Ramblings from a would be writer

Land that I love…

I am a flag-waving patriot.  I have said this before and I will repeat it again.  I love my country.  I cry each time I hear the National Anthem.  I cry when I hear America the Beautiful, I cry at each patriotic song I hear.  I admit it freely.  And, I am looking forward to tomorrow.  Inauguration Day.  A day that happens every four years.  A celebration of what the Founding Fathers fought for, dreamed of, worked for.  It’s a great thing to celebrate.

Tonight as I was thinking of the inauguration, I remembered the first inauguration I can remember.  I was five, just about to turn six.  I was in first grade at St Joseph’s elementary school.   The date was January 20, 1961.   The first Roman Catholic president was going to take the oath of office.

It was a school day.  In January.  In northwestern Pennsylvania.  A snowy, cold day.  I took my lunch to school, so that normally meant you ate in the lunch room in the basement of the school and then you went out onto the ‘playground’ which was the church parking lot and you froze for the hour while the nuns went to the convent and had lunch.

January 20, 1961 was different though.  The nuns wanted to see the inauguration.  Somehow they managed to have the kids who brought their lunch go home with those who didn’t.  We had an extended lunch hour.  I got to go home with a girl who has ended up being one of my oldest and dearest friends.  I took my lunch pail to her house and, along with my dried sandwich, I had a bowl of hot soup.  What a treat for me.  I got to take off my shoes and sit down on something comfortable and be in a home.  I will never forget it.  I sat in the kitchen and her mom talked with us and gave us fresh cookies.

We moved into the sewing room where her grandmother stayed and we watched the president being sworn in.  I confess that the only thing I actually remember is watching a bunch of old people on the television talk.  The best thing about it all was the actual cocoa I was drinking in the middle of the day.

The soup, the cookies and the cocoa took precedence over the President asking us not what the country can do for us, but what we could do for the country.  (My interpretation).

So, tomorrow, I will watch our new president take the oath of office.  I will feel pride in my country.  I know countless others do not feel this way, and that grieves me.  I have spent time living overseas.  During those years I missed being home.  Yes, I was on a base under an American flag and I was supporting my husband as he served this country.  But, I was homesick for our country.  It is hard to put into words the longing I had for home while I was there.  Home is more than a shelter you live in.  Home is the country you are born in.  It is the familiarity of a nation.  Yes, I have disagreed with much in the past few years, but, I respect the office of the presidency.  It is an office that deserves respect regardless of who it is sitting behind that desk.  Our founding fathers fought for the right for people to disagree.  They fought for the right to have a peaceful transition of power.  So, tomorrow, I will celebrate the freedom we have.  The freedom to cry tears of joy and pride over a national anthem.  The freedom to feel pride at a new president.  The freedom to pray for the former president, pray for his continued safety and for his rest from his service.

It has been a year of struggle for our country.  I pray tomorrow the struggles will start to calm down.  There will always be differing views and some loud voices raised on both sides, but, for me, for tomorrow, I am choosing to rejoice in America.  Rejoice in the fact that we can experience tomorrow, the swearing-in, the transition, the protests.  It is all American.  May God bless this country and keep it safe.

~ Cathi (DAF)


Aunt Beulah’s Fox Stoles…

Last night while not being able to go to sleep, I thought of my Aunt Beulah.  Yes, I actually did have an Aunt Beulah.  Why anyone would name a young girl Beulah is beyond me, but, I digress.

Aunt Beulah was not a warm and fuzzy aunt.  You did not run to her with open arms to get a big hug.  She was married to my father’s older brother.  She had an air about her that did not belong in Oil City, PA.  She was restricted, I mean refined (?).  She was aloof.  At least that is what I think of when I think of her.

She had a pinched look on her face and that caused these little lines to form all around her mouth.  A few years ago, I noticed I had lines around my mouth.  I almost screamed aloud, “Oh no!  Aunt Beulah lines!”.  Instead, I slathered lotion around my mouth and spent the next few days constantly smiling, hoping those lines would disappear.

Now, I have painted a certain picture of my aunt.  I know we spent a lot of time at her house, especially after my mom died.  I don’t know if she felt sorry for us poor motherless waifs, or what, but I do remember being at her house often.  She would use scissors to cut up nice pieces of meat for her dachshund, Wrinkles, who would yap and snap at your heels constantly.  A very unpleasant dog.    My dad often commented that Wrinkles ate better than his brother.

Again, the memories are most likely not accurate because, we did visit often there.  I remember holiday meals at her house.  Not the food actually, but, doing dishes.  My sisters and I, the poor motherless waifs!  We would spend hours doing dishes.  At least that is what it seemed like.  I am certain she used every dish in her china cabinet.  We washed, we dried, we put them away in their sleeves in these quilted dish holders.  They would then go into a box and then into the china cabinet.  Those dishes were so protected that I think World War III could start in the china cabinet and those dishes would be unscathed.

But, what made all these memories come forward was the thought of Aunt Beulah’s upstairs closet in her sewing room.  It was a small closet, and inside was nothing but fur coats and fox stoles.  You know those stoles that women used to wear over the collars of their winter coats?  They had little fox heads that were actually clips to hold the stole together.  My sisters and I would go into that closet to ‘pet’ the furs.  We would eventually take each of those clips and clip each of the stoles together.

This is what my initial thought of Aunt Beulah was last night.  I saw her in a last-minute rush going into that closet to grab a stole and head to Mass.  Grabbing one, a dozen came out, I am certain.  I can just hear her, in my mind cursing those poor motherless waifs for connecting her stoles while she was trying to get to church.

It’s amazing where your mind wanders in the middle of the night, isn’t it?


Taking a Trip Back in Time…

We transferred back to the states in spring of 1979 from Japan.  We had lived there three years and it was one of the best places we had lived.  We met friends, we started our family, we became Christians there, and we grew up there.  I call those years my ‘college years’ as I never went to college and I spent the years in Japan at the age where I could have been studying in school.

We moved to Maine in early June of 1979.  Hubby worked sixty miles from where we lived.  He got up early (and I did too),  and after cleaning the house and doing chores, I felt lonely.  I knew people, but, it was early in our tour there so I had not discovered the joy these ‘new’ people would bring to my life.

One morning I was moping around the house missing my friends from Japan.  I was lonely and miserable and was crying off and on.  I was in the United States, people spoke my language, but I felt out-of-place.  I wanted to go back to Japan.

That morning, as I cried and prayed, I felt like I learned a lesson from God.  It was like He showed me a scrapbook.  This scrapbook was filled with pictures and mementos.  The lesson learned was this, the people and experiences I had in Japan would always live in my heart and mind.  They were like a scrapbook I could open.  I could remember and enjoy the memories, but, I could not live there, I needed to focus on the present and where I was.

From that time on, I have often thought of that lesson.  I have tried to live my life, focused on the present.

Today I have opened that scrapbook often.  My sister posted a picture of the first house she lived in after getting married.  It was the home where she started her family.  I looked at the picture and thought of the laughter we had when we visited there.  I remembered my oldest daughter taking her afternoon nap on the hammock that used to hang on the front porch.  I smiled and thought of several other memories of that time.  She had found the picture of the house on the web and that got me thinking of finding some of the places we have lived.

My first thought was to go to Japan.  I ended up finding a blog with pictures of the area we lived in Japan, Nagai, or Admiralty Heights.  It was wonderful!  Immediately, I was transported back in time.  Seeing the wide roads in the housing area that were actually airstrips for the Japanese airforce  in World War II.  We could see Mt. Fuji from our living room windows and our bedroom window.  That was our view each day, seeing the sun rise and the sun set with that magnificent mountain always in view.  Seeing the pictures brought back the memories of the people there.  Thanks to Facebook, we have been able to be in touch with one another again.

Finally, I realized that a year ago today we moved our furniture into this house.  I posted that picture and then said, I never want to move again.

As I thought about that, I chided myself, for being so adamant.  We do not know what the future holds and saying things so definitive puts a box around your life.  If I had not had a spirit of adventure 41 years ago, my life would have been so different.  I could not have written anything in this post.  For, my world view would have been vastly opposite of what it is now.  Each of our lives is an adventure and journey.   We all have scrapbooks in our minds filled with moments that our memories are made of.  The adhesive may be yellowing and lifting off of photos that are fading, but those memories are still clinging there.

I have been so blessed in this life.  Starting out from a small town in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I have traveled and met some incredible people along the way.  I have smelled things I could never had imagined.  I have seen sights I didn’t know existed.  I have been so blessed.

There is a quote from the movie Hook that is a conversation between the old Wendy and Peter that goes like this:

Granny Wendy: So… your adventures are over.

Peter Banning: Oh, no. To live… to live would be an awfully big adventure.

I have had an awfully big adventure and I am waiting to see what is next…  Thanks for stopping by today,  DAF (Cathi)





The front yard before moving in


The driveway


Another front yard view


Our gazebo in the front yard

I have not shared pictures of our home.  I had wanted to wait until it was completed and looked like a spread in a home and garden magazine.  I don’t think that will happen in the near future.

Everyone talks about the joys of home ownership and most of the time it is talked about sarcastically.  I confess, I have done that also.  This home, though, has made me smile.  Each morning I awake, open the drapes and smile when I look outside.  Yes, there is so much to do.  But, it is our home, and for the first time in our marriage, I feel like we are home.  We are no longer in transit.  We are no longer temporary, we are putting down roots and being planted here.

As you can tell from the pictures, there were lots and lots of leaves when we moved in.  We got to some of them last summer, but, we did not make a dent.  Then, autumn came and all those leaves were doubled.  It was beautiful, amazing and daunting all at once.  We joked with one another that raking would be our retirement entertainment.

This spring, we have started once more to uncover.  We uncovered a bit of the front yard by the driveway and discovered  three azalea bushes.  They were small and totally overwhelmed by the leaves.  We were thrilled at the discovery and wanted to see what else was here.

About a month ago, some dear friends came down from Pennsylvania to visit.  She brought me some plants from her gardens and together we planted flowers from home along with some dirt from our hometown.  I welcomed each plant and was thrilled to have combined our past with our future in these little plantings.  They have taken off growing and thriving, reminding me that we do bloom when we are planted where we are supposed to be.

We planted the plants by our gazebo, as they are spreading plants and I could picture them growing down the hillside there.  We raked and cleared a space for them.  Again, we uncovered several things.  Leading up to the gazebo is a stone path, buried and waiting to be discovered.  There were plantings there, hosta, sedum, saplings, all hidden and unable to grow.

Last week, our dear friends who are family came up.  She looked at the large garden by our pool and  gave me ideas for the garden.  It was the first time I could picture what to actually do in the garden instead of just weeding it, and being confused.  She helped identify things in the garden that I didn’t know.  I showed her what I did know and had learned from my friend from Pennsylvania.  Together we discovered more things that have been hidden and overwhelmed.

Yes, this home is a process.  We will spend several years uncovering and discovering.  It is a journey and an adventure.  What I have learned is I also discover lessons about myself.  Uncovering things that are hidden is a lifetime chore.  Each stage of our life reveals something we don’t know about ourselves.  I had thought when I reached my 60’s I would have arrived.  I would be exactly who I am supposed to be.  I am, to a point, but, there are things in me that I am still uncovering.  Areas of my life where I have let debris pile up, stunting growth and opportunity.  I am realizing as I rake and discover that there are places in my heart and mind that need to be raked and brought into the light.  Places that need to grow and discover their full potential.  This, too, will take time.  I may not know a lot about gardening and weeding, but I am learning as I go.

Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there. ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Thanks for stopping by today, DAF (Cathi)


41 and counting…

41 years ago tonight I was packing my bags and boxes getting ready to move.  It was a big move as I was leaving my childhood behind.  I looked in the closet and looked at some of the things flung onto the floor and decided that what was left was left.

41 years ago I was filled with excitement and anticipation and had no concept of what was ahead of me.

41 years ago tomorrow I woke up to a blizzard and snow falling all over.   I curled my hair, put on my make up, put on my dress and it was time to pose for pictures.  I left the apartment with the bags all packed and went to the church with my dad and my sisters.   It was time for my wedding.

People were late getting to our wedding, the snow and the roads were relentless.  People arrived in hunting clothes, not having time to change from long drives to the church.  Slush covered the aisle that the runner only covered half of.

Afterwards, my best friend’s father stood outside the church tossing a snowball waiting for hubby and I to leave  the church after pictures.  Yes, we had snowballs thrown at us instead of rice or birdseed.

The parking lot for our reception did not get plowed and cleared in time for our arrival.  We slid into a parking space and I hiked up my gown and tromped through knee deep snow.  I entered the hall and slid a few feet before being caught by my aunt.  Behind us, snowballs were being thrown.

Our reception band had three accidents on the way to the reception, and they trudged in during the meal bringing in snow drifts and excitement that they had finally made it.

We danced and ate and had some cake and left, driving north for the evening.

Yes, 41 years ago I was filled with anticipation.  I thought my love story was unfolding and it would be like the romantic comedies and love stories I watched on the big screen.

41 years later my love story has unfolded.  It’s not been a romantic comedy.  At times it is more tragedy and tears than laughter and joy.   But, it’s been my love story and I have lived it.  There have been bouquets of roses, and fancy dinners, and sparkling jewelry, and romantic trips.  But, there has also been silence and tears and angry words that cannot be taken back.  There have been years that we were oceans apart several times.

Love stories come in all shapes and sizes.  Today my love story was my hubby making certain I was warm enough on a cold evening.  Lighting a fire to warm me up and watching an old movie that we have both seen so often we knew the lines before the actors spoke them.

I am certain had I know then what I know now I may not have been so filled with anticipation on that snowy day.  But, I am grateful for the past 41 years I’ve had with my hubby.      DAF….


Happy St Patrick’s Day!

This is always a fun day.  I have never gone out and celebrated the day with a bar crawl or anything, but it is still a great day.

I was born into an Irish family.  Our family really hasn’t been in America that long.  I love that fact.  We were raised to be proud of our Irish ancestry.  And, we are.

In our small town there was a north side, south side and the east and west end.  The ends we didn’t pay much attention to, but the North side hailed a few more Irish families and the South side more Italians.  I was raised in the Catholic faith, went to a Catholic school for the first eight years of schooling.

There were three Catholic schools in our town.  There was one on the south side, and two on the north side of town.  From what I have just said, it seems the Italian kids went to the school on the south side and that left the rest of the Catholic kids to the other two schools.  One of the schools was in an area called Palace Hill, we had another name for the hillside, but, I won’t write it here.  This hill was inhabited by mostly Polish families.  It was a wonderful place, and the food that you could smell and get there, Wow!

Anyhow, I digress.  The other Catholic elementary school was St. Joseph’s.  Or, as we called it, St Joes.  It was where the ‘Mick’ kids went.  I went there, for eight years, some wonderful, some, well let’s just say, below par.

Today, I thought of all of this.  I do every year.  We did not grow up in a generation that pinched you if you did not wear green on St. Patrick’s day.  Then, only the Irish wore green.  It was not  a national thing for everyone and their brother to wear green.  So, each year, with my navy blue wool uniform, I would don a pin or a green sweater and knee socks and head to school.  The Polish kids always wore red on St Patrick’s day.  So, at lunch break, here I would be, in my green at my Irish school.  You could always pick me out. I was the tall Irish girl standing in the middle of a sea of red, with my closest friends by the last names of Dolecki, Brzezinski, and Zimoski….  Those are my fond memories of St. Patrick’s day.

I leave you now with my favorite version of the Irish Blessing:

May the Road rise up to meet you.

May the Wind be always at your back.

May you be in Heaven a half hour before

The devil knows you are dead.

Have a wonderful day today, DAF


Good bye 2014….

A year ago today, hubby and I sat and talked about the past year and the upcoming year.  We had a strong feeling about 2014.  We knew it would be a year of events.  A year of change.  A year that was different.  We anticipated it, we felt it coming.  Little did we realize the impact it would have on us.

This year has flown by.  I mean that, it really has.  To me, it seems like it should still be March of 2014.  But, sitting here in my living room with my tree still decorated, I know that it is December 31st.  The last day of this year.

I started out writing often.  I was encouraged and thrilled that I was consistent in writing.  But, as is so often the case, life took over and writing was squeezed in when I had a few minutes to sit and put my thoughts together.

During this year we have spent two and a half months in Pennsylvania.  We tramped through old paths.  We shared memories long dormant.  We held hands where we first held hands together.  We remembered those high school kids who fell in love, got married and travelled the world together.

We remembered family members no longer with us.  We remembered laughing with them, talking with them.  We remembered.

This year we saw Little Man turn two.  We saw him go from a toddler unsure steps to running and jumping and snapping his little fingers.  We saw him put puzzles together, recognize the shapes of the states, name the states and sing songs to melt our hearts.  We shared our Christmas with him.  We counted going up steps and down steps.  We cried when he had to go back home with his Momma and Pappa.

We met Little Miss this year.  She was a surprise to us, which added to the excitement of 2014.  She captured another part of our hearts.  She fascinated us as we watched her squirm in her little bassinet, eyes wide open, ready to move and explore if only her feet could hold her up.  We know from experience that won’t be long from now.

I was in California for seven weeks this year.  I said a proper good-bye to the city I called home for almost 28 years.  This good-bye was a slow one, not hampered by the rush of packing and moving and schedules.  It was a good-bye in a visit.  I was able to ramble through and recapture good memories and times.  I then packed those memories away in my heart scrapbook that holds all the precious times of my life.

Yes, 2014 was a unique year.  I have no idea what will happen in the next 365 days.  But, being the age I am, I know there will be wonderful days filled with the very best of things.  There will be days that will strike me in the core of my being.  There will be days filled with questions and no answers.  There will be days that seem to stretch into eternity.  This time next year, though, I know I will look back and remember fondly.

May your new year be filled with the best of everything.  Health, wholeness, laughter, and tears.  Happy New Year.  Thanks for stopping by, DAF


Home Again…

This has been a busy year.  We usually do not travel much, the occasional trip to see Little Man (which is never often enough) and an occasional weekend away.

Although this year is almost over, I still feel like it is March.  The time has flown by that quickly.

The summer we spent in my hometown where I grew up as a child.  The past three weeks I was in my hometown where I grew up as an adult.

I wasn’t certain how I would respond to heading back to San Diego.  I know there are certain things I really miss and think about.  My oldest daughter, our close friends, the mountains and good Mexican food.  Always in that order, unless I am really hungry for a good shredded beef enchilada, then the mountains come in last place.

I haven’t really spent time in San Diego since we moved five years ago.  I had a long weekend a couple of years ago, but it was a whirlwind trip in and back out again.

This time, I had three weeks.  Three weeks to drive around, see the sights, see friends, eat, and eat some more.

The first few days I adapted to the change of time.  The time change always hits me harder when I go from the east to the west.  This time was no exception.  I was awake at odd times and sleepy at 7 p.m..  Fortunately, I can eat at any time day or night..

The rest of the time was spent helping out my daughter and enjoying myself.

What I realized when I flew out-of-town was this, I may not have considered San Diego as my ‘home’, but it is a vital part of who I am.  It has shaped me in many ways.  It has made me see things in a different light than if I had stayed in one place my whole life.

It is true that I grew up as a child in northwestern Pennsylvania, but I ‘grew up’ as an adult in San Diego.  I became the woman I am today because of my life there.  This time, when I left San Diego, I left a part of my heart there, and I took a part of southern California with me, and I think that is how it is supposed to be.

Thanks for stopping by,  DAF


Coming out from the Cobwebs….

When 2014 started, hubby and I both felt like this was going to be a year of change.  January was the month and it was a new year.  Fresh year.  Things were hard for us, but somehow 2014 dawned with a ray of bright hope.  We were encouraged and determined to see what great changes came this year.

This has been a year of change.  Good change, but change can be difficult.   Change is tiring.  Change can have you clinging to throne of Heaven praying for the year to be over.

Good things have happened this year.  Answers to things I have prayed for for years have come to completion.

And yes, there is a ‘but’  in that last statement.

But…  (see, told you!)  this year has been a year of strain.  Physical and emotional strain.

I came to a point in late July where my brain could not coherently sort it all out.   I could not think about writing.  I could no longer try to be positive in writing about things around me.   I was tired.

Tired from a summer of seeing my childhood flash before my eyes in a constant flash-back scenario.  Dealing with memories that I had forgotten decades ago and was glad to have them put away.

Weariness is an odd thing.  You aren’t depressed.  You aren’t angry.  You aren’t a whole list of things.  You are just weary.  The sky is blue and the clouds are gorgeous, but somehow the blue is a bit duller and the nuances of the clouds do not elicit the joy they usually do.

I had not expected this by-product of a year of change.  I thought I would go forth with vigor and excitement.  I saw myself flitting from one change to the other, gaining energy and endurance with each thing crossed of our list of ‘to do’s’ .

Last week hubby and I talked to one another.  We agreed we have been couch slugs since we returned home in late July.   We have continued to do things, but we have been slugs.  We have had our meals on the couch and had indulged in ice cream cones daily.   We made the decision that this would change.  We were going to rejoin the ranks of living.   We have.  We still have our ice cream cones, but not daily.  We have rediscovered our kitchen table and the fun of actually talking to one another while eating a meal.  I have completed several projects this week.

And, so , now I have come up from the cobwebs and read some of my favorite bloggers.  I have missed the joy I receive when reading these talented people’s writing.  I think, I am finally home from a long summer away.  It feels good.

Now, on to the next change that is coming soon.  A new granddaughter, a little lady to keep little man company.  A cousin for my little man.  She has already given us fits and starts and scares and with life.  She has already made a statement of what her personality will be, determined.  We should be able to meet her maybe next month, but hopefully she will be good and not come until she is supposed to in November.

So, thanks for stopping by.  I hope you haven’t forgotten me….  DAF


On Visiting the Folks…

Today I visited my father.  He didn’t say much, in fact he said nothing.  He is like that, and has been since he passed away several years ago.

I know that opening sentence is a bit callous, but, I can tend to be a bit glib when talking about my folks.

I still miss them and think of them often.  Each time I pass the apartment where my father lived, I look up on the deck to see if he is still there.  I chide myself each time I do that, but, still I do it.

Today, hubby and I were out and about.  I asked if we could stop by and visit my Dad.  He drove up and parked.  We walked up to the grave and I looked down at the stone.  There was his name, his birthdate and date of death.  Underneath was listed  Sgt. AACS WWII.  Beside his stone was a flag.  Hubby straightened the flag and we paid our respects.

I know it changes nothing when I go to visit my folks.  I know they do not know that I am there.  But, a part of me needs to visit.  I need to see  their graves, and take a moment to remember them.  To stop my day and remember.  Most of the time those moments last maybe three minutes in length.

The older I get the more I wonder how I will be remembered.  Will I be remembered for grace and laughter and help?  Or will there be moments that are not my best that will be brought to mind?

I remember good things about my folks.  Times that were nice.  But, honestly, I still remember some not so great times also.  I guess that is life and memories, good and bad and ordinary.

Anyhow, I always pride myself that I can visit my folks and not get into any arguments anymore….

Thanks for stopping by, DAF