Friday, December 31, 2010

The story of an old TV

Hollywood couldn't have written a more heartwarming script!

Last month I finally bought an HD TV. I thought I was the only one in the Universe that didn't have an HD TV.

I was with my good friends, Harold and Juanita, one evening and told them I bought the new HD TV and it would be installed within a few days. "What are you going to do with your old TV?" they asked.

"Oh, THAT thing? I'll just put it out for the garbage to haul off. It's old and there isn't a market for that kind of thing anymore."

Turns out they were looking for a used TV to put in their basement to connect Wii for their grandchildren when they came over.

I was thrilled to find a good home for an old relic and they were pleased to get a TV for the grandchildren to enjoy their Wii.

The day they came to my home to pick up the TV, they told me they didn't have an HD TV. "WHAT? Then let me show you what HD TV is all about!"

They were sold! Now they have an HD TV!

But wait! There is more to the story.

Their son-in-law took their old TV and put it in their basement for the children to have a place to enjoy Wii at home. The kids think Santa brought the two new Wii connections.

"See how much joy you spread!" Jaunita said to me in an e-mail.

Now who would ever imagine that an old, big, heavy TV could be the beginning of so much Christmas joy for three small children?

Sunday, December 26, 2010


The dictionary defines the word “comfort” as “to soothe, console, or reassure, to bring cheer to.” Being comfortable is important every day of our lives. But I think during the bleak winter, comfort is even more important.

What brings me comfort? First, and foremost, is my home. My home is my refuge from all the unpleasantness in the world, globally, nationally, and in my everyday life. Then there are the little things that I value. My flannel lined jeans. My morning coffee. A good book to read. One of my favorite winter things to do is going through my cookbooks to find a new recipe to try. It brings me joy and comfort to invite friends over for dinner and serve them a special meal I prepared.

My Labrador Retriever, Molly, is a tremendous sense of comfort. When I return home she is always glad to see me, with her tail wagging and that look of excitement in her eyes. She loves sitting in my lap licking my face, even when I don’t want her to do that.

And then there is my Bible. It is a source of strength and comfort when things just seem to get out of control.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

To all my readers, Merry Christmas! May the peace and joy of Christmas be with you now and all through the year.

I am very grateful for those who follow my blog both near and far. When you create a blog, you just never know who is reading it! It is not uncommon for someone to comment on something in my life and I will ask, "How did you know about that?"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Animal House, the movie

Anyone over 35 can remember the 1978 sleeper hit of the year, Animal House, the bold (for it's time!) story of two college fraternities, the Deltas - the party animals, and the Omegas - the goody-two-shoes crowd.

Babs as she looks today

Last night on the Biography Channel, I watched "Animal House, the Inside Story". It brought back a flood of memories of watching this movie over the years. I remember walking out of the theater, the first time I saw it back in 1978. Everyone leaving the theater was laughing hysterically. . . everyone! Those standing in line to see the movie watched those leaving in total wonder, as if they were thinking, "This must be SOME movie!"

Animal House can best be described as where excess meets insanity. It was racist and anti-semetic. It was raunchy and rowdy. But who can refrain from laughing at the infamous food fight or the Toga Party. . . "Toga!. . . Toga!" The Hollywood bosses of the time wanted nothing to do with this script. The producers had great difficulty finding a typical northeastern college campus to shoot the movie, which almost derailed the project. NO ONE wanted their school in this film. They finally settled on the University of Oregon for the filming. The Delta House fraternity building was torn down years ago and an office building now stands on the site.

The writers were total amateurs, the Director, a high school drop out. It was filmed in just 30 days.

I think everyone agrees, the reason for the tremendous popularity of this movie is the characters in the movie remind us all of real people in our young adult years.

Thanks for letting me share memories with you of a movie that will be around for generations!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Quote for the Day

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a dog licking your face.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My home in winter

As I pulled out of my driveway this morning on my way to work, this is what I saw! Yes, winter and snow can be a real nuisance. But I had to admit, this made a pretty scene with everything covered in snow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Not a nice day to be on the road

From my desk at work, I overlook a stretch of I-390. At times today, it has been a parking lot. Earlier today, I was in a meeting over at the Medical Center. I took the shuttle bus that goes between Corporate Woods (an office building where I work) and the main campus of the Medical Center. I had no desire to drive my car, given the blowing snow and slick roads. One person, trying to get to our meeting, called in and said, "I'm on that parking lot known as Elmwood Avenue moving at a crawl!"

Two major roads today have been closed due to numerous accidents. Now I am looking at the southbound lane of 390 and it is almost at a standstill.

Welcome to winter in New York State!

Post Script! I made it home safely. Just as I got inside my warm home, I realized I haven't opened my mailbox in two days! It's out by the road, a long walk in this kind of weather!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What I'm reading now

Decision Points, by George W. Bush, is a good read. The book candidly focuses on the major decisions he has made throughout his life, both personally and professionally. I think those who are quick to find fault with him will find many of their feelings unfounded. You can't believe everything you hear in the liberal press!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Button up and hold onto your hat!

Whoa! If the weather forecasters are correct, this part of the country is in for a real pounding beginning Sunday. Thank goodness I have my snowblower back from the shop.

When the wind passes over the Great Lakes, the warm air from the water mixes with the wind and you end up with snow. The Great Lakes haven't frozen over yet.

Rochester had over a foot of snow over several days this week. Now we are in the calm before the storm!

Saturday will be my day to do errands. One of those errands will be to fill the gas can that I use to power the snowblower! Sunday will be a day to stay inside, read a good book and be thankful for a warm home!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A nice thought

This was on the front of a Christmas card I received yesterday. I wanted to share it with you:

May your walls know joy,
may every room hold laughter,
and every window open to great possibility.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Wonderland

This was snapped from my front door just a few moments ago! Yes, it's beautiful, but how long before Spring???

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How often does this happen???

Early this morning, as I was waiting for my coffee to brew, I checked my e-mails. There was an e-mail from Ginger, long time friend, from last night, with the subject line, "Guess what?" (I'm thinking, "Ginger, it's too early in the morning for guessing games!")

"Guess who I met today!" her note began. "Marisa"

Marisa, my daughter-in-law, was at a craft fair selling her own line of products, check out her website:

Along came Ginger and recognized the name. They struck up a conversation like two old friends, although they had never met. But both of them had heard me talk about each of them to the other!

Now, it's rare that I laugh uncontrollably before I have had my first cup of coffee in the morning. But this morning was an exception!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This was supposed to be rain!

We were supposed to get heavy rain today as part of that east coast storm creating havoc along the Atlantic coast. . .

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No major storms. . . yet

There is a saying in Rochester, "if you don't like the weather, hang around a bit, it will change." With Lake Erie to the west and Lake Ontario to the north, we are subject to rapid changes in weather year round.

Our first measureable snow usually comes around the week of Thanksgiving. So far, yesterday we had a trace, hardly enough to cover the grass. It was gone by the middle of the morning.

Depending on which long term forecast you want to believe, this year we will have a mild winter with January and February "being the most erratic". . . pretty safe forecast since January and February are the major snow machine months.

Having grown up in Florida where there are two seasons, summer and a drizzly, rainy winter, I very much enjoy the four seasons here. In Florida, I never knew the joy of seeing a crocus push defiantly through a patch of ice and bust open into color, or a hyacinth, or daffoidil. I never appreciated summer as much as I do here because summer is much shorter. And the colors of fall are spectacular in New York. Winter, with all its harshness, is a thing of beauty with everything covered in a pristine white blanket of snow. Being inside most of the winter, and free from the yard work of the other three seasons, forces me to sit down and read those books I have been promising myself I will read.

Then one day, you look out and see people in light jackets walking their dogs and you pause to stare at them. Amazing! People come out of the woodwork on the first mild day of late winter or early spring!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Leftover Turkey

One reward for spending all day in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day is the many leftover turkey recipes for what's left from Thanksgiving dinner. This year, I spent Thanksgiving at Michael and Marisa's house so I didn't even have to do all the prep work, except for the candied yams and pumpkin pie that I brought for dinner. When I came home, they gave me a ziploc bag full of leftover turkey meat.

Here is one recipe that John and Michael always asked for when they were growing up. It's called Turkey Turnovers. Admittedly, I don't make it much anymore just for me, but if company is coming, this one is a sure winner.

3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup milk
2 cups chopped, cooked turkey
pie pastry for a 2-crust pie

Preheat over to 450 degrees.

Melt butter; add onion and flour and stir until smooth. Add the seasonings. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened. Add the turkey; adjust seasonings if needed. Let mixture cool.

Meanwhile, roll out the pastry to one-eighth inch thickness. Cut dough into three inch circles or squares, place a rounded tablespoon of the turkey mixture over one half and fold the other half over the filling, pressing the edges together. Slash the top to allow for escape of steam.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake until attractively browned, or about twenty to thirty minutes. Serve with mushroom sauce (recipe below).

Mushroom Sauce for Turkey Turnovers

1 tablespoon chopped onion
1/4 lb. mushrooms sliced thin
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups canned beef gravy

Saute the onion and mushrooms in the butter for five minutes, stirring. Add the lemon juice and gravy and blend well. Bring to a boil and swerve hot.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Congratulations to Andrew and Lauren

Andrew and his wife, Lauren, welcomed a new baby girl to their family last night. Cameron was born a little after 7:00 pm here in Rochester. She joins her big sister, Reese (I hope I spelled that correctly!).

Andrew is the son of my very good friends, Robert and Nancy. I remember when Nancy was pregnant with Andrew - that's how far back we go! We watched each other's children grow up over the years.

This is grandchild #6 for Robert and Nancy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A fantastic meatloaf recipe

I stumbled onto a really good meatloaf recipe in one of my Southern Living cookbooks. It's called Old-Fashioned Meatloaf and it is on page 518 of Southern Living 1001 Ways to Cook Southern.

Two things make this special, in my opinion. There are seasonings not often found in meatloaf and the fact that it is cooked on a broiling rack with the excess fat falling through to the pan below.

Here it is.

1 tablespoon butter
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 of a large onion, finely chopped
2 lb. lean ground beef
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, divided
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in medium skillet; add celery and onion, and saute for 7 minutes.

Stir together celery mixture, ground beef, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Shape into a 10" x 5" loaf; place on lightly greased broiler rack. Place rack over broiler pan.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Stir together remaining 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, and 1 tablespoon ketchup until blended. Pour evenly over loaf and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Nice end to the week

Ahh. . . nothing nicer than to come home to a glass of wine and classical music playing on my Bose stereo. My home is my refuge. I can close the door and all the office politics and craziness of the outside world can't get inside.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quote for the Day

Grandchildren are God's reward for growing old.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A visit with my grandchildren

You know, I loved raising my two sons, John and Michael. . . and for those of you that don't already know - they are twins! But there is something very special about grandchildren that you just can't put into words or define.

I just returned from a long weekend visiting them down South. . . they used to live in Rochester. And I could pop in almost anytime and see them. Then a few years back, a head hunter found my son, promised him the world. . . and, unfortunately, for me, delivered. I cherish every minute I can spend with them.

This weekend was a lot of fun for me. On Saturday morning, John and Jen were running in separate races - John in a half marathon and Jen in an 8K. They both did very well for their age group - but Jen got her name in the paper and John didn't!!!

My job on Saturday morning was to pack all three of my grandsons, Kevin, Jake, and Andrew in my little Honda Civic and drive them to Jake's soccer game. Okay, I admit, I was a little nervous about packing up three kids - and their gear - all by myself. So I allowed PLENTY of time to get Jake there on time. Jen said we needed to leave by 9:45. Forget that! NO! I wanted to allow for every contingency. So at 9:00 am, I loaded the three boys and their gear in the car and was ready to pull out of the driveway by 9:15. "Okay. . . Jake, do you have everything you need?", I asked.

"I think so," he answered.

"JAKE! I don't want an 'I-think-so' Do you have everything you need???"

"Well, I think I need my water bottle and my soccer ball," he replied.

Okay, so we get the water bottle and the soccer ball from the house. "Sometimes I'm irresponsible," Jake said. It was hard, but I did not laugh at him.

John had warned me that some of the kids on this soccer team were, well, less than my expectations for childrens' behavior. So I had pulled Jake aside. . . looked at him with my "stern gramma" look. "Jake," I began, "I want you to have a good time today and Gramma is really looking forward to watching you play. But I expect you to behave the way you are capable of behaving. . . do you understand?"

Jake looked at me with those eyes that said, "Gramma is serious, I better tow the line here."

"Because if you don't," I continued, "Gramma is going to tie you to the bumper of her car and drag you all the way home." Somehow I managed to look into those eyes and keep a straight face.

"What will you use for rope?", Jake asked with only a hint of a smirk on his face.

I may be a strong willed person. But that made me laugh inspite of myself!!!

I was going to insert here a picture of Jake in his soccer uniform. But I didn't like the way that picture turned out.

But here is one that I really like. Humor me. I'm a very proud Gramma.

On Saturday morning, I came downstairs. . . forget grandchildren. . . in the morning, my first priority is my cup of coffee. So I walked into the family room from the kitchen with my treasured cup of coffee. This is what I saw! Kevin and Jake with Bingo, the dog, cuddled up with them!

I have to add a word about Bingo. Those who know me, know that I will tell you, there is no other dog in the world but a Labrador Retriever. But Bingo is an exception. When I first heard John and Jen were considering a rescue dog, I went ballistic. I can relate more true stories than I care to, about the horrors of bringing a rescue dog into your home, ESPECIALLY with small children!

Bingo is a major exception to that rule. Bingo is one of the most loving dogs I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. We don't know her background before coming to John and Jen's home. But I assure you, this dog found the right home. She is good with the kids and all five of them (John, Jen, Kevin, Jake, and Andrew) love her.

And here are other scenes from my weekend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Found it!

I found the long lost recipe for tuna casserole that I haven't made in years!

As the picture shows, it was clipped from an issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

You can see the ingredients in the picture. Here are the directions:

In large bowl, blend cheese thoroughly into soup. Stir in tuna, pimiento, onion, pease, mustard, milk and macaroni. Pour into casserole dish. Mix crumbs with butter and sprinkle over the top. Bake in 375 oven for 35 to 40 minutes.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lost recipe for tuna casserole

Okay, this one is really bothering me. Many years ago, I had a wonderful recipe for tuna casserole. The main ingredients were tuna, cream cheese, peas, and pasta. Those are the only ingredients that I can remember. It was a delicious recipe. I have searched through dozens of my cookbooks, recipe card files and recipe binders. I went online to several of the recipe sites ( for one) but nothing turned up.

Do any of you have such a recipe????

Is this a sign of old age when you start thinking about things you cooked decades ago?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Get out and vote today!

I always vote the first thing in the morning. The rest of my day is going to be frantic and I have no patience for standing in long lines as is the case toward the end of the voting day.

This morning I only took time for one cup of coffee, jumped in the shower, threw on my jeans and turtleneck and I was off to the polls.

I have to admit to feelings of anxiety at using the new voting machines. All my life I have voted on the tried and true pull lever types behind a curtain. Whether or not my thoughts are unfounded, I have strong reservations about the accuracy of these new fangled machines. Can they be tampered with? With the old machines, it was simple. You pull the lever, your vote is recorded. . . period.

I saw one old gentleman walking in the voting place using a walker. It was obvious that every step he took was painful to him. Yet this man took the time to go vote.

To all my readers in the United States, please take the time to vote today.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Recap

We had an uneventful Halloween in our neighborhood last night. There was one point when I had raised eyebrows. I heard a siren close by and thought, "Oh, no!" It was the fire truck from our town going around, lights flashing, handing out candy. Just as I opened my front door to see what was going on, I heard a voice on the microphone say, "Happy Halloween, Everyone!" It was drawing kids like a magnet! I don't remember them doing that before. At Christmas, they decorate the truck and drive down the residential streets with Chistmas carols playing.

Most of the kids who came to my door were polite and said, "Thank you!"

Of course, Molly had to be right in the middle of things, with her tail wagging and her tongue ready to lick the face of any little kid she could get to!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Tonight is Trick or Treat night. I would guess there won't be a lot of kids out this year, based on the weather. It is cold, blustery, and just now, my walk with Molly was cut short by light sprinkles. When I abruptly turned around, she looked up at me as if she were thinking, "Hey, this isn't the turnaround point of my walk!"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I love this tree

This tree is just outside my third floor window at work. I don't know what kind of tree it is but it is beautiful in the fall and early spring. The sun wasn't shining when I snapped this picture (through tinted windows) so it's full brilliance doesn't show. In the spring, it is covered in white blooms.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Life with Molly

Don't ever try to convince me dogs are not half human.

Last night, after a particularly brutal day at work, I fell asleep sitting on the couch watching TV. I awoke to the sound of whining. Opening my eyes, I saw on the TV cable box that it was almost 10:00 pm. There, in front of me, was a 50 pound Black Lab with a look in her eyes of "What is wrong with you, when are you coming to bed?" She sleeps on a round bed from LL Bean on the floor next to my bed. I suppose the bedroom light being on was disturbing her sleep!

I asked her if she needed to go out. She didn't. "Is it bedtime?" Her tail began to wag and she pranced around.

Molly is extremely habit-oriented. In the morning, as soon as I get out of bed, I let her out. She quickly runs back inside and to her food bowl knowing that I'm going to put food in it. As she is eating, I get the coffeepot going. Before that is done, she is already in the computer room because she knows that next on my list is to check e-mails and take a quick look at the news websites.

Several weeks back, I had to drive to the airport at midnight to pick up my son. I went to bed that night but set the alarm to allow me just enough time to get up, get dressed and get to the airport, 10 minutes away. The look on Molly's face that night was priceless! You could see her thinking, "WHAT is going on here???? You NEVER do this!"

You know, I feel sorry for anyone that does not have a dog in their life.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Autumn is in the air

This is a picture I snapped from my desk at work this morning.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A REAL surprise!

I don't know about you, but a lot of things I do, like driving home from work, stopping at the end of the driveway and getting out to cross the street and get the mail, are done by habit. Your mind, obviously is paying attention to driving, but otherwise blank. I often try to use the 5 minute drive home to clear my mind of the stress and clutter from work - either listening to the car radio or thinking about what my plans are for the evening.

Such was the case yesterday. It was Tuesday night and I always look forward to my Tuesday Night Defensive Shooting group at Genesee Conservation League.

So I open my mailbox expecting the usual stash of junk mail and catalogs. This time it was different. There, on top of the stack of mail, was an envelope with a handwritten address! I picked it up and looked in the upper left hand corner at the address label. . . "Carolyn Smith" Where have I heard that name before. . . my mind was churning. . . I knew that name, but from WHERE? It was from Cantonment, Florida, a small town just north of Pensacola, my hometown.

Oh, my God! Carolyn! Yes, Yes! Oh, my God! I hadn't seen her since my mother's memorial service 20 years ago in Pensacola.

I quickly opened it up wondering how she got my address and why I was hearing from her after all these years. I went to high school with her and her husband (they are still married!). We're talking decades ago, folks!!!

From the time I was 12 years old until I was 18 (or was it 20? Can't remember), I was a Rainbow Girl, a member of the Order of the Rainbow for Girls. My father was a Mason, so it was natural that I would be inducted into the Rainbow Girls when I was 12. Back then the Rainbow Girls were well known and rather popular. I don't hear about them now, or at least not in New York.

This was an invitation, along with a short note to catch me up on her life, to a celebration of the 50th anniversary of our Rainbow Assembly coming up next month. Damn. . . could it really be THAT many years ago???

Then my mind turned to the other girls I knew in Rainbow. . . Patti Dees, Patti Kimbro, Cheryl Lewis, Kathy Robinson, Sandy Leitenberger, JoAnn Harris, and some that, though I can see their faces, I can't remember their names! Where are they now? What have their lives been like?

Wow! It's been a long time since I stopped to think about those years.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One of my favorite meals

I love to make this dish. It is quick and easy and so versatile. Tonight, this has strips of chicken breasts, sliced small red potatoes, strips of both red and yellow bell peppers, sliced bok choy, snow peas, cauliflower. . . I think I listed everything! I make it in a large skillet. First, brown the meat, then add the vegetables and add a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Stir it for awhile as it cooks. Then turn down the heat and let it simmer covered. You can use beef in place of the chicken and literally any vegetable combination you choose.

It is delicious.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A fun start to the day

I took a day of vacation from work today. My first stop this morning was to the new gun club I just joined out in Rush, south of Rochester. I still belong to the Genesee Conservation League, but this club offers things GCL doesn't, like private outdoor shooting bays. Here I can stack up tin cans and plastic bottles and shoot at them. . . the way I learned to shoot a gun many decades ago back in my hometown of Pensacola, Florida. And the way I want to teach my grandsons when they get a little older. Here is a picture of my targets.

When you fill a gallon milk jug with water and shoot it with a high powered hollow point bullet, the water goes flying everywhere. The force of the "flying water" knocked the other targets off the stand and I had them taped down on account of the breeze! Wish I had a picture of that.

Here is what a milk jug looks like after being hit with a .357 magnum hollow point bullet.

This club has two sporting clays courses. Sporting clays is kind of like golf only with a shotgun. I haven't tried that yet but I know a lot of people that have become addicted to it. You follow a course and each one is different. Clay targets come flying out from every direction. It could be high in the air or low to the ground.

So now I am home for lunch. I think after lunch I will take Molly for a walk out at Mendon Ponds Park. The trees out there should be at near peak right now.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kathryn, the invinceable woman

Kathryn Zimmerman, from the Rochester area, is off on yet another adventure.

Kathryn is my age, retired, single, and lives an amazing life. Several years ago, she hiked the Appalachian Trail end-to-end and I followed her online journal. I had lunch with her after that trip and listening to her tales of the hike was a real joy. Within the last year, she hiked a large chunk of the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT is even more challenging than the AT.

Drum roll, please. . . Now she is on her way, with two other women hikers, to Katmandu for six weeks. Now if that doesn't make your jaw drop, listen to this. They are doing this without guides, just "three crazy women" as Kathryn says!

I have been to Ireland twice on guided bike tours and when I told Kathryn how much fun these were and that she ought to do that sometime, she quickly made a face and said, "No, that's too structured!" Kathryn, for sure, is a free spirit, landing where ever the wind blows her and enjoying every minute along the way.

God bless you, Kathryn and your two hiking buddies. A lot of people back here in the States are thinking of you and wishing you well.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The first hint of fall

First, I want to say Happy Birthday, Jake! My grandson, Jake, is 8 years old today!

The first signs of fall are beginning to sprout up in Western New York. The days are slightly cooler and the leaves have just begun to change color.

Here are a few pictures I took just now as I took Molly for a walk.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An "Oh, My God!" moment. . .

Get ready to laugh. I even laughed at myself, once I got over the shock.

My garage door opener has not worked properly for months. It would always open, whether I used the car remote or the wall switch inside the garage. But closing it was another matter. It would never close using the remote. Instead, I would need to get out of the car, use the keypad on the outside of the garage. . . punch in my passcode and then hold the key down until the door was all the way closed.

I have this thing about calling repairmen. And not just for the expense. "We can come tomorrow between 8 am and noon." So you disrupt your plans, take time off from work to sit home until they arrive.

Finally this morning I called a garage door repair company. The man, sounding like a true good ole' boy asked me what the garage door was doing. So I explained. "Okay, ma' um, this what I wancha ta do. . . you know how there are these two sensors on either side of the door down near the bottom?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Okay, I wancha to monkey with 'em a bit and see if that helps."

After a brief pause, I said, "Okay. Thank you" and that was the end of the conversation. Would someone explain to me what "monkey" means in that sentence???

So I went home for lunch today. Uhmm. . . do you know what the problem was???

One of those two sensors had fallen off the metal post it was attached to. I picked it up, dusted the cobwebs and dirt off it, snapped it back on the post. . . it didn't even require screws!

And guess what! My garage door works like new!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A really good day!

I took a day of vacation today from work. I had a very intense weekend taking a two day class - that I wanted to take, but still it was mentally draining. So I arranged to take today off. I used it to catch up on the things I usually do on weekends. And I shopped for Kevin and Jake's birthday presents and actually got Jake's in the mail. Have you ever tried to find a box suitable to mail a 30 inch skateboard??? It ain't gonna happen!

Later in the day I called Debbie, my cousin in Pensacola, my hometown.

Sometimes a day off just doing "nothing" is the best kind of vacation. It was good therapy for me.

Backyard shrubs

A month or so back I posted pictures of these shrubs when they were covered in white blooms. Now they've turned pink. I actually prefer the white blooms. The process between white and pink makes them look dirty! I like the way they have grown rapidly and given me an attractive privacy wall. When the sun is shining on these - white or pink - they are truly breathtaking.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Here is Jake, my "middle" grandson! Jake will be 8 years old before this month is over.

Jake plays soccer and basketball and can be quite convincing when he is trying to get his point across! He will be a very successful trial lawyer or corporate CEO someday.

Let's take a look at Jake up to this point in his life.

Jake at one day old.

If I could get Gramma to let go of me, I could really move.

My innocent look. Works on Gramma everytime.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Can this really be Kevin???

My daughter-in-law, Jen, sent this picture of Kevin, my oldest grandson, taken this week on the first day of school. He is in the fourth grade this year. I just stared at the picture. I just saw these boys in July, folks. Kevin was not this big then, honest!

Here are pictures of Kevin through the years.

This is a picture of Jen and Kevin at the zoo here in Rochester, "a few years back!"

This is Kevin with his Great-granddad, my father, probably around 2002.

Kevin is an avid golfer. He inherited that from both his grandfathers, his dad, and his Uncle Michael.

I loved watching my own two sons grow up, but there is really something special about being a grandmother!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Today is Andrew's first day of kindergarten!

Today is a very special day! My youngest grandson, Andrew, begins kindergarten today. The elementary school now has three Bennett brothers attending classes.

He will have the same teacher that Jake had when he was in kindergarten.

Have a great day, Andrew!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Range Safety Officer Training

Whew! I survived all ten hours of RSO training yesterday. It was exhausting but I am so very glad I took the training.

Range Safety Officers serve at shooting events. Their role is to "possess the knowledge, skills, and attitudes essential to organizing, conducting, and supervising safe shooting activities and range operations." (Taken right out of the textbook!)

There was a lot of role playing in the class. . . how to respond to emergencies on the range. What do you do when someone holding a loaded firearm suddenly starts to collapse with a possible heart attack? How do you safely take a loaded firearm from someone who has a misfire or hangfire and doesn't know how to correct it on their own? And so much more.

There were lighter moments! The location where the class was held is a club that has skeet and trap shooting. Now I know what skeet is but I had never heard the term "trap shooting". So I asked. Immediately, one of the club members spoke up and said, "Skeet is for sissies. Trap is for real men!"

The rest of my three-day weekend will be spent with working around the house. Tomorrow I have to go into work for awhile. . . yes, on a holiday!. . . to prepare for a meeting on Tuesday afternoon. I'm still waiting for everyone to send me the data I need to put together for the meeting.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Look how far I've come!

It was one of those moments that grab you and make you pause and reflect. . . I'm taking a class tomorrow to become a Range Safety Officer for shooting events.

The day began like any other day. I was busy at work, trying to do the usual ten things at once. An e-mail found its way to my work inbox. It was from Dave Jenkins, from Rochester Personal Defense, inquiring if I'd considered taking the Range Safety Officer class tomorrow. I was stunned and a lot of feelings ran through my brain at once. Mention the chance to get on the range and shoot guns and I'm all ears! But am I really ready to be a Range Safety Officer? Just then another e-mail came across my screen. This was a work related e-mail and I had to take care of it right then. Awhile later I sent Dave a quick e-mail stating I'd think about it. I would have to arrange for someone to look in on Molly as I would be gone most of the day. Geez, I'd planned this holiday weekend to be a work weekend around the house. A lot of things need to get done here.

By the middle of the day I decided sometimes opportunity only knocks once. Being a firearms instructor and/or a Range Safety Officer were things I looked forward to in the future. But now?

Once I made the decision to take the class, I came home and started gathering up the things I needed to bring with me tomorrow. One item was a one inch 3-ring binder. I went to my cabinet in my computer room. I reached to a top shelf a pulled down a binder.

The cover had a sheet enclosed that said, "Job Search 2003". Oh, my God, did that send a bolt of lightning through my body. Could I really open this binder and read what was there? You see, back in 2003, I decided to leave real estate. I loved being a realtor and I had a lot of loyal clients. I had been in real estate for seven years. It is one of those occupations where sometimes you make a lot of money and then there are months when you barely scrape by. Being a single person and solely responsible for my well being, I found I just could not survive in the business and it would be necessary to find a "real" job. . . one that paid a regular paycheck and one with benefits.

Those months of looking for a job were brutal. And as I thumbed through this binder showing all the steps I had taken to find an appropriate job, I remembered the feelings of pain and humiliation at what seemed like an eternity finding a job. To make matters worse, my father died unexpectedly during this time and I had to drop everything and go to Florida to bury him and settle his affairs.

It was definitely a very low point in my life and this binder, with all its notes, just really hit me in my soul like I could not have imagined.

I looked up and Molly was staring at my with her innocent look as if she were thinking, "What's your problem?" Dogs have a way of doing that!

Then it hit me! Instead of opening up those old wounds, why not look how far I had come. I have been an employee at the University of Rochester for 7 years. I wouldn't exactly rate the UofR and their ridiculous form of office politics the most desireable place to work. But on the other hand. . . I have job security, good benefits, and I can pay my bills. In this economy, that is something to be thankful for.

Yes, there have been rough spots over the years. But I only need to look around me and see there are a lot of people much worse off than I am. I own my home. I have financial security. I have family and friends that care about me. What more do I need???

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy September!

Can it really be September already? Why is it that winter drags on forever but summer is here and gone before you realize it???

Anyway. . . my sermon for today is on Why-can't-things-last-like-they-used-to?

I have an alarm clock, quality brand, it was never dropped or abused. It still keeps good time but the alarm stopped working. My first thought was the battery needed to be changed. It wasn't a battery issue! I don't remember how long I've had it but definitely less than ten years.

So now I'm in the market for a new alarm clock. In the meantime, I'm fortunate that I seem to wake up at the same time everyday. And if that fails, there is always my Labrador Retriever, Molly, who sleeps on the floor next to my bed and believes it is her duty not to let me sleep too long! Nothing like waking up being slapped by a Black Lab or feel a cold nose on your hand or face, followed by a big wet tongue and hearing a tail wag!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Whole grain muffins

I just put a batch of whole grain muffins in the oven. The recipe is on the package of Bob's Red Mill 8 grain hot cereal. If you aren't familiar with Bob's Red Mill products, look them up.

Ever since I discovered I had heart disease (or rather my doctor says I do, I have cause to dispute that. . . but anyway. . .)I stopped eating bacon/sausage and eggs for breakfast every morning and looked for other alternatives. . . but it had to be good. Bob's Red Mill is now owned by the employees since Bob retired. They have a multitude of really good - and highly nutritious - whole grain products. I make their hot cereals for breakfast most mornings and use them in recipes.

I freeze the muffins and take one or two out at a time. I use them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Love 'em!

Friday, August 27, 2010

My window at work

I am fortunate to have a large window right by my cubicle. Here is what the sky looked liked at different times during the day today.

And here is where I spend 8 hours (and sometimes more) of every weekday. My cubicle area is bigger than it looks here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Making a big pot of my kale and sweet potato soup

My freezer in the basement is rather empty at the moment. Three seasons of the year I make a lot of soups, chowders, spaghetti sauce, and casseroles and freeze portions of them. It is nice to come home when you are tired and don't have a lot of desire to mess up the kitchen with a nice meal and just go to the freezer and pick whatever you want, warm it up and eat it without a lot of fuss.

So today I am beginning the process of replenishing my supply of "good food in a hurry"! I'm making one of my favorites, kale and sweet potato soup. It makes a big pot with plenty of leftovers for this week and lots more to freeze in individual servings.

Now, don't ask for the recipe! There is none. Here is what I always put in it and what I sometimes put in it!

First, the "always" list:

Two big cans of Swanson's Chicken Broth
One bunch of fresh kale, chopped
One or two sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
Onions and garlic, chopped
One big can of whole tomatoes, chopped and include the juice from the can
One can of chick peas, drained and rinsed (if you use dried and cook them first, that's even better)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Now for the "sometimes" or "most of the time" list:

A whole chicken cooked and chopped
2 cups (plus or minus) of cooked pasta
A splash of wine
Chopped leeks

I let it simmer on the stove for several hours (all except the pasta - that's added the last 10 minutes of cooking). It's really good and a very nutritional meal with muffins or a slice of toasted garlic bread.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What happened to plain old toothbrushes?

A toothbrush should be something you give little thought to. You know, you brush your teeth at least twice a day, change to a new toothbrush ever 2 or 3 months. . . what more is there than that??? A few times a year I buy one or two new ones so that I always have at least a couple of new ones on hand.

Imagine my shock when I was in BJs recently looking at toothbrushes. What have they done to the lowly toothbrush? What was labeled as toothbrushes looked more like something out of a bad dream. A grotesque, twisted, multi-colored handle with U-shaped layers of bristles. Or even worse, I saw some that were actually thick plastic bristles.

Thinking maybe BJs buys in bulk for what doesn't sell in mainstream stores, I then went to Wegmans. . . for those of you outside the Wegmans market area, Wegmans is the ONLY place to shop for groceries - maybe I'll do a post on them sometime! Same products there.

Now I am starting to get irritated. All I want is a plain FLAT TOP bristle toothbrush with a handle that doesn't look like it was bent out of shape in the parking lot.

I checked my supply of new toothbrushes. I have three that are "proper toothbrushes" so I have time to scour the marketplace.

Meantime, if any of you know which stores sell my kind of toothbrushes, please let me know!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wagging tails can mend bodies, hearts, and minds

Below are excerpts from an article in the online newsletter from the Medical Center where I work. It really touched my heart. From time to time, I have seen these dogs "in action" at the hospital.

Taylor Lacey turns heads when she walks through the corridors of Strong Memorial Hospital on Wednesdays sporting a cute, maroon Friends of Strong bandanna and hospital I.D. Even though she's only 3, Taylor knows her way around the Hospital and is there to get down to business – providing unconditional acceptance and friendship to those most in need.

Taylor is one of 12 therapy dogs in the Strong P.E.T.S. (Pets Engaged in Therapeutic Socialization) pet therapy program. She and eleven canine colleagues – Billy, Kendall, Eile, Sam, Riley, Mandy, Yankee, Trella, Dar, Ransom and Ranger – take turns visiting select units guided by their handlers, offering a distraction from the stress of hospitalization and actively participating in rehabilitation.

Volunteer supervisor for Strong P.E.T.S. and Taylor’s owner, Ann Lacey, said, “People tell us we’ve the best job in the world, and I agree. We have all had so many wonderful experiences – I recently visited a patient with Alzheimer’s who was generally unresponsive, but when she saw Ransom and Kendall, she spent the morning stroking and petting them and talking about the dogs she had when she was younger. Her daughter said, ‘you brought my mother back to life.’”

Data on the health benefits of dogs abound: one Japanese study found pet owners made 30 percent fewer visits to doctors. An Australian study of 6,000 people showed that owners of dogs and other pets had lower cholesterol, blood pressure and heart attack risk compared with people who didn’t have pets.

Animal-assisted therapy began at Strong in the early 90s, when senior recreation therapist Anita Burton heard about the healing benefits of having dogs visit patients. She later approached Friends of Strong director Louise Criticos, who made the volunteer program happen. Lacey and her Sheltie, Rickey, were drafted to start the program. Rickey soon became known as “Dr. Rickey” because of his near-magical ability to make hurting people feel better. He spent the next 12 years of his life working at Strong up until the week before he died.

Wondering whether your dog could be a therapy dog? Perhaps, but not without training and testing. Animals and their handlers must conform to N.Y.S. Department of Health Guidelines for Animals in Hospitals and pass a vet screening exam and further training that tests their ability under a variety of situations – they must remain calm around loud noises, occasional jostling and crowds, and must also tolerate enthusiastic hugging, laughter, and often, tears. Dogs at Strong also work with stroke and paralyzed patients – reaching out to pet a dog is a great way to get a patient to move stiff fingers.

Lacey continued, “Dogs can help patients cope by taking their mind off of the pain. I remember visiting one little girl who had just asked for pain medication. After meeting Taylor, she said, ‘I don’t hurt anymore.’”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tuesday Night Defensive Pistol Shoot

I never thought I'd have a reason to look forward to Tuesday nights! That was before I joined the Tuesday Night Defensive Pistol Shoot at the Genesee Conservation League.

I am well aware that firearms are a major point of debate in this country. Some of my friends think all guns should be taken away from us and that "all guns are bad". The purpose of this post is not to debate that point, other than to tell you that I am a very strong supporter of Second Amendment rights.

The fact of the matter is, I grew up around guns. I was taught at a very early age just how lethal a gun can be if not handled properly. Some of my fondest memories from my growing up years are of going to the clay pits in my hometown of Pensacola, Florida, stacking up a pile of tin cans and shooting at them with an old .32 caliber revolver that my father owned.

When I married, my husband was an avid gun enthusiast and had an impressive collection of handguns. I got my New York State pistol permit way back in the early 1980's. . . in fact, now when I have to show my pistol permit, I often have to explain, "That picture is really me!"

My interest in guns went dormant for a lot of years. I was busy raising children and involved in their activities. While I was married, I just depended on my husband to protect me if, God forbid, the need ever came for the use of a gun for personal protection.

I have been on my own for quite a few years now and the world is a different place than it was even ten or twelve years ago. I used to think nothing of going anywhere downtown in Rochester, even by myself, or with my children when they were small. Folks, those days are gone forever.

I kind of gradually moved into carrying a concealed weapon. . . first, "some of the time" and then "most of the time." I was generally aware of the legalities of when you can defend yourself with a firearm and when you can't.

More and more I would hear on the news of a law abiding citizen using a firearm to protect themself. Oh, but this is something that would never happen to me.

One thing I really missed was having a place to just go shoot for fun at targets, whether it be a pile of tin cans or a bulls-eye paper target. I own property in rural Alabama but I can't just hop in the car on a Saturday and go down there, shoot a box of ammo and turn around and drive back!

So I joined Genesee Conservation League here in Rochester and I have truly enjoyed being a member there. First, I was a bit shy about joining in any of the group activities there. I'd just go to the range by myself and enjoyed target shooting.

Then I took a couple of classes and WOW! It was then that I realized just how much I DIDN'T know and how much I needed to learn!

Dave Jenkins, who owns Rochester Personal Defense, and who belongs to GCL, has an exceptional crew of instructors. In a weak moment, I let him talk me into coming to the Tuesday Night Defensive Shoot. MAN! What had I been missing all this time? I first went because it was fun. I had a safe place to shoot and the people there were very supportive and helpful. Then I realized just how much I was learning and how much my skills were improving by going each week.

The Tuesday night group is all about defensive shooting. There are different scenarios each week. Basically, you are to shoot the bad guy and avoid shooting the good guy. Now, the bad guys and good guys are nothing more than posters of people and also cardboard covered in T-shirts. If you see a picture of a gun on the target, that's a bad guy. If not, it's a good guy. A Range Safety Officer stands behind you as you are shooting and believe me, these people watch every move you make. When you are finished they tell you everything you did wrong and things you need to improve on. It has been a goldmine of knowledge for me.

Everyone that owns a gun for personal protection hopes the day never comes when they have to use that weapon to defend their life or that of someone else. But I can tell you with all honesty, if that day ever comes in my life, I have had excellent training and guidance and I am confident I will prevail.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Working in a major medical center, I see the value everyday of research. Now there is a website where you can volunteer to be a research subject. No, I'm not talking about the kind of research that is dangerous to your health or well being!

Without going into a lot of detail, research today is carefully regulated to protect the volunteer.

On, you can learn all the information you need to know to decide if you want to volunteer for research. You can narrow your choices of being a volunteer to location and other parameters. I chose only to volunteer at the University of Rochester Medical Center where I work.

You are never under any obligation and can opt out of volunteering at any time, even after you are part of a study. And it is completely confidential.

I signed up a few months ago and was recently contacted by a researcher via e-mail for a study. I agreed to talk to the individual by phone. It is a study on platelets. When I met their initial criteria, I was invited to come in for my first visit. The only hardship I endured was having to go without breakfast and my beloved coffee on the morning of my visit! Once I sat down and began talking with the researcher, he asked if I had any questions. I said, "Yeah, how soon before I can have my cup of coffee?" As it turned out, because I had recently had blood drawn for my routine visit to my primary care doctor, I didn't even have to have blood drawn that morning. They went into the computer and got the information on me they needed. . . meaning I gave up my coffee that morning for nothing!!! I will be called in one more time and at the end of my commitment, I will be paid a nominal sum of money.

Please take a moment to visit to learn more and decide if you want to be a part of this very worthwhile opportunity.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A surprise letter in today's mail

One of my elderly second cousins sent me a letter today. She had been going through some old boxes and found a handwritten note from my dad when he was in World War II. I recognized his handwriting as soon as I opened the envelope. She wrote that all the cousins were close when they were growing up.

Now let me tell you about this cousin!!! She and her brother, geez, they must both be well into their 90's, never married and they've lived together all these years. This past March when my cousins and I (the younger generation!) met on our family land down in Alabama, these two came to visit. He still drives. I wonder why his car has so many scrapes and dings? The rest of us were dressed in our jeans and T-shirts and sneakers. After all, we were out in the middle of the rural Alabama woods with just family! But here this pair came dressed like they were going to church! Very old school Southern mindset!!!

God bless them! Who knows how folks will talk about us when we are that old!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Feel good places on the web

I found this list today on the web. . . I would say I found it on, but some of my friends would have a fit if they thought I followed cnn, right Jackie? (I also follow!)

Anyway, here is a list of sites that will put a smile on your face and just plain make you feel good, in spite of all the doom and gloom in the news today. Check them out and I'd be interested to know what you think of them.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Flowers in my yard

Here are pictures of flowers blooming in my yard this summer.

Across the back fence in the backyard I planted these shrubs about 4 years ago when they were no more than 3 feet high. They are a type of hydrangea. In late June, early July they have large white blooms on them which gradually turn pink. I am pleased with the way they have grown and given me a beautiful privacy barrier. Along the east side of my backyard, I have six lilac bushes, all different varieties, which really grew fast. In May, they are covered with big beautiful blooms. They were planted the year after these hydrangeas.

Under the big tree in the front yard, I always plant red and white impatiens. These haven't grown as well this year as in previous years. But they are still pretty.

These are my black-eyed susans out front. The coneflowers are a little past peak.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tha annual canoe/kayak trip (Part 3)

It's been a week now since this trip. I think about the good times everyday.

On Sunday morning, we packed up and began the trip home. Our first stop was to Hoss's Corner in the village of Long Lake. I have watched this store grow over the years. It is fun to walk through. They have a little of everything here.

Next we headed to the Buffalo Head Restaurant. This has become a tradition at the end of this annual trip. It's nice to have something to look forward to at the end of the trip!

How it got started. . . Three years ago, we came out of the woods hungry - as usual! - but we didn't want the typical greasy spoon fare that is so typical of the Adirondacks. We stopped at several places beginning in Long Lake and then through Old Forge. All were either closed or they were places we decided not suitable.

"I remember seeing a sign. . . ", Rick began. In the tiny hamlet of Forestport, is a wonderful restaurant, off the beaten path, with wonderful food and hospitality. The large parking lot is always full. You should see the size of the slices of pie they serve!

After a wonderful meal, we walked to the parking lot, gave everyone a hug and started the last leg of the drive home. . . only this year things were a little different! As I was about to pull out into the road, Rick came running to my car with his arms waving. His car wouldn't start.

What? I was dumbfounded.

A quick battery jump and we were on our way! Never a dull moment with this group!

And so another canoe/kayak weekend camping trip came to an end. I realize a 4 day weekend in the woods away from the conveniences of civilization isn't for everyone. But for me, when you are taken away from the rat race of everyday life and forced to focus on the little things. . . the sound of water hitting on the shore, the tall birch and pine trees with wind blowing through their branches, the loons. . . a tiny frog hopping through the campsite. . . enjoying a cup of coffee and good conversation with friends in the morning around a campfire. . . all these and more, go a long way to calm the mind and spirit.

In closing, I want to say a great big THANK YOU to Rick and Ginger, Caryl and Kathy for making this another very special weekend. Love you guys!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The annual canoe/kayak trip (Part 2)

This is a picture of our campsite. Note the canopy. That was a most welcome item this year. On Friday, we had off and on rain, mostly light, but one period of heavy rain. Having a place to keep our gear and ourselves dry, was a real plus! This particular model can be spread further out or close in. Obviously, by spreading it out, you have more dry ground. But it's also nice to push it in, making it easier to get into and offering more headroom.

My everyday work life is filled with much stress and aggravation. It was a real pleasure to be able to just sit and listen to the gentle breeze blowing through the trees, listening to the birds, especially the loons, or having stimulating conversations with my camping buddies. Wonderful therapy!

Below are more pictures which I hope can give you a sense of this beautiful tranquil area that I love to come back to every year.

Watch for at least one more post on this trip. You may think the drive home would be without incident and a downer. . . ah! You never count this group out when it comes to excitement!!!! Stay tuned. The best is yet to come!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The annual canoe/kayak trip (Part 1)

Oh, my Gosh! What a weekend. Every year, a group of us, after months of anticipation head up to the Adirondacks for a four day canoe/kayaking weekend. They are all fun. But somehow, this year was really special.

The Cast of Characters:

Ginger and Rick. Back when I was in real estate, Ginger never failed to make me look good with her exceptional design skills for my brochures for the homes I listed or the post cards I sent out for self-promotion. So many times my clients complimented me on the materials I used in my business. Rick is Ginger's husband. He is great at getting big campfires started, even with wet wood and wet ground! If these two don't go, I don't want to go!

Caryl. I've known Caryl now for close to 10 years. She is a regular on these trips and always a pleasure to have along. Caryl is just one of those people who, without you realizing it, can build your ego to gigantic proportions.

Kathy. This was Kathy's third trip with us. Her motto for a successful camping trip is "fire and water!" She loves a campfire (who doesn't?) and she loves going in the water. She spent a lot of time this weekend sitting on a boulder at the water's edge reading her book for awhile (Nora Robert's latest - Search) and then she'd put the book down and jump in the water.

And "me"! (Oh, but if you are reading this, you already know me!!!) The only thing I'd add is how much I truly love getting a group of friends together [only those friends who enjoy this kind of thing!!!] and going to the wilderness and away from the real world and all the craziness that goes with it.

Now that you know "us", on to some of the fun times. Most of you know, I love doing camp dutch oven cooking. Folks, you don't have to eat mundane, freeze dried or otherwise "garbage" camp food. YUCK! Saturday morning I made Mountain Man Breakfast. Okay, so maybe it is an artery clogger, but none of us eat like this all the time. Ingredients: chopped bacon, chopped onion, green bell pepper, garlic, large chunks of potatoes with the peel left on, eggs, and cheese. . . (I think I included everything!) When you serve it, you pass around the picante sauce. MMMMMM!

Here is a picture of it cooking and the view of it ready to serve.

The other meal we had was cornish game hens cooked with brown rice and baby carrots. That was a crowd pleaser too. Two nights I made blueberry cobbler. Ginger told me in an e-mail before the trip, "the cobbler MUST happen."

We arrived at the camp area on Thursday after first stopping - another tradition - at Keyes Pancake House in Old Forge, NY for lunch. This camping area is a pristine wilderness area run by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The campsites are few and far between for a true wilderness experience. There are three islands in the area and those are a top prize (first come, first served).

Ranger Rick was watching as we loaded one tandem canoe and three kayaks. He was decent enough to keep his mouth shut, but you could tell he was thinking, "No way are they going to get all that gear in these boats." Never underestimate this group, folks. We want our comfort. We pack those folding umbrella chairs, three tents, one big canopy (in case it rains), two camp dutch ovens, charcoal, . . . the list is endless.

This was my first time camping with my new kayak. I got it all loaded and the darn thing tilted. While I was quietly having a coronary over the situation, Ginger went about the task of reloading. She made it look so easy.

Soon we were off, headed into a strong headwind. I was pleased with the way my new toy handled in this hurricane. It didn't take long to find an island void of other campers and we were overjoyed.

Stay tuned. There will be more on this trip and more pictures in the days to come!

Happy Birthday, John and Michael!

Today is my twin sons' 37th birthday. Happy Birthday, Boys! You've made your mom very proud.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I'm back!

Our annual canoe/kayak camping trip this weekend was just wonderful. Just got back a little while ago and now I'm taking a break from the unhappy task of unpacking and putting things away!

We drove to the Adirondacks caravan-style - three cars, five people, one canoe, three kayaks - on Thursday. We were lucky this year to have an island all to ourselves.

Once I've had time to sort through the pictures and get those that others took, I'll go into more detail.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


It was such a small thing, probably insignificant by many people's terms.

I have a lot on my mind these days, a job filled with stress and grief. . . have you ever had to deal day-to-day with PhDs who may be brilliant in their field, yet don't have ordinary "walking around sense" and who think the world revolves around them? I'm getting ready for a 4-day canoe camping trip. I am very much looking forward to it, but there is a tremendous amount of preparation involved, since I feed 5 people for the weekend. Then there is the news I received last Friday that my furnace is dead.

All these things were weighing heavily on my mind yesterday as I pulled into my driveway after work and stopped to get the mail from my mailbox across the street.

Then it happened. "HI, SHERRY!" I looked in the direction of that cheerful voice. There, sitting on the steps by their front door, was a young mother with her 3-month old and 4 year old. The little girl's face beamed even more when I looked in her direction and waved back at her.

If only for a moment, my heart was filled with joy that this little girl was so excited about seeing me. Gone were the things in life that were dragging me down.

I have often watched with a smile at this young family across the street. The parents are family oriented and spend a lot of quality time with those kids. And yesterday afternoon this small act of kindness on the part of this vibrant little 4 year old went a long way in making my day!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The forgotten victims of the Gulf Oil Spill

Okay, call me an old woman with a soft heart or misplaced values. . . I don't care. This morning, as I was drinking my coffee with Molly in my lap. . . all 55 pounds of her, I was watching CNN. There was a segment on the Gulf Oil Spill and the dogs that have been misplaced and placed in cages at an animal shelter waiting for a new home. Their owners, caught up in the economic turmoil of losing their livlihood due to the oil spill, simply could not afford to feed and care for them.

I have had a Labrador Retriever in my life nonstop since 1985, three of them, actually. I cannot imagine life without a Lab at my side. Children grow up and go out into the world on their own. A dog always needs your love and care and attention. I have suffered setbacks and heartache over the years, like a lot of other people. But one thing I could always depend on, no matter what else happened, there was always a devoted and loving Lab at my side.

My heart goes out to those unfortunate people along the Gulf Coast, who, through no fault of their own, have lost their way of earning a living, whether through fishing or the tourist industry. And may God grant that these poor animals soon find a loving and caring home.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Paddling Salmon Creek

Today was a beautiful sunny day, perfect day to get out in a kayak. My friend, Nancy, and I headed to Salmon Creek. Salmon Creek is off Braddock Bay, on the west side of the county. It is a winding creek that is home to swans, red-winged blackbirds, turtles and all kinds of wildflowers along its shore.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A good week

It's been a good week. Aside from being a 4-day work week, I got to spend time on two days with my children and grandchildren, had a good night at my Tuesday Night Defensive Pistol Shooting group, AND!. . . I sold my kayak that I had been trying to sell for several months. At some point, when I have more time, I'll do a post on my Tuesday Night Defensive Pistol Shooting group. I'm learning a lot there and having fun too. Can't beat that.

Have a good weekend everyone. I have plans to get out in my new kayak - maybe THIS time I won't flip it upside down - and myself along with it - getting out of it! And if I'm lucky, I'll get out on my bike for the first time this year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Dog's Ten Commandments

Everyone knows I love dogs. The following found its way into my e-mail inbox. Anyone who has ever owned a dog can understand this.

Remember that they can't do a lot of things for themselves and that they depend on you to make their life a quality life!


My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.

Give me time to understand what you want of me.

Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.

Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.

Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.

Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.

Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.

On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can't bear to watch. Don't make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.

Take a moment today to thank GOD for your pets. Enjoy and take good care of them. Life would be a much duller, less joyful experience without God's critters.

Now please pass this on to other pet owners. We do not have to wait for Heaven, to be surrounded by hope, love, and joyfulness. It is here on earth and has four legs!

Monday, July 5, 2010

More scenes from yesterday's 4th of July party and parade

Michael and Marisa

The firetruck brings up the rear of the parade.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

To all my United States readers, I sincerely hope that your 4th of July holiday was as fantastic as mine. Yes, many of us think of the 4th of July as picnics, time with family, parades, fireworks, and of course, a holiday from work. The 4th is that too, but let us all remember, 234 years ago this country declared its independence from Great Britain. We may not be perfect as a people or as a country, but America has always overcome adversity and become a better country for it.

Today was a time to forget about the things that trouble us as a country and individually. Today was a time to celebrate and just enjoy being with family and friends.

I spent the day at Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes that western New York State is famous for. My son, John's in-laws, Sue and Gerry, have a home on the lake and I was invited to spend the day there, along with Michael and Marisa (my other son, John's twin, and daughter in law), John, Jen, and my grandsons, Kevin, Jake and Andrew, Jen's brother, Brett, and his family, wife, Lindsey, and children, Caitlin, and Stephen.

A couple of years ago, the cousins, Kevin, Jake, Andrew, Caitlin, and Stephen, began having a parade on the 4th of July. From it's humble beginnings, today it mushroomed into quite an affair! Below are pictures from this wonderful day.

Kevin paddling a kayak along the shoreline.

Hanging out on the trampoline in the water.

The cousins! They are all wearing shirts that say CC (Camp Cousins).

Now we get to the parade pictures! That's Gerry driving the tractor with "Keukie the Lake Monster" and kids behind!

Now this is the amazing part, folks. I told you earlier, this "parade" idea the cousins had a couple of years ago, until now had been just a short "walk" down the Lake Rd and neighbors would come out and wave. But THIS YEAR!!! Drum roll, please! One of the neighbors, who is a fireman, found and restored a vintage 1955 firetruck, from the year he was born,. . . his wife claims it is the "other woman in her life". He brought it to the parade, and believe me when I tell you, kids and adults came out of the woodwork to see this masterpiece! "Who wants to ride in the back?", he asked and kids and adults vied for a spot on it! Really!. . . And I don't mind telling you, once this parade got going, I jumped on the back end and loved every minute of the ride up the road with the bell clanging and the siren going and people everywhere staring in wonder!

Even Bingo, the dog, got in on the act!

It was truly a magnificent day and I am grateful to Sue and Gerry for inviting me to share their day.