Autumnal randomness

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anne of green gables

I know it is November but to be honest the last few days  have felt like early September. Personally I think this quote could just as easily state “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Autumns.”

The autumn of 2015 has been particularly beautiful in my “neck of the woods.” The trees on the mountain sides surrounding my hometown have morphed into a beautiful quilt of yellow, red, orange and green.  I have been distracted while driving not by my cellphone but by the sheer beauty of a tree.

The crispness of the air is delightful in the morning and returns in the evening as the sun sets. Opening and closing the windows of my home has gotten to be a little annoying as I try to regulate the temperature of the rooms and avoid putting the heat on. Hard to believe that a couple of weeks ago I needed the heat on but the last few days have been perfect.

On my weekly drives to Pennsylvania, I have enjoyed watching flocks of  migrating birds fly, swoop and perch on telephone wires or tree branches. I never tire of seeing their creative patterns and formations. I marvel that I have never seen one bird crash into another bird. I mentioned that to a dance class once and a vocal young lady commented “that’s because they have the whole sky.” I don’t think that is the reason they don’t crash. I think they are aware of each other. Not in a “what’s your problem?” way but in “are you okay over there?” way.

I have two friends who love the word “autumnal”. They throw it into the conversation whenever possible. I have to admit. It is a cool word.

Just a few random thoughts on autumn. Thanks for reading. On another note, growing up Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorite books. Prince Edward Island is on my list to visit again in the not so distant future. PEI is a delightful island with a beauty that is serene. It isn’t majestic beauty like the mountains of Maine. It is a calm, peaceful beauty of  beaches, farms and rolling hills.

a simple project – not!

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If there was a black market in light switch plates I would have been accused of running it. Over the past few months I have purchased and returned more switch plates than anyone else in the country. Okay that is probably definitely not true but the number of trips I have made to various Home Depots is ridiculous.

The switch plate adventure started last December when I decided to replace the switch plates in my weekend house. I spent an afternoon making a wonderful chart of each and every room. I drew little circles and rectangles to represent the kinds of switch plates I would need. I counted and tallied how many of each kind I would need. I described them with words that made sense to me – ” triple switch”, ” single outlet”, ” double slider” and “side to side”. Unfortunately when I got to Home Depot there were words like “toggle”.  This was an epic fail. Standing in front of the array of switch plate options my little chart made no sense. It didn’t help that Home Depot always feels like a foreign country to me so I put on my “I am confident, capable human being face”.  I didn’t  want to admit “yes, I need help but I can’t show you my chart.” So I decide I would use this as a learning experience. I am capable. I can learn what kind of switch plates there are and what kind my home needs. Really, how hard can it be. Thankfully there are many Home Depot locations so those first switch plates I bought in Monticello I can return to Middletown and that second batch I bought in Middletown I can return some of them  in Monroe. This is when I became worried about Home Depot thinking “what is this woman doing?” To be honest I was visiting different locations not to be tricky but because that is where my daily travels were taking me.

Well, the adventure continues because two weeks ago I purchased what I thought were the last 9 plates I needed in Stroudsburg, PA. And on Sunday I pulled out my screwdriver to install them and realized I had bought 9 of the wrong kind. I got the double circle kind and I needed the rectangle kind. I am not even sure how it happened. So yesterday I went back to Home Depot and returned them. So what have I learned through my almost weekly trips to Home Depot

  1. There is no such thing as quick, easy home project.
  2. It usually takes two different kinds of screwdrivers to replace switch plates.
  3. I can (kinda)  learn something new. 🙂
  4. Laughing at myself is good.
  5. Home Depot graciously takes my returns without judgment.
  6. Shopping at my local hardware store may have been easier in the long run.

“You have now crossed over…”

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There are times that I think I have “crossed over into The Twilight Zone” and today would be one of those times. Today I decided to call the customer service office of the gated community where I have recently purchased a secondary residence. The reason for my call is I have yet to receive a statement of my POA fees. Let me explain the back story which should shed some light on the issue.

Back in December of 2014 I had the closing on a beautiful cabin in the fore mentioned gated community. When I left the closing I went to said community with my deed in hand and was directed to the activity center to register my vehicle. I completed a form, showed my deed, paid the fee for the EZ Pass type device, was given my window sticker  and was informed that it would take a few weeks for me to be entered in the computer. Sounds reasonable. I gave a list of names to the front gate security and all is well. However there are occasions that it becomes apparent to me that I am not in the computer. “It takes a few weeks” is the party line and I comment more than once that there is a lack of middle management but all seems well because I am still given my ski passes, my 2015 vehicle pass and discount at the restaurant. The cabin has been painted, furniture has been moved in and rearranged, cleaning service and snow removal people have been hired, friends and family have visited and all is well. I check in every now and then with “the office” and still the party line is “it takes a few weeks and with the holidays.”

Okay, but then weeks become a month or two or three and I realize I still haven’t received a statement of my POA fees so this morning I called the toll-free number instead of the local number. And that is when I was catapulted into another realm. A lovely young woman explained that I am not in the computer because on page 2 of the deed the former owner’s name is spelt wrong. What!?! She says she has contacted the Title Company but they haven’t responded to her call. What!?!  I contacted the Title Company who states “there is no need for the new deed because the former owner signed his name correctly and we will sort this out by the end of the day.” Okay, wait!!  You are telling me that the corporation that owns the gated community doesn’t believe I own the house so they won’t enter me in the computer but the nice people at the gated community have allowed me to move in, visit numerous times, have family and friends visit and have given me a discount at the restaurant. You can’t make this stuff up. Thus why I “have now crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”


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According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, the word random when used as a noun means: a haphazard course: without definite aim, direction, rule or method. When used as an adjective, it means: lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern. I decided to brush up on the definition because it seems whenever I fly I am the person who gets the “let’s see if you have touched explosives swab test.”

Thankfully I am TSA pre approved so I don’t take off my shoes or remove my 3-1-1 liquids from my personal carry on or even take my laptop out of my bag. I usually travel using my passport as my form of identification. My boarding pass is a hard copy as well as on my iPhone. I think I look like a seasoned traveler or at least someone who has done this security line thing before. I say hello or good morning or good afternoon and smile as I proceed through the line. I do what I am told. However more often than not a TSA agent will ask me to step to the side so he/she can swab my hands. And every time the TSA person comments “it’s random.”

I thought I must be confused by the true definition of random because this happens to me all the time thus why I reread the definition. Seriously at least one leg of every flight I have been on involves me being randomly picked for additional screening. I don’t remember much about probability from high school math but I don’t think it is possible for it to randomly be me that many times.

Don’t get me wrong I am grateful we have security screening but this whole random thing confuses me. By definition random makes it seem like there isn’t a plan and I would hope there is a plan. 🙂

time & treasures

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Due to recent weather events in my part of the world, my original plans for the past few days have been canceled – no district wide children’s Bible quiz on Saturday, no tours for the 9/11 Tribute Center or ladies small group on Monday and no teaching ballet this afternoon. I see that type of change in plans as having extra time. Laundry, cleaning, answering emails, finishing books for book club all fit into my regular schedule. So when extra time presents itself I try to think of something I don’t think I have time to do and get it done or I fall into the “binge watching” trap.

On Saturday I organized paperwork I will need for my 2014 taxes. I shredded stuff I don’t need and filed the rest. With a sense of accomplishment I then binge watched most of the first season of Parenthood. Sunday was a regular day. On Monday I organized my address book which consisted of very old addresses of family and friends and lots of little return address labels that I had stored in the book. I tossed out most of the written pages and simply taped the labels in the book. Yes, I do have contacts on my phone and computer but I don’t need to carry all of those people around with me. 🙂  Then I watched a couple more episodes of Parenthood finishing season one and starting season two.

On Monday evening I decided I should accomplish something else as I had extra time due to no ladies group. So I decided to clean out the small drawer in the cabinet that sits next to my favorite chair and has become the catch-all for this and that. Since it is a small drawer I always assume what I place in there well be safe because it won’t be swallowed up as it could be in a big drawer. I wasn’t surprised to see post-it notes, small pads of paper, rubber bands, paperclips, cleaning cloths for my computer, my amazon credit card and my checkbook. I was surprised by a few treasures:

  • a box of rose petals – a friend had collected the petals from the yellow rose that was placed in Bruce’s name  by the National September 11 Memorial on Veterans’ Day. Friendship is an amazing treasure.
  • a small metal kazoo – “a dad gift”. After September 11, my daughters and I purchased a gift for each other that would have been something Dad would have bought or something that reminded you of Dad. We continued that tradition for 10 Christmases and then decided to make it an optional Christmas tradition. Meghan had purchased the kazoos for Emily and I in 2013. Many years ago while on a long road trip from NY to KS a stop at Cracker Barrel had resulted in Bruce (Dad) buying kazoos for the girls. Thankfully it took a few miles for them to get the hang of it. Family and memories are treasures.
  • business card from Dith Pran – In 2005 (?) I had a telephone interview with a New York Times reporter and that reporter asked if a photographer could come to my home. A few days later a gentleman arrived at my home and began to take photos. In the course of the photo shoot, I realized that the photographer was Dith Pran, the man whose life the movie the Killing Fields is based on. We spoke of his passion to tell the next generation the story of the Killing Fields because one time was too many.  It was a totally surreal experience. There is a You tube video of his last words. Passion and purpose are another treasure.

Extra time and random treasures have been a blessing the last few days. Tomorrow is back to real life if Mother Nature allows. 🙂

I have to be honest I watched a few more episodes of Parenthood. Not sure why I never saw the show in real time. 🙂


Christmas – packed up and put away!

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IMG_1779There are still a few signs of Christmas hanging in my home. My gifts haven’t been put away in their proper spots, photo cards from family and friends are still displayed and the bin of wrapping paper is readily available even though no longer needed.  Slowly the everyday items are replacing the Christmas items.Traditionally I would take down my Christmas decorations and put away my Christmas dishes around January 6 – Epiphany or the twelve day of Christmas. This year my daughter and son-in-law were arriving for “Christmas” on January 10 so everything stayed in place awaiting their arrival.

To be honest with the busyness of buying a house in December I didn’t decorate as much as usual. There was even a moment I thought I won’t decorate at all but I love Christmas so I decided to “do a little” decorating. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving I pulled out a couple of items. At first I didn’t put any Christmas dishes out but for some reason hot chocolate didn’t taste as good in an everyday mug so I pulled out a few Christmas mugs. As the days passed I pulled out a thing or two this day and then a thing or two the next day. My Christmas decorations didn’t seem complete  without Nana’s tissue box cover, or the ceramic Santa, or the Nativity snow globe. Slowly the decorations found their usual spots or a new spot and I was pleased.

And now it is time to put it all away. Unfortunately since I pulled a little from this box and little from that box finding where I pulled items from is slightly challenging.  I had a wonderful Christmas season. It was different from past years and that is okay. I was perplexed by one thing over this holiday season though. Do people really give cars as gifts? And why were children asking for cars? I couldn’t believe how many automobile commercials there were. I found it totally bizarre even stranger than chia pets!! 🙂

I will leave you with this thought:

“When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…
And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.” Howard Thurman

My year in review. The ABCs of 2014.


year in reviewA is for arabesque. I taught one ballet class a week.

B is for book clubs. I belonged to two.

C is for children’s camp. I directed with the best team ever.

D is for Dunkin Donuts. I drank a lot of coffee.

E is for East of Eden. I enjoyed reading this John Steinbeck classic.

F is for family and friends. Fun, food and fantastic stories.❤

G is God. He is good.

H is for home. I accomplished a few items on the “to do list”.

I is for ice cream. Always a yummy treat.😋

J is for Japan. Amazing second visit.

K is for Kansas. Time spent with family.

L is for library. My daughter completed her masters in library information science.

M is for Minnesota. I spent ten days caring for my grand-nieces and nephews.

N is for National September 11 Museum. It opened in May.

O is for opportunities. I am blessed with many.

P is for PA. My new secondary residence.

Q is for quizzing. I teach in my local church and direct on the district.

S is for speaking. I spoke at 4 events including one all-day conference with my daughter.

T is for tea with Miss Carol. Always a treat.

U is for United. The airline I usually use. Flew to San Antonio, Seattle and Minneapolis.

V is for volunteering at Tribute Center. Lead and supported tours, spoke to school groups.

W is for writing. I took a writing course and now I need to get busy!

X is for eXcerise. I need to be more disciplined.😐

Y is for year. Hard to believe another year has come and gone.

Z is for zero. The number of regrets I have.

In 2015- my goals are to read and write more, watch television less, enjoy simple times with family and friends and relish in being a grandma in the near future.😊