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Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category

Dear Readers,

As part of my morning ritual, I take the empty glass of water from my bedside table to the dishwasher in the kitchen.  It was there I glanced up to see part of a big colorful rainbow from the window.  This is the first one I had seen this year.  It is such a thrilling sight to observe the many tones on the spectrum from red to violet glowing in the bright morning sunlight.  My walking partner and good friend had to be alerted to this glorious display of nature before it faded away.  She was glad I telephoned her and even had to step up on a chair to get a glimpse of the rainbow from her bedroom window.

It wasn’t a perfectly arched rainbow because of the cloud configuration above the mountain but it did shine for over two hours.  My friend and I took our usual morning trek going east on Country Club Road.  When we retraced our steps going west, the rainbow was our focal point on the path home.  As we finished our walk, my friend joyously remarked how fortunate we both were to be able to enjoy this gift of nature from God.  She also declared that she “stops to smell the roses and brakes for rainbows”.  Wise words, indeed!

Keep smilin’!

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A Magical Month

Dear Readers,

One of the first things my newly pregnant daughter asked me was “Mom, can you come and help us with the new baby?”  “Certainly”, I happily replied.  What mother could resist an offer like this.

Our first grandson was due August 9; so it was planned that my husband and I would drive to Chicago a day after he was born and my return airline reservation was booked for August 31.  Lev Henry surprised us with an early arrival around 10 PM on July 30.  It took a day or two to pack our bags and then drive to Chicago.  We arrived on Saturday afternoon, August 3.

What a pleasure to hold our newborn baby grandson.  My daughter and son-in-law were thrilled but exhausted.  An unexpected caesarian section complicated matters.  They seemed relieved at our arrival.  My husband and I got busy buying groceries, preparing meals and catching up on laundry.  After four days, my husband left to attend to other family matters and I was alone with the new family.

The first week flew by as we all tried to get used to this 7 pound-13 ounce responsibility.  I acted as cheerleader for my daughter’s nursing efforts and the 5 AM relief for my son-in-law’s night watch.  We were a team and we all knew it.  Our main goal was to keep Lev fed, dry and in clean clothes.  There were systems to be implemented for this baby.  Even the chore of a baby bath meant the towels, soap, cotton balls and water basins had to be gathered up and placed in a convenient area; not to mention the diaper changing table where tiny pampers were stacked and wipes were nearby.  Even with all this organization, Lev managed to pee on all of us during diaper changes.

By week two we were all feeling more assured but extremely tired.  We tried out the new stroller to take Lev for a walk.  Although it was state-of-the-art equipment, we still had to learn how to assemble it and strap him in.

For four consecutive Tuesdays, I bought a fancy cupcake at the Swedish-American bakery on Clark Street so that we could sing “Happy Birthday” to Lev.  He was only four weeks old and had been sung to four times!  I’m sure there’s no longer a celebration as he marks another week of living.  But it was a welcome treat for all of us during this first month.

I awakened every morning at 5 AM.  Most days Lev had just concluded nursing, so I could rock him to sleep while Momma and Dad got some much needed sleep.  Lev and I experienced many sunrises together.

The four weeks hurried by and soon it was time to say goodbye.  Lev has a two foot tall band of chalkboard paint surrounding the perimeter of his room.  His mother invited me to sign the board.  After careful consideration I wrote “Thank you Lev for 28 days of August, 2013.  Love, Mimi”.

The last morning arrived and as usual I was up at 5 AM.  Bags were packed, the laundry was caught up and the fridge was neat and clean.  I knew I could leave in good conscience.  But that morning after I rocked Lev to sleep, I couldn’t let go of him and put him in his crib.  Not today with his sweet baby smell and so soft baby skin all warm and cozy.  I sat for three hours rocking and cradling him as I knew that a 67 year old woman would never have this opportunity again!

Recently I told a tennis friend about this special three hour rock-a-thon.  She said not to worry because now Lev would never forget me as he’ll always remember my heart beat.  I’m not certain this is true, but I like to think that it is.  One thing I know for sure, I’ll always remember the special time we spent together during the “magical month” of August, 2013!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

The other day I noted a bumper sticker that read “Well-Behaved Women Never Make History!”  The implication was that one has to be loud and possibly somewhat rude to be remembered and acclaimed.

My Mom was neither loud nor rude but she has left her mark on the world in a quiet and unassuming manner.  In fact, one small act of kindness by her is still being remembered and saluted more than 50 years after it happened.

It occurred while I was a high school student during the early 60’s.  My fellow classmate, who is organizing our 50th reunion, wrote and told me how she still remembered my Mom and her thoughtfulness.  Let me quote from her recent e-mail:

“I was thinking about your Mom the other night when I was taking out some baked potatoes.  Remember there were 8 children in my family.  I loved and still do every minute of that.  But one time I went home with you for a while and your Mother invited me to dinner.  And she served baked potatoes.  Boy I loved them!  At home we did do a lot of potato dishes but never baked.  Just the recipes that made them stretch. I did a lot of the home cooking in high school.  One night I wanted to make them for the family and surprise Mom.  I really didn’t see what your Mom did to them to make them so good.  So I called her and asked her to talk me through the recipe.  I had a pencil and two sheets of paper ready for her words of wisdom.  She was so kind and calm while we talked.  She went step by step.  She was a dream.  Well can you believe it.  You just wash them and put them in the oven!!  Julia Child, eat your heart out.  I bet your Mom had a few good giggles out of that one.  But you know she didn’t patronize me and took my request seriously.  I loved her for that”.

I’m sure my Mom sensed my friend was in need of a little motherly attention and freely gave it to her.  It was never forgotten.  So you see, you don’t have to misbehave to be remembered.  Her one small act of love and kindness lives on long after she has left this earth!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

I usually take a morning walk around 8 AM but this Saturday it was later than usual because of various household chores.  My excursion started around 1 PM and there was plenty of activity on the streets.  It was a clear blue-sky day with a temperature of 73 degrees; folks were most anxious to be out and about enjoying it.

A beer festival was being held at Moore Square Park, a block up from my home.  Huge white tents were erected for sampling the micro-brews.  Large groups of young people gathered in these tents where the noise level was a fever pitch.  I guess the more beer you sample, the louder you talk!

My ears were relieved when the walk took me beyond the park where I was treated with some colorful sights of spring.  I strolled by white and pink dogwood trees, a blooming tulip tree, rows of purple, gold and white pansies, deep red and bright yellow tulips.  The azalea bushes were laden with white, red and lavender blooms.  Clusters of purple and white irises stood proudly and gently swayed in the breeze.  What a beautiful spring feast for my eyes.

Seaboard Station, a retail and dining area near the old train tracks, was just around the corner.  Outdoor patios were crowded with diners munching on hamburgers and fries while sipping sweet tea or beer.  When springtime arrives, everyone wants to eat outdoors and enjoy the warm afternoon.  Throngs of shoppers mobbed the grounds of the Logan Trading Co. selecting all types of potting plants.  Gardeners enthusiastically eyed the rows of purple, pink and white petunias along with trays of orange, yellow and coral gerber daisies.

At the far end of the parking lot there was an exhibition of Euro-bikes which featured antique scooters and Bucati motorbikes.  These fine machines were polished and gleaming in the sunlight.  Owners proudly stood beside them.  In one corner a band was playing some “down ‘n dirty” rock ‘n roll songs.  I couldn’t help from smiling just listening to this music from the past.

Near the end of the walk, a horse-drawn carriage clip-clopped down the street.  In it sat a man and a woman eagerly looking, while listening to the driver, who was most likely divulging the history of the buildings on the route.  There wasn’t a lot of traffic, so the talkative driver could lean back to converse with the couple while leisurely guiding the horse and carriage down the street.

All in all, it was a great day to be “alive and kicking” in Raleigh, NC.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Have you ever heard of triskaidekaphobia?  Well, neither have I.  But according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, it’s the fear of the number thirteen.  Does that mean the with the new year of 2013, cases of this phobia will be reported?  I certainly hope not; thirteen seems pretty harmless to me.  We don’t need another negative thing to contend with in our already chaotic lives.  Mimi’s thinking positive about 2013.  It’s a new beginning where we can put fears behind us and look forward to the future.

An author who wrote a book about happiness appeared on the Today Show this morning to give some tips on happiness.  She noted that one of the things that can give us pleasure is making up the bed in the morning.  It provides us with a sense of order and control.  No matter how busy the day becomes, at least our bed is neat and tidy.  I agree with her completely.  There is nothing more depressing after a long day, than to enter the bedroom and see a messy, unmade bed.  Her other tip for happiness is the joy of inhaling a pleasing scent, such as the smell of freshly laundered towels, citrus and spices in the kitchen or burning a fragrant candle.  Something as simple as this can bring a smile to our face.  Sounds like a wonderful idea to me.  Maybe just the smell of chocolate chip cookies will make me happy!!!

My final thought concerns taking down the Christmas tree and other decorations.  When I lived in PA and had small children, it was a sad chore, indeed.  The whole house looked bare and colorless, and the thought of the long, cold January days ahead didn’t help.  But since we are retired and live in a warm, sunny climate, the chore is not so dreaded.  Our little three foot artificial Christmas tree is disassembled in fifteen minutes; and then I’m ready to grab my tennis racquet and head for the neareast court!

Happy New Year to all of you and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

My granddaughter is having a birthday party for some school and playmates on a Saturday when Mimi and Papa will be away.  So a small family celebration was planned for the week before.

“Little Love” requested a birthday cake from the Square Rabbit Bakery in downtown Raleigh, NC.  Her friend had a cake from there at his party and she declared it was delicious.  A trip was scheduled to visit the bakery to select a cake.  The birthday girl was so excited about the selection, that she skipped the entire way to the bakery, which is about two blocks away from our condo.

This five year old had definite ideas about her cake.  A big green 5 was to be placed in the center along with “Happy Birthday” and her name written around the edge.  A multi-color train of red, blue and purple was requested.  The flavor of the four layer cake was yellow with lemon mousse filling and white buttercream frosting.  Sounded yummy to me.  We sampled a cupcake flavored like the cake and agreed it was very tasty.  The birthday cake was going to be wonderful!

Party hats, paper plates, napkins and matching cups were procured from the local dollar store along with five helium balloons:  a pink heart, red, green and purple stars and a round “Happy Birthday” balloon.  The balloons were anchored by tying the attached ribbons to plastic jars of playdoh.

At 3 PM everything was ready.  Balloons were arranged in a corner where they bobbed up and down; gaily wrapped presents in gift bags were lined up on the dining room buffet; and Betty Boomerang along with Silly Sally had their birthday hats on and were ready to party.  (Betty Boomerang and Silly Sally are two stuffed animals that are beloved by my granddaughters.  I’ll have to tell you about them on another day.)

Birthday girl was very excited especially when she saw her cake.  Five sparkling candles were thoughtfully placed by her in a row across the colorful train.  Lights were turned off; “Happy Birthday” was sung and candles were gleefully blown out.  Everyone enjoyed the cake and then the presents were opened.  (In the mind of this five year old, cake eating came before presents!)  Wrapping paper littered the floor and balloons floated toward the ceiling.  The party was over.  But I don’t really know who had the best time – my granddaughter or me!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

I’m proud to say I was born in Louisville, Kentucky and even prouder of this fact during Derby Week.  For it is during this time that the city of Louisville really shines.  There’s a spectacular fireworks display, the staging of “Thunder Over Louisville”, a lively parade full of marching bands, clowns and artfully decorated floats along with more parties than “you can shake a stick at”!

There’s one Kentucky Derby that I will always remember vividly; well, maybe it was really the morning after.  Let me tell you about it.

Many Sundays during the spring racing season, my Uncle Leonard and my Dad (both avid horse lovers) would drive to Churchill Downs at sunrise to go to the “backside” to observe the horses out on the track for their morning exercise.  Occasionally my younger sister and I would join them even though it involved attending Sunday mass at 5 AM.  But the sacrifice was well worth it; for when we arrived, the sun was just rising in the sky, the air was fresh and chilly and a low fog lay over the track area.  It was magical to see these graceful animals begin with a slow trot and gradually progress to a full gallop.  Their hooves smacking the dirt track made a melodious clip-clop, clip-clop sound.  Before we left, we would stroll by the stables to survey the horses in their stalls eating oats and munching on carrots.

On the Sunday after the running of the 1956 Kentucky Derby, we embarked on a sunrise trip to Churchill Downs.  But this day was special; yes, very special.  As we wandered through the stable area, we spied a gorgeous blanket of red roses draped over a stable door.  Then we saw a handsome and proud horse standing nearby.  We moved closer for a better look and sure enough it was Needles, the 1956 Kentucky Derby winner.  A gentleman near the horse proudly told us so and he allowed my sister and I to pet Needles.  He asked if we would like a couple of roses from the blanket.  Sure, we exclaimed; so he pinched off two rosebuds for both of us.  What a treasure for a 10 year old girl!  We couldn’t wait to show them to our Mom, when we returned home.

Somehow during the years those dried Derby rosebuds were misplaced and lost.  But I will never forget our encounter with Needles, the winner of the 1956 Kentucky Derby!

Keep smilin’!

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