Friday, May 14, 2010

Birthday Gift

Me, Sally and Mark on a hot summer day in 1968.
As usual, he was bugging the hell out of us.

I spread my brother’s ashes today. It was his birthday and seemed fitting to do it on this day. My final gift to him. Holding the ashes of what remained of his physical body was a very powerful act for me. I found myself in touch with Mark in a sad and beautiful way, and in touch with my own feelings, as the ashes floated down the creek. Standing on that rock, I found myself thinking back to those hot summer days we spent there as kids … jumping into the cool waters below, swimming around and splashing each other … and climbing back up the path to do it again (and again). And then, exhausted, lying on the sun-warmed stones to dry off.

Sal, me, and my dad ... Mark must have taken this one ♥

Goodbye, brother.

And the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
- Ecclesiastes 12:7

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pet Peeve of the Day

My pet peeve of the day: OVERPACKAGING! According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one third of the trash in America is packaging materials. Did you know that in Germany, you can leave any packaging you don’t want at the store - and the store has to deal with it? And why do manufacturers have to put minuscule amounts of a product in such large containers?

I recently purchased this moisturizer:
The jar had a "fake" base. In reality, the cream only went
as far as the bottom of the "screw part" of the jar.

And these vitamins:

Which took up about 1/5th of the bottle.

As a kid, I loved surprising my brother by wrapping a small gift in a larger box, then slightly larger, and then on to a huge box. It was fun to see him unwrap package after package. It made for a great joke for a birthday or Christmas, but the current packaging of many household goods is almost as bad. We now live in the crazy world of Styrofoam trays, shrink-wrap, blister packs, and impossible to open clamshells. Toy packaging, for instance, is SO over the top. They come packed in a hugely oversized box, with the toy in a blister pack (that cuts you when you try to cut through it) tied in with wire (which sticks right into your hand when you try to untwist it), with more plastic bits to hold the wire on. Then you are left with a mess of cardboard, plastic, wire … it drives me insane.

I've decided to write - NO, email the manufacturers, stating that although I like their product, I will not buy it again because of their overpackaging. Simply put, there's too much packaging out there, and most of it is purely MARKETING. And it's all designed to give the consumer the perception of greater value when buying a product. What a waste of resources and money.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baby Luke is growing up

Little Luke Sweetcheeks.
He is totally mesmerized by Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli ...
(watches the entire Christmas special over and over - it's like a sedative)

Loves playing outside in the snow ...

has more teeth to show off ...

... and insists on being the center of attention :)
(deservedly so!)

Luke celebrated his 1st birthday on December 30th, and it seems as if this year has FLOWN by. He is such a cutie, and what a personality. The boy is into food. We have yet to find a food he doesn't like. He's also continuing to nurse, and has no intention of giving it up. Toby (his Mommy, my daughter) recently took the boys for an overnight to an indoor water park ... where Lukie saw lots of women in bathing suits ~ and was staring ... and making this face ... a lot.

This is the face Luke makes when he wants to nurse
(picture the cheeks going like crazy!)

Which reminded me of a photo I saw recently online ...

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Paper Love

Have I mentioned that I absolutely LOVE paper?
I think it started when I was a child and would go to the 5 and 10 ¢ store with my grandmother. She got her hairnets there ... the old fashioned kind that elderly women used to wear. And stockings. The kind you wore with a garter belt, or in my grandmother's case, a girdle. Like the one below.
Wow - those days are gone.

Anyway, in that store I would always wander over to the stationery section of the store. And if I had any extra money, I would come home with some type of paper product. I especially liked the 'rent receipt' pads with the carbon (for duplicate) paper between the forms. I know - weird kid.

Needless to say, this fascination with paper has remained. And so, when the Jakester took me to Xpedx this week, I got the most wonderful linen cardstock and envelopes! I still cannot believe that I spent $65 on paper ~ when I stop to think of what $2 would have gotten me in the old 5 and 10 ¢ store!

But here it is ... and I'm not sorry :) I have had a few orders for cards lately, and Xpedx has the best paper (and I do mean THE BEST) I have found anywhere.

It fits in pretty nicely, but I will have to "jazz up" the wrappers a little bit. The envelopes used to come in these pink boxes ~ might have to work on the color scheme again, huh?

I have also included a closeup of the selection. Still that weird kid!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A much needed break

It's been a GOOD week. No school and I decided before the break to commit to NOTHING. That was a good choice :) I'm feeling refreshed and more like the "old" (no pun intended) me.
The Jakester and I took yesterday off (I cannot seem to get him away from eBay auctions this week) and caught up on lots of errand running. I finally FINALLY found a card reader for my Fuji camera (after two very disappointing eBay attempts) ... ironically, I found a camera I like SO much better than the one (oops! three) I now have. May just have to dip into the fun fund for that ...
Spent Monday at Barnes and Noble with my daughter - very relaxing day - bought three books (one for Michael, of course - he LOVES to read, and I love that he does!) and two for me. Got in bed early Monday night with my new book, and the book seemed SO familiar. Duh - I read it last year. Oh well - I liked it the first time, so read it again.

Now on to the next one - Clapton - An Autobiography.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Another weekend

Another weekend, and here I sit. I need to get OUT of my pajamas and back into life. Jake keeps asking me what I want to DO. But I seriously do not know what I want to do. I mean, there's plenty to do ... but nothing seems to make me happy. I don't know how to make that happen.

Is this depression? Hmmm. Could be. And how do I get out of it?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday ...

AND the sun is shining. A beautiful day, but COLD!

Sundays are the day I like to get ready for the week ahead ... laundry, clothes for work all set and ready to go, all of that. Thank goodness I don't have to worry about dinners, because that is the hubby's department. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am, to have a man who loves to grocery shop and cook all of the meals. And he is GOOD - sadly, I have the extra pounds to prove it. Today he has the potatoes peeled, broccoli cleaned and ready to go, and chicken breasts thawing for Chicken Schnitzel (my favorite!).

Jake is doing everything he can to help me get through the sadness I have been feeling. We went out and listened to the band last night - I was in need of cousin hugs. It was nice to see friends, and drink a few beers, and listen to my cousins' band jam. Love the way Roger plays the blues harmonica ... he and Rich are so talented.

Got home way too late ... but got to sleep in, too.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The weekend

Trying my best to keep the "up" face, but it's been hard today. I keep telling myself to snap out of this ... STOP feeling sorry for myself - other people have way worse issues to deal with. And yet, I still found myself retreating to my bed and sleeping half the day away ... only to awaken again with tears.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

They say it happens in threes …

It would be nice to have only "good" things to blog about, but life doesn't work that way. The truth being that in less than 4 months, I have lost three members of my family … my only two siblings, and an aunt.

Aunt Carolyn was more than an aunt … she had been my true “mother” ever since her sister (my mother) passed away when I was very young. She was the family matriarch; the one who gathered us together for family holidays, passed along the latest news, kept us all in line. Since I was the only girl, I was the one she called on when she needed a room wallpapered, painted, or needed help with spring and fall cleaning. She was also the one who was always there for me. I could talk to her about anything. At 84, she was relatively healthy and fiercely independent. Her sons kept trying to talk her into selling her house, but I knew that would never happen. She got sick and was actually in the hospital when my brother Mark was found dead of a massive heart attack. Mark passed away on the 1st of September … and Aunt Carolyn on the 6th.

Mark, just 18 months older than me, is in almost every photo and memory of my childhood. My first co-conspirator. We fought often and furiously with each other, but we were still always together. Losing him was like losing a piece of my childhood ~ since we were so close in age, our experiences were mostly shared experiences, even if our perceptions were different.

Ironically, Mark's death instigated a new closeness between my older brother and me. Dennis was almost ten years older and my “hero” older brother. He was an exceptional athlete, and popular with the girls. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, he later told me that he sometimes used his baby sister (me) to get girls. All I can remember is that I loved tagging along and being fussed over.

Denny became a career soldier, a Green Beret, and did two tours in Viet Nam before settling down in Korea. So we kept in touch, but essentially he always lived far away. He and his wife had been in Southern California for the past 8 years, and we did get together ~ sadly, not as often as we should have. But when our brother Mark died, we made it a point to call each other every week. Last week, I realized we had not spoken on the weekend, so on Monday (MLK Day), I called and left a message on his machine … something to the effect of “Where are you – taking the wife out to dinner? Call me!” About an hour later, his wife called me from a hospital in California. She was hysterical, and since she is Korean born, I could not understand what she was telling me. Or maybe I didn’t want to hear what she was telling me. But in an instant, I had become an only child. In the past week, she and I have talked and talked ... Denny had been sick with pancreatic cancer, but he absolutely refused to let her tell me. Always the big brother. Always my protector.

And so I mourn. The losses are not just those who knew who I am and who I was, but also the people who knew who everyone else was and what was what. Friends don’t know what to say. I know they worry about saying the wrong thing, but I cannot be any sadder than I already am. An essential and irreplaceable part of my history is gone.