that particular treasure is in the attic of our mother’s house, so yesterday we spent a couple of hours dragging out box after box looking for THE comic book.

The boxes that were regular books had to be moved out of the way. There were magazines in piles that also had to be moved aside. “I’m sure we’ll find it in the boxes at the end,” my brother said. AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, I said to myself.

Thanks goodness the weather wasn’t hot, but I can’t say I could breathe very well with the dust, spider webs and mouse droppings. Insert nose and mouth into shirt collar. There was no guarantee that if we found it, it hadn’t been chewed to pieces. The boxes were heavy and I had to carry them in a bent-over position because the attic isn’t high enough to stand up straight. But…as there are a few of us that need the money, I quietly carried on with the end result in mind.

We finally reached the “mother load;” he let me know which boxes had comic books in them and I brought those downstairs. We finally began looking through them. My father loved the artwork on the “Conan” books and some other comics that aren’t very popular. He had many Disney ones and Archies; many of the comics were newer ones (from the 60s or 70s). But…there were some from the 30s and 40s mixed in: Rin Tin Tin and “War Heroes.” “They’re mixed up,” my brother said, “we have to look through all of them.”

So we did…and…WAIT FOR IT: it wasn’t there.

My brother found HIS “Spiderman” #1 and #2 that he thought my other brother had taken from him years ago. We also found my great-aunt’s clock during the clearing of the path, which my mother had been looking for, but no “Flash.” That doesn’t mean it isn’t in a shed, the basement, or who knows where else, but it wasn’t with most of the other comic books. If it is in a shed or the basement, there is even less chance it is a sale-able condition.

My brother went home with his “Spiderman” comics, and I went home tired, dirty and disappointed, but it had made me think (and given me this blog).

I don’t gamble, because I feel it is a waste of money. Yet I was willing to waste 6 hours that I could have used looking for a REAL job, on what is really just another get-rich-quick scheme. Hoarders always think they have something special and most of the time, they don’t.

BTW, my father did have “Batman” #1 and “Superman” #1 comics that he sold many years ago when he was out of work and needed to feed his family. They did come in handy, but they didn’t make him rich. Who knows, maybe he sold his “Flash” during some other tough time my brother doesn’t know about, maybe he didn’t. Maybe we’ll find it one day or maybe we won’t, but I’m not holding my now dusty breath.



{September 6, 2013}   The Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

I started this post 3(?) weeks ago…

Well, I figured it was time I caught up with a couple of Award Nominations. I know I posted the “Tequila Award” saying I can’t accept too many, but I really like the bloggers who just nominated me  so…here we go! A big thank you to: Michael McGuireIn Her Words Avenue, and Sofie’s Diary ( A while ago and I can’t find the link…if you are reading this…post a comment and I will update).

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

Display the Award Certificate on your blog.  OKAY.
Announce your win with a post. Make sure you post a link back to me as a ‘thank you’
for the nomination. SO THIS IS IT.
Present 15 awards to 15 deserving bloggers. OH-OH, THIS IS THE TOUGH PART…COMING UP WITH PEOPLE WHO ACCEPT AWARDS WHO DON’T HAVE THEM ALREADY! HMMM…I SETTLED FOR JUST A FEW OR THIS WOULD NEVER GET POSTED…MAYBE I CAN ADD SOME MORE LATER…
Leave them a comment to let them know after you have linked them to a post. OK
Post seven interesting things about yourself. I MIGHT HAVE MENTIONED SOME OF THESE IN PREVIOUS POSTS, BUT HERE GOES…

1) I grew up with 6 brothers and 0 sisters.

2) When I was young I used to love to climb trees…now that I am grown up, I’m afraid of heights!

3) I appeared (for a few seconds) in a local TV station video singing about the New England Patriots.

4) I collected rocks when I was a child and was one of the only people I knew who dreamed of a “Rock Tumbler” for Christmas.

5) I created 3 holes of miniature golf in my backyard as a child.

6) My first published poem was in the sports editorial section of the Boston Globe when I was 15.

7) I won the “Voice of America” contest at my high school, writing and reciting an essay about what it means to be an American citizen.

So here are some of the new blogs I have discovered that I like:

http://biggangaphotography.wordpress.com/ : wonderful pictures, many of his autistic son

http://elbuenoelfeo.wordpress.com/ : I don’t think accepts awards, but don’t miss these gorgeous photos of Spain

http://storyshucker.wordpress.com : some great anecdotes and storytelling in the old tradition

http://okaywhatif.com/ : Funny guy

http://momentsinyourlife.wordpress.com/versatile blogger award




cats

MyCats

I have to admit, the title of this prompt is what attracted me to it. I have two cats, and I am grateful every day for their unconditional love. But that isn’t really what the prompt is about; it’s about creating an award for yourself.

Hmm…I tried on a few catchy names: the Super Supporter Award, The Creative Connector Award…I didn’t really like those names. It is hard to capture what I think I am good at and proud of, but I’ll explain it the best way I can. If you have ever played with Tinker Toys, I’m one of the unassuming little sticks that help build the final creation. (if you don’t know what tinker toys are, click here.) I look pretty plain, but I am empowered to be a part of great things!

I have so many different kinds of friends, from all walks of life, and I CONNECT them; I try to put together people who might never meet each other except that they both know me. It’s not random…I connect them if I think they have something to offer each other or if I think they can learn from each other. They go on to great things and I stay in the background, but I’m proud of what I did; it wouldn’t have happened with me.

Also, I provide support. I can see immediately the good in people. There is always something to compliment them on; I try to make their day and offer them support in their endeavors. Everybody needs that and most people don’t get it. I love this little film clip, because the main character is the person I want to be.

You know, I think I DO have a name for what I want to give myself — the Validation Award! And what would I say when it was given to me: Thank you, but I already feel rewarded everyday by making people smile and seeing the people I connect be successful. Gratitude to the Grand Architect!




What was your favorite toy as a child? Was it a teddy bear? Not me — I had a stuffed donkey given to me by my godmother and godfather. I loved “Donken-in” as I called him and told him all my secrets. Unfortunately, the family dogs got a hold of him several times, and my mother was forced to repair him to assuage my tears. By the time I outgrew him, his ear was sewed back on; his tail was sewed back on; every one of his feet were a mass of stitches. But that never mattered to me; I loved him no matter what.

My cats have favorite toys too. And I repair them and repair them and repair them.

At Christmas time I wrote a blog about homemade toys.  Here’s a picture of the toy right after I made it.

Home-made cat toy

This toy has become a favorite to my tiger cat, Aimee. She plays with it everyday. The other morning I woke up and the toy was on the floor by my bed. 🙂 Take a look at this pitiful thing now.

cat toy

6-months later: the taped toy

Every time Aimee tears a piece of foil off, I tape it back on. I swear the more tape that is on it, the more she loves it!

cat playing

Aimee playing with her favorite toy

My other cat, Zoee, on the other hand, loves this store-bought catnip toy.  It used to have feathers on it, which are now gone. The string has been knotted over and over. I have had to tape the end because she kept pulling it off the stick.

repaired cat toy

A close-up of the repairs to Zoee’s toy

But I keep repairing it…she loves it and wants to play with it every day. She will sometimes carry it in her mouth, dragging the stick behind (today we’re being lazy and just batting at it).

cat playing

Zoee’s “lazy” play

They have a ton of other toys, practically brand-new — because they don’t want to play with them. They want to play with these. So I guess until these toys are out of favor or abandoned, I will repair, repair, repair…



{April 2, 2013}   Facebook Fatigue

Yesterday’s Daily Prompt Topic was about Social MediaDo you feel like you “get” social media, or do you just use it because that’s where all your friends and family are?

This topic was timely for me (although I’m not timely with the topic..heh-heh). I have recently developed a severe case of Facebook Fatigue. I “get” it, but I don’t “get” it.

I first joined Facebook to keep up with my nieces’ and nephews’ lives and see their pictures. In the beginning I posted some old photos I thought they would enjoy and occasionally I would post about an event or activity in my life. But that didn’t last long; I “friended” more people. I started to feel that my life could not compete and I started to post less and less. Everyone else’s life seemed more “impressive” than mine; I became almost completely a lurker, a liker, and a stealth user. I wasn’t optimizing my experience, but I was still enjoying some of other’s posts.

Then it happened…almost everyone I know is no longer sharing ANYTHING REAL. It has become almost exclusively the realm of the superficial and the self-promoters. I now find going on Facebook is like watching a channel that is completely made up of commercials and infomercials!  I know people need to advertise their causes, their businesses, their projects…but does almost every post have to be that? Every once in a while throw me a bone! Something with substance.

I don’t want to unfriend people (that can cause a permanent rift) and …if I were to use “hide” to cut back on things…well, I’d be hiding just about EVERYONE! It seems it has become the complete domain of the sales pitch, whether personal or professional.

One frustrating day I wrote this poem:

Facebook Fatigue

Your actions say I’m a fan, not a friend;

I’m not a stand-alone, I just blend in,

lost in a bramble of “likes”

where you don’t venture.

To separate us all is too much to do

and your “real work” needs you

more than you need me.

My need is irrelevant.

At least bloggers have etiquette. I have found most of them to be appreciative of their readers and audience; it is a community. Facebook seems to me to be one HUGE talking head, and to be honest, I’m tired of listening.




concert memorabilia, ticket stubs, backstage passes

“Boy Band” memorabilia

There’s been a lot of One Direction stuff in the news lately because of the very public split between Taylor Swift and Harry Styles, and it got me thinking. They are the latest in a long line of “boy bands.” It seems like every generation has this type of performer or performers: the ones that girls and women swoon over. They range from charismatic solitary performers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Tom Jones; to the king of them all, The Beatles; to New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees, to today’s One Direction. During my concert days I worked some of these shows, and they were amazing to experience.

Wham played at the Orpheum when I worked there. I found their likable pop pleasant enough so I wasn’t dreading the concert,but I was unprepared for the piercing screaming and stuffed animals flying through the air. You couldn’t even hear the music over the ten to twelve-year old girls screaming non-stop. Of course, the ultimate irony was finding out years later that George Michael was gay. A lot of young girls must have been VERY disappointed!

The most memorable “boy band” show I ever worked was New Kids on the Block at Sullivan Stadium in 1990. Twenty-eight hundred screaming girls at the Orpheum was one thing; over sixty thousand was another. And they didn’t start on time (one of them was in NH and had to be helicoptered in), so the natives were especially restless. The anticipation built them to a frenzy. I did a lot of walking around that show and hanging off my belt was a big bag full of earplugs…I walked around giving them to the mothers and grandmothers. I’ll bet there was a lot of aspirin sold that day in the Foxborough area.

Even older women scream (though not so loud and ear-piercing). I’ve seen Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and Julio Iglesias get showered with bras and panties by women over 50. My own grandmother asked me to bring her to see Julio as a guest. Flying underwear aside, those shows tended to be simply punctuated with occasional screams, rather than be one long piercing scream…



{December 25, 2012}   Home-made Gifts are Best

So…you know what they say…home-made gifts are most appreciated. Here’s the store-bought gift.

cat toy

 

And here’s the home-made gift: some pieces of leftover foil paper taped to a wine cork.

Home-made cat toy

 

Guess which gift is more popular?

cat with toy

 

Merry Christmas!!



{December 5, 2012}   Facing Birthdays

For all the advances in medicine, there is still no cure for the common birthday.

Happy BirthdayJohn Glenn

Birthday is a salty word if you’re not a fan of cake and ice cream. 

Greg Evans

Today’s the day I mostly dread. More so than New Years’ Day, I pick this day to evaluate where I am and what I have done in the last year, and I’m always disappointed. But this year I won’t allow it!

Yesterday this line came to me:

Kick the birthday in the teeth and it can’t bite!

I tried to write a poem around it, but I discovered I liked it better all on its own.

This year I will be the age when I am grateful for another year and recognize that the best gift I have received is that I am still breathing! You don’t have to be 80 to feel that way. You can choose to feel that anytime…And I choose that age today. Happy Birthday to me!




Penny Jar

Penny Jar

I think there are two kinds of people: people who pick up discarded pennies and those who ignore them. I’m a penny collector and I have the jars around the house to prove it. And the jars do not even contain all the pennies. There are pennies in little dishes and on tables and in the car and in pockets of almost every jacket. And what are my plans for these pennies? Beats me. It’s a habit I inherited from my father; he always picked up change and somehow I don’t want to give up the habit because I would be giving up some piece of him.

Certainly it is not because of the money I make. When I was a child I would walk to the penny candy store (a couple of miles) and whatever I picked up along the way was what I could spend. But that was a long time ago. What do they buy now? I will admit that I have rolled some and brought them to the bank, but it is definitely a “round-to-it” task. It seems pointless with interest rates as low as they are. Another thought I had is that I would try to collect a penny dated for every year of my life. And do what with them?

A year ago my husband found this article. I certainly did not know there was such a thing as a penny hoarder! But I wouldn’t say I am one; the man referenced in the article has WAY beyond my meager amount of pennies. I did learn something though — that pennies before 1982 have more copper in them and are worth more than newer pennies. So what do I do with that knowledge? Now I have another “round-to-it” task: to go through the pennies and separate them. I put aside another big wine bottle for the process.

Big Penny Jar

Big Penny Jar

And how far have I gotten with that task? Hmmph.

But I’ll keep picking them up; I can’t help myself. It’s just been ingrained in me for too long. It’s free money after all.



et cetera
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