On Saturday, Jan. 20th, I Am Grateful that I said “YES” to BINGO. 

On Saturday, Jan. 20th, I Am Grateful that I said “YES” to BINGO.

Well, It is not my Aunt Elva’s and Aunt Angie’s BINGO game anymore. It was not the BINGO my father called on Friday nights at St. Joseph’s church basement throughout my childhood. It was not Tracey School BINGO for our occasional family Friday nights. This was BINGO ON STEROIDS!

Jeanne and Debbie and Liz were heading to Foxwoods for BINGO on Saturday morning, so Barb and I jumped in on this to join them. They told us Bingo started at 10:30am so they would meet up there at 9:00; we’d leave our houses by 7:00am. “That’s crazy”, I thought…but OK. I did ask, “Why do we have to get there so early”. The response was, “There is a lot to set up for it.” My sarcastic side thought was, “Good Lord, we are not running it, but ok.”

Well, imagine my surprise when we arrived to an enormous banquet hall called BINGO HALL. I had no idea there are BINGO games going on all day and night EVERY DAY of the year only an hour and a half away from my home!  Lines were 45 minutes long in the main lobby to pay $35 for General Admission and the women were wandering around the banquet hall selling “Special games” for another $25 and separate special games ranging from $1.00 to $10.00. They had this system down pat and hundreds of people were firing up and “setting up” for BINGO!

Jeanne and Debbie brought the snacks in big tote bags along with the DOT Markers we would need. Once we got our General Admission taken care of, they taught us how to highlight different patterns on the cards to prepare for the games and how to follow the sheet indicating the 18 games we would play and in what order it would all happen. They helped us fill in the U-Pick-Em sheets and prepare our cards for the Bonanza numbers. We filled our tea, coffee and soda and used the ladies’ room. It was 10:25 and we were almost ready to start! My know understood that it really did take an hour and a half to set up for BINGO.

The caller began with the warm up games and thank God, Liz bought these! These five games gave us a chance to figure out how to decipher what the heck the guy was mumbling through the speakers, figure out which board with the light up numbers worked best for us in our line of sight, accustomed ourselves to his pattern and pace of calling the numbers, and determine how hard we had to press the ink dot blotters on the BINGO cards to get the best effect for covering them, yet  being able to still read them, just in case we all were going to win and walk away with cold, hard cash!

After the warm ups, the games began!!  We had to follow fast! What card were we on? Red, Pink, Yellow, Green Grey, Blue, White, or Black? What game were we on? A regular, a special, or a Quickie card? What pattern were we making? A hard Bingo, a Double Bingo, the cross, a postage stamp or a double postage stamp or a triple postage stamp? Were we making an X, an L or a Diamond? Was it a small picture frame game or a large picture frame game? Were we going to win $1,199 or $2,500 if we got the only BINGO win or would we have to split it with other people? Was it a $300 Quickie or a Full Card Fill Up for $10,000. Only Debbie walked away with a $500 split with four others to bring in her $125 cash!

The young man kept coming to ask us if we wanted to order food, but I can’t tell you anything about him since I didn’t have time to even lift my eyes to acknowledge him. I was too busy trying to keep up and not miss a B2 or O69 or N34 as part of the hard bingo, X, or triple postage stamp. I could feel my heart pound, my stomach growl, but I had no time for him and his menu. I only had time for the handfuls of appreciated popcorn that Debbie and Jeanne had brought!

The caller finally gave us a break! There would be a 15 minute intermission to use the ladies room and refill your tea or coffee, but there was a catch! You had to be present in the BINGO Hall to win the door prizes! If you left the room, you may just miss the prizes of cash and opportunities to spin the big wheel or go into the Cash Wind Booth and grab for cash. After tea and soda, I had to take that risk. The ladies room won out for me and I was back at our table before the big and final games began. I was ready!

No, I did not win the Car, nor the $10,000 for the full card in 40 numbers, nor the U-Pick-Em prizes (I even had the chance to think about what numbers might be called and I still didn’t come close!)

When the final game was called and the sound of the crumpling of the paper cards at each table ended with them being shoved into the plastic garbage bags taped to the tables between each player, I took a deep breath. It was 3:30pm. Five straight (and I mean straight!) hours of BINGO!  At the table we all wondered aloud, “How does a 6 school day drag by when a 5 hour BINOGO Day flew by”. Time is a trick when you are focused on knowing that the chance to win big bucks might just come your way!

When all was said and done and the caller had put down the microphone, the light up Bingo Balls on the walls flashed us a sad GOOD BYE, and the mobs of hundreds of people started filing out, we began to pack up our Dot Markers, left over snacks and empty cups. My mind raced to comprehend the score of it’s accomplishment today. It had played 39 different kinds of BINGO and had scanned 256 separate Bingo cards on paper sheets, all while my eyes ran up and down the B, I, N, G, and O columns while my had was ready to stamp, and my mouth conspired to yell, “BINGO”, but never had the chance. And yet, I did not leave disappointed.

What a great and fun opportunity today was! I am grateful that Liz had mentioned they were going. I am grateful for these three women who welcomed two more. I am grateful that I live someplace where fun times can be found where ever and whenever you look for them. And, I am eternally grateful for my BINGO foundation that was laid long ago by Dad and Mom, Elva and Angie, and our Tracey School family.

Although I don’t think I will be a BINGO fanatic later in life,  I do believe that every now and again playing BINGO will always bring back some great memories for me.  For all of these memories, I am grateful!


Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 – Grateful for some “Monsters and Myths”

Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 – Grateful for some “Monsters and Myths”.

I had never even heard of the Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum in Hartford before last week or so. Christine invited me to go to the last weekend of the exhibit entitled “Monsters and Myths”. I struggled with the decision. Should I stay home and type up some school work? Should I stay home and read my book club book? Should I pull out my CT Trails Guide Book and go for a hike? Should I do a little needlepoint, crochet, or knit a new scarf? Or should I go to the museum and take a look at something I had never even really thought about.

So, after going to breakfast with my brother, I headed home at 9am and decided, maybe I would meet Christine when her church service got out and go with her after all. I rounded the corner and her car was in the driveway! I took that as my sign! Yes, I will go.

I called her cell phone thinking she skipped mass, but in fact she was just heading out. So I changed quickly, refilled my tea cup, and jumped in the car with her…off to St. John’s Episcopal Church, then to the museum!

We met up with her friend, Lisa,  and the three of us drove into Hartford via I84.

We entered the building. It was massive! It was actually 5 buildings and we were there for the special exhibit that was all about Surrealism and War in the 1930’s and 1940’s. WHAT A TREAT!  Besides not even knowing this place had existed, I really had no idea that the Wadsworth Atheneum was the oldest continuously running museum in the country! Amazing!

I had no idea that Michelangelo, Monet, Jackson Pollack, Salvador Dali, Maria Martins, Wolfgang Paalen, Dorothy Tanning, Yves Tanguy, Masson, Thomas Cole,Sylvia Plimack Mangold, James Welling, Giovanni Paolo Panini, and Max Ernst, along with so  many other artists have their work amongst the 50,000 pieces of artwork hung on the walls of this special place, less than an hour from my home.

After touring the various highlights of the museum with a docent, I realized I must go back again and again to see the full place. It was truly an overwhelmingly wonderful experience.

Later, as we nibbled on hand made potato chips, and Bison Chili Nachos at Ted’s Restaurant in downtown Hartford, I couldn’t help but think about how grateful I was for this Sunday. I felt grateful for my friends who offer me opportunities to do new things and grateful for the artwork, both the weird pieces that I couldn’t understand and the pieces that spoke loudly to my heart. As I reached for more nachos and chips, I wandered back around the exhibit in my mind. At the root of it all, I felt especially grateful for my most favorite artist, the one who happens to be my second child.  Someday, perhaps Melissa’s artwork will hang on the walls of the Wadsworth Atheneum along side the beautiful works of the many artists she studied while at college.

If you ever get the chance, please visit this wonderful place. Great artwork is stilling there, hanging on walls, waiting to be enjoyed by all!

For this, I am grateful!

Jan. 7, 2019 – A Year of Gratitude – Grateful for our little blue 1999 Mazda Protege!!

Jan. 7, 2019 – A YEAR OF GRATITUDE – Grateful for our little blue 1999 Mazda Protege!

June of 1999 was a great month!  I was turning 36, my kids were 4, 6, 8 and 9 years old, my friend had invited us over for dinner at her new house, and Vinnie pulled up in his brand new four door, dark blue 1999 Mazda Protege! For $12,000 he drove it off the lot and straight to Clyna’s! We were all excited for that little blue car that would take all four kids to Tracey Elementary School each morning!  Very exciting.

It was this past Saturday, however, returning from Brass Works Brewery when Vinnie said, “You have been riding in that seat for almost 20 years!!” that made my mind start turning. That little four door, dark blue Mazda Protege has been a part of our family’s story for almost 20 years! Amazing!!  With 325,000 miles, it has never been washed or detailed. It has more sunflower seeds, old paint color booklets, and gas receipts than you can count roaming around on the floor. The seats sag down so low that you feel like you could be sitting on the ground. The power windows still work, but the heat blows out cold air. The CD player quit a long time ago, but the music dial works if you twist it just the right way. The steering wheel is sun-dried and beat up, but has taken us around so many corners in life that it almost looks like it smiles each time you place two hands on it. The dashboard, the gearshift, and the glove compartment stuffed to the gills, all hold our family’s story and some of the most private conversations that Vinnie and I have ever had. Like good friends who can keep great secrets, they have listened to our financial worries, our concerns about our children, our laughs at our parenting blunders and our wildest hopes and dreams for our future, both as individuals and as a couple. The fabric of the front and back seat have carried boxes of books, yogurt makers, coffee pots, bags of cereal from Walmart, paint brushes and tools, and our most precious cargo, our four children. That car has carried Vincent from the first day of Kindergarten through college and beyond, has provided at least half of the kids “stick shift” lessons, and guaranteed Kevin a car at all times since his siblings gave up on learning to drive a standard vehicle. It also gave Kevin his first speeding ticket!  

I have been wondering what my focus will be for 2019.

In 2017, I lived an “intentional and abundant life” and blogged about a new adventure each week. I focused on living fully and it was a fabulous year. Last year snuck away from me somehow. It came, it was a challenging year of losing several beloved friends, and so I will remember 2018 as a sadder year. But in reflecting on this, it has reminded me to really look at life as one long chain of endless possibilities. In December, I was at a staff retreat, and the woman running it spoke about being grateful. She challenged us to shift our thinking from “I HAVE TO  (fill in the blank)” to “I GET TO (fill in the blank)”. Even the most mundane requirements in life can be looked at as an opportunity. Somebody else would LOVE to have that opportunity depending on what their circumstances are. And so, my focus for 2019 this will be to be “Grateful for the Opportunities” and there really are opportunities everywhere!

That being said, I had the opportunity to chug along up Mt. Tobe Rd from the brewery to our home with Vinnie on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 and saw the ride through a whole new lens. I saw it through the lens of 20 years of so many  opportunities it has brought to Vinnie and myself. I almost got a bit weepy thinking about how grateful I am for our little, four door, dark blue 1999 Mazda Protege!

NEW YEAR 2018……February 7, 2018

NEW YEAR 2018……February 7, 2018

It is February 7, 2018. I am not sure what happened to January. I feel like it rolled right past me in a wave of my emotional swings.

In December I finished off my 2017 New Year’s Resolution of Living Intentionally…and doing something new every week of the year! The whole year was amazing and I tried things I had never done before with good friends, my family, and Vinnie. On Dec. 29th, Vinnie and I came home on a “high” from South Carolina. We had an accepted offer on our “retirement home”, had a plan to close on February 6, 2018, and we were on Cloud 9!

Then the 30th came. A phone call came. Our dear friend, Nancy Denman passed away unexpectedly. She was 54. Vinnie and I, along with her family, friends, and co-workers, were heartbroken. Her funeral would start 2018 off in a somber and reflective mode surrounded by friends we had shared experiences and memories with for over 30 years. At that funeral, Tory Hartmayer Prizio encouraged me to go see Lori Paladino; another good friend (especially of Nancy’s) who was very ill. Tory’s exact words were “Life is short, Debi. We all know that. Just stop by to say hi to Lori. I am sure she’d love to see you.” With trepidation, I followed Tory’s advice and did it. Lori and I chatted and laughed for 15 minutes and I am forever grateful. Lori passed away on January, 24th. She, too, was 54. The realization that Lori and Nancy would be forever together; a friendship without end, is not lost on me or anyone else. Nancy had told me only 3 months ago that she did not know how to live without Lori. We cried at that moment by the frozen french fries in Stop & Shop. In my mind, Nancy went on before her to help ease the transition for Lori to eternal life together. Nancy would never have to know what it would be like to live without Lori after all. In fact, we all have to learn to live without both of them, fully knowing and having faith that they are together free of pain and forever loved.

On Monday, January 29th, many of us hugged each other for the second time in 3 weeks, shook our heads and had no words that would accurately reflect the depth of our pain in the loss of two beautiful women. Yes, January was very hard. The writer in me had a tough time finding words to describe the experiences I had, and the emotions I felt, in the days I walked through this past month.

And yet, Nancy and Lori are perfect examples of individuals who believe in living each day intentionally. Tory stepped in to remind me of that! It was hard to remember that in the passing of two friends, there is the whisper of the heart begging us all to live intentionally.

So, when Stephanie came over to stay at the lake with us, she asked what my New Year’s Resolution would be for 2018. We brainstormed all the things I still have never done: held a tarantula, kayaked down the CT River, slept on a boat in a harbor, camped in my own backyard as an adult, or shot a gun!  So many experiences I still have to do…..and I am already 54.

What I do know is that our days on this Earth are not limitless. But the opportunities to share in the lives of so many other people are limitless. So this year, I will continue to live intentionally. I will look for LOVE when it is hard to see. I will look for ADVENTURE when time seems to be passing me by. I will look for times to reach out to others and ENJOY the moments I have to share with the people I am with on this planet during this time in my life. I will CHEER for my children, CELEBRATE in their successes, and help to EASE their PAIN when hard times come.

If I have learned anything from 2017….and the sad month of January 2018, it is to not take the moments in life for granted. I want to LIVE WELL (and INTENTIONALLY), LAUGH OFTEN, and LOVE MUCH.

And, yes, the good news is…..we (Mom and Dad were there in person!) closed on our new home yesterday, February 6, 2018! And we celebrated with a little margarita!!



A Year of Living INTENTIONALLY! – Dec. 31, 2017

A Year of Living INTENTIONALLY – Dec. 31, 2017

My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was to live INTENTIONALLY. I can honestly say, I lived ABUNDANTLY too! When I look back on my year, I am amazed. I would assume many people tried new things this past year, socialized with good friends and went places they did not expect to go. But, for me, I kept this blog to capture my year. Now as I look back, I can see the things I tried that I had never done before, the many people I chose to spend my days with and the places I never expected to go…both physically and emotionally!

I kicked off the year, blessing a waitress with a $100 tip (12/31/16)! It was the perfect way to kick off this wonderful year. Although I intended this year to give more than to receive, I found I “received” a lot!! From that first tip at Penny’s Diner,  the experiences were both large and small for me. I worked out for 6 days in a row (1/6) (So proud of myself!) then I stopped (oh, well!), cleared out junk (2/11), fed the homeless guy in Bridgeport (11/15), and gave out Halloween candy in my new home while I reminisced of the days I now miss (10/31).

At school, we invited Rapper FNX (2/2) to school to share his thoughts on making an impact on others, I marched in my first St. Patty’s Day parade with 100 8th graders and my grandson (3/17), I took back to back field trips in June (6/12 and 6/13) and took a student and her mom horseback riding (6/27) to celebrate a “job well done”!

With friends, I wore Beautycounter Masks (4/30), packed 10,000 meals for the hungry in Burkina Faso (2/26) and I still don’t even know where that is!, attended a Catholic Leaders’ Conference (3/5), found Barbara and Mark’s lost children in the woods (5/27), and I ate a stranger’s french fries at Citifield (5/19)! Although I still have never “crashed a party”, our book club party at Pam’s house was crashed by the Optimum Man. Poor “DAN” will never be the same (5/9)!

I visited many places that I said I would go to “SOMEDAY”. Whether it was with one friend, or with many, I took in the new experiences with a wide open heart and an intentional purpose. Throughout the year I visited Lourdes in Litchfield with Lisa, Barb and Liz (12/8), Harlem Valley Rail Trail with Vinnie (11/24), The Fascia’s Chocolate Factory with Vinnie, Christine and Jia (1/13), Firefly Hollow Brewing Company with Vinnie (3/4), The Hot Spot Glass Blowing Company with Sharon, her sister-in-law, and Kali (4/1), The Botanical Gardens in NYC with my sisters, my Aunt Pat, and cousins (6/10), Litchfield Blueberry Farms (alone and so peaceful!)(7/9), The Big E with Vinnie (9?30), Hawk Ridge Winery with Wendy, Willy, Vinnie, Mark and Barbara (10/22) and the Viking/Panther Game in NC with Vinnie and Vincent (12/10). And…for the first time in my life, I golfed!! I golfed in Ireland at the Spanish Point Golf Club overlooking the ocean to celebrate Liz’s 50th birthday with 28 wonderful people. As her brother-in law spread the ashes of her Dad, Donald F. Reid, I realized that this was a moment in time I will cherish forever (11/10)!

During the winter and spring of 2017, I drove a Wave Runner around Key West with Vinnie (3/31), went to sunrise service on Easter morning with Clyna for the 15th year in a row (or so!) (4/16), went to see Hairspray, Jr. at West Rocks Middle School with Liz (1/20), and made homemade pasta for the first time with my brother, Dan (2/15)!

The Bridgewater Fair (8/20), The Milford Oysterfest (8/19), the Peach Lounge to hear Tangled Vine (11/28), and then the Indigo Girls (4/26) were events that I did with great friends that I may do again someday, but if I don’t that is OK. Once could have been enough!

This year caused me to pause and reflect a lot about where my life is, where it has been, and where it is going. I listened a little more intently in church to the readings (7/8), with Nancy, we brought cookies to the Broad River Fire Department as a long and overdue Thank You to the men who carried my mother-in-law to a place she’d be comfortable…two years earlier (4/12)! I pondered what lay ahead in the future while Vinnie and I walked old railroad tracks (10/7), and spent time in NYC having pizza with Leslie, Lisa, Liz and Kevin (9/12). In July,  I had emotional roller coaster week (7/17-7/23) as I learned I was a kidney transplant match for my friend, Mark Hollis. The surgery through Yale Transplant Center (7/25) was probably one of the coolest things I have ever done for someone else! Mark and I are literally connected for life!

I had the incredible moment of going to the Greenwich Library to see our home in the local debut of the Alex Morsanutto’s movie Hi-Glo Retro (6/4)! I had poignant moments such as our last Bacon, Egg and Cheese breakfast with my Stephanie, Anthony, Melissa and Vinnie as we said good bye to our big, red home on West Rocks Road (8/12). And proud moments at the grand opening at MKT in Norwalk taking pictures of Melissa and her artwork throughout the restaurant (4/3).  And, finally, I enjoyed a peaceful ending to a busy year walking the beach of Hilton Head, SC on Christmas Day with Vinnie, Mom, and Dad (waiting for us on the boardwalk!) (12/25)

There are so many special moments with people I love and things I “always wanted to do”. I also recognize that I did not do many of the items on my “potential TO DO List” that I started off the year intending to do. So, many people have asked me what my “2018 New Year’s Resolution” will be. I have thought long and hard, and I think I am going to continue this one! I have truly loved doing things I have never done before…..so I am going to do it again!

I have to be honest. It is now Jan. 7, and week one of 2018 has gone by with two snow says and it is literally 2 degrees outside, but Vinnie and I have spent the week getting our paperwork together to submit to a mortgage broker in South Carolina. Our closing on our new home will be in February (fingers crossed!)….YES, I think 2018 is going to be a great year!




CHRISTMAS DAY…. Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 – Oh Christmas Tree!

CHRISTMAS DAY…. Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 – Oh Christmas Tree!

This year, Christmas was different. We had sold our house, Vincent wasn’t coming home for a second year, and, back in the summer, mom and dad had said they were “done with CT at Christmas time”. Of course, they were not quite “done” and they came for an early Christmas from Dec. 12 – 19th, but by then Vinnie and I had decided to spend Christmas in South Carolina! We drove down on the 23rd. Vincent met us at Mom and Dad’s for a couple of days and I announced that since I was in South Carolina for Christmas, I would have to spend it walking the beach at Hilton Head.

On Dec. 24th, Vincent was the only one who opened gifts on Christmas Eve morning at the breakfast table. That was different! Mom, Dad, Vinnie, Vincent, and I went to 4pm Mass on Christmas Eve in a local high school gymnasium. That was different! The priest saying mass was a visiting missionary priest who has spent most of his life in Africa. After the mass, I bought a set of beautiful beaded rosary beads hand-made by African women. That was different!  And then Vincent left by 7am on Christmas morning for  his 5 hour drive back to North Carolina since he had to work at 2pm. Mom, Dad, Vinnie and I had a quiet Christmas Day to look ahead to. That was very different!

So, on Christmas morning, the four of us got in the car and drove to Hilton Head. Three of us would walk the ocean beach for a couple of hours while one of us would spend that time reading a book while sharing a swinging park bench with a Korean lady (Guess who that was!)

About 20 minutes into our walk, we found our Christmas Tree!  Oh Christmas Tree!! As it lay flat out at the ocean’s edge, the palm leaves floated in the waves that came and went. Its roots and entire trunk stretched across the sandy shore. Perhaps a hundred or more people had stepped over it on that beautiful Christmas morning.

As we walked, it was simply amazing to me that the beach was filled with hundreds of people. These people passed us by on bikes or on foot saying “Merry Christmas” to us and to each other. There was a light, cheeriness in each interaction. Some people were throwing balls to running dogs or chasing children who were chasing seagulls. Others traced words in the wet sand with long sticks, while others tip-toed across the low tide to walk along the sandbar. The sunlight created a blinding shimmering light that seemed to stretch out for miles to the horizon.

My thoughts were pretty simple. I wished everyone I loved was with us walking along that beach to enjoy the stress-free nature that surrounded us. The ocean coming and going, just like the people, and just like the previous 365 days since Christmas of 2016. Vinnie and I acknowledged the fact that this  year, Christmas of 2017 was indeed different, not bad yet, not necessarily better; just simply different.

And in that difference, we found it was also intentionally peaceful.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and happy and healthy 2018!


Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 – Vikings vs. Panthers!

Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 – Vikings vs. Panthers!

Ok, Let’s get it out in the open….VIKINGS LOST!! The only Vikings game I have ever gone to, and they lost. However, it was so  much fun!!!

Vinnie and I had never seen where Vincent lives in Greensboro, NC, so we took the opportunity to go see him and catch the game in Charlotte. At one point they tied it up, but lost at the end. It was very exciting…and there was a ton of purple in the crowd!

I have to say, though, if I had to switch teams, I could be convinced to be a Panther fan. The crowd was fun, the music was non-stop, the beer was cold, and we had a great tailgate time at the DOG HOUSE bar across the street from the stadium before the game.

After the game, we caught up with a Norwalk guy, Tommy, who is friends with Steph and Anthony and had a beer with him before heading back to Greensboro. It seemed almost surreal to be standing in a bar in Charlotte after a Vikings game  with Vinnie and Vincent with a guy from Norwalk who we didn’t expect to see. A lot of fun!

This town clearly has a special energy when their hometown team plays!

As we walked back to our rental car in the parking lot just beyond the stadium, the sun was setting. The skyline was a soft orange glow with darker clouds just above the horizon. The lights around the Bank of America Stadium lit up with Red, White and Blue colors. The local neon signs brought in greens, oranges, and yellows on every corner. The air had a left over smell of the snow that had fallen the day before. And I counted my blessings.

  1. I was with Vinnie and Vincent.
  2. Together, we experienced my first Vikings game (they had been before).
  3. My youngest son, who we prayed so hard at birth that he would stay alive on this planet, walked beside me chatting with Vinnie about the game. He had grown into a fine and good young man who has made his way into this grown up world, hundreds of miles away from me.
  4. The three of us talked about our bucket list item of making a full family trip with everyone to the Viking Stadium in Minnesota in the near future! Maybe a future Christmas gift to all!!
  5. Yes, the Vikings lost the Vikings/Panthers game….but I have truly won with so many blessings in this game of life!

Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 – Lourdes in Litchfield!

Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 – Lourdes in Litchfield!

The Immaculate Conception has a whole new meaning for me. Of course, I knew Mary was born without sin…part of the big plan for our Faith Journey!  HOWEVER, it also means that it is a day off of school when you work in a Catholic School!

Only twenty minutes from my new home is Lourdes in Litchfield! I have been past it probabably fifty times and every time I go by, I say, “I am going to go there someday”. It is a beautiful grotto-style shrine in honor of Mary! There seemed to be no better day to go to the SHRINE in Litchfield, CT than Dec. 8, 2017.

So, after an open invitation to several folks, 3 friends took me up on the offer and joined me for Mass at the shrine. Mass is said in the grotto at 10:30 every morning, but this morning was cold so Mass was said in a cute little chapel next to the grotto. Before Mass, Barb and I took a quick walk up the hill to see the Stations of the Cross while Lisa and Liz waited below. We all agreed we will have to come back in the Spring for Mass outside in the middle of the gorgeous hills of Litchfield County!

After Mass, we did a little Christmas shopping in the gift store. It was fabulous!! Next year, I might do most of my shopping there!! VERY SWEET!!

Feel free to check out the website….it is such a pretty little corner of this great world! http://www.shrinect.org.

Barb had to leave right after our little shopping spree, but Lisa, Liz and I had the whole day free…so why not stop at the Hawk Ridge Winery? We thought it was a perfect idea…after all that’s what Jesus would have done on a day off, after Mass, with his friends!!


Saturday, Nov. 24, 2017 – Harlem Valley Rail Trail

Saturday, Nov. 24, 2017 – Harlem Valley Rail Trail

WOW!! What a gorgeous day! November 24th in Connecticut and almost 60 degrees!

Now that we live in Litchfield County, I take a new route to Aunt Ann’s in the Catskills. Up through Torrington and into Middleton, NY and to route 199 to Route 145 and then route 23 is my new, windy road to Ann’s!

After a lovely Thanksgiving Day, I took her home and then headed back on that Saturday. It was probably the 5th or 6th time I have driven past the little sign that says “Harlem Valley Rail Trail” in the cute little town of Middleton, NY.  It is located just over the Connecticut border near Canaan, CT.  When I got home, I asked Vinnie to drive back an hour so we could walk the Rail Trail. Of course, he said yes…it was too beautiful to do nothing. The day was a gift!

The trail was beautiful; exactly what I expected and wanted! Sixteen miles (or so) of paved-over rail road tracks with another 10 miles of unfinished plans to go according to their website! The rail trail wandered past houses and fields and meandered over streams and alongside country roads. People walked, rode bikes and roller bladed past us. The trees stretched over us and we walked through stretches of pavement that cut through solid rock. The railroad track path was laid straight over streams and roads without a hint of an incline. It was the perfect day for a walk. I wondered how many people had traveled over so many years on this route from Hillsdale to Amenia, NY.

We walked for an hour and a half towards Amenia and then back again. Our final destination was the diner in the center of town. My BLT and Vinnie’s burger was the perfect ending to the day.

This walk was like an exclamation point for the feeling of Thanksgiving on a weekend full of family and love. So much to be grateful and thankful for. And extra thankful for finding this perfect place to walk on a perfect Saturday with Vinnie.

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 – Homeless and Hungry

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 – Homeless and Hungry

I am not sure what intervened today to make me say YES and hand my three clementines and a banana out my car window. I have never done this before!

I don’t know if it was because I was feeling so blessed to have just been able to take an amazing trip with friends and family in Ireland. Or maybe because Thanksgiving was just around the corner? Or maybe it was because I was on my way to a Principals’ Meeting at the Catholic Center so my Irish Catholic guilt meter was set pretty high? Or maybe because he looked like he could have been my own son wearing a knitted cap and carrying the sign “Homeless and Hungry”? Or maybe it was the Holy Spirit that nudged me? Or maybe it was a reflection of a line in a song called “Jesus in Disguise”? I really don’t know what triggered my response of rolling down the window and handing him out my lunch, but I am glad I did it.

I had never come off of exit 5  of Route 8 before and I had certainly never seen him before (I think!). But in this year of living more intentionally, the young man has stayed in my mind.

In the past, I have gone on numerous trips to feed the hungry in NYC through our church’s Midnight Run with Kali. Prior to going, we always have prayed to not judge and simply serve. That seemed respectful and right, but in my car alone, I have never seemed to have that same attitude.

I wonder now how many hungry men (or women) I have pulled up alongside at the end of an exit ramp and made no eye contact with. Perhaps I fiddled with my radio at that moment or maybe I double checked my calendar on the passenger seat. I probably have a whole list of ways I “didn’t look at him”. In my mind, I probably rattled through a list of judgement statements as well in the past…..He must be a drug addict! He will probably spend any money I give him on alcohol! Why doesn’t he just go get a job? How did he find a marker and cardboard if he is homeless? I can never find a working marker in my house!!

Today, no judging statement came to my mind, just the clear thought of “give him your lunch”.

I will never be sure that he didn’t “resell the food for money for alcohol and drugs”, or that he was ever truly physically hungry. But I do know, for that split second, I did look him in the eye and reach out my window with an open hand to him, and a human connection was made. I did what I know felt right. I do know that because of my tiny intentional act, someone’s 25 or 26 year old son had something to eat for lunch that day regardless of whether or not he was truly hungry and maybe he would have preferred drugs and/or alcohol for lunch. That didn’t matter. I knew that he had at least three clementines and a banana for lunch if he wanted them. And as I pulled away, I had a momentary thought.  God knows that if it were my son,  I prayed that someone would reach out their window, connect for a red-light second and feed my own son.

I was reminded in that small moment, that we are always the hands and feet of Christ here on earth for each other and that we are our brothers’ keepers.