Wednesday, April 26, 2017 – INDIGO GIRLS…..really?? OK!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 – INDIGO GIRLS…..really?? OK!

A couple of months ago Kali had posted on Facebook, “Anyone want to go to see the Indigo Girls”. I said OK.
I had never heard of them, except through Kali who typically goes to their concerts with her daughter and refers to them as “Amy and Emily”. But I would be the one stepping in to play the role of Adrienne on Wed. April 26th. Kali has been a groupie since college. Adrienne was sweet enough to make me a playlist so I would recognize at least a song or two. Long story short, one or two songs is all I had time to listen to prior to the concert! So I went as a non-informed audience member.

I think I was the only one who was non-informed! The place ended up being a full house filled with 50-55 year old women with the exception of the 6 guys who were there with various women, I assume. We got there early, grabbed a glass of wine, and chatted with the couple at the PETITION circulation desk. We signed one or two of the petitions and we ended up realizing our paths had crossed in a time several years ago! “Small world”, we all said and Kali and I grabbed a refill and headed to our seats in the very last row of the balcony seats at Ridgefield Playhouse.

It was a first time for me hearing that particular warm up band. Honestly, I am ok with it being the last time as well, but then the INDIGO GIRLS came on stage! They took turns singing and telling musical stories of life’s highs and lows. The stage hand switched out their guitars for each song! Kali would say….”Oh, this is a good one” and I would clap along. Or Kali would say, “WOO HOO, this is my favorite!” and I would again clap along and hum to the chorus. Kali knew all the words! At one point Kali was quietly and kindly sharing a bit of a back story to one of the songs with me, when the woman (?) next to her leaned over and asked her to be quiet!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? WHAT ARE YOU…..55???  AT A CONCERT THAT IS LOUD and supposed to be FUN!! That crazy 55-year old should have stayed home!  If you are 55 and cool enough to be at a concert, you should be cool enough to roll with the punches a bit. Clearly, a very dear friend, and loyal follower of the Indigo Girls was trying to help out this “INDIGO GIRL CONCERT VIRGIN”…..I was NOT wearing the concert T-shirt!! It was obvious that it was a first for me!

Ultimately, I enjoyed the folk style music they played. Two songs kind of stuck with me….THE CLOSER TO FINE which is about realizing that we look in all kinds of wrong places for the answers we seek in life. The other one was GALILEO. The lyrics in the chorus are “How long ’til my soul gets it right? Can any human being ever reach the highest light?” made me think of all the times we do the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome. We do get chances to try something new, to change something within ourselves or within our life, and yet unless we take those chances and do something else, we end up with the same results.

Thank you to Kali who was right next to me as we both enjoyed a night out with two of her best friends, Amy and Emily. It was another “first” for me this year!

I can honestly say that I have enjoyed being in the audience of an INIGO GIRL concert!!

What a fun night!

 

Sunday, April 16, 2017 – Happy Easter…AGAIN!

Sunday, April 16, 2017 – Happy Easter …..AGAIN!

Hands down, Easter is my favorite holiday. It is a time of renewal, rebirth, reenergizing. It marks the start of Spring and the start of the school-year-home-stretch!  It has always been a stress-free holiday for me with minimal expectations. Church, food, and family…that is about it!

AND…for 15 years, Easter includes Sunrise Service at Calf Pasture Beach for me! I only missed last year because I was in South Carolina surprising Mom for her birthday!

For 15 years, Clyna and I have stood in the cold, the rain, the sleet. We have clapped, sung hymns, and nodded our heads in the rhythm of the statement, “He has risen, indeed!”. I wept when the men from Pivot Ministries began singing on Easter morning several years ago, and I continue to get weepy every time these men stand before us in witness to God’s love and a renewed spirit and faith! They truly have been “saved” by the leaders of Pivot Ministries in Norwalk! And they are proud to be “risen, in deed, with the Risen Christ”. They are a reminder to me that my hardest day is someone’s easiest day…..and we are never alone in the journey we walk!

This year’s pastor who preached made an interesting point for me. He talked about the two disciples who RAN to the tomb. He pointed out that Easter is for the Believers. We are the ones who run to the Risen Christ; we know God because we already believe. He was very sincere when he said, therefore, “Don’t drag the non-believers to Church on Easter. Easter is for the Believers! Wait till Pentecostal Sunday to drag the non-believers!”  Listening to him made me feel alright knowing none of my kids would be going to Easter Mass, except for Vincent who was filming a Sunrise Service in North Carolina for work! He and I were at Sunrise Service together, although we were standing 15 driving-hours apart!  As a Believer, I was happy to be there for Sunrise Service feeling blessed that I had been given another year on my life’s journey!!

So this year, was not a “first” in the true sense….but in fact, it was a first that Barb joined me, Clyna, Lisa, and Aunt Ann. AND…it was a first that it was almost 65 degrees at 7am at the beach! A simply gorgeous way to start off Easter!

So in this year of “firsts” for 2017 where I am aiming to live more intentionally by doing something, each week, that I have never done before, technically I can not count this Easter Sunrise Service as a “true first”; However, for me….EVERY EASTER IS A FIRST.  It is a new Springtime beginning with new goals for myself. A “reset” in my life where I evaluate what I do and who I do it for and with. It is the “restart button” that I usually start praying for somewhere between November and January when life seems a little bit heavier and the Spring is hard to see on the horizon!

As I stand facing the water at Calf Pasture Beach every Easter morning, I am reminded of the family and friends I love, those I have lost, and I know , because the His promise of eternal life, I will see  again. And, I am humbled as I am reminded of the man, who is at the center of my faith, who gave His life for me.

Happy Easter Everyone!  May you always feel Blessed….and Believe!

 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – A VERY BELATED THANK YOU!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – A VERY BELATED THANK YOU!

About 17 years ago, as a new assistant principal,  I asked my boss if I could go to a workshop entitled, “Powerful Communication Skills for Women”. He laughed, cracked some kind of joke, and said something along the lines of, “Yes, just don’t come back talking even more to me!”

I am forever grateful that he said Yes. It was probably the best workshop I have ever attended. Many parts of it have stuck with me for years. One part has truly always stayed in my mind.

At this one particular point in the workshop, the woman had us complete a self rating worksheet that gave us a number for 5 different areas in our lives: relationships, emotional, career, finances, and spirituality. After we scored it, we ended up with a number that was supposed to correlate to the “UN-DONES” in our lives.  The higher the number, the more attention in that area of life was needed. She explained to us that the purpose of the exercise was to point out the areas of our personal lives that needed “cleaning up” so that we could feel more “complete” and have the emotional energy to move forward to pursue our goals. The belief was that it is these “UN-DONES” that drain us and preoccupy us to a point where we sometimes feel “stuck” or we remain “negligent” to the parts of us that really are meant to make us whole. When this happens, we can stop living “intentionally” and just keep struggling to “get by”, until we clean up our “un-dones”.

For me, I think this part rang so true for me because I have never liked that feeling of something being “un-done” or ‘un-finished”. I am the Queen of Self Imposed Deadlines! I LOVE when I can cross things off my “TO DO LIST”.

SO, that experience 17 years ago has inspired me to complete many of the tasks I start and to prioritize my personal goals so that I can feel more complete, which completely fits into this year’s focus on living more intentionally!

So, it is not a mystery to me that I have felt vey incomplete for one thing that still remained on my personal “TO DO LIST” from two years ago.

Two years ago, on March 30th – it was MONDAY of HOLY WEEK that year – my mother-in-law, Jo, passed away with many of us there at her side. Two days prior to that, on the Saturday, the hospice nurse called someplace for assistance to have my mother-in-law brought down from upstairs to the living room so that she could be comfortable and with all of us in her final days. In a very ironic twist in life, in her final days, my mother-in-law was gently carried down the beautiful, curving, grand stairwell of my sister-in law’s front entryway and gracefully placed onto the hospital bed that had arrived earlier in the day. My mother-in-law’s final escort in this world involved 8 of the kindest men I have ever had the pleasure of watching. They rolled her into a blanketed cocoon, wrapped it around her, a slowly lifted her. One man took the lead. With only his voice talking, that man directed the others down the stairs at an even and careful pace so that she would “feel no pain”. I am sure  Jo would have had something to say to those firemen from Broad River station who were wearing their tan bulky pants, blue iconic shirts, suspenders and boots, and had parked their full blown fire engine in Nancy and Joe’s driveway. Yes, if the day had been different for her, with HOLY WEEK starting just one day later, she would have had something to say about her grand entrance into a new “promised land” being escorted by firemen instead of donkeys and palm branches!

From that moment on, and through her last breaths, and the following week while we waited for Holy Week to end, I thought about that image. My mother-in-law was buried the day after Easter, Easter Monday. I knew in my heart that I should do something to thank the firemen of the Broad River Department, but for two years I hadn’t done anything. I could have written a note, but I didn’t. I could have written to the newspaper, but I didn’t. I could have just zipped in and said thank you since I pass by there almost weekly, but here it is two years later and I hadn’t done anything to thank them.

SO it was Wednesday, April 12, 2017,  during HOLY WEEK this year, that I decided it was time to honor my mother-in-law by thanking the men who so carefully carried her to her final entrance into a family space that year. That morning, I got up, made cookies and brownies, placed them on a platter and called my sister-in-law Nancy to invite her to come with me. Forty-five minutes later we arrived at the station, just as the truck was pulling away to help someone else in need. I said a quick prayer, hoping they were not going to be carrying a woman to her final place, but if that, in fact, was where they were going, I knew they would do it with respect, dignity, deep love, and concern for everyone involved.

Nancy and I presented the tray to the two guys who weren’t on the truck; they simply answered the doorbell. They didn’t know us and were likely not there two yeas ago at Nancy’s house. Yet, I know I intentionally and purposefully completed one of those “UN-DONEs” from my personal TO DO LIST and my heart feels lighter.

I have never stopped into a public service building to say thank you, even though I have probably thought about doing it in the past. I just never did it. Wednesday,  April 12th was a first for this action and it just felt like it was the right time to say, on behalf of our family, THANK YOU TO THE BROAD RIVER FIRE DEPARTMENT, especially during HOLY WEEK.

May our firefighters always be protected and continue to live a life of service for all of us! THANK YOU!

 

Monday, April 3, 2017 – Artwork at the MKT!

Monday, April 3, 2017 – Artwork at the MKT!

I am learning that when you live INTENTIONALLY, you start seeing the value of things you used to take for granted. You can no longer brush over the little things and only pay attention to the bigger things. The things you “always knew about someone” somehow can be seen with fresh eyes. Those eyes can belong to an artist’s mother.

Melissa found art, or perhaps, ART found Melissa. In her sophomore year of high school, she was put in Art Class “by mistake”. (For those of you who know me, you know I believe that nothing really happens by mistake. The reason might not be clear at the outset, but looking back, the universe really doesn’t make “mistakes”.) So, Melissa asked for an “open end/study hall” instead of Art, and her guidance counselor said, “Your mother will never go for that. Just take the class!” I am eternally grateful for that advice from the counselor. Melissa took the class!

Melissa’s first Art Show was at City Hall that semester. She hated that paper machete pig, but I loved it. Her senior year, she painted a mural on a hallway wall at Norwalk High School. It is still there. Two years after that “art class mistake”, the first college she applied to as a Fine Arts major, Keene State, accepted her, and off she went to be an artist! Melissa graduated in December of her senior year at college and she and I went to her first ART SHOW at a real gallery in Burbank, CA that following Spring. It was five hundred dollars per ticket for us, and $1,000 to ship her Artwork to California and back, but every second was worth it! We did rent the red Mustang convertible and I began to see the world through my daughter, the artist’s, eyes!

Fast forward five years, and thousands of photography pictures later (with almost 200 clients!), and many pieces of painted artwork later, Melissa told us about two months ago that she would be the Art Director at a new restaurant/bar opening up in Norwalk – MKT.  It would be her framed artwork for sale on the walls and her painted artwork adorning the walls. The theme is “The Stock Market” and the artwork reflects a time that she nor I really know about, but on Monday, April 3, 2017, my sisters, my cousin from Canada, my daughter and her baby, and Vinnie and I went to see her work in progress. I have to say, as I stood there taking it all in, with walls in various stages of completion,  I almost got very emotional!

I have been watching her rough sketches take shape for over 10 years. I have seen round circles become eyes and straight lines become legs. I have observed a red splash become a ribbon or a ruffle or a floor length skirt on a woman’s whose face I can’t see, but I feel somehow that I know the woman. All of these #progressshots start off as glimmers of what is to emerge. After watching for so many years, I do know that the art isn’t always created by Melissa, but it comes through her from someplace deep within or maybe even beyond her. Sometimes she is even surprised by the results, and that makes me step back and smile in amazement.

Standing there at THE MKT restaurant, I couldn’t help but think that I have been privileged to be the mother of an artist. Through the highs and lows, a talented young lady continues to emerge and I can’t wait to see how the “progress shot” of her own life will end.

I wish the best of luck to THE MKT at it opens its doors on April 28th and to Melissa, owner of EMPTY BEE ART & PHOTOGRAPHY as they both make their way in this world! I pray, for both ventures, that each day is lived INTENTIONALLY!

 

Saturday, April 1, 2017 – Glass Blowing!

Saturday, April 1, 2017 – Glass Blowing!

I love the fact that two very dear friends can call me about 5 days apart and say, “Here is something you haven’t done before!! And I want to do it with you!!”   They were absolutely correct. I had never gone glass blowing before! So we used the Groupon voucher and 4 of us went to Fairfield, to The Hot Spot,  to blow our own handmade glass……  Liz and Sharon chose the tumblers and Kali and I chose a wine glass. All 4 came out beautifully. Mine is a little lopsided, but I love it anyhow!

I have to say, I was just as blown away  (pun intended!) when I walked into the converted garage and watched the two men spin the metal pipe with the orange glowing blob as I was when I was about 10 years old and saw glass, for the first time, being blown in a “colonial town” in Virginia. I could have stayed all day way back then and I  could have stayed watching all day on April 1st. It is simply amazing to me that this “ancient” art style is still being done in a little shop about 10 miles away from my house. The only thing different between the two moments in time was that my “instructor” had to stop to fix an error with a swiped credit card on his cell phone. He left me in charge of carefully rolling the metal pipe in smooth, rhythmic waves. (That is probably when the lopsidedness occurred!). Talk about two worlds colliding! The ironic twist of the ancient technology and the modern technology, all in one small space, wasn’t lost on me!

I got to go first. I chose my colors and followed the instructor to the fire pit of molten glass glowing and giving off the heat of over 2000 degrees! He dipped the pipe and took out a glob. He rolled it into the colors and walked me back to the fire. I held the pole. After a few moments it was time to blow!! (Insert all the jokes you want right here!). I sat on the cement block and he explained, “Go easy at first, keep up with the pole,  and blow steady.” I tried my best to keep a clean mind and concentrate as the pole knocked against my teeth, but I heard, “Nice job! You can blow a little harder!” So I did. We repeated the process a couple of times and then it was time to transfer the glass to a different pole and from the opposite end. I held the pole steady as he connected another small glob to the bottom. The glass globe was formed and now it was time to open the top of the glass. The top edge was heated and he used a tool like pliers to open the mouth of the glass! So exciting to watch my glass emerge!

When mine was done, the instructor disconnected the pole and carefully placed my new glass into the cooler to cool down slowly so it wouldn’t break! Sharon volunteered to pick them up the next day.

I was mesmerized while I watched Kali, then Sharon, then Liz experience the same thing I had just experienced and I couldn’t wait to see it all done! For the first time, I, along side my good friends, had made my own wine glass!

On Monday, April 10th, Sharon, Kali and I met to “break our new glasses in”. So with good friends, great laughs and a shared new experience, we drank a little wine from the glasses we made together at The Hot Spot!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 – A New Perspective via Wave Runner!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 – A New Perspective via Wave Runner!

Sometimes it takes a Barefoot Billy’s 2 hour Jet Ski Tour around Key West to force you to reconsider your perspectives.  When you intentionally choose to see something from a very different angle, you have to think about the perspectives you have been complacent with and the lessons you think about that may actually apply to a new situation. Here are a few examples:

First, the guide  who was with us said, “Hang tight, Don’t let up on the gas, It’s going to be rough, but then it will get better”. I tried to remember this as we flew and bounced around next to a cruise ship parked at Mallory Square, but all I could think of was, “HOLY CRAP!” I tried to keep my eyes off the black base of that massive ship only 15 feet away, but I felt like a firefly drawn to a light. I tried to keep my eyes straight ahead and my hand on the throttle, but I kept flinching with every bounce….. “hang tight, don’t let up on the gas, it’s going to be rough, but then it will get better”….there it was! That little voice in my head starting to drown out the words from my mouth; a lower-case “holy crap!”  Once we got through it, we killed the engines and he said, “GREAT JOB! You handled that part beautifully!” That 30 year old, who I had only met 30 minutes ago, made me feel proud.  The first lesson was not lost on me. I will have to remember that when life gets a little tough….”hang tight, don’t let up on the gas, it’s going to be rough, but it will get better!” Then, once the rough part is over, if no one else is there to say it, it is OK to say to yourself “Great job. You handled that part beautifully!

Second, sometimes we can start to think (or maybe it is just me??) that life revolves around us. We sometimes see our problems or challenges as bigger than they really are. They become our universe! However, when you are on a wave runner out in the ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, you are reminded how vast the ocean and universe really are. In fact we are tiny and our problems are even smaller than us! We are really in control many things in our life, but only a very tiny part of our world. You also realize that the ocean and all the creatures take care of themselves. They instinctively know what is right for them, where they should go and be, what their basic needs are, and how to keep themselves safe. We, or maybe it is just me again, don’t always trust our instincts when we are faced with challenges in the world. We were meant to be a small, but very important part of this vast universe! The second lesson is to trust that there is plan for each of us and each of us is an important piece of another’s plan. We are all connected.

Third, when I asked him “Is it possible that I could flip this thing?”, the guide’s answer was….”YES, if you go too slow and both of you lean over too far in the same direction. SO, go fast, stay above the waves, and balance each other out!” That sure is a lesson for life! If things get stagnant and you go too slow, and the individuals lean over too far as you go nowhere, I can imagine the collapse will be inevitable! We all need people who will balance us out and keep us going at a pace that will help up stay above the waves! It is important to find these people and take the ride in life with them.

The fourth lesson was one of calmness. When the view becomes breathtaking, step off the wave runner and step onto the sandbars to enjoy the sights! To get to the sandbars you may have to stay flexible, stay determined, and look forward to see where you are going. But, when you get there, stop the ride of life, enjoy the success and the views around you, and then take the time to re-assess your plan. Then get back on the ride and continue on.

Fifth, when we were riding through the Mangrove trees, I couldn’t help but think about the roots that stabilize the entire tree and yet still filter the waters to create the outcome of beautiful green/blue waters. It was so peaceful and calm going through the Mangrove trees…simply breath-taking. I could only hope that as a mother, I have created the same stabilizing roots for my family while still allowing each of my children to become the beautiful individuals they were meant to be! And as a mother, who laid the roots, my breath is often taken away when I see the talented adults they are becoming!

And finally, the sixth lesson here was one of going full circle. When we started the ski jet tour, I knew we would go in a circle and end up where we started. What I didn’t realize at first was that I would come back and hook up to the same buoy we left from, but I would be a little bit different. I returned to that sandy white beach with a new perspective; a clearer mind. Yes, a little saltier too! I was “seasoned” (and humbled) by this new experience!

 

Friday, March 17, 2017 – St. Patty’s Day Parade! YAY!

Friday, March 17, 2017 – St. Patty’s Day Parade! YAY!

Two years ago on St. Patty’s Day, I was parasailing with Vinnie in Key West. Last year, I was at work dreaming of being somewhere else…anywhere else!!

If you had told me last year on St. Patty’s Day that this St. Patty’s Day I would be retired from Darien, working in Bridgeport, walking in a parade with 100 8th graders, being cheered on by 200 4th through 7th graders, and carrying my grandson, I would have told you you were crazy! But there I was with a Shamrock sticker and an Irish sweater…in the parade on a school day!! Life is good!

I have never been in a St. Patty’s Day parade. Actually, I have only been to two St. Patty’s Day parades in my life! One was NYC in 1981. The other was in Stamford in 1990. In NYC, we watched a little and bar hopped a lot! In Stamford, we bar hopped a little and Vinnie had to wipe 9-month-old Stephanie’s baby-puke off the back of my brand new leather jacket!

This year was different; almost surreal. It was like playing hooky with the full support of everyone! My Superintendent was in the car in front of us waving to the crowd and feeling the love right along side of us all!

Coming around the corner, there was Stephanie, 27 years later, handing off her 10-month-old Baby Anthony to me. I took him in my arms for his first parade! Just he and I were sharing a FIRST in my year of living intentionally, alone in a crowd of hundreds! He didn’t know what the heck was going on….moving crowds, yelling people, strangers saying “HI Baby!”, bands playing, bagpipes whining, and the Kolbe HS Drill Team stomping their feet and singing right behind us. For Anthony, it was chaotic and bizarre. If only he had words to put to it! For me it was an amazing moment in time. A moment I would like to freeze and relive again and again. For me it was another snapshot in my life experiences that have woven together to create who I am, inside and out.  A special moment that is almost impossible to attach the right words to, even though I have so many words to choose from.

In that one hour span of my life, I felt honored to be a part of a very cool school community that is tucked inside the middle of Bridgeport and proud to be a grandma showing off “my baby”. But most importantly,  I felt very proud to be Irish!

P.S. It was my first St. Patty’s Day parade ever that I wasn’t cheering with a full pint of beer to all the Irish folks I have known and loved!  Truth be told, I did catch myself getting a bit emotional as I felt their presence with me as we walked through the streets of downtown Bridgeport!

Saturday, March 4 – Tuesday, March 7, 2017 – DRINK and LEAD!

Saturday, March 4 – Tuesday, March 7, 2017 – DRINK and LEAD!

Saturday, March 4th Vinnie and I were up at Lake Plymouth. I wanted to do something new….so I looked in the paper.  What do you know, there was a Maple Sugar Festival going on less than 3 miles away, however, it was about 12 degrees! Freezing!

Vinnie was a good sport and said “YES” so off we went.  NO ONE was there! It was freezing!

So we went and watched two beautiful black horses pull a cart with a couple of kids bundled up. And one man stood with a pot of boiling sap over a fire, then we found  a few people inside eating hot dogs and waiting for the fiddle band to start. Obviously we did not stay.
We picked up some vodka at a nearby liquor store and then stopped into the Terryville library to pick up a library card and an audiobook for me to listen to as I prepared for a ride on Sunday to Newport, RI for a conference.

Trying to figure out something new to do and after conferring with Siri, I learned of a brewery only 3.8 miles away! HELLO TO FIREFLY HOLLOW BREWING COMPANY!  Off we were to Bristol.  We turned left into a driveway that ran alongside a brick factory building. We passed the scrap metal piles and bumped our way over the potholes. Then there was the sign! FIREFLY HOLLOW! We found it!

We bought a flight of 5 samples…..#1,2,3,6,8. #1 and #2 were kind of nice…sort of like a Killian’s Red. Then I liked #3 – Moonrise Amber!! Vinnie liked #6 – Lizard Breath…and we both hated #8!. As we sipped our samplers, then drank our favorite pint, we booked our rides to and from the airport for our upcoming Key West trip in only two weeks! In that moment….life felt right and good!

On Sunday I put in the audiotape and drove North for 3 hours. I found my hotel room in Newport, Rhode Island for a conference for Catholic leaders from New England. I got here on Sunday and it was a lovely evening that ended way too late in the bar! So now it is Monday evening. I had a full day of listening to a wonderful speaker, Fr. Joe,  who talked all day about being open to MERCY…..and being open to the notion that it is in the stories we share with each other and with strangers that we find God….in little ways and in big ways. This definition and discussion of MERCY, also fit right in with my LIVING INTENTIONALLY and truly paying attention to life! At dinner, I got weepy as a local school choir sang Breath of Heaven……..It was beautiful!

So, in these past few days, I have done so many firsts….the Maple Syrup Festival Flop, a new library card, a new brewery with a delicious Moonrise Amber, and a conference to learn to be a Catholic leader! All these years I have been a leader who was Catholic! Will wonders ever cease?

I am amazed that I continue to learn about new beers I love and I learn how to lead as a Catholic.

For all these experiences I say “THANK GOD, Let Us Pray, and DRINK UP!”

Sunday, February 26, 2017 – “10,000 Meals in 2 Hours”

Sunday, February 26, 2017 – “10,000 Meals in 2 Hours”

This weekend I participated in the 14th 30 Hour Famine at St. Philip Church in Norwalk. It was the 4th year in a row that we all participated in the meal packing service project. This year, however, was the first time I had a grandson join us! Of course he did not pack a meal, he is way too young, AND it was the first time I thought about it from his perspective.

The STOP HUNGER NOW truck arrived and we unloaded it. Bruce directed the volunteers and in less than a half hour we had the gym set up and ready to accept 100 volunteers to pack 10, 000 meals. As we waited for the kids to arrive to start the process, my grandson was passed from one friend to another. I thought to myself, what a lucky little boy to be so loved by so many and likely never to face a day of true hunger in his life! He was born in this great country called America to a middle class family who has a grocery story less than a mile away from their front door. He was born to a family who has always had plenty of material items surrounding them and plenty of food on the table at every meal. We all have never known an “empty fridge”. We have all actually paid money in the past to learn how to eat LESS food!! Kind of bizarre, but nevertheless, a very fortunate and lucky place for this well loved baby boy to be born into!

On this side of the world, Baby Anthony would be able to slurp down the sweet potatoes or spit out the green beans. His parents will run back and forth to the store to get the perfect combinations of foods he likes and I, as Grandma,  will continue to ask, “Does he like the apple sauce or bananas better?”, “Does he want Cheerios or the snacks you brought?”, “Does he want milk or juice?” The choices we have at our fingertips, in our cabinets, and in the refrigerator are endless.

I thought about how many children, in a land-locked West African country called Bacino Faso, would only know food that comes in a plastic bag labeled with cooking directions printed on it and comes with an enclosed packet of nutrients. These packs of food will be cooked over an open fire and will feed a family of six in one sitting. This nutrient-enhanced rice and soy mixture will become the daily staple in their lives. On the other side of the world, in that country and in so many others, the choice is limited. Rice or no rice? Add the herbs and nutritional packets or not? Those are the choices that so many other mothers and grandmothers will have as they spoon feed their own 10 month old babies the rice that was packed by the 100 volunteers in Norwalk, CT on Feb. 26, 2017 at the 14th Annual 30 Hour Famine to raise money and awareness of world hunger.

I truly felt blessed when I looked at that baby, our baby, knowing he was born into so much love, luck, and food. And I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer for each of those other babies who will receive the work of our hands and hearts this day.

Sunday, February 19, 2017 – “Sunday is PASTA DAY!”

Sunday, February 19, 2017 – “Sunday is PASTA DAY!”

On Friday, Feb. 17th, Leslie, Danny and I were on our way to South Carolina to give a surprise visit to Mom and Dad. We were just into Virginia on I-95 when I was thinking about something I have never done before…..make pasta!  I asked Danny if he had a pasta machine I could borrow at some point and he said, “Phooey! You don’t need a machine! I make it all the time!”. Who knew??

So we decided he would show me how and I would make it for dinner on Sunday at Mom and Dad’s house! A simple recipe was all we needed and we were set to go.

I mixed the 2 cups of flour with 1/2 tsp. of salt. Then I beat two eggs with 1/3 cup of water and 1 tsp. of oil.  When I mixed the wet and dry ingredients together, the dough formed into a gooey ball. Danny coached me to continue to add a little more flour to get it just to the right consistency! When it was just perfect, I had to wrap it in Saran Wrap and let it sit for about a half hour or so. Danny told me that we had to give it a little time to “let the glutens relax”!

Leslie, Mom and I went off to Line Dancing and came back to finish cooking our pasta dinner! Danny showed me how to stretch the dough out with a rolling pin….but we didn’t have one….so a wine bottle did just the same trick! A nice thin flat dough was then cut with a pizza cutter to just the right widths. It was not even close to being even cuts, but Danny assured me that this did not matter!

The lightly salted water came to a rolling boil and I dropped the strips of dough into it. Within about 5 minutes or less, the pasta strips floated to the top and our spaghetti was done!

Covered in a wonderful meat sauce Mom had made, the dinner was delicious! I had NO IDEA how easy it was to make pasta!!

On Monday, we were back on the road to head home.  I was already an hour on the road when I realized I had forgotten the serving I had saved for Vinnie in Mom’s refrigerator in South Carolina! So, on Tuesday, Feb. 21st, I made another batch for Vinnie. By then I was feeling like a pro so I made homemade manicotti to go with it!

Delicious!