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My Blog

November 2013

Christmas Lights..A Symbol of the Season

Good morning.  Well, today is the last Day of November.  How quickly it has gone.  We are now into the Christmas season.  As I drove home last night, I must say that I really enjoyed seeing the lights decorating the homes and towns.  It seems to brighten up everything...including my mood. 
That made me think about the word LIGHT.  When I looked up the word, there are so many different definitions and ways to use that word.  I thought about the Christmas lights and how much a part of my life it was.  I remembered as a child, growing up in the city of Chicago, during Christmas time, we would drive through a neighborhood that was near Belmont and Oak Park.  This was called Candy Cane Lane during Christmas.  These homes were decorated to the nines with lights and window displays with moving characters in the windows.  Then to top it all off...they must have been a committee that got together and arranged for these very large letters to sit on the lawns.  One house after another displayed the letters that spelled out MERRY CHRISTMAS.  It was a magnificent display to view.  Some even had music playing that you could listen to when you rolled down the windows.  Oh, what a treat that was to take that ride around the neighborhood. 
As I sit back and think about it...what a gathering of minds and neighbors to co-ordinate that.  It was so much more than houses that decided to decorate for the holidays.  It was the whole meaning of Christmas!  Folks coming together to celebrate. 
As years went by, the Candy Cane lane slowly dwindled and soon, nothing was left.  By that time, we had children and learned of a place on the north side of Chicago/Lincolnwood.  This was spectacular, but on a different vein.  It is still something to go see.  It is north of Devon, between Central and Cicero.  There isn't as much these days as there was years ago when we had out children, but still a nice ride through the neighborhood.  One home in particular is truly amazing.  It has Christmas trees on 2 floors, viewable from the window and then a tree on the roof.  The way that the shapes of the trees are makes you imagine that it is one huge tree that has crashed right out of the roof.  Genius! 
There is a park of of Higgins in Rosemont that we go to walk around and view the lights and the houses that have been specially set up in the park with displays inside the little homes.  There is even a corner where there are live sheep and goats.  A beautiful sight as well. 
For me, it lightens my mood.  I feel cheery and happy viewing those lights.  I find a peace somewhere inside of me when I am viewing those illuminated scenes.  When I was younger, one of the greatest things I enjoyed doing was writing my Christmas cards in the living room, next to the lit tree.  I must say, for me, it was almost magical.  When I think back to when I was really young and my families tree donned the old bubble lights, I would stare in amazement as the candle shaped light bubbled up.  We have gone through so many changes in the ways that trees and homes are lit.  From candles to the old bulbs, large and small, to colored Italian lights to white, then to all the colors of the rainbow.  Then came the light covers and then later the shaped lights like bells, angels and poinsettias.  Then we had rope lights , fiber optic and now we have LED and even solar lights.  Whatever the case, they are a real "Feel Good Product".  It makes your home feel LIGHT and happy.
There are those that put candles in their windows.  I read a story once about how once, a women put the candle in the window for her son to come home from the war and kept it there year after year until she finally passed away...unfortunately without the return of her son.    It stands as a welcome home symbol and when I see that in windows...I think about the person that displayed them...the type of person they might be and are they awaiting someone, anyone to come to their door. 
I cannot help but think of lights as twinkling stars and the reason for celebrating Christmas.  The star that the wise men followed and the joy it gave them upon finding Christ in a manger.  Somehow, the lights today make me relive that story in my heart.  I look forward to this season and seeing more lights put up.  I will make sure to make time to get out and see the lights.  I hope that you will as well.  Tis the Season.  Lighten up! 

Getting Through a Holiday

Good morning to everyone.  Well, one more day until Thanksgiving.  It is something to watch on TV about the trouble with snow in the Midwest region and how difficult that will make traveling eastward.  I just pray that all those that are traveling have a safe trip. 
This is the busiest traveling holiday of the year.  When I think about it, traveling opportunities are amazing these days.  If we consider what it must have been like 100 years ago.  It was no wonder why families tried to live in the same areas as each other.  I know that growing up, most everyone lived within blocks of each other.  A visit was simply a walk down the block.  A lot of times, it was just traveling up or down a flight of stairs.  Today, because of jobs and travel opportunities, people are all over the country.  It is easier to travel today then it was long ago, but then there is the added expense and time to consider...which, ultimately leaves many families separated on this holiday. 
There are many, for numerous reasons who spend the holiday alone.  As I looked back in time over my own life, I know that I never got to spend a holiday with my mother once she moved away across the country.  We were raising children, money was not all that plentiful, nor was the time from work available for a long travel, we ultimately did not see each other.  Now we are in the same position as my mother was since the children have moved quite a distance.  I sat the other night and correlated the similarities while I was talking to my husband.  As we reminisced about Thanksgiving of our past with the children and grandchildren, there crept a bit of sadness in our hearts.  I later thought about those that have passed away and how I miss them.  I thought about all the people who perhaps were without this Thanksgiving.  Those who were with out families, those who are struggling to make ends meet, those who are having personal relationship difficulties and those who have strained relationships.  Holidays can be very difficult times for those who are enduring these types of hardships. 
It is not like those with troubles only reflect on them at the holidays, but that the holidays trigger so many memories from the past. 
I remember my grandmother sitting in a corner and her attitude which always seemed happy and content for a brief while would become somewhat morose.  when I questioned her about it, she told me she was thinking of her mother, because she was killed at that time.  Her mother had been killed by a streetcar in Chicago when my grandmother was 12 years old.  she not only lost her mother at an unbelievable young age, but also became the matriarch of the house.  She was the eldest girl and now had to take over her mother's caregiving role.  That is a lot for a young child.  She worked very hard her whole life, and even though she never worked outside of the home, her life was filled with busy hours washing and cleaning and mending.  She cared for her father and her 3 siblings.  She didn't have the opportunities that other 12 year olds may have had, and especially the warmth and comfort of having a loving mother to guide her on her path. 
I can sympathize with her.  I know that on the holidays, there is always an emptiness that bubbles up to the surface when I think of my daughter who has left us.  Her children that we never had the blessing to meet.  My heart cries at times and then I look at all the blessings I have and I cannot say that it washes the sadness away, but helps to move on.  If you are feeling blue or sad  for the holidays, I beseech you to seek someone to help you through it.  Perhaps it is a friend, a visit to a church or even time to give of yourself to someone who may be suffering even more than you.  There are shelters that need help with serving food to the homeless, services held in celebration of the day and friends who offer their home and company.  Don't let the sadness overcome you this holiday.  Let those who do care, share.  You will never get this day back again.  Make a new memory if that is what needs to be done.  Even if the memory is geared to helping someone else. 

Memories of Snow Globes

Good afternoon to all.  I have had a long day but gratifying.  Spent a morning and afternoon with the ladies ministries from Salvation Army for our Christmas party.  I know it is a bit early, but had a marvelous time.  Great food, great company and an all around great day. 
Today's blog is about Water globes.  Yesterday, here in the Chicago land area we had our first true snowfall.  It was so wonderful and soft as the flakes gently fell.  What a beautiful sight it was.  It was a bit humorous to me that it began to snow after my seeing snow globes in two stores.  When I spotted them, I walked over to the shelf and picked one up.  It instantly transported me back in time.  As a child, I love to get snow globes.  I used to collect them from where ever we went.  It was always my choice as a souvenir.  There was something so exciting to be able to turn it upside down and watch as the flakes of glitter slower fell upon the inside scene.  I remember having one with an old house in in and remembered how beautiful it seemed.  There were Christmas ones years ago with Santa and snowmen in them.  I remember the one I had gotten in New York with silver glitter falling down.  How many times I shook that globe upside down!  I remember when eventually water seemed to have evaporated from them and not being able to through it out.  It was like disposing a treasure chest. 
As I held that snow globe in my hand, I slowly caressed over the glass with my hands thinking of the magic that the globe held.  I slowly turned it upside down and then shook it, slowly turning it back up again.  I watched as the snow fell slowly down.  I was actually happy to see one.  It was like an old friend who had returned.  And then I thought about how many children would be thrilled over that globe.  I wondered how many times it would be shaken and the snow would fall.  I remembered the scene in Heidi with Shirley temple when the governess broke Heidi's gift from Clara's father.  It was a snow globe with a cabin inside and when it snowed it reminded Heidi of her grandfather.  How precious it was to her.  How symbolic the moment.  I guess I am just an old sentimental girl.  Nothing changed in all these years.  Those snow globes seem to still have a hold on me and I guess they probably always will. 

Over the River & Through the Woods on Thanksgiving

Good morning.  Well, another weekend has passed and Thanksgiving is almost here.  I spent the afternoon at the senior center telling Thanksgiving stories.  What a pleasure that was.  As far as actual stories that are about thanksgiving...there are very few....but plenty of stories about why we should be thankful.  That is the road I choose and all were happy with the stories.  Sometimes, I think that the everyday gratefulness is what we all should concentrate on more. 
Well, for today's blog, I thought about the song "Over the River and Through the Woods"  We always seemed to joke about the song.  You see we live right near a river and the woods.  They are both at the end of our block.  All the years that we have lived in this home, we have hosted Thanksgiving.  It is hard knowing that our children and grandchildren cannot be with us.  We used to sing the song with the grandkids on Thanksgiving.  It just seemed appropriate.  Yesterday, in preparation for my storytelling, I came across some information about the song.  It was actually written as a Thanksgiving song.  I had never realized that.  Thanksgiving being so close to the opening of Christmas season, we just had thought it to be appropriate. As I read further, I discovered that it was a woman who wrote the song.  It just never seemed like any of the songs from long ago were written by the female gender. Her name was Lydia Maria Child.  She was the first American woman to earn a living with her writings.
She was known in her time as the writer of one of the most popular domestic advice books, "The Frugal Housewife", later renamed  "The American Frugal Housewife" to distinguish it from a similarly-named book published in England. She later published other popular advice books, including "The Mothers Book" and "A Little Girl's Own Book".
I am including the words to the song here.  It is interesting to look at the actual words and the fact that they wrote through the snow.  I have really never thought about snow associated with Thanksgiving, although this year, it may be a reality.  It made me think about what going to Grandma's house must really be like for children.  I, myself, lived with my Grandparents and so that type of anticipation was never part of my life, yet it was in the reverse once I became the Grandparent.  I so looked forward to the times that the children and grandchildren would come to visit on Thanksgiving Day.  The special treats that I would prepare for them.  It is one of the most special holidays.  A day to be grateful and I must say, grateful I am for all the years and memories that we have shared.  It is also a time where I feel such a sadness for all of those that I have lost through the years. Missing their faces around the table and standing in the kitchen waiting to sneak a piece of turkey as it is being sliced.  The tradition of the children in the living room with the father huddled around the TV watching the Thanksgiving parade as the windows steam up from all the cooking and baking that is being done.  I still cook the livers and gizzards and turkey neck for my husband, and even though they all are his now...I am sure he would love to share them once again with the children and the grandchildren.  Funny how life changes.  I am grateful for all of those memories.  I am thrilled to share the day with friends.  I look forward to the phone call from the kids and grateful that their lives are in their cycle of life. Here's wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving day!
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather's house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather's house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for 'tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood-
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood
and straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow-
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood-
when Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, "o, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for every one."
Over the river, and through the wood-
now Grandmothers cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
This song originally appeared as a poem written by Lydia Maria Child. The poem appeared in Flowers for Children,, Vol. 2 in 1844.

To Believe in Miracles

Good morning.  Well, the day is sunny but very cold here in the Chicago land area. 
I can tell you that yesterday, standing on the train tracks, waiting for the trains for the North Pole Express in Downers Grove was brutal.  It was especially hard watching all those sweet young children shivering.  Although, once we boarded the train, all the freezing stopped as they settled in to listen to the stories and enjoy their cookie and milk. 
Today's blog is about Believing,  As I sat on the train yesterday, during the time Santa visited with the children, I couldn't help but watch and listen.  I saw the twinkle in all those eyes, and not just the young children, but also the adults that were there with them.  I listened as the children told the man in red all their wishes and wants for Christmas.  Thinking of the Book and Movie "The Polar Express"  and it's message was really just to  "Believe", it hit me whether or not we truly stop believing or not.  I think that even later in life, that one words manages to stick with us.  I cannot imagine life without it.  It seemed to me that in those briefs few moments, every person on that train truly Believed...if for nothing else, they believed in the magic of Christmas.   That is what brought everyone there.  It wasn't the children who purchased the tickets.  There is deep within each of us, that hidden desire to believe in miracles.  Perhaps that is why they called the movie with Edward Gwen, the "Miracle on 34th Street".  We all need to believe in something or someone.  We may become disenchanted or disappointed at one point and time in our lives, we may at times become cynical, but if we look deep and hard enough, there is something and someone who we choose to believe in.  I think without it, life would be awful! 
When I thought about it on the drive home, I thought about how this man in red and what he represented.  I thought about the ways around the world.  I thought about how he represents the good, the dream filler, the symbol for hope and good will.  Is that not a great rep for Jesus?  It seems that during the Christmas Season, everything seems to be a little bit brighter.  The homes are more inviting and exciting to look at.  The baking of cookies and then sharing them with friends and neighbors.  The smell of the evergreens and pine as it wafts through the air.  The faces that we meet just seem to be a bit friendlier.  We choose to believe in the miracles of Christmas and the miracles of our fellow man.  We would never allow our children to go up and hug some bearded man on the street that we have no idea who he is and yet we don't give it a second thought when it is Santa Claus.  We teach our children to believe that he is who he says he is and that he will grant their wishes. 
When life goes awry, I think that it is the times when we no longer have belief in something.  Whether it is a person, a symbol or even ourselves.  We need to hold on to those beliefs to feel balanced in our lives.  Even when someone has hurt you or done wrong to you, you have to believe in yourself.  That you will find a way to put that next step in front of the other and be happy.  Happiness comes from within.  You have to be able to look at life in a positive way and believe in tomorrow. 
I clearly saw that yesterday as I watched those children and their parents and grandparents.  The smiles on all of their faces.  The parents jumping around to catch those magical moments with the cameras.  They will one day look back and even show them to their children and remind them of that special time.  I have done the same and now that there are no longer little ones here for me to share those magical moments and times, all I need to do is close my eyes and in an instant....there they are.  I believe that the magic is still there captured in my heart and soul forever. 
I have a sign in my dining room that just simply says BELIEVE.  It reminds me each day that this is one of the most important things I can do in this lifetime. 

Cranberries Brighten up the Holidays

Good morning to everyone. A cold day planned here in the Chicago area.  I will be riding the Train in Downers Grove all day for the North Pole Express telling Christmas stories.  I haven't quite wrapped my head around doing this before Thanksgiving, but I suppose it is the time when the trains are available. 
As for today's blog, I started thinking about the cranberries. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, cranberries for me is a must.  I remember the first time I had Thanksgiving, I bought the fresh cranberries and cooked them according to the directions on the bag.  I remember thinking I needed a sieve to grind them and take off the skins and seeds  I made the sauce and cooled it.  I was so proud of myself for having made the sauce!  As years went by, I decided to just cook the cranberries and leave it the way it cooked.  I finally discovered the difference between the sieved one and the unsieved one.  They both tasted delicious.  Far superior than what you can buy in a can.  I am not quite sure why anyone even bothers with he can since making it is so simple.  Then I started to think about cranberries.  I know that some will string cranberries and popcorn for their tree for Christmas.  I have used cranberries in Jello and in making Borsch.  I have  used it in making bread. 
I have always wanted to go to a cranberry festival and think that this year...that will go on my bucket list.  I know that they are grown in a bog and think that it would be such an experience to see. I know that they even have cranberry glass. And to answer your next question, No, there are no cranberries used in the glass.  Although they always seem to have people selling these wares during the festival. 
I know that while growing up, I learned that cranberries were good for bladder infections, 
Cranberry, as well as many other  contains significant amounts of salicylic acid, which is an important ingredient in aspirin. Drinking cranberry juice regularly increases the amount of salicylic acid in the body. Salicylic acid can reduce swelling, prevent blood clotting, and can have antitumor effects.
It seems as though cranberries..no matter how many uses it may have...for me is associated with the Turkey on Thanksgiving.  I never used to eat it when I was younger...it wasn't until I got older that I discovered that I loved it.  So if you have never had the fresh cranberry sauce...why not try it this year. 

Missed Opportunities

Good morning to all.  Another Friday has rolled along.  The weekend is almost upon us.  Today is going to be a busy one for me.  I begin setting up the store at the Grove for the Holiday House.  It will be open from the day after Thanksgiving.  Wed. through Sunday's 10-5 until December 22nd.  Great items will be available along with fresh baked items daily.  No charge to get in.  Personalized items as well as wonderfully handmade items in all genres.  Support your local artisans. 
Well, I have another story published in the Glenview magazine that just came out.  I am so thrilled about the opportunity that this editor has given me.  Here is the link to the article.    http://emagazines.hibu.com/GLENVW      I am on page 24. 
As for today's blog, I had been thinking about missed opportunities.  I, along with everyone in this world has had them.  I sat back and started to think about them and what I thought was the biggest missed opportunity that I faced or endured.  I know that it came down not being able to become a doctor.  You see, back when I was 30, I had decided that I wanted to go to college.  I remember telling my mother that I had decided that I wanted to go back to school.  Her reaction was not the one I would have imagined.  I know that I have always pushed for my daughters to go to school...my mother, on the other hand, did not have the same view points.  She told me not to tell anyone, just in case I couldn't make it!  Thanks mom!  Well, I did go back.  I carried a full load of classes while being a mom, wife and girl scout leader.  I took Math, Science, History, Literature and Humanities.  I carried a straight A throughout my time in school.  I went back thinking that I would become a teacher.  At one point in time, a doctor friend of mine talked me into changing over to bio-engineering...with the thought process of my building prosthetics.  This movement went even further the longer I was is school.  I had eventually thought about becoming a doctor and considered becoming a brain surgeon.  After some more thought and my sensitive nature...I decided to become a forensic examiner.  That was what I had aspired to become.  I worked hard at my studies and looked forward to an adventurous future. At one point in my life, our personal difficulties with our home, caused me to have to quit school and go to work.  I didn't have any choice in the matter and did what needed to be done.  I vowed that I would return as soon as possible.  I went through working and caring for ill in-laws.  I finally reached a point in my life when it was possible to return to school.  I was all ready to continue in the footsteps that I had left some 9 years prior.  I was all set up with my classes, I had begun and was about 1 month in, when my daughter came home pregnant and needed me.  Her pregnancy was difficult and I gave up school once again.  I stood beside her during the pregnancy and afterwards helped to raise the granddaughter.  I replaced the college books with reading storybooks, I replaced the humanities with taking my granddaughter to plays and museums, I replaced the English lessons with ABC's and the math with learning to count.  Years went by and I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and later with Psoriatic Arthritis.  I never returned to school.  I sit here today and wonder whether it was really a missed opportunity?  I look back at the quality of my life and know that everything that was meant to be was part of my life.  I must say, my  heart still yearns to have had the satisfaction of finishing school and having a MD behind my name.  I wished that I could stand in an examining room and perhaps be the person to discover something amazing through an autopsy, but I would never have traded a moment of the opportunities presented to me.  All the lessons I learned were the ones that I will carry all of my life.  I suppose when I started out in school, becoming a teacher was really supposed to be my calling.  I taught my granddaughter everything I could about the right ways to learn, be a kind human being and to someday pay it forward.  I have become a teacher in the arts and in storytelling through the years.  I suppose I didn't miss an opportunities after all.  They were just all redirected.  The only thing I am sorry about is that my mother didn't realize that when life knocks you down...you can get up and walk in a different direction...stronger than ever.  It took me many years to realize that her love for me was the reason behind that statement.  She didn't want me to feel failure perhaps like she had felt.  I wished she could have seen herself as a strong, forceful woman, who in the worst of times was able to make a life for herself and her young child.  My biggest missed opportunity perhaps was being able to tell her that!

A Picnic Table for Thanksgiving

Good morning.  Hope that all is going well this week for everyone.  A week from today is Thanksgiving.  This is one holiday that I truly enjoy. It is a holiday with no expectations.  It is simply a day to be thankful.  I am thankful everyday. As I lay my head down on the pillow at night, I am thankful for the day.  All that the day had to give or offer me.  The people I met or have in my life are there for a reason and I am so grateful for them all.  I started reminiscing about the past.  The time when I was young and those that were in my life at the time.  I remembered a particular Thanksgiving growing up.  My cousin Sandy lived up stairs from us and she was going to host the Thanksgiving dinner.  Now Sandy is 10 years older than myself, so growing up...she was my mentor so to speak.  Someone who I could aspire to be like.  I hung around with her all the time.  Well, I remember this one Thanksgiving in particular when she decided that we should emulate the first Thanksgiving.  She for some reason decided that the dinner should be held on a picnic table...not sure whether the pilgrims ate on a picnic table back then or not...although that thought never came to my mind when she had the idea.  Well, the two of us carried the picnic table up to the second floor from the back yard.  She had me scouting the neighborhood for nice colored leaves to decorate the table, along with branches.  Along with that, she had me tracing and cutting out leaves from colored construction paper to decorate the table as well.  I remember how we all gathered around that picnic table to eat dinner.  It was a nice idea...but not the most comfortable one she had ever had.  We had the traditional foods, and then on to the traditional card playing afterwards.  Out came the cards and the containers of money and on that Thankful day, we were playing poker....just like the pilgrims??? Perhaps not!  But it was tradition in our house.  I remember how thankful I was that year.  I played poker many times in all the years in that home in Chicago, but at that crazy picnic table I won with a royal flush and never forgot it.  The men all thought I was bluffing with my cards...LOL...boy, were they surprised!  Those days are imprinted on my mind.  A time when families came to together and shared.  What a great day.  FYI, It wasn't always a traditional holiday here.  It was really because of tenacity of a woman named Sarah Hale that we can thank for Thanksgiving.  Along with Sarah Hale we can thank President Lincoln as well.  It was because of the two of them that we celebrate that day together.  Sarah wrote letters asking for a nationally recognized day that families could celebrate together and give thanks.  It took 39 years and many letters to many presidents before it reached Abraham Lincoln and Thanksgiving Day was declared a national Holiday.  It wasn't for a day off or a long weekend, but a day that families could gather together to give thanks.  I would like to Thank Sarah Hale, Mr. Lincoln and every family member and friend that I have for the joy and love they have brought into my day.  For the memories that this day has given me, I am grateful.  They are all different and wonderful and something to treasure.  Whether we gathered around a picnic table or a table set with fine china, it was the gatherings that I remember and the love that went into those day! 

Cooking my First Thanksgiving Turkey

Well, good morning to everyone.  Sun is shining, but brr...it is cold outside!  It is so very different than last year.  Seems like the Farmers Almanac is on target for the weather predictions this year. 
Well, today's blog is about my attempt at making my first Thanksgiving Turkey.  I has newly married and was having my first Thanksgiving Dinner.  I was 20 years old at the time and not a whole lot of experience in the kitchen with making a turkey.  I had made many things growing up, but not a turkey.  I wanted the turkey to be just like my grandmothers.  The stuffing needed to be the same...it was my favorite.  I never realized how many types of recipes there were for making stuffing!  My grandmother had always put meat in hers and so I made sure I got her recipe for that.  I know I set the alarm at like 3 AM so that I could get up to be able to have everything done.  I am not sure why cooking seemed like such an ordeal in the beginning...or why in the world I got up at that ungodly hour of the morning...I suppose we all learn the hard way!  Any way, I was set for the day.  I would have the most beautiful Thanksgiving dinner with my family.  I was sure to walk out of the kitchen into the dining room carrying the perfectly browned, juicy turkey on a tray. Well, that is not quite the way that happened. 
Upon waking, I prepared the stuffing and stuffed the bird.  I placed that 25 pound glistening bird into the large black enamel pan and placed it into the oven.  No where on the directions of how to make a turkey did I read anything about covering it.  I calculated the number of hours that it needed to be baked and made sure to continually baste it.  After the first 2 hours....it seemed to be getting quite dark....I wasn't quite sure that it should be so dark so soon...there were a number of hours left for it to be cooked.  After the first 3 hours, I covered it with some foil...although it was too late in the game.  When the turkey had finally made it's way out of the oven, I realized that my Norman Rockwell picture of Thanksgiving dinner was not going to happen, I carved the turkey and placed it on the serving dish.  I was devastated...it was the driest turkey ever.  There was no quick fix to that one.  I had to just suck it up and be grateful that all the other sides were delicious.  I learned a valuable lesson from that first Thanksgiving. As years went on, I became quite proficient as cooking a delicious, juicy turkey that my family stands in line for as I carve for tastings.  Turkeys and I have a history of stories...from the time I made 2 large turkeys for a New Years Eve party and a snowstorm hit and no one came...I had 50 or so pounds of turkey that night!  To remembering a Thanksgiving turkey at my Aunts house...it was her first Thanksgiving dinner and first turkey as well. She didn't have a charcoaled turkey, but instead, she didn't know to take out the bag of livers and such out of the backside of the turkey and cooked it all together.  I guess it is the hazards of being new at the art of cooking a turkey.  The good news is...we all learn from our mistakes.  My husband still insists that the first turkey I made was delicious...bless his heart!  Although he had never had a turkey before then...so I am not quite sure he would be the best judge on the topic.
I no longer need to set alarms to get up and make a turkey.  I have the procedure down after 39 years of probably cooking over 150 turkeys.  I have seen every sort of recipe known to man on different ways and even positions to prepare and cook one.  I have my own secrets to a juicy turkey now, and everyone I know looks forward to gobbling them up! 

My Thanksgiving Tablecloth

Good morning to everyone.  Well, my life is somewhat back on a normal track.  It was so nice to clean and reorganize.  On to get ready for the next phase of the Grove which is their store which will open on the day after Thanksgiving. 
I am having Thanksgiving for my husband and I, along with some friends and neighbors.  I was thinking about the meal and how I will set the table. I pulled out my Fall Tablecloth to iron and put on the table and began to think about how funny it was the day I purchased it.  It was actually an amazing deal and as happy as I was to get it I was sad at the same time....so I thought...hmm...good idea for today's blog.
I had never been  to an auction before.  My friend Kris and I often stay at the best Bed and Breakfast in a quaint town called Millersburg.  The name of the Bed and Breakfast is The Big House in the Little Woods.  The owners Gail and Dave are the most welcoming and charming hosts and after one visit, you will feel like they are old friends.  There home is charming and comfortable and it is the best stay you would ever have.  Well, one time they were discussing this quilt auction that is held in the barn across from their home.  They have it twice a year and the couple staying their along with us were making their reservations.  We were intrigued, so we made reservations to come back for it. 
Well, I was so grateful for that.  Gail told us that there is usually a waiting list and we were fortunate enough to be able to get a room.  The weekend finally arrived.  The night before the auction, we were allowed to go over to the barn and view that quilts.  It really surpised us as to how many there were.  Not only were there quilts, but other items as well.  Kris thought we would be able to breeze in and out in maybe an hour.  We landed up staying for the entire day. 
Now, these were hand made, hand quilted pieces.  One was more amazing than the next.  I had never seen so many patterns of quilts before.  The colors and fabrics were unbelievable.  Well, It seems that there were so many that the bidding did not need to go very high, in fact, you could get most of the items for next to nothing.  I was the recipient of many of those items.  Although at the end of the day, my bill was an eye opener...It didn't even come close to what I would have paid for one quilt somewhere else. 
At the end of the day, we all met back at the B & B and we had a show and tell. 
As each guest pulled out their treasures for everyone to see, we all oooh and awed all over again and the workmanship and beauty of each piece.  Well, I managed to get a gorgeous quilt for a queen size bed in cream and tans and copper.  I also got some unfinished pieces.  When I say unfinished, they were the top layer of the quilt, all done...it only needs the batting and the backing on it and then to be hand quilted.  Gail, the owner looked at me when I began pulling them out of my bag...I had numerous ones.  She asked me if I planned on quilting them all.  I told her no, that I planned on hemming them and usuing them for tablecloths.  You see, I had my dining room table special made, actually on an Amish farm, and it it solid Oak and is 48 inches wide.  It has leaves in it and I can easily sit 12 at it for dinner.  This is a difficult table to find a table cloth for.  A bed covering is perfect.  One of the toppers that I got in the auction was made with a leaf pattern in the most delicious colors for fall. I am so grateful for the opportunity to gain such a treasure.  I paid $20.00 for this piece.  It will cover a queen size bed and looks magnificent on my table.  Now if you don't know much about quilting, the fabrics that were used in this pieces must have cost at least $100.00.  That is not including any labor suck as cutting and sewing all the pieces together.  This was such a shame that no one wanted these sort of pieces and that I was able to get them so cheap.  I think about how long that topper took to make and the skill that was used to put it together. 
As I place it on the table I will always think of that day.  I will give thanks for the person who made that and hope that she will know how much it is appreciated and loved. 
For all the years that I do a holiday, I have always based it around a them and a prayer.  It is something that I personally enjoy to do.  One year, my granddaughter asked about what that years prayer and special theme was going to be.  I was not away that anyone was paying any attention to this part of the festivity.  I was grateful that she noticed and that she actually looked forward to it.  When I looked at this tablecloth and the leaves, I realized that I also recently purchase some chargers that have leaves in the rim.  I have decided that leaves are the theme for this years Thanksgiving table.  I will coordinate the entire theme around it.  When I sat for a moment and thought about the leaves, I thought about how nourishing they are to the earth.  That when they decompose, they are giving nutrients back.  When I compare that to the day, we are doing the same on another level.  We are giving back the thanks for the bounty that we are able to enjoy.  So "leaf" it up to me to find something new to do. 

Imagination...How wonderful is That!

;/Good morning.  Well, today is the last day of the show.  What a wonderful show it has been.  Onward after this to the store.  It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces.  I am grateful for all the support of friends and family.  When you work all year for something, it is so nice to have the support.  Thanks to everyone who has come out to support me and the show and all the other wonderful artists. 
Today's blog is about being grateful for imagination.  I am often struck with it during my sleep.  I quite often will get up and write down ideas and thoughts that will someday turn into something.  But I am not the only one.  I often get wonderful ideas from friends and customers that I can expound upon.  I love that I can make something out of almost nothing and can repurpose things as well.  I have often had a whole theme of ideas sparked off of one thought.  It is such a gratifying feeling when I do have a thought and use it to create something....and it turns out the way I had envisioned it.  Imagination is what makes this world great.  I am grateful for all of the most amazing people who have made this world what it is today.  The engineers, the designers, the architects, the bakers, artists, writers and the list goes on.  Imagine what our world would be like without them?  I cannot imagine the world without a storybook or a novel.  I am in awe when I walk into a building and see the vision of an architect having had come to life in all forms of materials.  As I take a tour down the river in Chicago and see the amazing buildings and then hear the stories behind them...I am amazed with the thought processes behind it. 
When I am in a restaurant and phenomenal dish, plated to the hilt comes to my table...I am totally delighted to see the artistry in the food.  I have attended productions at theaters and am blown away by the talent, not only of the actors and actresses, but also the set designers.  How fortunate are we to be surrounded by such imaginative people.  That they put their imagination to use and have given us such beauty to enjoy.  I have a friend, her name is Linda Kinneman who makes art using clothing tags that is so creative!! 
I think that it is amazing to see the differences in everything we look at.  Life is surely not cookie cutter style.  We are all so different and unique and today I am grateful that I was dealt the card called imagination and that I have been fortunate enough to appreciate it...both in myself and in others.

Our future...in the Eyes of the Young.

Good morning. I have been so busy and then a migraine hits...not the best timing. 
This kept me from being able to post.  I try every day to blog, but the last 2 days was difficult.  I am nearing the end of the show.  Today and tomorrow is all that is left.  Will regroup and get ready for the store which I will help set up next week.  
Polar Express name has been changed to another name and will still happen on next Saturday in Downers Grove.  I am looking forward to riding the train and telling stories. 
As for today's blog, I have been thinking a lot about teachers.  I met a sweet young girl yesterday.  We had a wonderful discussion about the art of storytelling.  I found this to be an enchanting conversation.  I shared my concerns about the future of storytelling.  How I felt that the art is dwindling and she in turn shared with me her concerns because of the way the arts are being cut out in the schools.  She will join my storytelling guild to start to learn storytelling.  I am so pleased to see that someone of her age is interested in this field of entertainment. 
After she left, I contemplated how this field of art is not just an art in the schools, but an art in the home.  It is a tradition that is handed down through generations.  It is not only that, but also stories of various countries.  It is folk lore that is handed down.  In the American Indian tribes it is held as religion and morals that are taught.  Stories happen every day.  It is the way they are told and shared.  There are areas of stories for every type of situation.  Stories are like medicine.  They can be healing tools.  They can make you laugh, reflect, cry, intrigue and think.  They are tools that making learning fun by the way the stories are shared. 
I am looking forward to a program for a school in a couple of weeks where I will be performing a Revolutionary War program.  Stories about actual people and what occurred.  About famous women that you may have never realized were such a bog part of that War.  It will be interesting for me, as always to see the reaction of the children.  I try to make things real and interesting so that they can relate and question. 
When I think about being grateful, I am grateful for this job.  I have learned so much in these past 14 years of storytelling.  I have had thoughts come to mind that make me research the answers and place into a program.  I have met wonderful people who have asked for specific programs that only created more interest in other areas.  I have not only learned about things for the program, but also for my own personal growth. 
I look forward to mentoring this young girl and hope that perhaps I will make a difference in her life, because then it will stimulate a "pay it forward" mode.  Perhaps there is hope for the continuing of the art. We always must look into the eyes of the young to see the future...because they are the future.   

Self Motivation

Good morning to all.  Hope you are happy to get to the hump day of the week. Last evening I just plainly hit the wall.  I was so tired from all the work.  I worked on projects all morning till it was time to get ready to actually go to teach Art to  the Alzheimer's.  That of course is always a challenge but very gratifying.  Yesterday we made turkeys and they were all very happy with them.  Afterwards I came home and worked again.  By 8 PM I was done.  Today is another day.  I am ready to push ahead.  Tomorrow begins the first day of the second week of the Craft faire and I need to have things ready. 
My topic for today is self motivation.  I stated to think yesterday about how I get things done.  I am so grateful for this talent.  It is not something that is in everyone.  It is not easy working from home.  There are a lot of things that get in the way.  You must be self motivated to get yourself doing the things that you actually need to do.  You need a system.  With me and my diversity of things that I do I have to keep a schedule of sorts to accomplish it all.  Between storytelling, teaching art and painting for the faire, it is essential to have lists at hand, products at hand and stories at hand. 
As a storyteller, I must have stories ready and waiting to be studied or reviewed to perform, plus there must be time for the rehearsals.  It is a constant search for stories.  Because of my diversity in storytelling, I am always compiling stories for  future use.  I also am in search of new and fresh stories so that I can revisit the same places to perform with new and fresh materials. 
As an artist, I am always searching for new trends, new ideas, new patterns.  I spend time drawing up my own patterns, then to use the pattern, I must select the proper surface.  Pull the colors of paint I plan on using and then begin the painting process.  As I paint the piece for a pattern, I must also write down all the steps and the colors used along the way.  Then take the pictures of the piece as it is progresses along with a final piece. 
As for painting the items for the faire, I deal in such a large volume that I need to multitask to get things done.  There are often times that I am jumping up and down to check the kiln that I might be firing, base coating on one side of a table and painting on the other.  I will switch to a couch to draw out the pieces or to put the hangers in. 
Without self motivation, I could never accomplish what I do.  I am grateful to have that quality and yet I think at times it limits me.  I limit me.  I get so wrapped up in what I am doing that at times I need to remind myself that there can be times for other things.  You might call me a Workaholic. When someone wants something done and in a large scale, they know that they can come to me.  The old saying goes, if you want something done, give it to a busy person.  That is because they have a system and are on the get it done mode. Many people question how I manage to get all that I do done.  It is really amazing to me the things that I get accomplished, and I am grateful for the managing skills. The biggest problem is that at the end of the day....I am exhausted, but proud of the accomplishments made.  When someone tells me they are bored...I often wonder how that happens.  It surely is not a phase that I use.  My prayers and wishes are usually for an extra 24 hours in a day!  I will never live long enough to do all the things my heart desires to do in this lifetime...no matter how self motivated I may be.  
The biggest problem with working at home is that people tend to not think that you have a REAL job and don't always give you the recognition that you deserve.

Thankful to be a Red Hat Queen

Good afternoon...I know right?  Not often that I don't say good morning.  I have been on the constant run with regrouping for next weeks part of the show at the Grove in Glenview.  If you haven't come out, there is still 4 days left of the show to see.  Come on out and spend a wonderful day in an absolutely gorgeous setting with wonderful artisans. 
As for todays posts, I am continuing on with my grateful month.  Today I am grateful for Red Hats.  If you don't know what Red Hatting is, then let me fill you in.  It an organization for women over the age of 50 who wear red hats and purple clothes.  It is basically a social groups and there are chapters all over the world.  Each chapter is an individual chapter run by a queen.  The queen sets the tone for what the chapter does.  As for me, I am the Queen, so know that it is one crazy event after another.  We have been together for 10 years and for 8 out of the 10 years, we did at least 2 things a month and can count on one hand how many times we duplicated an event. 
Why am I grateful?  Well, I have had the opportunity to meet some of the finest and fun women around.  You can be under the age of 50 to join and if you are you wear a pink hat with lavender clothing.  I began the group as a pink hatter. 
Some of my best friends are in the group and they became best friends once joined.  these are stand up women.  they type that I can call in the middle of the night...no matter where I am and they will come to the rescue if need be.  They are the kind of women who call and check in on me.  They are the type of friends that truly give a hoot and I mean not just on their kazoos.  There are women who walked into my door alone after calling to join after finding me on the internet.  Amazing that we have drifted together and formed such a bond.  We are so totally able to be ourselves.  At this stage of life, we tend to hide ourselves away, but not with red hats.  It would be sort of hard to hide with those colors on!  Now, let me set the records straight.  We are dignified and respectful!  I have met people who have not had that sort of meeting with some....and I apologize for those women who think that wearing a red hat gives them the right to be disrespectful to anyone! 
We are a group of women who want to be challenged, have fun, and be ourselves.  We can put on a bathing suit and not be concerned with the fact that the middle age spread has occurred.  That we are not perfect in any shape or form except in our hearts.  They are well formed and full.  I look forward to the days and times we spend together.  We have gone out and explored the cities.  We have done the wildest things....from taking belly dancing lessons to trips and tours, overnighters, attending concerts and plays, going on hayrides and restaurants of every ethnic background.  We have cooked and decorated, taken classes and rode planes and boats and just plain had fun. 
I am grateful for this chance in my life.  the chance to be free.  To not worry about what others might think because those in the group are all in the same place!  Bonding is a very special thing to do and being part of this group and the type of group that it is allows all of that to happen. 
When Jenny Joseph wrote the poem about the purple hat, I am sure she had no idea that some day that would come to fruition.  That one day a woman by the name of Mary Ellen Cooper would don her first red hat and go to tea and a lifestyle would begin.  I want to say thank you to all my red hatters that are art of my life.  There are some that have passed away, but are still remembered and admired.  I will carry them all in my heart.  They have truly made my heart gladdened with joy!  Thanks again to my wonderful ladies!!!

Thankful on Veterans Day

Good morning to everyone.  Another weekend gone.  I have a day of heavy working ahead  today.  Time to paint, paint and paint some more.  The Grove show reopens on next Thursday and runs through till next Sunday again.  If you haven't been out to The Grove in Glenview...come out a spend a wonderful day there.  Everything is handcrafted, the grounds are absolutely beautiful and if you are there as the sun goes down, you are treated to a vision of lit homes for the holidays. 
As for todays blog, it is clearly a hats off to Veterans.  As a child, the day was just another day that meant we had the day off from school.  I am not sure that as a child I fully understood what a Veteran was. 
Today is a mighty different story.  I am so grateful for all the things that I have living in
America and to know that what I have...all the rights and all the possibilities were given to me by these brave men and women through the years.  I know that we usually focus on the current war that we are in or even the ones that have recently effected us, but our freedom was given and protected for us during all times.  Being a storyteller awakened my knowledge of the first hand stories and information connected to the men and the women who fought to keep us free. The hardships that they went through and the sacrifices that they endured for you and me. 
I personally lost a good friend and neighbor during the Vietnam War.  I have to stop and think about all the men and women who came home after the wars with out arms and legs, with scars and wounds.  Their are soldiers whose bodies were in terrible explosions and fierce and cruel torture having been captured.  I have to stop and remember that some have tramped through unknown soils and through streets of the dead.  I have to remember that brothers sometime had been in the position where they fought each other. They have been to places you and I might have never dared to go in a million years. 
These brave soldiers have faced seeing children dying or even as their enemies.  I acknowledge their sleeping conditions for long periods of time. The lack of food and sleep sometimes on a daily basis.  Not to sit at the table for dinners with their loved ones.  They missed countless holidays and countless special occasions.  Some have missed the birth of their children, the marriage of family members, even the death or funerals of loved ones.  I remember back when my grandfather dies and my cousin was in the Army in Germany.  Back when I was 12, embalming must have been different, but I know that we waited days for him to get home to see his grandfather and pay his last respects and he couldn't get here in time.  He arrived after the burial.  He was devastated. 
Today, above all days, stop and thank God for the soldiers who have protected us through all wars.  They have all sacrificed a great deal for their country.  The one thing that is most precious, they gave. .....Themselves.    We will often honor the current Military servers...but we must remember that our gift of freedom is not just from today.  Stand up American and be grateful that their are these branches of service to our country.  That when we lay our heads down on our pillows at the end of the day we must thank God for the life and those who have protected it for us.  
I know that for those of us who have never seen what war is like, we have no yardstick to measure it with,
I saw the effects of war with my mother in law and she was not in the service, but instead, she ran for safety.  Until the day she passed away, there was this fear embedded in her.  Any noise would set it off.  An open window or door could mean danger.  The fireworks on fourth of July took her to a place and journey back in time that she did not want to relive.  She spent most of her days looking over her shoulder.  So, if that was part of her daily routine, I cannot phantom what a soldier must endure years after they have served their country.  I know of many men  and women who cannot handle fireworks because of what they were through.  Funny how what most off us look forward to and find as great beauty can be feared  and avoided by someone who has served.  Just a totally different perspective on reality.  When we stand to sing our National Anthem, or any of our countries songs, think about those men and women from our past. 
As we sing "And the rockets red glare...bombs bursting in air"  Sing in with respect not only for our flag but also for those who protected it for us.  I would like to say my person Thank you to each and everyone of you who may have fought so that I am free.  God Bless you and may he keep you safe. I am grateful that I finally have full knowledge of what Veterans Day is. 
I never really understood the Poppy significance until recently.  If you as a reader don't know what it stands for, I am posting it here for you and for those who have lost their lives so that we may keep ours.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses, row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 
We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie, 
In Flanders fields. 
Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.

There's No Place Like Home

Good morning.  Another weekend has come to a close.  It has been a rather crazy weekend for me.  The Grove Craft Faire has been slammed with customers.  Wonderful comments have been heard about the show.  I am so pleased and proud to be part of something so wonderful.  I take great pride in being a handcrafted in American Artisan.  Thanks goes out to everyone who supports us. 
As for todays blog...continuing on the grateful theme...I would like to say how grateful I am for a place to live.  Yesterday's disaster in the Philippines makes me appreciate what I have and where I live.  I cannot imagine the devastation and trauma right now.  They have predicted perhaps 10,000 loss of lives.  As I sit on my couch in my living room, I am so grateful for the warmth, the comfort  and everything else that goes along with having a safe place to be.  The survivors will be traumatized for life over this.  They are stranded without knowing what will come next.  It seems as though the past couple of years have been some of the most horrific disasters I have ever heard of concerning the weather.  When you thing of what they had to endure it is a time to stop and thank God for all the protection that we have.  I often times will drag myself home at the end of the day and not think about what a blessing that home is.  I see people walking up and down near where I live pushing grocery carts filled to the top and  know that they are perhaps sleeping in the woods behind the area where I live.  I cannot imagine what that must be like!  To not have warmth, food, water, love.  I can complain when I need to clean the house or do the chores, never stopping to think about the fact of how grateful I should be that there are chores and cleaning to do.  I can go to a shelf and pull out a book of pictures to sit and reminisce where there are people who have lost all of that. 
There are all those times when I am away on a trip...regardless of the type of trip...I cannot wait to arrive home.  The comforts of my home!  In the movie the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy's continual wish is to go home.  No matter how wonderful or beautiful things are.  "There's no place like home!".  Home is where your heart is, and that changes as your address changes.  I don't know about anyone else, but I do know that I have gone back to revisit homes many times.  My childhood home is a place of comfort and love.  So much of who I am came from inside those walls.  The people, the conversations, the meals....all the memories of growing up reside inside that building and in my heart.  I longing drive past and can  close my eyes remembering what it once was.  The homes before this one kept the years of my children growing up and all the love and stories that surround those years.  Not all the memories of home are always happy ones, and sometimes I think perhaps those are the ones that help us to grow the most.  They are the moments that help us appreciate all the good ones. 
When people make comments to me about my home being comfortable, I am so grateful.  I want everyone to feel at home here.  I want them to feel they are part of this family...no matter who they are.  I know that homes may come and go, that we change our homes for many reasons, but that we have connective threads that we attach to the home and no matter where we go...we seem to always have a way of going back! 

Customer Appreciation

Good morning.  what a beautiful day here in the Chicago land area. Another day planned at the Grove Craft Faire in Glenview.  The crowds of shoppers have been great.  The interaction and comments that flow through are wonderful.  I see I have much work ahead of me.  Such wonderful people that I have encountered.  Children who visit with me as Mrs. Claus.  have such wonderment in there eyes.  My customers who have returned with their shopping lists have come in and revisited.  I love that I have that kind of following and repore with my customers.  Sometimes, there is happy news and sometimes sad.  But they come and share.  It is like we are all old friends.  I have one woman that I have been making her ornaments for over 25 years.  I have seen her grandchildren grow and marry.  I have a customer who had just received a cochlear surgery and will finally be able to hear.  Customers who come with their lists a mile long and have all the previous years marked as to what ornaments they have gotten and given so that they don't duplicate.  I get thank yous from them for all the new creations that keep them coming back. 
If you hadn't guessed by now...my thankfulness for todays blog is for these customers.  They are the people that keep the little guy going.  They appreciate the art, the handmade items.  They support the little guy like me.  Not only do they support the arts, but they have become somewhat a family.  Through the years, we have traded stories about their friends and family.  I love sitting behind my desk and listening to them as they point out items that they have previously purchased and then ogle over the new ones.  It is such a joy to watch their reactions and their deep concentration as they decide which ornament to choose for each individual.  They all study the shapes and faces of the heads on the family ornaments.  Then when brought to me and they are personalized, the excitement that happens when they see the finished items. 
They share the stories about how their families look forward to receiving the ornaments each year.  I had one yesterday about a set of twins that are autistic and they await their ornaments with great anticipation.  The customer said that she love getting them the wood so that they don't get broken.  I get special orders on top of what is their.  I have one woman who brings in pictures of her grandchildren in the Halloween costumes every year and I paint the ornaments to look like the children in their trick or treating splendor.  It is amazing to me what that particular mother has made for costumes. 
I have had customers who are so excited when they know that I can make them that particular ornament that they have been searching for.  One mom was thrilled yesterday when I told her she could special order a boy gymnasts on rings.  And because it was a special order...I could do it in his colors.  The appreciation that I receive from them is an amazing feeling.  To know that I am part of their traditions.  That every year, something I have created comes out to be enjoyed and is treasure is way beyond any gift I could receive.  To know how faithful and loyal they are that they continue to return.  One particular customer relies on me each year to make her something new and different for her manicurist.  She tells me that the woman hangs them all around her manicuring station each year. 
I am grateful for all those wonderful people who I have had the privilege over the years to get to know and who continue to return.  It is the proof in the pudding so to speak, to know that each little piece of art work gets a special place of honor. 
Now there are other items that people purchase of mine from finer art pieces to Friendship Soup.  I am amazed each year as to the amounts of soup y customers return over and over again to buy.  It is the poem that I wrote the grabs them initially, but once they make the soup...they return for more.  I have had customers call me all year long for the soup and they don't order one bag.  They order many and even ship them around the country.  That gives me the sense of worth.  That all the work that goes into making something is appreciated.  Thank you to each and everyone of you amazing customers.  I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had through the years to get to know you all !

The Jetson Generation

Good morning.  Another cold day expected today.  Yesterday was a wild and crazy day.  The show at the Grove was mobbed in the first half of the day.  I finally was able to go and get a bit for lunch at 2....and that happened in phases  because I had to keep returning to my desk to personalize.  What a great day. So many charming and wonderful people!
Today's blog continues the thankful thread.  As I think about all the things I could be thankful for, I am amazed at what I think of.  Today, I am thankful for the computer and technology.  At the touch of a finger we have an amazing amount of information available. 
I don't understand the person who balks at it.  I give credit to the elder who have taken on how to use it.  Years ago, we would do countless hours of research looking for almost anything and everything we needed to know.  Today, we just need to go to the computer and type in a question and we are given boundless answers. There are even the most obscure answers to odd questions.  It has added hours of my time looking at a library for a book that MIGHT have the answers.  Even in my job as a storyteller, I find stories right there for the having.  Although I have learned the art of backup as a must.  I think that it is a magnificent tool for all ages and all facets of works.  When I see the newest and most modern  models of computers and their capabilities I am amazed at the advancements in this field.  I use not only the internet, but also programs for business invoices, I use clipart programs for designs, I have even superimposed  pictures that I need for parties.  The advantages are endless.  I can use the computer to readily communicate through email, face to face with my family anywhere in the world at the press of a button.  I remember watching the Jetson's cartoon when I was younger and thinking that nothing that was shown there would ever come to fruition, but it has, and more!  It makes me wonder who was behind those shows and whether it inspired those that created what we have or are part of the teams that created the computer world.  Sometimes I think that we need to delve back into the past to be able to appreciate the present.  And truly the present is a gift.  I think though, like everything in life, there are parameters that should be followed.  There is something called diversity.  I think that picking up a book for things is equally as important.  I find that the computer allows me the opportunities to find what I am in search for and then I take it one step further and find additional resources.  As I sit today and type this blog, I thing about how this is read all over the world....in seconds from when I hit the publish button.  I am so grateful for the computer and how far I have grown in learning the technology behind it.  My advice to a new user is...don't be afraid.  There is nothing wrong with an old dog learning new tricks.  Even a magician has surprises up his sleeve andso does the new computerized world. 

Gratetful for My Sight

Good morning.  This is it...the first day of the Grove Craft Fair...and I am ready to go.  Mrs. Claus will meet children and adults alike and spread some holiday cheer.
Today's blog is about how thankful I am for my eyesight.  I often think about what it would be like to not be able to see.  I am so in awe of all the amazing things that surround me on a daily basis.  As I dive along the roads, I notice wonders and something different every time.  The expressions on peoples faces, the movement of the rivers and lakes and oceans.  They say that your eyes are the doorways into your soul.  I have viewed many souls throughout my lifetime.  The one thing that stays in my mind are those special eyes that connect with me.  The eyes of a baby as they stare in complete wonderment.  The eyes of the elderly as they look at you with love and helplessness.  The eyes of the person you love where you know there love from just their look.  I use my eyes to admire all the beauty of art and use my eyes to create art.  I am often amazed at the visuals the my eyes pick up out of the most obscure objects.  The curtains in my living room on the tile on my bathroom wall.  The ability that they have to determine color.  They guide me in the car to most fabulous places.  They allow me watch television or to enjoy a clouds drifting by.  With my sight, I can appreciate all that there is before me and behind me.  There is something to be said about hindsight! 
My eyes can detect trouble and a person that lies along with worry, grief and sadness.   I can close my eyes and imagine what something can be like, but nothing compares to the actual sight of everything! There are words that we use in life like insight.  A vision of loveliness or to see a vision.  As I have aged, I notice the use of the word Macular degeneration more and more.  My dear friend has it, a woman in the senior facility has it, another friend has it and even my daughter has it.  I never heard this word before when I was growing up. I am not sure that terminology has been around.. but I hear it often these days.  To slowly lose sight is a frightening thought.  I can not imagine living without my sight.  They say that your other senses heighten, yet  I am so grateful and thankful for this blessing.  So, if today, you are reading this blog, open your eyes and look around and try to see the beauty that you have forgotten to see.  Stop and look and appreciate that you have that ability. We all tend to forget the blessings we have on a daily basis.    

Being Grateful to be a Storyteller

Good morning to all.  This is really an early morning for me!  I began this day at 1:30 AM.  Not because I wanted to, but because I cannot mange to stay asleep.  So I have been up painting and have now decided to take a break.  I do hope that I will be able to nap at some point today. 
Yesterday was my day at the senior facility.  It was such a pleasant afternoon.  I love spending time with the ladies.  I missed one in particular yesterday.  She has been having a rough go lately and I really missed seeing her. 
As I drove home from there, I was stricken with the theme for today's blog.  I think that so often in life, we just take things for granted.  We become so accustomed to the things we possess that we don't stop to think about what a blessing that it is.  Yesterday,  one of the ladies asked me all sorts of questions about being a storyteller.  She said that she once had thought about becoming a storyteller and never did.  The conversation went around the room and I sat there thinking of how grateful I am to be one.  One woman commented on how great it was to sit and listen to those wonderful stories...it reminded her of when she was a child and her mother and grandmother told them.  I thought about those statements driving home.  As I drove home, I thought about how grateful I am to have the memory that I have to remember all the hundreds of stories that are in my repertoire.  That I have such love for them.  That they are used to make others happy and bring them joy or memories.  When someone shares a story with me, I lean in and just listen and learn.  Yesterday, one of the residents told me a story about world war 2 and then about civil war soldiers buried in a cemetery by a gentleman who bought up the plots to properly bury them.  How stricken she was by this man's gestures.  I shared with her facts from the civil war and the women who fought and were buried without a proper name because they fought in disguise.  Then I thought about that, I was amazed on how I was able to pull that from the memory bank to share.  It is because of storytelling  that I had researched all that information.  I have been told many times that I have a gift.  Perhaps, I take that for granted because it is my job and then a day like yesterday happens and I am so grateful for it. 
There are many ways that people deal with life.  They use meditations, they journal, they see therapists to get through their thoughts and troubled and or happy moments.  I am able to use storytelling as my way of therapy or journaling.  When I write a story, I am putting my heart and soul and memories down.  When I pull a story from somewhere else, I am pulling it because of its relatability to me or the situation at hand.  I wish more people in the world could understand that stories are for all ages and not just for children.  The ladies asked me yesterday who I prefer telling stories to....and hands down I told them that I enjoy all of the telling, but hands down, I enjoy telling to adults.  Sometimes telling a story in a group where the adults are bringing the children to the event is funny to watch, because the adults are more captivated than sometimes even the children.  I can tell you that when I arrive and a resident gets out of bed  after telling me she has been so tired lately and doesn't feel up to anything  but would love to come and hear stories....that is such an amazing feeling and I am so grateful for the stories that I can share.  Story telling has changed my life in the most amazing ways.  I am grateful for the opportunities that it presents to me.
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