All Because Of A Cookie

The year was so long ago.  The memory of that one cookie is still printed in my mind.  I can picture my mother dressed in her olive green chenille robe.  My father wasn’t in the kitchen when it happened.

 

Christmas was magical for me as a child.  From the time I can remember my mother would bake cookies.  Her signature cookie was the Sand Tart.  Paper thin.  Baked perfectly every single year.  My part was to assist in decorating the buttery Sand Tarts, sugar cookies and Gingerbread reindeer.   You read that correctly – reindeer.   During this week long cookie bake off with my mother and her best friend I would make sure to have two special cookies made just for Santa.  Those cookies were made with two special cookie cutters.  Santa and the North Star.   On Christmas Eve the Santa plate came out of the dining room hutch.  Four cookies were placed on the plate with a Christmas napkin and a glass of milk.   A Christmas card written out to Mr. & Mrs. Claus.   The real Mr. & Mrs Claus!   Midnight Mass straight to bed!    I knew the chime of Santa’s sleighbells would come in the cold night air.   So I would be very still….waiting….listening….falling asleep.

 

Christmas morning came with opening gifts.   My parents taking their places on the couch or floor with us.  My siblings were older than me so I was the lucky one who received the toys.   Dolls that grew hair.   Books – a lot of story books.   Puzzles and games.   A puppy.   More dolls.   More family dogs.   More dolls.   And then that year when Christmas morning would never be the same.

As my mother sipped her coffee with pink rollers around the top of her head she opened a tin of cookies.   She never permitted us to eat cookies for breakfast, especially on Christmas day of all days!   Those cookies were not only served Christmas Eve during my parents gathering of family and friends, those cookies were served on Christmas day to those same family members who came back for dinner or desert.   Friends who would stop by to make merry and take tons of Polaroid pictures.   As she open the second tin I spotted them.  Under regular North Stars only dusted with cinnamon, not glittery blue sugar.  My Santa and North Star cookies for Santa!   What?  How?  Did Santa not have time to eat them?  My mother was frozen and I could feel her stare.   Knowing my mother she wanted to wait for the inquisition.  Because my mother would give me the best reason of why those special Santa cookies were back in the tin.  The tin decorated with rather large gaudy poinsettia flowers.  You must understand these cookie tins were huge!   Just minutes before the unveiling of cookies I checked the Santa plate and it was clear to me he enJOYed his cookies!   He enJOYed the milk!

This was the Christmas before I turned ten.   This was the Christmas when my sister was married and my brother was in the Army.   This was the Christmas when our family Schnauzer, Greta, was about to have a litter of puppies.  This was the Christmas finding those cookies.  My parents were not being deceiving.  My parents were only continuing the tradition for so many years.  My father never giving any thought as to how he concealed those special cookies underneath the “regular” cookies with cinnamon.   My father was probably busy Christmas Eve trying to find something in the garage or attic because my mother was an expert in hiding.   So his only option was to quickly slide the special cookies into the large cookie tin with large gaudy poinsettias.

I cried. And then cried some more.   Years later my mother and I would talk about how I [found out] discovered the secret.  I could never say [found out] Santa wasn’t real.  She would correct me because Santa, St. Nicholas, Bobbo Natale, and yes even Befana were truly real.    And they still are very real in our home.   My children have outgrown the secret.  Our youngest recently discovered and even in his last attempt, our secret Santa, a friend who would send packages and letters to College Daughter when she was younger continued his Santa mission for Apple.  Last year was one last attempt from secret Santa.   I love him for this Christmas sparkle he would send each and every year.

Santa, St. Nicholas, Bobbo Natale and Befana are still very much alive in my heart and home.  I have my own special plate for Santa.  A mug of hot chocolate has replaced a tall glass of milk.  Carrots for his reindeer.  And if we’re lucky the dogs will not sneak a bite of the carrots this year.  After service we open one gift before watching our favorite Christmas Eve movie – It’s A Wonderful Life.   After the girls go to bed Football Superstar and I will sit down with a glass of eggnog and talk about Christmases past and those to come.

When innocense becomes lost, it’s only to be picked up by the true spirit of Christmas.  Remembering those Christmases of my childhood make my heart happy.   That warm feeling is my mother.  Her smile and even her stare lives in me.  Christmas was her favorite holiday season.  As is mine.

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I was a retro hippy at a 1 1/2.    my brother [10] my sister [13]
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Me [3] with a Santa doll.   The year plaid was my style and Mary Janes were the only shoe I would wear.
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Me [5] and first puppy, Heidi. She was a rescued German Shepherd/Beagle mix. *Rockette wanna-be with my Mary Jane tap shoes.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from my family to yours.  And to my dear friend Santa……I still believe.   ❤

 

 

 

 

 

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Chaos coming Together

Chaotic adjective.   in a state of complete confusion and disorder.

 

Fellow mom blogger/friend/”chaos sister” recently posted on her blog https://mymiddlenameischaos.com  how getting ready in the morning can be a challenge.  No, make that a chore.  Promises made to one child as you get the other one up and semi dressed for school.  Her recent blog had me laughing and crying out loud because I’ve been there.  I just may still be there – for the most part.  I refer to the chaos in our home as New York Grand Central.  No matter how prepared you think you are you’re not.  Someone will forget their ticket.  Someone is missing a suitcase, or misplaced their cell phone.  A dog isn’t always willing to come in out of the rain when called and the neighbor just asked if you would like to volunteer for Thanksgiving prep at a local food bank.  Yes, sure. Okay. Yes I will.  Oh, did I say that I will?  Oh, I can’t.

I don’t want to give away everything My Middle Name Is Chaos posted – you’ll have to jump on her blog and follow along.   But geeze, we moms have platinum memberships to the “You’re Going Too Fast” club.  I’d like to join the “Slow Down And Do It As You Want” club.    Don’t waste your time looking – no such club exist.  My club is Costco.    It’s where I go for free wine food tasting and the chance to fill boxes with foods I shouldn’t be eating.

 

I wouldn’t change Grand Central for the world.  It’s who we [as a family] are.  It’s what defines me as a person, wife, mom and friend.   I forget.  I get [easily] distracted.  I’m emotional.  I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers and that I won’t forget to do.   Even in the world of chaos I will do my best to pull everything out of the messiness of what happens in the daily life of who goes where and what time is that.  Messiness isn’t a bad thing.  Chaos sometimes is fun.  And lets face it what has been happening in todays world I’m grateful for the messiness and chaos in my life.  I’m blessed to be sitting in the comfort of my own home typing this.   Two dogs at my feet reminding me to call the groomer, the vet for their probiotics as one of them nudges my foot to continue rubbing her tummy.

 

My Middle Name Is Chaos couldn’t have made her post any clearer.   Perhaps it’s because I know what her family looks like.  Their home.  Their two dogs.  But if you close your eyes after reading her post I can put myself there.   Breakfast was suppose to be the most important part of my family’s morning.  I would insist the kids sit down to  eat my special Colby cheesey eggs or pancakes made with homemade vanilla and cinnamon.   Bagels with cream cheese and orange juice.   That lasted a few weeks but when I returned to the classroom we began a love affair with let-go-of-my-Eggo.   Pop Tart?  The sugary breakfast toaster pastry  College Daughters go-to after she began to drive herself to school.  I know she stopped at Starbucks because what goes better with a Frosted Pop Tart than an expensive foo-foo coffee?    I’m embarrased to say that since I’m no longer working out side of the home – Apple will show contentment when I point to the new box of Rice Krispies or Special K cereal.   Rolling her out of bed is like waking up a Grizzly after she’s been hibernating for months in the deep winter snow of Montana.  No, seriously I poke at my 102 pound twelve year old with ease.  Or I let Murphy go give a wet kiss because nothing wakes a grumpy bear like a dogs wet sloppy kiss!   Apple doesn’t stay in bear mode long, but whatever it is that makes her sleep like a Grizzly is something I should bottle for those who have sleepless nights.    So what does my twelve year old Grizzly have to do with breakfast these days?    It’s easier than having her get ready – which includes brushing her hair, teeth, changing the shirt she had on for the fourth time.  And why does she forget socks?  You’re no longer wearing flip-flops to school….getting into a routine of grabbing socks out of the second drawer of the dresser that sits directly beside the closet which holds your other clothes where you come out from the bathroom in your bedroom where you pass by the closet and the dresser.   Phew….I got carried away.  Sorry.

Anyway, chaos and messiness at its finest.  It’s family and life and what moms are given the best membership we could ever apply for.   I wouldn’t change any of my chaos.  Well, maybe some of it.  But until I truly decide to use my phone calendar and the other technology that my husband insist I use…..my pink sticky note pad works just fine.

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On Santa’s list.  What do you think My Middle Name Is Chaos?!

Momma Daisy *

so many invites

Not sure how to acknowledge my recent invites to private premiers or parties or “moms in need of a night out” that I’ve been getting handed over to me via evites or word-of-mouth.    Flattered is not the feeling.  Excited to attend is not the feeling.   More like ARE YOU KIDDING ME is just one of the many waves of thoughts that crashed through my mind.   Explatives I’ll leave out of this.    Instead I asked my husband – “am I looking aged enough to get a few shots of Botox in my forehead?” …. “do I look sixty before I reach sixty?” …..  beyond Botox in my forehead and a few injections of stuff in my lips and eyes along with a healthy dose of  radar to get rid of those unsightly veins in my aging legs…. I just kindly declined the invitations.    Because #1, no way on Gods green earth will I pay for my youth.  I admit, I have abused my olive completion with baby oil in the 80’s under the sunny skies of Jersey’s shores.   I can’t buy back what I have done to my skin unless it’s under a doctors orders.   I must really count my blessings I didn’t do more damage.  And with every freckle it reminds me of what I’ve inherited from my freckled face mother.  I don’t want to erase them.   Now if you can tell me  how to decrease those unsightly crinkles and wrinkles on my arms  with a remarkable  cream of creams….I’m all ears.   Mostly I’ve tried them all so it ain’t like I’m doing cartwheels over the cosmetic counter at Ulta!    Because #2, my adorable blue eyed husband told me that I’m being silly. Silly because I’m allowing the evite to Botox and Wine or a simple suggestion to have my laugh lines vanish in one sitting consume me.   I love him for that.  And I know deep  down in my heart these things typically do not bother me.    Perhaps it’s because most of these invitations for turning back time [only on my skin] have come over the summer months and for the most part – like a perfect line of dominos falling over in precise order.     And it seems I find others out there that have been down this road or are aging just as [me].   I love getting your e-mail or inbox messages by the way!

Just last month I finished “Behind The Scene” by Judi Dench and I plan to begin reading her book “And Furthermore”.  Judi Dench is eighty three years old and still gorgeous.  Nothing touched.  I love her ability to embrace aging and turn it into sexiness or being beautiful in the skin you have.  I’ve never been in awe with entertainers, but I look at Judi as one of the greats.  An actress of the theater.  Just like my other best friend, Maggie Smith.  If I can have the spirit as these aging women, then I shall laugh at the face of aging.    Did that make sense?

My father is aging.  He will be ninety two in November.  But it wasn’t all that long ago when I couldn’t see the process of aging until he turned eighty.   He has always taken care of himself.   But as Football Superstar puts it, his father-in-law just has great genes which comes in to partner up with physical excersise and mentally in denial that you are aging.  I laugh at this because he knows my father well.  My father has always denied aging.    So when I think of the invites and evites that make their way to my e-mail….I embrace my fathers way of denial with a dose of humor.  Maybe even the prescription for aging.   It’s called “Aging Happens So Have Fun”.

While getting my hair cut,  Ms. Scissorhands is always up for a good giggle each time I make an appointment – the time gets shorter.  Unlike my 6-8 week time frame I’m now in the 5-5 1/2 week time frame.  And that is only for what we call “routine maintenance”.   No gray covering.  No highlites or lowlites.  It’s all about the maintenance of keeping my hair shoulder length or shorter.   Yesterday I told Ms. Scissorhands I will see her in 4-5 weeks.   Celebrate for aging hair that continues to grow!!

Less makeup is the norm for me.   It’s not exactly like I don’t like to wear makeup it’s more like makeup takes up too much of my time to apply in the mornings.  Afternoons. Oh, and evenings.   I do apply makeup for those occasions where I don’t want to look zombie-ish.  For school functions.  Adulting can be difficult.   Aging can be too, but only if we allow the process of aging to interrupt our lives.   I’m healthy [for the most part], I recently started spin classes and have been torturing myself during rowing classes.  But it’s part of my weekly routine.  Just like running/walking/swimming the dogs.  Hiking on weekends with my family.    Unplugging the plug helps me mentally and spiritually.  So if it means I added a few laugh lines [because I do laugh a lot so my laugh lines have developed at an early age], creases on my forehead because I’m squinting to see [yes, new prescription for my aging eyes], and extra blue lines showing up on my aging legs…..then call me Judi!

I can think of more ways to spend my afternoon or evening than getting rid of what is me.   And it’s with a glass of cheap wine and expensive chocolate.   [wink]

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I hate taking selfies – no filter – makeup free – new prescription glasses – need invisline now – can see gray hair – freckles – but lots of hair!

Momma Daisy*

Best In Show? Best In.

*if you have the least interest in dogs don’t worry about this post                                              *if you are a professional trainer, breeder, rescue facilitator, groomer, advocate, teacher, therapist please don’t email me about what I’m doing wrong.  [thanks in advance]                *if you love dogs – continue.

 

Most of you know that I am all about dogs.  Any breed, mix, combination can and will tug at my heart strings.   I’ve been owned by plenty and over the many years – I don’t have a favorite except one.  Big.   Our family has been owned by Golden Retrievers for fourteen [plus] years.   At the present time – Murphy our Golden Glory warrior makes up for three dogs.  She’s an athlete.  A rock.  A dog with a purpose and it’s usually her purpose not yours.  Demanding.  But independent.   Murphy continues to amaze us with her high spirited engery and beauty.  Notice I didn’t say grace.  As Murphy would tell you if she could speak human “nobody puts Murphy in a corner”.

Now we have Golden Glory Hamish.  He’s our Tartan Terror.  Our Hamish the Handful.  He’s full of spunk and determination to keep up with his big sister – though he outweighs her – but falls short of the atheletic abilities that Murphy naturally has.  Hamish is quick and strong.  He’s absolutley handsome even when the drool dangles from his jowls.  Before Hamish came along I was joining my friend and our dogs favorite auntie, Birdy to dog shows where she has been showing Murphy’s sweetheart Griffin.   Birdy, somehow encouraged me to show my next pup.  During puppy pick out along with Football Superstar and Apple, we had input by GG’s matriarch, Arlene on picking our boy out from a fabulous litter.   How does one decide?   Well I did.  And Sir Hamish the Handful came home at eight weeks.  Fat.  Fluffy and down right adorable.  Back to Birdy…..so while my puppy is heading towards his fourth month she was going to show him in an open puppy class.   He was ready.  Bathed.  Groomed for all it was worth because he still had some puppy fuzzies around his head.   There was one little tidbit Birdy forgot to tell me.  Griffin and Hamish were going to be scheduled at the same time.  She couldn’t be with two dogs in two separate rings so……….  yeah…..there I am dressed in black (thank goodness I wore flats) showing my puppy.   Apple said I looked nervous.   Well darling your mother was!      Hamish won a ribbon for Best of Breed.   Overall he came in fourth place.  My black dress and tights looked like a puppy exploded on me.   PS…never wear black while handling a golden haired dog.    My deodorant was working that day!

Jump ahead and our Tartan Terror wasn’t in any other shows since.  We’ve had vacations over summer and our dogs vacay with us mostly so taking a class wasn’t on my agenda or his.   However, obedience is important while your taking your dogs out for dinner with you at one of our many dog-friendly restaurants.   Or even just having coffee at one of the coffee cafe’s.  No one wants an ill-mannered oversized drooling beast knocking you and your table over.   I have been so proud of him.  He stays and waits and listens for commands.   He doesn’t take his eyes of momma.   So much that I find it difficult to go to the bathroom without hearing a long sigh or whinning coming from the other side of the door.  [too much TMI sorry]   But my handful is my baby.  He’s a gentle giant with a heart so willing to please.   Why not try this thing called conformation again.

Birdy and I begin taking the boys over to Maryland where there are classes held each Wednesday of the month.   It’s blazing hot my first night.   Hamish doesn’t do well in the heat, however he’s not the one with menopause.   There are two of us with Goldens, one Spaniel, one Basset Hound and a knock- you- dead gorgeous Collie who knew he owned it.   Our instructor isn’t exactly Miss Congeniality but I had other instructors who tried mind games just to “better you up”.    My boy who now needs to be deprogrammed because his perfect bedside manners are not used for the show ring.   Nah…this is an entirely new game where judges run their hands all over the dog.  They must stand.  They must show their perfect bite.  Which he has by the way.    He must not move a muscle while being touched at  his boy-parts.   Birdy and I had a dog trainer for Murphy and Griffin where she was tough but fun.  She once said the worst thing about training Goldens is you can’t touch them because they melt like peanutbutter.   True!    So Hamish began to melt like a Reece’s our first night back to conformation class.   Our homework is cut out for us this I know.      It’s time to bring in reinforcements.    A tutor.   Before Hamish was even born I met this really outgoing woman who just happens to be a dog lover.  Not only did we connect instantly because of this but she met with Birdy to give pointers on handling and showing and all the other political messiness that comes with the “sport”.    I’m going to refer to her as Ms. Tutor.   Her dog has titles.  Her dog is amazing.  I’ve seen a few Dalmations here and there but none like Miss NYC.    I reached out to Ms. Tutor asking for tips and she came to my rescue.   Now my Tartan Terror has a tutor as do I!

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losing busy bee is the last of my concerns

One thing I’ve always thought I owned was a competitive streak.   I was a swimmer for years in high school.   I can be over the top cheering on my Yankees.   I enjoyed cheering my kiddo’s while they participated in sports but found myself not the pushy momma who went over and beyond screaming “YOU GOT THIS!” .                                                                     So why am I getting nerved out and crampy and feeling as if Miss Congeniality has me under her thumb nail?  Because she’s the instructor and you always listen and behave.  You stand when you’re told to stand and you trot not run, no it’s pace not trot, no it’s trot but you’re not a horse so pace.    My head was exhausted after ten minutes.  But then she did the unthinkable.   My boy.   The drooling dude who will wait on command and not move a muscle until I recall him…..was refered to as behaving stupid.  And it wasn’t like Forrest Gump kind of stupid is as stupid does…it was you’ll be asked to leave the ring by a judge if your dog is  going to be stupid.     What was he doing you’re thinking ….  I know you are…. Hamish was sitting.   Not standing.  Or as his command is “place and stay”.    [thank you tutor for helping me keep those skills he knows so well]       My big slobbery boy just wanted to please the heck out of me, the instructor/judge and himself by sitting with his chest out and head up waiting for “goooooood boooooooy!”.       Instead I needing to reinforce the “place and wait” which he did and I have witnesses.   Birdy was behind as Griffin was in his stack and no other than our tutor secretly came to Maryland and stayed in the back watching.   After being instructed to “go around once and stop” Hamish and I completed our trot, gate, pace, whatever it was we did so well and stopped.   I heared a faint whisper of my name…..and there she was.   Looking at me with that “don’t you dare leave” encouraging smile.   “You’ve got this”,  Ms. Tutor said.   Our turn came around again and this time I told Miss [not] Congeniality exactly how this thing is going to work for a nine month old dog who can probably sit and wait until the cows come home and his menopausing momma who can’t sit and wait for anything – we’re not going anywhere!    Even if it takes a professional handler to get my boy who’s full of testosterone and zest for life around the loop while placing and waiting.   Even if it takes my boy who’s full of testosterone and zest a few more months to finally understand we’re going backwards to get forward we will.   But nobody and I mean nobody puts Hamish in a corner!     He may not be best of show.  But he’s a show off.  He may not be bringing home ribbons but he’s bringing love and affection to every human he has ever slobbered on.   He may never earn the big title.   But he’s earned my respect and love and that’s one thing that will never ever change.   No matter where my Tartan Terror and I end up……one thing for sure is he’s a champion in our hearts.

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this will not be me. why? because Hamish is way too big for me to pick and wave him around. that’s why.

So, if you’re thinking why am I going through all of this with Hamish, I don’t really have a concrete answer for you.  Perhaps it’s because Birdy twisted not only my one arm but both arms during time spent watching her with Griffin at shows.   Perhaps it’s because I spoke with our Golden Glory breeder about showing.   Perhaps it was the one time back in 1997 when my German Shepherd, Otto [Von Meisterhaus] won in a Pittsburg dog show and I behaved like he just won  Olympic gold.    I guess that can happen when a pro is handling your dog.  Oh and for the record, Otto, was not only obedience trained he completed puppy schutzhund!    One thing for sure is no matter what you do with your dog(s) the bonding experience is the best.   One thing Ms. Tutor also shared is have fun.  When it’s not fun for you it’s not fun for the dog.  When it’s not fun for the dog you’ll know it.

After Birdy dropped Hamish and I off, I took him directly out to the courtyard to do his much needed business.   Murphy greeted him then looked at me as if to say “how dare he come home smelling like my boyfriend!”.   I grabbed a snack and went up to get a much needed shower because I must have looked like I worked in a construction zone while in the middle of a heat wave.   I wore black.  Big mistake.  Big. Big mistake.  No longer did it look as if a puppy with gold hair exploded on me I looked like Chewbacca’s wife.

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Isn’t he the best!

 

 

Endless Love

Last week I decided to really make an effort to collect unwanted clothes from my girls closets.  I was very successful in doing so.  Actually I bought myself a bag of Pirate’s Booty [don’t judge] and enjoyed it by the pool.  I did share with a friend.  Well, she had a handful.  As I was saying, my effort to collect those unwanted clothes that hang in College Daughters closet remind me of the garment district in NYC.  When it was a happening garment district in NYC.  I’ve asked her a dozen or so times since summer began if there were any [a lot of any] clothes she would like to put in the “donate” section of the bedroom and then I’ll start on Apple’s closet later in the week.   Both girls gave enough clothes that I was able to take to the woman’s shelter.  But then I noticed Apple ended up with new clothes in her closet [with tags] from her sister.  So the cycle begins.

As for me well I did the same with my unwanted clothes [can’t fit into clothes] and a few pair of shoes.   There was one teeny tiny problem.   Since 2002 I’ve had this particular sweatshirt that I just can’t seem to surrender.   When I purchased this favorite cozy stretched out raggy sweatshirt it was soft and deep blue.  Like the stadium it came from.  The letters on the left side were bright white like a visit to the dentist for whitening.  Really it was that white!    There were no holes.  No stains from painting Simple Dimple.  No puppy teeth ripping at the sleeves.   And now 2019 is not too far in the distance and I still have this sweatshirt.  I  can not give it up.  Football Superstar tries to encourage me.  He’s promised, almost threatened every year for Christmas he will be getting me a new deep blue sweatshirt, with a hood, soft and cozy with the teeth brightening letters on the left side.   And every year he makes that promise/threat……I protest.    Why?  Why is it I can’t part with my faded blue? My thumbs can go through holes that seem perfectly made for that trendy look.  You know what I’m talking about.  Mine just magically appeared one day month year.   I have no need for gloves while walking the dogs on a chilly morning.   Actually if it’s too chilly I’ll need a jacket because my 2002 deep blue sweatshirt that still remains cozy is thinning.   Not as warm as it once was.  Yet still cozy.   The letters not as bright white – but still very cozy.

Tell me…..humor me….. have you ever owned an article of clothing you simply can not part with?   I’m not talking about a book.   Or a favorte CD.   You’re laughing because I said CD.  Well just for you’re information I have a few CD’s that are autographed and packed neatly away somewhere I’ll find in one of our next moves.   Can’t for the life of me think of where they are now.    But my sweatshirt.  My favorite cozy sweatshirt.  It wasn’t pink or frilly when I would wear it proudly to work on Friday’s.   That was our “dress down day” at the homeless shelter.  [I know what you’re thinking so stop it]  I would wear it proudly to baseball games even though the thought of a crazed RedSox fan throwing his beer at the hood with its intact blue string, would have me protecting my deep blue love.   Our time together was is wonderful.  A deep blue sweatshirt that matched the stadium it so proudly represents.   blues no longer match but who cares.

So.  I removed it from our closet.  My side of course because if it’s on my husbands side of the closet it will turn up in the recycle bin.  Wow.  It does look recycled.  Some strange way it looks like I found it alone on a recycled pile of used clothing.  I wonder if I look just as recycled when I wear it?

Snap out of it sister…..I LOVE wearing this ugly sweatshirt and I LOVE wearing it proudly with faded [and cracked]  white NY letters on the left side.  I LOVE everything about it!  Even my sweet little German Sheperd puppy Heidi chewed lovingly on each cuff of the sleeves so I could have my own finger-holes.  And now I can put my one fist through the right sleeve cuff.  Thank you sweet Heidi.  Or whomever made the holes slightly larger.      The splash of paint on the front pocket of this cozy sweatshirt is a gentle reminder of my once vintage shop.  I can’t remember where the other two colors came from but I’m sure it was a house painting project or refurbishing an antique.

And come to think of it.  I can’t remember what happened to the strings from the hood.  But does it matter?  No.  It simply looks more chic the way it hangs off my shoulders.   Our pile of unwanted clothes are gone.  Except for one.  And I can bet you a bag of Pirate’s Booty it’ll be around next year.

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My Endless Love

Speak.

I’ve been wanting to post for some time now.  A painful word that I struggle to type.   That word is suicide.   Painful as it is to type brings just as much pain to my heart.  Suicide in the United States is under the umbrella of being a major health issue.  I’ll not go into the rates or subgroups found under the percentages of people who commit suicide.    The word suicide was one of the most difficult words to speak.  And why?

Last week my husband mentioned to me that Anderson Cooper was having a special presentation on suicide.  We typically don’t watch his program [or should I say I stay clear of news programs all together] but for some reason this particular night it was clear to my husband we needed to watch it together.     I learned that I wasn’t the only person feeling the tight feeling in my stomach or anger or misunderstanding.  It became so clear to me that there is no closure when a loved one takes their own life.  No matter what the contents of their letter is.   If you get a letter.  I learned that keeping quiet only makes this silent illness even deadlier.    Even now typing this for you to read makes my fingers quiver and my stomach burn.   I sit here thinking back to a day I learned my friend took her life.   It hasn’t been two years since Machiella ended what I thought – what I felt was a “good life”, a “happy life”, a “content” person.   Machiella was as beautiful on the inside as the outside.   An artist.  A wife.  A young athletic woman who had the laugh of a little girl and the looks of a young Sophia Loren.   We spent almost two to three days a week in the mornings taking our pups to class and playdates.   We met for tea and coffee.   Our friendship blossomed as time went on.  So the day Machiella took her life why didn’t I see something.   Anything in her character saying to me she needed help.    I worked with at risk youth and adults for years.   Why wouldn’t I have seen a sign?

It’s been over twenty years now but I remember the day when I answered my phone and my niece was on the other end speaking through tears “he’s gone”.  My sister’s best friend.  Her husband.  Her soulmate.   A man of compassion.  Someone who would give you the shirt off his back.  Someone who pulled his truck off the road to help an injured animal.  Alan gave his everything to those who he knew and sometimes to those he just met.  My sister found him in their home.   Where were the signs?     Can a back injury spiral someone to the point of not wanting to live their life anymore?   Can a young woman who may have not felt her life was in order end it just because of something you or I would look at as just a bad day?

I never spoke of Alan’s death openly.   I was protecting my sister.   I probably was protecting myself as well.  Who wants to speak of suicide as the cause of death.  Who wants to speak of suicde and hear “oh, I’m so sorry”.   You receive a certain look.  As if the  one you loved was not worthy.    You receive the sympathy but without words – because lets face it – what do you say to someone who just said it was due to suicide.   The stigma that comes with suicide is enough to make the survivors mentally ill.  I have never felt the darkness where my life was about to end.   If I had a bad day it was over within hours.   So I can not say to someone who has been living in darkness I know how you feel.  I don’t.  I can’t say to them I can only imagine.  I can’t.   I can’t imagine how my sister was feeling – I only know of her pain and silent grieving she kept in the privacy of her own home.  Once the family and friends moved on and the months passed.  Then years.   After counseling and support groups.  But how was she to lift her head and know people on the outside weren’t judging Alan.

After Machiella took her life I began to seek support and ask questions.   Again, working in a facility that housed mental health clients, drug users and homeless doesn’t give you the tools to use when it hits you personally.   Because this was not suppose to happen to me!   It wasn’t until recent I opened up to my sister about Alan again.   After moving away from the same state my sister resides in – I packaged that part of my life away.  Not forgetting it – only keeping it safely stored where my own heart would be free of [that] pain.   And sparing me from speaking the word.   It wasn’t until sometime after my friends death – I was at a local cafe’ speaking to an acquaintance.  Machiella’s name came up – and I quietly explained what happened.   It took every ounce of my being to not throw my drink on her lap.  What I did expect is for a few sympthathetic words or head shakes with a painful expression.   Perhaps even the hand over heart.   But what I didn’t expect was the lack of compassion and respect for another being.  I didn’t expect to hear “some people” and “those people” in a sentence.   The how can they.  How dare they do that to their loved ones.   In defense of this persons reaction – I remember having the thoughts float around my mind.  How.  Why.  I have had the thoughts of only violent people or people who are isolated commit suicide.   But those thoughts were so very long ago – so long ago even before Alan took his life.    Mental Health has been placed on the back burner for as long as I can remember.   And because MH is such a complicated health issue – it’s not until something drastic occurs before mental health is discussed at the table.   It shouldn’t take Anderson Cooper, Glenn Close and Senator Deeds to speak out on mental health issues.  But since they are a source where America can tune in and listen – whether you agree with them or not – they are speaking.   We must speak.  We must admit it hurts.  We must allow the pain in our hearts to show.   Pretending isn’t the answer.  And turning our backs on those who are suffering can’t be the answer.  Depression just doesn’t go away.  And neither will suicide.   Not without speaking.

The week after Machiella ended her life I was taking Apple to school.   I was getting in my car to return home when a mom-friend stopped her car just to get out and hug me.  I remember Karen’s words like it was yesterday.   Cry she said.  Scream she said.  This is why I’m here to allow you to let it out.   I was so angry at Machiella.  I was so hurt that she didn’t trust me enough to say she needed help.   But mostly I was angry at myself because I didn’t “see” anything.   No signs.  Or was there a small, quiet indication that something was different.   Boxes of art supplies and photography books given to Apple within a span of two weeks.   Cleaning out closets she said.   Making room for a home office for her husband.

If only.

Speak up.  If you think someone is not themselves – speak to them.   Don’t just assume it’s an “off” day.   And don’t take no for an answer.    Make sure they know they matter.

youmatter.org

National Suicide Prevention hotline:  1-800-273-8255

 

In memory of Alan and Machiella 

*Momma Daisy

 

 

For the Love of Costco

Someone please take my membership card away from me because I spend way too much time at Costco!

I was just chatting with my sister yesterday – actually telling her how much time I spend at Costco.  For a family of only three most of the year, and when College Daughter comes home part of that time – one would think I have twelve children under the age of twelve.   My trips to Costco [as most of my readers know] are not always just the average trip spending gobs of money on something(s) I really don’t need!   My inner spendingmonster can and usually does surface at this mega-super-costcutting store.   I get passed the Morgan Freeman look-alike.  Put my membership card back inside my wallet and off I go down one aisle to the next.   I know Costco like a GPS tracker.  Blind fold me and send me off in any direction.  Spin me too and I’ll get you to the bakery once I stop vommiting after you spun me around.  No worries….I’ll get you to not only the bakery but to the frozen treats!

Today my morning run to Costco was for three items.  (1.) Frozen Fruit.  (2.) Coffee Filters.  (3.) Paper Towels.

I’m eleven items over my three item list.    I couldn’t leave without grabbing the mega plastic tray of freshly baked croissants.  Apple who has been all about France this past year feels it’s only proper to have a croissant in her weekly school lunch.   Perhaps these flakey buttery clouds of air will improve her French vocabulary.   Football Superstar asked for his favorite shaving cream and eye solution.   Got it.   But also I grabbed another pair of Nike athletic shoes because they were on sale and why not have another pair of black Nike’s to match the pair you have now?   Except the older Nike’s have shark teeth marks from puppy boy.    And why not grab yourself a pair of travel pants since my goodness they were on sale too!

Does this make me a Costco hoarder?   Or am I becoming my father when he made impulse purchases every place he walked into?  Perhaps I’m just aging into adulthood and finally realizing that if I’m not working full time I’m shopping part-time and spending way too much time with a Morgan Freeman look-alike.  After all, on a recent trip to Costco he did suggest I become an employee to save on my super purchases.

For those of you who may have missed my post on [4/15 “a stager throwing in the books?”]  I didn’t actually throw the books out my second floor window – yet.  I promised my wonderful husband who never once insist I hand over my Costco membership card – that I will be available for staging at anytime.  Anyplace.  And I will not tell the client(s) they are completely insane for choosing violet and green paint for their master bath.  The bathroom walls will look like the Queen when Harry and Megan married.   (I do like mint and violet together just not on walls)     Back to Costco…..    Our deck needed an accent rug.  And so one became item number fourteen.   It’s quite pretty.  Tan jute with a black design.   Pirate’s Booty.  Come on now….you know I won’t pass up the Pirate’s Booty!  Naan Bread for Friday night pizza.  Two beach towels ($9.99) to keep on hand because you never know when you may need another beach towel.  And lastly I didn’t forget the paper towels.

Once upon a time I would write a post about shopping.  It was titled Shopping 101.   I can’t for the life of me think of why I stopped trying to menu plan and budget.  Why is that so hard for me?   Apple found my menu planner along with it’s matching alphabetical order coupon folder.  I have always thought myself to be organized.  Perhaps I’m not as organized as I thought.  Or just maybe I like adventure and I’m the adventurous kind of gal who likes to blindfold herself and run through the aisles of Costco?!   It doesn’t matter now because there’s no way on this semi-green planet that I’m going to get organzied at this point of my life!   If I’m able to remember the main three items on a list then hey – I’m doing just fine.   Because you can make that wager I’m coming home with eleven more items!

 

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Love cheddarly love
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One can never have too many beach towels

 

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I believe in French the word sharing is partager which Apple must do with her momma!

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I think this will top off our deck!  [insert wink]
Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Momma Daisy*

a stager throwing in the books?

Not so long ago – not so far away there was once this handsome man who insisted encouraged me to take a design course/staging.   That man is my husband.  I love him for the kind words he uses as to describe my taste in decorating.   But there was a slight detail he left out while insisting encouraging me to sign up for the next course study in Interior Decorating 101.  When my realtor husband has a listing with a new client…..he would no longer hire that “good eye” for decorating if the home should, [lets say] needs a little less European flair or to remove the Italian bronze statue of Saint Romulus who greets you at the front entrance gate.  The gallery of the children starting from zero grade until the last era of college.   Or the sports emporium of every athlete you ever gotten an autograph from.  He typically hires a stager if I don’t accompany him to the new listing.   And in the world of marketing real estate comes photography for your best images online and on those brightly stated brochures.   The hired professional photographer at times has his or her own stager.     Mostly it’s up to the individual agent to make that call.   Football Superstar doesn’t slack off when marketing a home.    He goes in winning the game.  And this is where I entered the game.    Over the past few years I’ve gone with him to assist in removing clutter from a garage, switching out the six foot Oriental vase for something softer or less chunky to allow the natural light of room to flow.   Nothing beats natural lighting when it comes to a large single family home or urban townhome. But when I became his “bad guy” for what needed to go and what could stay and what is tacky or what was slightly a questionable color on the walls to what is head on perfect……I needed to visit these homes which are sometimes owner occupied without the protection of my ex-football lineman.  Meaning I needed a piece of paper stating I was qualified to do so.   Congratulations you are now a certified Interior Designer/Stager/Therapist/Home Destructor.

At first I was like – sign me up!   I’ve always loved interior design.  And perhaps I learned from watching my mother early on.   My mother would change out our home(s) my entire life with her.   My father had a good eye for color, but it was my mother who would pick and chose the fabric, the shade and the texture of wood and textile.   French Provincial whites and blues where her “it thing”.   I never knew what French Provinicial furniture was until we were instruced to never put a glass on the Distressed Pecan French Provincial style dining room table!   [still makes me giggle]     Beginning with my first city apartment I felt excited to always change up a room.  And though in the early 1980’s  primitive country home was in, I found a modern twist of this and that was always fun to incorporate into a room.

My styles have changed as my homes did.  Depending on where I lived [city, suburbia or country] made a huge impact on my home design.  My taste could take me to 1800 style prarie home or a civil war relic.   I once drenched myself in primitive antiques – the rustic the better.   I have also visited the fresh air garden theme where most of my bedroom looked like something out of Smith and Hawken.   Talk about over the top boxwood wreaths!   I would say over the past eight years my style has been industrial meets vintage and cottage charm visits once in a while.   I loved each home we lived in, but I honestly feel the townhome we have now is probably the brightest.  I go ga-ga over natural light – bright and I mean bright wide windows where every bit of sunshine flows in no matter which direction the sun decides to move.   I prefer natural colors on my walls.   Creams and tans.   Wood floors.  Stone or brick walls.   Porcelain tile.   And with having a canvas like this to work from gives me the opportunity to add whatever shades and textures I feel comfortable for my home – most importantly my family.   Not to mention easy clean up for pets or the occasional coffee spill.    What does all this have to do with my piece of paper indicating I’m capable of staging your home?    Nothing except everything!

In my brain there’s Modern Refinement, Industrial, Comtemporary, Continental, European Traditional, Classic, Comtemporary Urban [different from Comtemporary], Historic, French, French Provincial, French Market, Italian, Moroccan and Coastal.  Then there’s lighting by Sea Gull Lighting, Hinkley, Quoizel, Feiss, Monte Carlo, Kichler……the list goes on.   And they are not all found at Lowe’s or Home Depot.   [go figure]

Am I really capable of staging your home?   No.  Why?  Because I don’t like what you may like.  And because my [brain] won’t allow myself to go into the depths of your very liking!  I try to remove all interior from my inner self before walking through a home.  Be the mediator not the decorator.   Meet in the middle.  Stay focuses on the client and not the fact the living room walls look as if Crayola sent preschoolers in to paint.   Remember Football Superstar says off white, natural color paint on the walls open up the potential buyers mind to all possiblities.   But there I stand stuck feeling as if I have the worst wedgie because I can’t say two simple words to these clients.  Oh. Yuck.

This is why I stopped recording the very channels I loved to watch late night before falling asleep.   Fixer Upper is my go to one and only favorite.  I love Joanna, however I must say before they became the adorable fixeruppers on TV, we were selling industrial meets cottage meets antique meets artsy at my shop years ago.   So why can’t I go back to years ago and meet the needs of these clients as I did when we had Gettysburg tourist stop and shop at Simple Dimple?   What’s blocking my mind from the free flow artisit talent I once dallied up on the walls of my cottage shop?  What’s blocking me from pulling out that wedgie and saying ” lets begin with painting your walls…all of them…yes…all of them”.  What’s blocking me from saying “let’s begin with taking down the  safari photos – yes all fifty 8×10’s.  I love animals….but your home can not be a museum for Animal Planet during these next few days [or weeks] while your home is on the market”.   Enough said.   [all said with an industrial size smile]

My canvas.  Your home.  We need to begin with a blank canvas.  And I will eliminate any doubts that your home can look the way I want it to   all potential buyers can and will see their future home.   Enough said.        

 

It’s time to call #1-800-PODSTORAGE

So my books have been thrown placed aside for now.   My last online study course is at the end of May.   I could drive into DC but I’ll just take it from the comfort of my industrial/French market/vintage/coastal decorated home.  I’ll not throw in the towel rack yet.     Besides….it’s saving my husband from paying $375 just for a consultation to have a home “reviewed” before the actual staging takes place.   I’ll work for Pirate’s Booty and my water front lake or beach trips.   I believe that’s pretty fair in trading spaces!

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just enough fresh color with a touch of coastal living  ~ PS…ignore the creepy man in the doorway – this photo is from a movie scene – believe it or not in my book – it almost took me six months to realize there was a person in this pic!

 

 

 

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I can’t get enough use from an industrial basket ~ simply simple!

 

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not too shabby!

 

 

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I can’t. I just can’t do this one.

 

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crisp. light. dreamy. don’t leave out something masculine!

 

 

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and if there’s a brick wall…..you’ll have to resuscitate me! hash tag….love brick. hash tag…..adore brick. hash tag…..brick collector!

 

 

Oh, dear readers….thanks for listening reading!  I will pull myself together!   If not for payment in Pirate’s Booty….then for you!   [[wink]]

 

Momma Daisy*

 

March Madness part 2

Looking back at my recent post [March Madness Already? 2/26] I believe my wish for the month of March was it to come in or out like a lion….leave like a lamb….make it peaceful….less muddy….

Honestly, it feels like we’ve been playing dodge ball with rain turn to snow turn to more rain to sleet [just enough to make school close] back to rain with temperatures teasing in the high sixties.    I don’t even want to talk about our backyard.   If there was any chance in the world my dogs would keep Wellies on they would have had their own spot by the back door for their durable rain boots.   I know they are in the market of dog apparel but I refuse to purchase something that my two water-loving-mud-adoring-outdoor adventurous dogs will never keep on their feet.   Would it save me from hosing down their paws or using our “paw bucket”….yes.   My wish and hope and desire for April is less mud – meaning less rain.  Allow the ground to dry and for me to get out there and design my dream courtyard.

College Daughter headed back to VT.    Our break time was more eating and organizing the garage for “guess what I have in my car to bring home”.    After helping College Daughter look for apartments and townhomes to rent for next year – I realized our oldest daughter will be ending her tenth year of college when our youngest begins her freshman year of college.  I ate some more.

This week is spring break for Apple.   We will take a road trip to visit family this week.   We will spend some time with our friends from NYC, as well as take the newest member of the family along on a short road trip.   Before we know it – Easter Sunday will be here and the month that promises sunshine and dry days…..April.    humor me…..April will be sunny & dry!     

Have a wonderful Easter ~  and if you are on spring break be safe and enjoy!

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our newest addition, meet Sir Hamish the Handful [straw makes a wonderful mud guzzler – but not so wonderful when it blows around]

 

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This sweet girl is no longer a puppy….our warrior is already two and such a joy! Murphy is dreaming about getting to the lake. And so is her momma!
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two dog family again. joy*

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Thanks to Urban Habitat I can plan our courtyard to be not only inviting but dog friendly too!   I just can’t wait to get started!    I already said that didn’t I?

Happy happy spring joy ~ happy happy joy!

March Madness Already?

Rain!  Rain! Go-Aaaaawaaaaaay!    Hard to believe the DC Metro area is lacking rain.  The Potomac level is not where it should be.  Really?!      Personally [and I’m no meterologist] but I think our winter has been a long and wet one.  Nothing in the likes of a large winter snow storm.  Unless you count the time we had two days off school due to ice – about an inch – in the grass – how do they measure ice?   No matter how ice is measured, to me it still added water to my very soggy yard.   Our yard looks like a giant brown sponge.   And it’s not even March yet.

March madness around here is ready to race out of the gate.  I do believe every week there is something taking place here at our home.  Speaking of yard – a fence.  I may have talked about our yard in another post.  If not….our yard is basically a court yard.  Small but quaint.  Large enough to please two dogs [yes we now have our boy pup] for bathroom routines and a perfectly large patio to please everyone for their outdoor pleasure.  I’m not one to wish my months away – I try to enjoy each and every month of the year even if February isn’t my favorite.  March brings sprigs of green and small white blossoms.  March is the month I begin to plan my flower containers and my herb gardens.  It can be a lot of fun planning a small herb garden.  And I so look forward to it!

But for now March looks like we may need to dry out our brown sponge.   There is a good chance we will be seeing more mud when the fence crew arrives in two weeks.  Football Superstar went out this afternoon in the drizzling rain to remove three shrubs that will no longer be part of our view.  I watched from the family room window as he pulled out the roots and mud flew about twenty feet in the air.  The dogs were entertained by the flying brown balls but all I could imagine is how much more brown balls of mud would be left behind after the fence crew completes our  privacy fence.  Two hours later my husband is in the driveway hosing himself off.  His hunter green Wellies looked as if he was working at a dairy farm.   And speaking of Wellies, my once black pair are also splattered with brown sandy soil.   Thank goodness the pup weighs less than 25 pounds at the moment – one dog getting a pawticure every time she goes out is hard enough!

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Spring Break comes in March too.  And that means College Daughter comes home to join us for some R&R.  Which this year will be in our own backyard.  Once the mud is cleared away that is!   I’m planning for it.  The weather will cooperate with my plans.  We may not have the lake to enjoy but we will have our evening firepit crackling.  We may not have the view from our deck of quiet calm waters but we will certainly enjoy our coffee on our own deck watching two happy dogs romp together until one knocks over my herb container.  [that’s a no brainer]

I’m opening my arms and welcoming a mudless March!   One filled with the scent of spring and the sounds of birds chirping from afar.  Very very far.  [remember I don’t like birds]   March can march in like a lion or frolick in like a sweet little lamb – I don’t care how March comes marching in as long as it keeps the rain clouds zippered up for at least a good solid ten days!   Or more…please.  With lots of sunshine!  Please.  Preferably the last two weeks of the month would be perfect!

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For the record ~ I shouldn’t be complaining that we have what rain we have.  We don’t have tragic mudslides.  Nor do we have drought.  But maybe with a little prayer we can have the calm waters and sunshine we all desire.  Wouldn’t that be nice for our March madness?

 

Enjoy your March!

Momma Daisy*

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