Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Topic for Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What's the weather like where you are today?

Okay, this was supposed to be written and posted yesterday, but somehow I just can't seem to get myself organized these days. However, I really didn't want to renege on this one.

6:05 A.M. -

8:30 A.M. - Cold, drizzly, dark clouds.

10:45 A.M. - Time to go pick up the Lindas for our planned outing which includes browsing gift shops and antique stores on Park Avenue in Rochester, lunch at an outdoor cafe and dessert at the Cupcake Bakery. Put umbrella in the car.

11:00 A.M. - Pick up Good Linda. She comes out without an umbrella, hoping for the best.

11:05 A.M. - Pick up Bad Linda. She says her hubby just called and said there was treacherous weather on the other side of the city. Very dark clouds threatening as we spoke.

11:06 A.M. - Pulling out of Bad Linda's driveway a torrential rain storm begins. We decide against Park Avenue and head for the Mall.

11:06-11:16 A.M.- Rain so hard I pull off the road at one point. Wind, rain and hail buffeting my new car. **Sigh**

11:16 A.M. - Rain stops, immediate sunshine. 62 Degrees.

11:45 A.M. - Still lovely as we arrive at the mall. The Lindas shed their jackets. Off to a wonderful three hour lunch.

3:00 P.M. - Sunshine, 72 degrees as we head for the Cupcake Bakery in Pittsford.

So, I guess you get the idea of the kind of weather we have here in Upstate, NY. The evening was a mix of sun and dark clouds. Kind of a roller coaster day, to say the least.

I need to leave you with this little footnote. It is 81 degrees and sunny today, and is expected to be a high of 50 degrees on Saturday. Welcome to my world.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Summertime and the Livin' is Easy

What is your favorite season and why?
I live in the Northeast, well to be geographically correct, the Middle Atlantic States. You see, my husband was a social studies teacher, fifth grade for many years, and taught the states and capitals as part of his curriculum. But I digress.
Even though I didn't really choose to live here, I was born here, my parents resided here and my husband had no desire to leave, I think I really like it here. I cannot imagine living without a change of seasons. I really enjoy moving from one season to another.
So, even though spring, which we are experiencing now, brings hope and renewal to my spirit and fall speaks of the rest and, in it's own way, renewal and winter brings the beauty of Jack Frost to the landscape, I am a summer gal.
Waking up to the sun shining in my window, the breeze playing across my bedclothes, to me, is joy. The birds are singing to me to come, begin my day, see what lies ahead in the sunshine.
My flower garden begins to be its most beautiful in the June days of warm sun and gentle breezes. I remember back to the days of my youth, with all summer waiting for me to experience her joys. We roamed the hills of Potter County, rode our bikes, swam in the creek and allowed life to flow around us.
Summer with my own children was as laid back and easy as my days of innocence. Sleeping late, having a picnic in the backyard, riding our bikes, cooking on the grill when dad came home, what wonderful, idyllic times.
And now, in the latter part of my life, I still love the feeling of waking on a summer morning, most often with no heavy responsibilities. Oh yes, we have VBS, the LPGA, family visits, all things we look forward to with joyful anticipation, none of them a drudgery.
For sure, Summertime and the Livin' is Easy. Let's go catch us some fireflies a jar.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Prom - 1963

With proms all over the country last week and this week, Lynilu and I talked about recalling our own proms. Was it fun. Did anything go wrong. What were the traditions at your school?
I graduated from high school in 1963. Back in those days, the Junior class put on a prom for the Seniors. The prom was in the high school gym and we decorated it according to a theme. The prom we gave for the Seniors in 1962, was Wonderland By Night. I had a date for that prom, but I don't remember much about it. I don't even remember my dress (since I can't seem to find any pictures). But what I do remember is how much fun it was getting the gym ready. The decorating, the bonding of our class members, the laughter, all blend together in a wonderful prom memory.
Then there was my Senior Prom. I was in love during my senior year. The love of my life was quite a bit older than me and in the army. He was stationed in Korea. Hence, I had decided I wouldn't be going to the prom.
One night a few weeks before prom, I was sitting on my front porch when my next door neighbor came bounding up the steps and said, "Hey, I can't find anyone to go to the prom with so we might as well go together." Well, what girl wouldn't be flattered with a proposal like that?
What a fun time we had. No romance, no nerves, no expectations. Bob and I are still good friends today and I believe that friendship was strengthened by that non-date. We went to the prom and then off to breakfast at our church. Leaving the church, a bunch of us came back to our house and played games. Dawn found all of our group tired and dragging to our own homes to bed.
Prom nights have changed much since those "good old days", but prom is prom and kids are kids. Have fun.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Since we have no assignment for today, I decided to vent a little about the SNOW we woke up to today.

I told Jim we were coming home too early. I really love April in Las Vegas. I was ready to stay one or two more weeks, but no, we had to get home to mow the grass. So, here we are.

We arrived home to spring in all its beauty and glory. The tulips were blooming, the forsythia, golden, the flowering shrubs and trees resplendent. I wasn't convinced. I kept saying it is too early, it is too early. "Naysayer" was the response I heard from friends and neighbors. "Spring is here."

But I wasn't fooled. Nosiree! I have kept the flannel sheets on the bed and am still wearing my socks to bed each night. And when I woke up at 7:30 this morning to find my early bird hubby still in bed, I was vindicated.

"Why are you still in bed, I asked?"

"GRRR! Grumble! *#@+!"

"What? I can't understand you" say I.

"It's snowing!" mumbles the lawnboy.

And sure enough, it was snowing. Big fluffy flakes. True, they weren't collecting on the beautifully mown green grass. But the air was surely full of the white stuff. And all I really wanted to do was crawl back in bed, not put on my capris and sandals and venture out to get a pedicure. Alas, I couldn't cancel at that late date.

My toes look really nice, I think.....inside my snowboots.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

The WeWrite4Ten assignment for today is:

If you had the opportunity to do one activity for one week without any worry about
finances, cost or other outside commitments,
what would you love to do for this week.
I decided to answer this question with the very first thing that came into my mind.
I graduated from the smallest school district in Pennsylvania. Truly, we were, and still are, the smallest school district. My graduating class, the largest to graduate at that time, had 25 members.
Needless to say, we didn't have the best academic choices available. We had two languages in our school, Latin and French. The way it worked was that you could take Latin your freshman and sophomore years and French your junior and senior years. Planning to further my education after high school, it was essential that I take language.
I wish I could say that I learned a lot and thrived under the tutelage of our language teacher(s). Such was not the case. We had Miss Collins for both languages through our junior year, when she retired. I liked and respected Miss Collins. I did all I could to please her, but I did not learn much from her. The boys used to say she knew Latin because she taught it to Julius Caesar. She had been teaching long past her prime.
Mrs. Fickinger came into my life at the beginning of my senior year. She was wonderful. A beautiful person and a very good teacher. Alas, I had a lot of ground to make up, and when she left in January, I hadn't done a lot to rectify the problem.
As teachers weren't exactly clamoring to teach at our school, our illustrious board hired Mr. Meier, who besides having no classroom management skills, knew NO French. Non, nada, none. So, you can imagine how much French I know today.
Which brings me to what I would do this week if I didn't have to think of the cost. I would order Rosetta Stone French and begin my studies of that language all over again. If the truth were to be known, I probably could afford to purchase that program without the unlimited finance tag. However, I am afraid I would not stick to it and that's a lot of money to sit on my bookcase.
So, although I'm not sure whether I'll spend my personal money for Rosetta Stone French, I'm positive I would spend my fantasy dollars on it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

WeWrite4Ten's Sunday assignment is: If money was no object what would you do differently? Bigger house? How big and where? New cars? What kind? Travel? Where?

What would I do if my ship came in? Well, in the first place, I'd probably be at the airport. But, seriously, what would I do?

Jim and I talk about it sometimes. I'm assuming we are talking about lots and lots of money. In that case, the first thing I would do would be pay off all my kids' debts, mortgages, school loans, whatever. Then I would set up trust accounts for them and any future progeny. I would delight in knowing that they were financially set, allowing them to pursue their dreams.

Just yesterday, Jim said that if we had lots of money he would build a garage where our turnaround is and turn our kitchen, dining area into a great room. I totally agree with that.
A patio, pond and fountain in the back yard would also be on the list, which would about do it for our living arrangements.

The driveway would sport a Mini-Cooper convertible for me and a Cadillac CTS for Jim. That's it for cars.

Oh yes, let's go back to living arrangements for a second. I think we'd buy a condo in Las Vegas and another Mini-Cooper for the garage there.

Then, we'd travel. Anywhere our little hearts desired. The list of places we would like to visit is longer than I have time to write about in ten minutes. We have dreams of taking river cruises in Europe, seeing Italy and Spain. Costa Rica is on our short list, along with Ireland.

Although I know Jim isn't interested, I would drag him back to France to the Loire Valley. I'd also take my niece to Paris. We are planning to go in 2011, but if money were no object, I'd treat her and her mom to the entire trip.

To quote our friend Dr. Seuss, if money were no object..."Oh The Places You'll Go."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stick 'em UP

Talk about the most frightening moment in your life. I want to feel your fear.
It was Thursday morning and I was in the conference room of our small finance company working on the monthly bookkeeping. I heard him say, "Don't move and put your hands on your desk."
"Oh, that's that crazy Jim Surdevant being silly again," I thought. I got up from my desk and was walking to the door to give him back some of his own,l when I heard him say, "Who else is here?" By then I had arrived at the doorway and saw him.
He wore a black ski mask and gloves. He was holding a gun and a paper bag. Motioning with his gun, he told me to go sit at my desk. He shoved the paper bag at my boss and ordered ordered him to fill it with money.
Of course there is follow up to this story. I will post it at a later time.
Oh my God! I'd be glad to give him all the money in the drawer, but this was back in the day when we took our cash to the bank night deposit. We had no alarms, no way to protect ourselves other than to take all the money out of our office overnight. But, looking down the barrel of that gun, looking at the bullets, all I could think was that my life was over.
Bill looked at me helplessly as he said, "There is no money in this drawer." Our masked friend began waving the gun around and said, "I told you to put the money in the bag."
From deep inside came my words as I shakily spoke, telling him the truth about why we had no cash in the drawer. I had just been busy. The bank opened at 9. It was 9:15 on a very quiet morning and I was concentrating on my bookkeeping. I just hadn't gone to the bank yet to retrieve my deposit.
Each word I spoke was filled with desperation. Would he believe me? Would he be just angry enough at being foiled to shoot us? Lately several people in the state had been killed in finance company robberies. If he shot, who would be first? Could I escape by diving under my desk? In those few terrifying moments my life didn't pass before my eyes. My thoughts didn't turn to my mother, my friends or loved ones. No, my only thought was if he shoots Bill first, do I have time to dive under my desk and save myself.
As quickly as he came, he left. Oddly enough, he demanded the bag back, told us to stay where we were for ten minutes, and backed out of the office. We immediately sank to the floor and crawled into the bathroom, taking a phone with us.
Minutes crawled by as we waited for the police. I heard footsteps on the stairs, entering the office and approaching the bathroom door, quietly. My hear was racing, my mouth dry. This time there was no place to go. Expecting the sound of a gun firing, my heart started beating again when I heard Police Chief Johnson say, "You can come out now. You're safe."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm way behind in the WeWrite4Ten assignments, but I promised Lynilu that I would play catch up this weekend. My body has been getting used to Upstate, NY weather and I've slowed down, but here goes.

The assignment for Wednesday (my idea) was to write about our favorite dessert.

I have a bit of a problem. You see, I love desserts. Dessert is sometimes my favorite part of the meal and I have the extra pounds to prove it. I think I was born craving chocolate. There was a time in my life when I believed if it wasn't chocolate, it wasn't dessert.

I have since matured beyond the chocolate only stage, but I think I would have to say that my favorite desserts still have an element of chocolate in them.

That said, imagine this. Flaky pastry, rolled perfectly into a pie pan. Fresh picked blueberries with just the right amount of flour and butter to make them hold together, warm from the oven. Add to that a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream. Serve with fresh brewed coffee. Take said pie and coffee out onto the screen porch and consume.

Can anything top this?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Random Tuesday

Lynilu and I have decided to write about this on our Random Tuesday post:

Do you frequent Starbuck's? If so, what is your favorite drink? If not, why not.

I have always loved Starbuck's. There isn't one in the town where we live. Hey, there isn't even a grocery store in this town, let alone anyplace as sophisticated as Starbuck's. Consequently, I had developed a real hankering for the place.

In Penfield, a suburb of Rochester, there is a Starbuck's. Back when I had a dog and was helping plan my daughter's wedding, I used to take the dog to the groomer, go to SB's, get a mocha and read for an hour. It was my stress reliever.

Then, the mall where I shop put a SB's in the center of the mall. So, any shopping trip had to include a trip to SB's. Their hot mocha drink was, without a doubt, my favorite. A year or so ago, I started drinking mocha Frappacino's in the summer. So, now I had two favorite drinks.

BUT, someone has stolen my heart away from Starbuck's. Can you guess who that might be? If you guessed a clown, you are correct. Ronald McDonald has started having gourmet drinks, and his (MC)frappe is delicious and much less expensive than the SB drinks. And to top it off, there are McDonald's in every town around us.

So, although I still sometimes frequent Starbuck's, I have defected and spend more dollars and time at Mcdonald's.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The WeWrite4Ten assignment for today is: Rain. Do you like rain, tolerate rain or hate rain.

My very first thought when I read today's assignment was, "Yes." And that is true, I like rain, I tolerate rain and I also hate rain.

I just read Lynilu's post for today and like her, I enjoy a rainy day curled up with a good book. I like being able to take a day off and enjoy listening to the rain hitting the roof and windows. I especially like to be on my screen porch and watch the rain come straight down. I like the smell of rain, I like looking for a rainbow after the rain, I like knowing it is nourishing my flowers and vegetables. So, yes, I like rain.

Sometimes, though, rain is just something to be tolerated. It's dark and dreary and rainy and I would rather see sunshine and bright, blue skies. But, I tell myself, "You live in Upstate, NY. Just what do you expect? Put on your big girl panties and buck up. It can't last forever."
Rain is definitely something that is necessary and must be tolerated on those days.

But then are the days when I hate rain. Like when I've planned an outdoor event that can't easily be moved inside. Or the week of Vacation Bible School, when I plan to have 90 children playing outside during recreation time. Or when I'm on vacation at the beach. You get the idea.

I especially hated rain during the years when my husband supplemented his teacher's ten month pay with summer painting. When our checkbook was getting thinner by the minute and we depended on his summer wages, I especially hated to see a rainy day. Although it meant Daddy was home with us for the day, it also meant I would need to rob Peter to pay Paul this week. Those were some of our most difficult and wonderful times, and I really didn't like the rain all that much.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Here Comes The Sun

Our assignment for WeWrite4Ten today is: "The sun. What does it do for you. Not the banal health things we all know that. But how does it effect your daily life, your daily tasks, etc.? Why do you love/hate it?

Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun. It's all right. Oh yes, it's all right. I love the sun. It's not the cold I dislike about winter. It's not the snow, the ice, the shoveling. No, it's the absence of the sun. I always say, "I can take anything as long as the sun shines." Well, I'm not sure I want to put the "anything" to the test, but I do believe everything is easier to bear if the sun shines.

Jim says we see more sun in our eight weeks in Las Vegas than we see all year in Upstate, NY. Maybe that's not 100% accurate, but we do see a lot of sunshine in our little winter sojourn in Nevada.

Summer is without a doubt my favorite season. I love spring when the buds are coming along and the grass is beginning to green up. It has been fun on this trip back east to see all the signs of spring along the way. But the best part of Spring is the advent of more and more sunny days.

I think June is my favorite month. I'm not sure if statistics would prove me right, but June is the month of sun for me. When I think of June, I think of happiness in the sunshine. Maybe part of this is the fact that June always heralded the coming of summer vacation, for myself when I was a child, and for my children and husband in later years. In my mind, I equate June with sunshine. The beginning of sunshine that lasts, sometimes, until November.

The sunshine makes me feel happy inside, it gives me energy and enthusiasm. In the sunshine, I hang my laundry out to dry. In the sunshine, I walk for exercise and pleasure. In the sunshine I plan picnics, sit under a tree and read, eat dinner on my sun porch. In the sunshine, I blossom.

Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine. Filling my soul with glory divine.

Monday, April 12, 2010


WeWrite4Ten's assignment for this Monday: Think of a you like, one you don't like, one that you think feels like you, on that you'd like to be...You choose. Write about that flower. What does it look like? How does it smell. How do people normally react to it?

Flowers, I can't think of a flower I don't like. If you follow Pam's Ponderings at all, you know I love flowers. I photograph flowers often. I have created a flower scrapbook. I'm hooked on flowers.

Although I carried yellow roses at my wedding, and told Jim if I didn't wake up to yellow roses when the babies were born, the baby and I would be moving in with my mom, I think my very favorite flower is the gardenia.

It's interesting that I hadn't thought about gardenias much as of late, but as a child and teenager, I was overwhelmed with my desire to have a gardenia corsage. I remember that my mom had several gardenia corsages as we were growing up. One of the things I remember my mom telling me about gardenias was not to touch it as it would turn brown.
I just did a little research before writing this piece and found that gardenias are of the evergreen family. They have an odor similar to jasmine. They love direct sunlight, heat and humidity. Hence, they grow well in the south.
Although we don't live in the south, I think I'll get a gardenia bush and plant it in my perennial garden this spring. I'll plant it in direct sunlight, mulch it, water it weekly, talk to it and hope that it survives and presents me with beautiful white blooms next year.
I'm so pleased that this writing project has led me to remember my love for this plant and bloom. If I succeed in growing a healthy bush, I think I'll make myself a gardenia corsage to wear to church.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The name game

WeWrite4Ten today is: Do you know why you were given your name? Were you named for a relative, a movie star, etc.? Tell us about your naming.

My name is Pamela Louise. And yes, I know how my name came about. My mother was reading a romance novel at some time during her pregnancy and came across the name Pamela. At that time, there were very few Pamela's around and mom really liked the name.

My mother's oldest sister is my Aunt Louise. Hence, Pamela Louise. I'm sure that my mom thought it was an honor to my Aunt Louise to name me after her, but I wonder just how many times she said the name aloud before putting it on my birth certificate.

Now, there is nothing wrong with either name and I like them both. I really liked my Aunt Louise a lot. She was rather an unusual lady, but then I'm not the most normal person on earth, so the name probably fits. The problem for me was the La-la part of the name.

PameLA, Laweez! Get it? It was just too much of a mouthful to suit me as I was growing up. Actually, not just as I was growing up. It's too much of a mouthful for me now too.

When we were asked what name we wanted on our high school diplomas, I said I wanted Pamela L. Huston. I went home and told my mom who had a royal fit and insisted I go in the office the next day and change it to Pamela Louise. She said that was what she named me and she wanted it on my diploma.

As soon as I was married, I followed my mother's lead and took my maiden name as my legal middle name. That solved the Louise part of my name problem.

There is another fun part of my naming though. As I said, my mom read the name in a romance novel and really liked the name. Although my family is not Catholic, I was born in a Catholic hospital, the only hospital in a 75 mile radius of the town where my family lived. After I was born, a nun came in to ask my mom what she was naming me. When she said Pamela, the nun said that that was a heathen name and she couldn't name me that.

So there you have it, I was marked from birth. Good thing Jesus didn't hold my name against me, isn't it?

A Tropical Trek

The topic for WeWrite4Ten today is, "You are going on a survival trek into a tropical forest. You can take only 5 items with you. Describe those items and explain why you chose them.

I'm packing for a trip to a tropical forest. This is a dream trip for me, but in my dreams, I was going in style, not in survivalist mode. Hey, whatever, I'm getting to go. Now, what to take. The rub here is that I can only take five items. This is survivalist at it's best.

Okay let's see.

  1. I think the first item I'll take is some sort of mosquito and fly protection. Something with a strong dose of Deet. Taking this item is pretty self explanatory, I guess. I hate to itch.
  2. I know I'll need a good safari hat with mosquito netting. I've been in hiking situations where I was sweating and the bugs were having a heyday with my sweat.
  3. Maybe my Bible should have been my first choice. I think on this very difficult trip, I'll need all the encouragement I can get. I know the Psalms have helped me through some very tough spots. Then there are the Israelites wandering in the desert. They had a guide though, even better than mine.
  4. I don't know for sure what the food and drink preparations will be on this trip, but I'm going to be sure I have my coffee every morning. I have a small French Press so I'll pack that with a supply of coffee. Does that count as two? Nope, that's just one.
  5. Now I have to think very carefully. This is it, my last item. I'm assuming my clothing items are understood, so I don't need to list them. What do I want for my last item? Okay, I know. I will bring my tweezers. For me there is nothing more irritating than a wild hair growing out of my chin. I could go stark raving mad in the middle of the jungle if I had a hair and couldn't yank it out.

So there you have it. My crazy list of survival objects. Once again, this post proves just how loony I am. Happy Trails.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Housing Gone Bust

Seven years ago when our kids bought their modest home, Las Vegas was the fastest growing city in the country. The building industry had gone wild. It was insane.

I remember the day my Aunt Bets and I went with Brian and Gretchen to look at home models. They were selling them faster than they could possibly build them. B&G signed a contract and had to wait eight months before their home would be ready for occupancy.

Everywhere you looked luxury communities were popping up and real estate was selling. Not so today. Today one in every eighty-six homes in the valley are in foreclosure. Many who aren't being foreclosed upon are struggling to make their excessive balloon payments. Then there are the people who, through no fault of their own, are upside down in their mortgages. People who might like to sell their homes, perhaps because of job losses or opportunities, can't because of the huge losses they would incur.

Houses in B&G's neighborhood, that four years ago were selling for $250,000 plus, are now selling for $85,000. Brian keeps saying we should buy a house there. People who once had big paying jobs in the gambling or building industries, are now trying to live on unemployment and pay their huge mortgage payments.

I watched a house being foreclosed upon last week while I was out walking. I didn't know those people, but as I saw the marshalls walk up and say, "Okay, we're going to lock it up now." my heart was heavy for the displaced. Okay, maybe they should have known better, but that doesn't lessen the sting of being homeless.

What's the answer? Better minds than mine are trying to figure it out. I'm just going to pray.

Monday, April 5, 2010


WeWrite4Ten today is - Baking....what is your favorite cake? Why? If you don't like cake, what about pie? Have you ever made your favorite? From scratch or from a box?

I have to say that cake is not my favorite dessert, although I have grown fonder of it as I get older. My favorite cake is my mother-in-law's chocolate cake with chocolate icing topped with walnuts. And no, I've never made it like she does. She says there is no secret, but nevertheless, mine is not as good as hers, just like her baked beans, but that's not the issue here.

I prefer pies to cake and was apt to bake more pies in my baking years. I would say my best pie was apple. Back in the day, during apple season in Upstate NY, I used to make a dozen pies and put them in the freezer for the winter. It was always nice to be able to thaw a pie, pop it into the oven and take it to a sick neighbor or surprise my family with fresh apple pie for dinner.

My favorite pie, however, is blueberry. I have a pretty good recipe and still make a mean berry pie. Today, however, I do not make my own crust. I buy the pie crusts out of the dairy case and Voila! I have a delicious pie in half the time.

So now you know my dirty little secret. Anytime you're in the neighborhood drop in and I'll whip up a pie in a jiffy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Little Women

I suggested that WeWrite4Ten members write about a favorite book. I have a few, but I guess I'll write about the first novel I ever read, and probably my all time favorite.

I was in second grade when I received Little Women for a Christmas gift. My mom and grandmother both loved to read and probably collaborated on the gift. I really don't remember who gave it to me, probably Santa. Looking back, I can hardly believe that I could read the book by myself at that age. A genius, I am not.

I was a lover of words and reading though, and I know I read it. My mom and grandmother had been reading to me since the day I was born, I believe and it was just natural for me to continue in that vein.

I remember the first word that I discovered by myself was "laugh". It was in a Dick and Jane Book and Puff had gotten into something and turned white and Sally "laughed". I was so very excited to think that I had figured out that word by context.

So, I began to read Little Women over that Christmas vacation. I'm sure I had finished it by the time we went back to school the following week. I was totally engaged in the March family's life and affairs.

Beth was the favorite, of course. I remember how I cried when she died. My little heart was broken. Of course, Jo was the fun one and the one we all wanted to be like. Even in my young life, I knew Amy was spoiled and I didn't want to end up like that. And Meg, who wouldn't love Meg.

They were all so brave and loving. I was too young to realize that Mr. March was away fighting in the Civil War. I just knew their life was hard and that Marmee made it all worth while.

It's hard to believe that after all these years, I can still be there in their house, watching their dramas and sitting by their fire.

One of my greatest disappointments as a mother is that my girls didn't have any interest in reading Little Women or having me read it to them. I think I'll put the book on hold at my local library to read when I get back to Upstate NY.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

That really burns me up!

Since we don't have anyone to give us direction on WeWrite4Ten on Tuesdays, Lyn suggested we each write about something that is on our minds. Since I suggested Pet Peeves last week and didn't get to write about them, here I go:

I do have a few things that really bother me, but I think my greatest complaint right now is people who walk their dogs in public places and don't pick up their leavings.

Here in Henderson, Jim and I walk almost every day in a lovely park near the condo we rent. It has a great little playground for the kiddies, tennis courts, a basketball court, picnic tables, grills, benches and nice walking paths. Jim and I try to walk almost every day.

Along the walking paths are strategically placed dispensers with plastic poop bags as Jim and I call them. There is no reason why anyone would have to leave their dogs dodo on the ground. Yet, every few feet there will be piles of doggie do.

It would be one thing if these people would even move the dogs over to the grass or gravel to relieve themselves, but right there on the concrete? What are they thinking?

When Jim and I had our dog, Frazier, we walked him in a public place every day. When I walked him, I took him to the local cemetery. I never allowed him to relieve himself on a grave or headstone. In fact, we always kept to the dirt road around the cemetery. And, I always carried my own bags with me. I often took several knowing that Frazier just love to do his business in the bushes opposite the cemetery.

I distinctly remember a day when he was a little overzealous and I didn't have an extra bag. I marked the spot, went home, retrieved another bag and returned to the cemetery to pick up what he left behind.

I know there are lots of folks who do just what I did and take care of their dogs and the environment. Why can't everyone be that caring and courteous? Just sayin'.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Frazier Wolfanger

Today's assignment asks us if we have a pet. If not, why.

I cannot possibly write in ten minutes all that was our wonderful dog, Frazier. He was the best dog anyone ever had. I know, I know, we all think that about our pets, but honestly, he was such a dog. Everyone who knew him, and that was a lot of folks, said he enjoyed being a dog.

He's been gone for several years now, and it's still very hard for me to write about him. Pets were never very high on the priority list of Jim and myself. We had our girls, our home, yard, friends, relatives, a very full life. Who needed a pet. We always sidestepped the girls' requests for a pet by saying that our (the girls' and mine) allergies just wouldn't permit it.

When Paige was in seminary, she and her housemates decided to adopt a dog. I had a fit. I told them flat out that it was crazy, they certainly, as students couldn't afford a dog. Not that they cared a hoot what I thought. Anyway, almost immediately upon adoption, Frazier became Paige's dog.

One of the first things she did, was uncrate him at night and teach him to sleep in her bed. She loved that dog. When she first brought him to meet the family, at Grandma's house in PA, I was in love too. I remember telling my brother in law that if I could be sure I would get a dog like Frazier, I'd get a dog right away.

Well, as oft happens in life, the happy household in Grand Rapids, MI, fell into dispute. Paige and one other roommate were asked to move out, and take the dog with them. Alas, there was no campus housing that would allow a dog, soooo Mr. Frazier came to our home to live.

That was probably the only really happy thing to come out of the debacle caused by the housing breakup. We got the perfect dog.

I'm afraid my time is up, but stay tuned. I just can't stop writing about this precious member of our family. I know dogs don't have souls, but I am really counting on finding Frazier waiting for me in heavenly mansion..

Saturday, March 20, 2010

WeWrite4Ten - Favorite Aunts and Uncles

The assignment (from my brain) for today is to write about a favorite Aunt or Uncle.

We've all heard the adage that it takes a village to raise a child. Well in my case, it took a family. I was born in 1945, just before the end of the WWII. My father and mother never married, and it was my mother's wish that we have as little to do with my biological father as possible.

At this point, only one member of my mother's rather large family was married. My grandfather had just passed away, my mom and her sister's had moved to town and my uncles were all in the army. When everyone came home from the war, everyone settled within a few miles of each o there.

Hence began the raising of Pam. I love them all and they all loved me. Of course, each one of them thought they knew best about raising me, bless their hearts. The aunts loved and spoiled me, the uncles loved me too, but they thought they should make sure I had some discipline in my life. Oh yes, soon the uncles married and their wives became part of the equation. These aunts were also beloved by me.

When I was nine years old, my mom married my stepfather. Who, by the way, never treated me as a step-child, nor did any of his rather large family.

So, although this writing assignment was my idea, I cannot choose a favorite. I would say that I have always been closer to my Aunt Jessie and Aunt Letty, my mom's sisters. My Uncle Willie probably spoiled me the most. Being the black sheep, I really thought he was cool in my teen years.

But then, there are my dad's sisters and brothers. My Aunt Bets and I are still close today. I adored my Aunt Elsie and Uncle Edward too.

Most of these wonderful family members are gone now. Only my Aunt Letty, Uncle Bill and Aunt Myrle are left from my mother's side of the family. On my dad's side I have my Aunt Bets, Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Mary. At this point in my life, I realize how precious these folks are to me. I try to see them as much as possible and to let them know how important they are in my life. I feel blessed to have had these people in my life all these years.

My ten minutes is up. I need to write something about each one in the near future.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cats Vs. Dogs

The assignment for WeWrite4Ten today, is "cats or dogs, which do you prefer and why?"

Until I was about eight years old, we didn't have a pet in our home. I was absolutely terrified of dogs and I have no recollection of the reason why. But I can sure remember that feeling of terror which lasted well into my adulthood.

At age eight someone must have decided I need a cat and Shine came into my life. He was an all black cat with a white spot under his chin. I loved that cat. He slept with me, greeted me when I came in from school and generally, made me happy. I don't know exactly how long I had him, but he was killed by a car. I was heartbroken and within a day or two, my Aunt Jessie came calling with Timmy.

Timmy was a great cat who just disappeared one day while I was away visiting my Aunt. I have always had a theory that his disappearance was really death, but my mom always insisted not. Whatever the case, I was done with cats. I have never had any affection for a cat since that time. I really don't care much for cats.

But, my feeling about dogs did a very gradual turn around. I think the dogs that friends and family members owned helped me overcome my fears and slowly opened my heart to those crazy critters.

To make a long story short, one day I woke up and wanted to own a dog of my own. My hubby said an emphatic, "No." Along comes daughter Paige with the neatest dog we had ever known. We loved Frazier on first sight. Then, much to my delight, Paige moved to Chicago and couldn't take the dog. So we inherited him.

He was the best dog I have ever known. He just loved being a dog. We lost him to a brain tumor several years ago. I still miss him every day.
So, to answer the question. I am a confirmed dog lover and I can thank my boy Frazier for that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pet Names

The assignment from WeWrite4Ten today is: What is your favorite pet name for someone, or that someone has for you. How did it start?

My dad had a name for each of us children. Being the oldest, I'll start with mine. It was Phenelofee. The name started with my Uncle Norman, who for a short time in our family life, lived with us. I'm not sure why he named me that. I think it was given lovingly, but also think he thought I might just be a little snooty.

My brother, Bob, was named George and my dad called him that most of his life. Again, I don't know how where it started, but somehow it suited him. I know my dad and his brothers all called Bob by this name, but I don't think I ever heard anyone else call him that.

Both Bob and I were called Hukey by neighborhood kids and school friends. Once again, I'm not sure how it started. I do remember a really nice guy in our town, probably ten years or more older than me, whenever he saw me anywhere, calling out as loudly as possible, "Hey Hukey."

My sister's name from all the men in my dad's family was, Nuisance. I don't think there is any need for explanation in that regard. She was, until the day she died, rather a nuisance. Again, I say that lovingly.

Over the years, Jim and I have had various pet names for each other. I guess it depends on which decade of our marriage we were in as to which name we called each other.

But if we want to talk about favorite names we have been called, it would be when our girls are feeling especially tender towards us and call us Popsala and Mamasita. Then we really feel loved.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Most Unforgettable Person

The topic of WeWrite4Ten today is, "Who is the most unforgettable person you have ever met? What made them so?"

This was a tough one for me. Having lived to this age, you can imagine I have met many very interesting and memorable people. As I sat here at the computer, trying to think who might fit this description, one name kept coming up. That person is Jessie Ruvo.

Miss Ruvo came to Austin to teach Jr./Sr. High School English and Music when I was in seventh grade. Austin Joint School is the smallest school district in Pennsylvania. My class was the largest to graduate from Austin at the time, with a total of 25 students.

From the first moment she stepped into the classroom, I had a huge girl crush on her. She was young,by no means beautiful. She had the worst hair of anyone I knew to that time other than me. I think the fact that she wasn't physically glamorous, which I certainly was not either, played a big part in my fascination with her.

She was, however, brilliant. She was a multi-talented musician. She played several instruments, wrote music and poetry. She was my idol. I certainly wanted to be her when I grew up.

With that kind of idolatry oozing from my pores, she soon picked up on my vibes and, I guess, I became the teacher's pet. She was a single woman living in our little town with no one her age to befriend. She became close to my parents and another family in town.

Over the next few years, I came to know her better and my eyes were opened to the frailties. She wasn't perfect. My interests changed. Boys became a big part of my life. My girlfriends became more and more important to me and, like Little Jackie Paper, I moved on. Jessie Ruvo was no longer my idol.

Jessie was married and moved to Arizona or New Mexico during my Senior year in high school. By then, I hardly noticed her going. Jim and talk about her often and have tried to locate her, but haven't been successful. I wish I could find her to tell her what a great influence she was in my young life.

She wrote a song that I will never forget:

I think of you so often,
when twilight days do end
and of the many times I wished
that you had been my friend.

To love and not be loved is painful
it's hard to know that you don't care
But you gave neither love or friendship
and that is more than I can bear

The love I have for you will pass
all broken hearts must mend
but mine would heal much faster
if you had been my friend.

I've remembered this song all these years and often find myself singing it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

WeWrite4Ten - College or Not

The subject of today's WeWrite4Ten is: College education? Do you have one? Was it worth the cost? If you don't, do you miss it?

When I was eighteen, as I have written previously, I thought I was in love and wanted to get married. So, I opted out of college. I spent a year in business school and the next eight years working in business. When my children came, I was a stay at home mom for the next ten years.

I decided to go back to work for ten hours a week in the local public library which eventually led me to go back to school. My boss, the library director was planning to retire in two years and had asked me to consider getting the necessary degree to take over her job.

I chose Empire State College, a part of the NYS University system which allows life credit and non-traditional credit. Empire State was perfect for me. By this time, my children were in college, I was working about twenty hours a week and I could easily fit this type of study into my schedule. I loved it. In order to be considered for the job of Library Manager in our small town library, I needed an Associates Degree. With a lot of credit for life skills and taking courses year round, I had more than enough credits for the degree.

I think I am only a few hours short of a BA, and have considered going back. I love studying and learning. I enjoyed every minute of my course work at Empire State. Now that I'm retired, I know I don't need a Bachelor's degree, but some days I find myself seriously considering going back and finishing what I started.

Although I think my life has taken the right path, if I have any regrets, it's not getting a college degree.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

WeWrite4Ten - Career Options

I don't know when I decided I wanted to be an English teacher, probably somewhere around the tenth grade. That was my desire. I applied at a State College, was accepted and ready to go when a romance intervened. He was older and wanted to get married as soon as he was discharged from the army. The career path made a sudden left turn, much to the chagrin of my parents. I was off to business school, where I learned to be a secretary.

Fast forward ten months; the engagement was off, I was in Philadelphia doing secretarial work, which I never liked or felt I was very good at.

Fast forward thirty years. Married to my precious Jim, children almost grown, working as a library clerk. I decided to go back to school and get the necessary degree to be the manager of our local public library.

Fast forward ten more years. Being the director of our public library was the best, most fulfilling job I have ever held. I retired from that job totally fulfilled and happy with my professional life.

HOWEVER, if I had it all to do over again, I would choose broadcasting as a career. I have always loved being onstage, the center of attention. Speaking in public is in my blood. I remember my next door neighbor, Bob P., telling me in our senior year of high school that I was a limelighter. He says today that he's sorry he said that, but I didn't take it as an insult. It was just the plain truth.

I loved Jessica Savitch, followed her career and was sad at her untimely death. I didn't realize it at the time, but she was my idol. Oh yes, if I had it all to do over again, I might be Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric or, okay, Barbara Walters.

Friday, March 5, 2010

WeWrite4Ten - My Wedding

The assignment for today is to relate something funny or odd that happened on your wedding day.

Jim and I chose August 24th for our wedding day, not out of some sentimental or significant choice, but because it was the latest date in summer where we could work all summer, have a short honeymoon and be in our new home for Jim to start his teaching job on September 4th.

The morning started out warm and rainy. I don't remember being concerned about the weather. I had too much else on my mind. We had chosen twelve noon for the time of our wedding and by that time the sun was shining brightly, and it was downright hot. Those two conditions added to the morning rain, brought on 110% humidity.

Our wedding was beautiful. The church was filled to the walls with friends and family, people who knew and loved us. My dad was so serious and strong as he walked me down the aisle. I remember seeing Jim and thinking how handsome he was. My dad kissed my cheek, said his four short words, "Her mother and I", and sat down.

The ceremony, as was the practice in those days, was short, sweet and to the point. It was over in a moment and Reverend Plant was saying to Jim, "You may kiss the bride." I whispered, "I love you", Jim kissed me and his glasses completely fogged over. We turned around and the poor guy couldn't see where he was going.

I can't remember if people laughed or not. I do know that I told him that for sure he had a "hot date" for the evening.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

We Write4Ten - Smells

The subject of our writing for ten today is: What is your favorite smell and why?

My first reaction to this subject was that I don't really have a favorite smell. I love the smell of rain on a summer day; the smell of bread baking; vanilla extract. The list goes on and on.

Then I saw a picture in my mind's eye and knew what I would write about. I really love the smell of freshly washed sheets dried in the out of doors.

Can you see them? The sun is shining brightly. There are some big puffy clouds in the otherwise perfectly blue sky? The sheets and pillowcases are hanging on the line, being blown in the wind. I can see the clothes poles that my dad made to string the lines. The grass is green all around the back yard. There are geraniums growing in the flower beds in the back of the house and the perennial bed towards the neighbor's fence is bright with beautiful flowers.

My mom and I always take the laundry down and fold it right there at the line and pile it in the clothes basket. After we carry it into the house, we go upstairs together and make the beds. The light blue sheet sets go on my brother's bed. My sister gets the yellow, while I get the lavender ones to match my bedroom walls.

At the end of the day, as the sun is setting, I'm off to my room to read. And then, I turn out the light, slide in between those sheets and smell the beauty of the summer day. Oh what memories. Who needs electric clothes driers?

Friday, February 26, 2010

A House by the Ocean

Today's Write4Ten is to describe our ideal house. Mine is a fantasy, but what a fantasy. Dream along with me,

I love the water. I don't especially care to be in the water, rather near on it or near it. I love boating. An ideal day for me would be to pack a picnic lunch, get into (someone else's) boat and spend the day on the lake or the canal. It is so peaceful,

My favorite vacation is a beach vacation. When we go to the beach, I get up early in the morning, pack my beach bag, lather my body with sunscreen, grab my chair and umbrella and head for the water. I sit all morning, revelling in the peaceful slapping of the waves on the shore. I sometimes read. More often, I reflect on the beauty around me, pray and nap. There is no more peaceful place on earth for me.

So, it stands to reason that my ideal home would be one by the water. A cabin on a lake would do, but since this is a fantasy home, why not reach for the stars? It sits on a little bluff, overlooking the azure beauty of the ocean. It is glass all around. Everywhere I turn, I can see the sand, sky and ocean. It, of course, has a deck off my bedroom so that I can walk out the sliding glass doors anytime and hear the roar of the surf while watching the waves come in.

Except for the bedrooms, the floor plan is completely open. The kitchen bar looks into the great room which is the center of all activity. The furniture is comfy and invites leisurely conversation and enjoyment.

It is a home of great joy and comfort. A place where friends can gather and enjoy the beauty of life Oh yes, and it comes with a housekeeper.

Ah Sweet Childhood

The topic for Thursday's Write4Ten is a favorite childhood memory. I have many, but have chosen to write about one in particular that happened when I was six years old.

Although my biological father was never a part of my life and my wonderful step father didn't come into the picture until I was nine years old, I was a very loved and, I must say, indulged little girl. My mother and I lived in a house with my two single aunts and my grandmother. My married uncles all lived in the same town and I was the only grandchild for many years.

I think their mantra was, "It takes a family to raise a child." Needless to say, I was pretty well the center of attention. Even after the uncles had children of their own, they still involved themselves in raising me.

My Aunt Myrle and Uncle Howard didn't have their first child until I was nine years old which gave them lots of time to spend with me. They often took me on outings and overnights, just having fun time together.

I was a pretty girly little girl. I loved my dolls, paper dolls, dress ups and nice clothes. All things feminine appealed to me. I remember so clearly my sixth birthday. I don't know what day of the week it was, or what time of the day that the doorbell rang. My grandmother, as was usual, sent me to answer the door. Standing in front of me was a florist delivery person with a wonderful basket of flowers. They were white chrysanthemums. The card in the basket was for me. "Happy Birthday! Love, Uncle Howard and Aunt Myrle."

I just turned 65 this month and have had many wonderful gifts over the years. Yet, none will ever top that basket of flowers when I turned six.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday's Topic

Today's Write4Ten is to write about a favorite song. I love music and have many favorite songs. There are hymns that I've loved since childhood. Everyone knows that It is Well With My Soul is to be sung at my funeral. There are marches, sonatas, show tunes, all of them some of my favorites. That being said, Jim and I do have a song which we consider our song.

I guess I was a Four Seasons fan from their very first recording. They just had that sound. And so it was, that during our courting days, they came out with what became our song. You're Just Too Good to Be True sort of embodied everything that I saw happening in my life at that tie.

I had known Jim since I was nine years old. He was my neighbor, my brother's best friend, the grocery clerk, the brother of my best friend's boyfriend. He was a lot of things to me, but I never, never envisioned that he would become my boyfriend, fiance and finally, husband. Falling in love with Jim as he was falling in love with me was, in the words of Frankie Valli et al, just Too Good To Be True.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Most Embarrassing Moment

To talk about my most embarrassing moment, I need to set a little background. I attended, and graduated from, the smallest school district in Pennsylvania. Up until 1960, our old school buildings didn't have a gymnasium. Hence, no physical education for elementary students. At grade seven, everyone trekked to the community center which had a gym.

The "club" was the center of all activity in our community. All our basketball games, school dances and other school activities took place there. Being in seventh grade and being able to go to the club for gym was something to look forward to.

Our gym teacher, Mr. Hofer, was my idol. Actually, I think he was the idol of most of the school, girls and boys alike. When he spoke, everyone quaked in their boots. He never called us by our first names, just our last names. When he said, "Huston" let me tell you, I paid attention.

Okay, so to the embarrassment. It was winter. We were in the gym at the club playing basketball, which is what we did most every gym class except for the odd day when we would play volleyball. I told you we were the smallest school district, right? But I digress.

In those days, girls basketball was played on half court. The guards for your team and the forwards for the opposing team never crossed the center line. I was a guard. A sportsperson I'm not and no one ever thought of allowing me to shoot for a basket. So, I am wearing my grey corduroy pants and my favorite pink and grey flannel shirt. I'm at the line and my bra strap broke on both ends and fell on the ground.

What do I do? Mr. Hofer is standing with his back to me and didn't see my pain so I just turn around and run toward the basket hoping no one will see it or mention it. When to my deep consternation I hear, from the voice of my idol, "Someone seems to have lost something." With all eyes on me, I walked over to the center line, my face a beautiful scarlet, picked up the offending strap and put it in my pocket.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I've accepted a challenge to join a group of bloggers in writing for ten minutes every day. Each day the topic will be chosen by another person. My biggest challenge in this will be the discipline of writing every day and then, of course, finding something to write about on a specific topic.

Today's assignment is to write about something you always been AFRAID to do. What is it? Why are you afraid? Are you considering doing it?

Here goes!
It's interesting to me that people who don't know me see me as a very confident, self assured person. I guess that is the persona I've developed. I do seem to accomplish what I set out to do, I can talk a good story, so I do seem to be confident,
But that's not really me. Inside, much of the time, I'm still that skinny little girl who was afraid no one would ever like her. Over the years, with the help of Jesus, I've conquered many of those very real childhood fears, but deep inside, some of them still rise up and taunt me.
So, to the subject at hand. I love to write. I like to think I have a talent for writing, but I have never really put it to the test. I write my blog, I write letters and snippets of this and that, but to really try my hand at writing, to really dig deep and see if I can do it...that I've never done.
When I retired my brother-in-law challenged me to write a book about the town in which we grew up. He and I talked for hours about the characters who would be part of the book. I thought it should be patterned after Bailey White's, Mama Makes Up Her Mind. I even started one of the essays, but that is as far as it got. I have it saved on this very computer and have gone back to look at it a few times over the past five years, but I'm afraid. There I've said it. I'm afraid.
This exercise has challenged me in more ways than to write for ten. I am seriously considering opening another blog and beginning to post the essays for my book.
The biggest fear in all of this is that, perhaps, I really can't write and no one will like it. That's why I am shaking right now. That is why I feel nervous as I read the comments on my original blog. What if I really, really can't do it?
The timer on the stove is buzzing. WHEW!