Category Archives: Signatures

How Else Would I Know?

The last few weeks have been full of challenges but I can always rely on the boy for a smile or two. I essentially stalk social media to see what he’s up to because we haven’t spoken much the last few weeks. How else would I know what’s he’s up to? I know that he’s studying because he has a challenging semester but the constant is his ability to have a good time.

By the way, and I can’t believe I haven’t bragged about this earlier – must been a crazy January month – but, the boy went back to school a few days early in order to finish up a certification. A couple of days later, we get a text from him with this photo – ian3This means that he is now a Instrument rated multi-engine commercial pilot – or something like that. It also means that after two and a half years and a lot of work, he’s reach a major milestone and we’re proud of him. The best thing is this – the thousands and thousands of dollars invested in flight fees may be coming to an end soon. I can’t tell you how great that makes us feel! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

So congratulations to our boy. He’s the bees knees of sons.

ian2Then again – he signed up to take a skating class with his friends. They didn’t know it was also a figure skating class! Now that is classic. I hope they pass it. I asked him why in the world he would do this and he said it’s to counter the difficulty of his other classes this semester. Alrighty…

ian1The other thing I also count on is his requests for money. He wanted to attend a retreat with his church for the Martin Luther King weekend and it was a request I was glad to fulfill. It was an eight hour drive to the retreat and I was glad he rode with some friends. He said he had a blast and I wouldn’t think otherwise – it’s the boy after all.

ian4North Dakota is apparently going through a heat wave. What a goof.

ian5They’re doing some decorating again. I just love these boys. One of their roommates is he equipment manager for the school’s hockey team and they keep all kinds of discarded broken hockey sticks and this is what they did! The husband and I are going up to Grand Forks next month and I can’t wait to see their apartment. It must look like a “bro” place.

ian7Here’s another creative use for hockey sticks. Did you see the Miss Universe Pageant last night? I fell asleep before the crowning but I was rooting for Miss Jamaica, I loved her hair. I was, of course, rooting for Miss USA as well. On another note – I loved Miss Thailand’s costume too. It was a creative take on a traditional dress. I should do a post on the costumes. What fun.

And where was I?…

ian6I found this photo on Snapchat and I have to say these are my three favorite amigos. They have other friends of course and eventually there will be girls and hopefully wives and kids, but these three have been together since freshman year. Now they live together and I know they will be life long friends. It’s a blessing.

I hope they pass their skating class though . . .

I Have A Cooking Problem

I find myself once again scheduling my day around food preparation. I have some friends who have had personal hardships and I don’t know how else to help but to cook for them. I’ve made pans after pans of beef and broccoli stir fry, chicken satay, rice, roasted Cornish game hens, chicken scampi – whatever I can put my hands on.

food3I was making dinner for a friend last week and got a call that another friend was in a horrifying cycling accident to which I made extra food, dropped it off at their home before making my way to the other home to drop off food. The girl came downstairs and asked what was for dinner and I realized that I took all of the food to give away and there was no dinner. Not to worry – I heated up a bunch of leftovers and it was like a smorgasbord.

food2Sometimes I have so much food that I have to throw it out. It’s not good.

I asked the husband if I cook too much – maybe? He said this is all he knows so he couldn’t say –

food1I’ve recently noticed when I’m nervous, anxious or fearful, I immediately go to the kitchen. I don’t really cook that much when I’m feeling centered so one can deduce that I’ve been feeling the former. Could that be the reason? It’s ironic and some people will drown themselves in food by eating it. I drown myself in food by cooking it.

This week will be a challenging one. It guarantees more pans of beef and broccoli will be popping up! Ha!

Is It Ugly?

hip7On this snowy, cold day, I thought it appropo to post about ugly sweaters. It could be an excuse to not go out in this weather to run, but in any case, here it is.

The boy has a sweater which he says is ugly. I kind of like it and I told him so. He thanked me but I’m not sure if he thought it was a serious remark, but it is. I like it and I told him several times. I know he bought it at an ugly Christmas sweater store, and he won 4th in an ugly Christmas sweater contest but it’s really not that ugly. Is it? Gaudy maybe? Surely not ugly.

He rolled his eyes.

ugly1He must like it too because he wore it to our family Christmas party.

ugly2My mother asks me every year what she should get for the kids and this year, I offered to buy their gifts for her and she would give me the money for it. That way she wouldn’t have to worry about it, I’ll take care of everything. I even wrapped it.

This is what I bought the boy – from my parents.

ugly3When he opened it, he said, “Oh. Nice jacket.” When he put it on I thought, “That looks a lot like his ugly Christmas sweater.” But it’s not ugly. Is it?

ugly4It’s very Nordic and cutting edge fashionable. And it was warm.

He seemed happy to get it, and he said thank you to his Nanna and Poppop but something about his reaction made me pause. Rather, it made me overly enthusiastic about how beautiful it is, and I kept saying so.

On our way home I asked him if he really liked it or if he was being nice. He finally admitted that he didn’t, and that it looked like his ugly Christmas sweater. He asked me if I was so enthusiastic about his ugly sweater – because I bought him one just like it.

I said, “Maybe.”

I just sent it back. One of the reason codes for the return was, Received As A Gift, which is code for I Got It As A Gift And It Was Ugly. He was very diplomatic about the whole thing. I’m going to get him something to replace it.

Stay tuned.

New Year’s Week In Review

It’s 2015! It’s a great celebration because the number five is such an even number. Ha!

It’s only a couple weeks into 2015 and I’m already doing a “look back”. Why wait until the end of the year? And of course, being slightly obsessive about documentation of life in general (you must know me by now), it’s something I’m compelled to do. This platform is like journaling. It’s personal to me, and I don’t mind if you read it. My anecdotes may seem funny only to me, but then again, it’s my journal!

The week after Christmas was a week filled with hockey – hockey – hockey. On the ride up to Nanna & Poppop’s the boy was on his phone searching for a game. He found one of course, an AHL hockey game in the biggest little town closest to us. I knew when he mentioned it that there was no use protesting on my part.

So the day after Christmas, on Boxing Day, we went to a hockey game and watched some boxing:)

newyear1Hockey is the only game where a fight between two opponents is sanctioned.

newyear2It’s like the days of the Roman Coliseum where normal Romans go to watch a blood sport and cheer.

newyear3It is a physical sport so it’s understandable that emotions get high. It’s a balance of gentlemanly aggression (two words not normally used together) and unbelievable athleticism. It’s one sport that I get almost physically tired watching from my seat.

newyear4And we all love it.

It’s funny that the week between Christmas and New Year just seemed to drag by. I think it was probably an emotional exhaustion, you know, worrying about a certain boy to get home from school for Christmas. After we came home from Nanna and Poppop’s and I mentioned to several people from work that the holidays seemed to drag. Not much was happening at work, which was a good thing. Funny how that is when we were so busy before. Maybe everyone needed a break from all the Christmas activities. And we still had New Year’s Eve to get through.

All of a sudden, social activities seem burdensome. So much so that the husband and I didn’t go out until 9 PM. We joked about how it was our bedtime. We hadn’t got out at 9 PM in decades. Partying really is just for the young.

newyear5But once we’re out, we had a good time. Our friends unselfishly had a party, and I liked it for all of the young people who came and partied right along with us old folks.

newyear6A friend who was there is a dance instructor (who knew? I didn’t) and she held an impromptu swing dance lesson in the basement. I love to dance, I was all in. The funniest part was watching the kids watch us. They laughed, they pointed, and they took videos. Some actually came and danced with us. My partner at one time was Joshie, a very handsome and charismatic 17 year old. He came right up to me and said, “Let’s dance Miss Puna!” How adorable, don’t have to ask me twice. I wish I had a photo – but I was busy dancing. However, the boy took a video –

Mr Gary dances - watch at your own risk. I love Gary, he’s the biggest sport you will find anywhere. A true gem. We had a blast. Can you tell?

newyear8BTW, the kids do the best selfies. It understandable that some people are “done” with this trend, but I hope it goes on and on. I want to see what they’re doing:)

newyear7 This cute couple is getting married next year. We went to their engagement party the next day. It’s a great celebration. I’ve known Alex for years, love his parents and his finance is absolutely adorable. It’s as perfect as life can be perfect.

We ended up staying longer than we expected to, who would have thought? We really shouldn’t have because the next day, we were doing this –

newyear9It was a total blast! The kids were so excited. I’ll write about it soon.

newyear91One more selfie by the boy. I love it. And we don’t look too worse for wear after staying up late the night before – well, maybe I did.

newyear11The rest of the holiday break was spent doing this. I miss these boys, I really do. They can hang out as much as they want to.

newyear12I never see his friends unless he’s home. LCAT Daniel came to visit too. He stayed the night but I don’t any photos of his incredibly long hair and goatee. It’s another post for another time.

After the boy left, I thought, “That went fast.” I forgot that I was just complaining that the holidays were going slowly just a week before. I was incredibly sad when he left.

newyear13He had a rough trip back to school. His flight to Grand Forks was canceled and he had to fly to Fargo. Then his bag was lost for a while in Minneapolis and he was just reunited last night with it. He’s a college student, which means most of his clothes were in the bag. He said he was wearing the same jeans for five days. I’m not sure if that’s abnormal for a someone in this stage of life. Anyway, he was happy to see it.

So now, back to normal – not quite. The girl is still home but it’s normal as normal can be.

Like you, I’ve been watching the news. We live in a fallen world, a broken world. However, this little piece of normality reminds me that God is in control. He’s in control of all of it. We just need to be reminded of it from time to time.

Christmas In Review

jan5As I look back through photos from this holiday season I can’t help but feel blessed. Life goes by in a literal flash and there’s nothing like a good look back and a wonderful church sermon to remind me of God’s grace and blessings in each and every second. The good, the sad, the laughter, the tears – it’s all a part of the life that God gave us. I spend so much time wondering what I should be doing with it that I don’t spend enough time enjoying the moment because the next moment will come like clockwork, but this moment – it will pass.

I woke up today feeling a great urge to read the Bible. Like many others, I have an app called, well, The Holy Bible. I turn on my phone and today’s verse is this, “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with your lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Isaiah 29:13.

Let’s just say I decided to read a little bit more . . . and this is what the end of Isaiah 29 says, “Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.” Isaiah 29:24.

Once again, I’m reminded to be obedient. I know people don’t like the word “obedient” much: I know I didn’t. It’s actually become a favorite word of mind now, and when I’m obedient to Christ, my life is better, I lead a better life, or life is good – however you want to put it. Then there’s the eternal aspect . . . The odd thing is this: it’s only when I look backward that I realize this. I find it hard to feel blessed in the moment. Funny how that is . . .

Anyway, a look back.

As Christmas approached we, the husband and I, were once again left wondering when the boy was going to make it home. Every year for the past three years it’s been like this, and it’s really frustrating. I was hoping to do a family Christmas outing but I couldn’t plan anything without knowing a date of his return to Maryland. One of the things I wanted to do again this year was go to the Ford Theater to see A Christmas Carol on stage. We saw it as a family a few years ago and it’s an absolutely beautiful production, though we can’t do that when a certain boy doesn’t know when he’ll be home. The day before he came home I looked for tickets and they were sold out. Oh well.

homeWell look at that! He made it on the Monday before Christmas. Better late than never – but it wasn’t too late. Christmas wasn’t for another three days! He didn’t finish his flying at school though, so he has to go back early. But that’s another complaint for another time; “those who complain will accept instruction.”

As a substitution for seeing A Christmas Carol, we decided to celebrate by eating dinner at a Brazilian steak house called Fogo de Chao. Many people have told us about it, I couldn’t fully appreciate the experience until I got there.review3It’s an all you can eat meat restaurant. Yes all you can eat meat, served to you by Brazilian gauchos. It’s definitely an experience. I will write a review, but I have to go again. I was too overwhelmed the first time.

review2But look at these kids . . .

Since we were so full we walked to the White House to see the Holiday Tree. I showed it to you here.

review4I love doing this because it makes the masses, like me, feel like we are close to the people who are in power because we were right across from the White House. Once again, it’s human. Every year there are model trains that run around the tree and this year the boy noticed a drug bust going on at one of the train depots. This is Washington DC after all . . .

review6And because we’re in Washington DC, there’s all kinds of characters with whom you can make friends.

review5This town – it’s just gorgeous. I think one of the scenes from House of Cards was filmed right here at the Williard.

The next day we got up early and drove the six hours to my parents home. Once there we went directly to a family Christmas Eve party. It was really wonderful, there were full grown men there who I had not seen since they were 12 or 13 years old.

review7. . . like Phillip here, shown with his beautiful family. When I walked in I saw hello to him not knowing who is was. He was just a little boy when I last saw him.

review8I didn’t know who this boy was either but I told him I was his aunt.

review9This is my mother with my Aunt Shirley. I will cherish this photo always.

review91And I will cherish this photo forever too – but not for the same reasons. I love being in rural Pennsylvania because it’s so far and away – and totally different from Washington DC. When there is an apocalypse, you want to be in rural Pennsylvania where people know how to hunt and fish and survive in rough climates. The only exception would be a zombie apocalypse, then it wouldn’t matter where you were . . . it could happen . . .

review92We brought both the dog and Ella the dog as well as the cat with us on our trip. It was an uncomfortable six hours for all of us. Once there, we were greeted by Tuk Tuk and when Willow and Jasmine came by Christmas morning to visit – let’s just say it was a zoo.

review93Speaking of Tuk Tuk . . . he got a Chewbacca costume for Christmas.

review94He was not happy to be the brunt of our jokes. Poor guy.

review95When we took it off of him, he rolled over with happiness and relief.

review97Since this is already long I wanted to leave you with this – garlic.

review99. . . frying in butter and garlic. Heaven.

review991The garlic was in this seafood scampi.

review98. . . and in this squid ink pasta with Chilean sea bass. Merry Christmas to us!

I hope yours was a wonderful Christmas, filled with love and garlic. Perfect.

January 2, Cheers To 2015

jan2Happy New Year! I took this photo minutes after the hands of the clock struck midnight. It was a chaotic scene, people were hugging, kissing, yelling, and maybe even crying. It’s not because it’s midnight or even because it’s a new year. It’s the hope for a better one. It’s the potential that the coming days and months will bring more love, more joy, more accomplishments, more of what makes us happy.

So it may be just another day – but we mark it unlike the rest of the 364 days because it is the day that all of us, even the ones who vow not to make resolutions, all of us hope and resolve for something more. It’s human and it’s the human spirit!

Happy New Year!

34th Street Miracle Part 2

34yEarlier I said that the 34th West Street in Baltimore City had some of the most beautiful Christmas decorations I’ve ever seen but it’s also one the most eclectic and fun. All the different themes and small touches of eccentricity makes it really entertaining. The street is small and we weren’t there very long but it was enough to get us into the Christmas spirit.

34w An artist who lives on 34th Street opened up his home to the many visitors there that night and where we were able to view some mundane, some genius, and some just curious art. This was the mantle piece decorated in beer cans made to be people and it’s a wonder how simple egg yolks can be elevated to art.

I love kaleidoscope that is the human spirit.

34vThe ceiling had mirrors between the beams and there’s the homeowner now. He said, “I’m Jackson Pollack. Welcome to my home.” He said it in manner you would find in the gentile old south. I’m not sure if that’s his name and it’s not the Jackson Pollack, but that’s what I heard.

34tThis was the outside of the home. It was decorated with bicycle tires painted white. Very clever, very kitschy, very – well, I just don’t know. It was cool though.

34sNext door to that was the blow up house. We have one of these down the street from us!

34rTo the other side of the home was a house whose residents were Jewish and they were celebrating Hanukkah instead. This is just fantastic isn’t it? I love it – it’s a mosaic of a community.

34q Now to some of my favorite Christmas accessories. This mailbox opened and closed while Christmas music played.

34pThe goose that laid the golden eggs! Now THIS is clever.

34nWatch out for reindeer! I wish I had this in my yard.

34mmThe Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie was a favorite as a child. With all of the truly scary things in this world, I’m actually glad to once have been scared by the abominable snow man.

34mThis was inside on of the home. They left their door open. Very trusting people in Baltimore.

34lEvery inch of this person’s porch was filled with dolls and chotskies. I love dolls but the life-like ones can really be a little bit creepy . . . but that’s just me.

34ffAnd finally, I was pleasantly surprised to see many nativity scenes and then I did a check on my consciousness and realized that my surprise was – a surprise. It’s Christmas after all, why wouldn’t there be manger scenes and representations of why we’re actually calling Christmas – Christmas. I wouldn’t be celebrating otherwise.

If you decide to take a trip to see the lights, please know that the East 34th Street is very different from West 34th Street. It’s easy to end up somewhere you don’t be to be, as we did. As far as parking goes, we parked at a plumbing company. The owner was outside with a lighted parking sign and it was $5 and a short half block walk. I liked the entrepreneurial spirit. He said his partner was inside playing pool. There are apparently other places to park, but they charge $10 or more.

I believe it worth the trip if you’re in the local area. The kids would love it. Go to a nice place to eat afterward. We went to a place called Arturo’s Tratorria, great food, but as far as the service goes . . . you have to go to a place more than once but less than three times to really see if it’s worth being on your favorite list, but that’s another post for another time.

Have a very, very Merry Christmas!

Merry Retirement

nick11Merry Christmas everyone! There’s nothing better than starting out the season with a ceremony marking the end of a season and the beginning of a new one. A retirement ceremony is just that, an end – and a beginning. A funeral – and a baptism all at once.

nick8We have friend who on Monday, concluded 26 years of service to his country with a ceremony that was so touching that I literally cried through the entire thing. It didn’t help that I was sitting next to Neighbor Corinne who was literally a waterfall of tears.

nick1All of the pomp and ceremony of a military retirement was on display. This ceremony was called “Piping Ashore” the guest of honor.

nick7It made me so proud! I can’t tell you how it moves a patriotic heart – and if you’re not patriotic, you can still appreciate the timeless traditions of our great military.

The speeches were emotional and truly reflected the kind of sentiment that people had for Nick. He’s just a great guy, a really great guy. When he spoke you can tell how much he loved the Navy, loved his country, loved his family and loved God who he put front and center in his life.

nick6And then there was his family – I didn’t have any eye makeup left after he brought his family through.

nick9I wasn’t the only one. Little Katherine cried too. It was really emotional for us adults, I can imagine how it would touch a tender young heart. She so cute!

nick2When Nick received his discharge certificate, we couldn’t help but notice the huge photo of President Obama on the back. The husband couldn’t remember getting a photo of President Bush when he retired. I didn’t hear the honors when it was read because I was distracted by the photo. We always wondered if the President really signed documents like this – nah.

nick4Another not so small thing that made the ceremony so special was the venue. It was at the Naval Academy Bancroft Hall which houses the dorms where the midshipmen stay. It was gorgeous – just gorgeous.

nick13I know that those young cadets are being put through their paces at the school and may be too busy doing their physical training, marching, studying and being yelled at for no reason, to truly appreciate their surroundings.

Yet, I’m sure they do. You can’t help but see how beautiful it is. I couldn’t help but think – they live there.

nick14I love the American flag among the Corinthian Greek columns, frescoes, and stain glass windows.

nick5There’s the outside of the building, and there’s a cadet now! The girl calls them “boat drivers” though of course they are much more than that. They are our nation’s future!

nick15The husband is doing well by the way. He’s still walking with a cane but coming along nicely. Look at that hall – breathtaking.

I spoke with a friend afterward and he said that Nick was a dying breed. It made me sad frankly. I would rather think that Nick was one in a million but that those kinds of men and women still serve in our military – that breed was still in the culture and that it was alive and well.

Merry Christmas everyone! May God bless America!


Finals – Finals – Finals

hip1Right before the husband went into surgery, the boy texted this to his dad. It could be a statement on the doctor’s surgical skills but the husband, while laying on his hospital gurney, attached to IVs, waiting to get wheeled into surgery, broke out into a guffaw.

That boy! What are we gonna do with him?

The husband is doing very well and recovering nicely. If you were to ask him, he would say that it didn’t hurt at all. The first week after surgery was a case study in aggressive pain management. It paid off because if the patient is painfully uncomfortable, it delays the recovery, so I set the alarm clock every three hours to make sure we stayed ahead of the pain. Now the husband is doing laps around the house, with a cane of course.

Because I’ve been awake every three hours for a week and cooked Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve not had time to be creative and shoot photos – nor to think about Christmas. The husband’s birthday snuck up on me – and we celebrated by sleeping all day. I don’t have much, if any Christmas decorations up. I don’t know if it’s that important this year. Our tree is not up yet, but I still have time don’t I? Christmas is still ten days away, a long way off.

And then there’s the kids. The girl came home last week from college with the declaration that she wants to transfer to Columbia University. You know, the one in New York City with the 5% acceptance rate. We’re not sure how we’re going to handle this – but I’ll keep you informed. The two or three weeks at the end of every semester, the boy goes incommunicado. Every once in a while we hear from him – and he looks mostly scruffy.

hip2He asked about his father and I said I was proud of him. He said he’s studying, and that he was proud too. I must have said something back that irked him because then I got this.

hipe3Geesh . . . sensitive. Finals must be really tough this semester.

hip4I asked him if he was flying or studying for finals – and I get this. I really think he’s been studying too hard.

The weather in Grand Forks has not been good, but that’s no surprise. Since the weather isn’t cooperating, I wonder if the boy is going to make it home for Christmas, I really do. This happened last year too. The good thing is this, we don’t have to worry about moving him in and out of the dorm at a certain time. That was always stressful.

hip5We communicated again the other day and I told him it looked like he hasn’t slept or shaved in days. Both are correct he says.

hip6But . . . at least he’s showering. I told him I liked his sweater to which he said –

hip7Yes it is. This entire ugly Christmas sweater phenomenon is really catching on among the co-ed crowd.

As mundane as this conversation is, I was still happy to hear from him. I know finals are tough, but it’s a rite of passage and I feel that it’s building character. Life is hard.

In the meantime, our neighbors were talking about doing a cultural event this year – like we did last year when we went to see the Book of Morman and ate dinner in the Pope Room of Bucca Di Peppe. It was a very ecumenical night, depending on your view of these religions. Anyways . . . as it turns out, no one wanted to go anywhere or do anything. What – my humbuggity is rubbing off on our neighbors too?

hip8Instead of going out on the town to one of the many great holiday cultural events in Washington DC, we all went to Neighbors Steve & Sue’s house and hung out around their kitchen counter.hip9They continue to be the best hosts I’ve ever known. It was a pot luck and her home remains the best party place. It’s beautiful, warm and so provencale. Neighbor Sue confessed to me that it’s been a tough holiday season for her too. She lost someone close to her recently.

hip10I wanted to show you her beautiful table centerpiece:)

hip11It was a fun night. We ought to hang out at her house more often.

Today I’m thinking about Christmas again, as in how and where we are going to spend it. As always it depends on when the boy gets home from school. And that depends on the weather in Grand Forks and whether or not it will allow any flying to happen between now and then. And I have no control over any of it.

I was on the boy’s photostream last night though, just wanted to see what he was up to.

hip12I saw this photo. I don’t know where he was or who he was with – but he’s shaved!

hip16And I also saw this – I wonder who they were so star struck over.

hip18She must be someone special.

hip14They appear to be very impressed.

hip15And there were a lot of photos – wish I knew who she was.

I’ll ask the boy – after his finals are over . . .