Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019 – Grateful for my “Sisters”

Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019 – Grateful for my “Sisters”

I am blessed with two biological sisters, Leslie and Lisa. I wouldn’t trade them for the world! Through marriage, I have three more sisters, Michelle, Nancy and Jen. I am grateful for each of them!

However, as I have gotten a bit older I have realized that I have a network of “Sisters” who I can’t imagine my life without. This network has grown over time and has connected me and entwined me with women who, although not blood related, have completed my life in so many fulfilling ways.

There are the “sisters” I have had since elementary, middle, and high school who I talk to “every now and again” as if no time has passed between us. We don’t have to explain ourselves, we just accept each other for who we are. There are the the real sisters of those sisters who ride the path of life with us through isolated events and moments of celebration and sadness. Their sisters are my “sisters”.

There are the “sisters” who have helped me raise my children. They sat beside me at PTO meetings that were filled with stupid advice. They sat beside me in my kitchen on rainy Saturdays complaining about the bills that needed to get paid. They sat beside me waiting for parent conferences to be over so we could all go get a glass of wine. With me, they have planned birthday parties for our children, surprise parties for our spouses, and understood when we didn’t want to go to any party with anyone!

There are the “sisters” who come to Rosary once a month to grieve the loss of our faithful “sisters”; the ones we will never see on this earth again, yet their presence sit beside each of us in the cold wooden pews lingering among the Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers and Glory Be’s. They are there in the silent pause after the Rosary ends and before we all say, “Thank you ladies. Have a great month.”

There are the “sisters” at Book Club; some with their own biological sisters and those who have no biological sisters, yet we all share the room with chatter that fills the space and and only gets overridden by laughter. Each of us brings a view of the book that is as diverse and unique as each of our own stories. The connections to our Book Club “sisters” run deep in each of us.

There are the religious “Sisters” who have shared my life, even though I have never attended a Catholic School. These sisters are friends, church friends, and co-workers. Each one of them I look to as a role model and confidant. Each one devoted to the same God I believe in, but in a way that I don’t think I would have ever had the courage or strength to dedicate my life. They are the “sisters” who have lived a very different life than I have and to whom I am so grateful.

There are the friends who are my “sisters” because we have shared so many life experiences with. They have helped me be the mother I am. They have laughed and cried with me. I have travelled to parts of the world with them: Guatemala, Haiti, Spain, China, Ireland, Germany and Italy. They have been to every life event from my Confirmation, my wedding, my children’s Baptisms, Communions, Confirmations, and weddings. I have had the privilege to sit beside them at their parents’ wakes and funerals. And have spent many nights sipping wine, drinking vodka, or chugging beer, in celebration of life and all we have accomplished.

I am grateful for my SISTERS of all kinds. The women who I have known, loved, continue to enjoy life with,  and those who have passed on.  And, now it is also my turn to watch my daughters build their network of “sisters” beyond each other and it is a wonderful process to witness. They are on a journey that will take them places they don’t even know exists yet.

Lisa texted our Book Club a great line this Sunday night….”Sisters are like fat thighs; they stick together!” So true! I feel so blessed that each of these women have “stuck with me” (just like my fat thighs!)  through this journey called life. I am blessed to be sharing this lifetime with so many fantastic women.

I am forever grateful for each one of my “sisters”!

 

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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!