A Thanksgiving Tradition by Bruce Barone

Thanksgiving preparations for Susan and me begin a few weeks before the holiday.

We put our tree up early so our grandchildren can see it on Thanksgiving as we don’t see them on Christmas.

Here I am doing some menu-planning for the week.

And here is Sock Monkey guarding the grandchildren’s presents.

The grandchildren come over for breakfast, along with our daughter and son-and-law. We give them their Christmas gifts—clothes that they can wear on Christmas day. I have to give credit where credit is due; Susan buys all the Christmas gifts. She often consults with me about style and size.

Here’s Matthew opening his gift.

We watch the Macy’s Parade and the Westminster Dog show before they leave for dinner at Mike’s moms and we head to Connecticut for dinner at our niece and nephews home. This is the real tradition—all of this along with breakfast. Here’s the menu:

Here’s Emily wearing her new winter jacket; I love this photo.

Before I forget, I want to tell you about the gratitude pumpkin. That’s right—a gratitude pumpkin. Not a real pumpkin but a pumpkin made of 8 strips of orange paper. On each strip you write one thing you are grateful for. Susan and I made them in our 4th grade Bridges Together class. Then stable it together to form a pumpkin. Voila!

My writing (hand-writing that is) is not so good. This is what I wrote:

  • I am thankful for our grandchildren
  •  I am thankful for my wife, Susan
  •  I am thankful for my brother and sisters
  •  I am thankful for my friends
  •  I am thankful for my son & daughter
  •  I am thankful for our dog, Freddy
  •  I am thankful for our beautiful home
  •  I am thankful for my health (Not so sure if I am thankful for the kidney stones. After one operation I am drinking so much water I feel like the main character in John Irving’s “The Water-Method Man.” Who knows what 2020 has in store for me.)

So what about the quiche?

I hardly ever make a crust for my quiche. Why bother? And crust-less means less calories for those like me who are working to lose weight! A goal for 2020 for sure.

You can add almost anything to this quiche: onion, bacon, sausage, spinach, peppers. In this quiche I added leek, mushrooms, and tomato.

Preheat oven to 375F

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup half & half and 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 2 cups diced butternut squash, oven-roasted at 400 for 30 minutes
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • pinch of nutmeg or allspice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Grease a 10″ pie plate.

Roast butternut squash for about 30 minutes and then set aside to cool.

Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add half & half and heavy cream, salt and pepper, and nutmeg, and beat thoroughly. Then add your vegetables and cheese.  Mix well. Pour the mixture into your prepared pie plate. I added a few sliced mushroom to half of this because our grandson loves mushrooms. Who knew!

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35–45 minutes. Maybe 50 minutes if your prefer a crusty top!

Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

One last tradition. We always listen to Alice’s Restaurant on Thanksgiving Eve or Day!

So, what are some of our family traditions? Name at least three and I will send you a Christmas Card!

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Welcome October

Welcome October

by Bruce Barone

I love October!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” wrote L.M. Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables.

Me, too!!!

Picture-perfect evidence of God’s majesty surround us.

Magnificent autumn leaves invite us to see the beauty that envelops us.

At Mittineague Park, the park down the street from where we live.

Or at Blair Lake on the outskirts of the Berkshires.

Of course, there are all those pumpkins!

Sometimes, we receive a surprise snow storm in October.

October light helps me create beautiful portraits, too.

Here are a few dinner and deserts I have made in October (Lentil Soup, Beef Stew, Butternut Squash with Scallops, North African Meatballs, Apple Pie and Cherry Cobler):

Yes, my friends, I made pasta and pizza, too. And fish–like these Panko Coconut Crusted Scallops:

October brings cooler nights; sweater and sweatshirt weather (Pictured here yours truly and my beloved wife, Susan.).

Our dog, Freddy, a mini-labradoodle loves playing amongst the autumn leaves.

A few final thoughts. One of my favorite poems, “Kicking Leaves,” by Donald Hall begins:

Kicking the leaves, October, as we walk home together

from the game, in Ann Arbor,

on a day the color of soot, rain in the air;

I kick at the leaves of maples,

reds of seventy different shades, yellows

like old paper; and poplar leaves, fragile and pale;

and elm leaves, flags of a doomed race.

I kick at the leaves, making a sound I remember

as the leaves swirl upward from my boot,

and flutter; and I remember

Octobers walking to school in Connecticut,

wearing corduroy trousers that swished

with a sound like leaves; and a Sunday buying

a cup of cider at a roadside stand

on a dirt road in New Hampshire………

Read more here.

One last thought. Music. A favorite album/CD of ours is “When October Goes, Autumn Love Songs.” Music by Christine Lavin, John Gorka, Patty Larkin, Cheryl Wheeler and others. You can get your copy here.

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me at bruce@brucebarone.com.

 

 

 

The Last Day of Our Summer 2019

This post is written by Bruce Barone.

The Last Day of Summer

Today, Sunday, September 22, is the last day of summer. I am not sorry to say goodbye to summer. Oh, there were many great times. The time Susan, Freddy and I went to Art in the Orchard.

And a trip to Lost Acres Vineyard and Lost Acres Orchard last week for the town’s annual Farm Day. Afterwards (We really made a day of it!) we stopped at Black Rabbit Farm for a beer and food for dinner.

Susan and Freddy at Lost Acres Vineyard.

The field at Black Rabbit Farm. We let Freddy off leash and he had such a blast running around as we enjoyed out beer.

The garden looked beautiful throughout the summer, especially the zinnias, but my tomato and eggplant harvest was a great disappointment.

Early in the summer the clematis plants on the arbor brought great beauty and joy to us.

One of my favorite butterfly photos (It is so hard to choose a favorite! I photographed them every day—even today!) is this one from July:

A highlight, for me, was practicing yoga every morning near the arbor.

Of course, Freddy brings us great joy every day. He’s such a good boy!

One day when I was playing catch with Freddy with a small black ball and it rolled through the garden. It took me a long time to find it and as I was looking for it I found a butterfly I had never seen before, a Black and Blue Swallowtail, I believe. I wondered, for a brief second or two, if the black ball had magically turned into a butterfly.

Susan made many delicious deserts, like this Berry Cake:

Some of my food favorites from the summer include Cucumber Gazpacho, Tomato Soup, Grilled Scallops with White Beans and Spinach, and Shrimp and Rice:

I was thankful to be asked to photograph a mom, Bana, and her baby, Rosey, every month for 12 months.

Here is a photo from July that I just love because it illustrates the beauty Susan and I have created in our home. Plus, it shows two of my favorite photos.

Probably the highlight of our summer was winning the Western Mass News / Big Y Backyard BBQ. Susan had been trying and trying and trying to win and one Friday night we got a phone call from a reporter and he said “Susan, you just won the Backyard BBQ.” We invited 20+ plus people over—neighbors and friends. We had such a wonderful time and the people from Big Y and Western Mass News were awesome! Big Y supplied the food and did the cooking!

And now I give thanks for the times Susan and I spend in our backyard enjoying a glass of wine or cocktail before dinner.

There were a number of family get-togethers, too. A visit from our son and his girlfriend, a BBQ at our niece and nephews house (I always enjoy the opportunity to photograph their daughter, Lauren), and our grandson’s 4th birthday party!

I would be remiss not to say something about Susan. My wife. My best friend. My guide. My inspiration. Every day I give thanks that she is in my life. She is an amazing person.

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me. http://www.brucebarone.com

 

 

what I am reading

My 2019 new year goal was to read a biography of each of our U. S. Presidents, in chronological order. It’s July and I am up to our fifth President, James Monroe. I was sidetracked along the way. So, let me share with you what I have been reading.

birdandbooks

I am an avid reader. Always have been. Reading books has saved my life. But I digress…more about that in another post.

books thoughts

Bruce is a prolific reader and we love to talk with each other about what we read.

bigbadbruce

We get the Sunday New York Times. Bruce reads it. I only read the Magazine and do the crossword puzzle. It takes me until Thursday and I complete about 95%, with Bruce’s help.  Freddy helps, too.

freddy and the nyt crossword puzzle

We buy The West Springfield Record, our local newspaper at the corner store, every Thursday. This week’s edition has a long article about one of my favorite authors, Gladys Taber, a sort of native daughter of West Springfield. She wrote more than 50 books and wrote popular magazine columns in The Ladies Home Journal and Family Circle. I have read about 20 of her books. They are memoirs or journals of her life, raising her daughter, working as a journalist, creating a rural life in Connecticut, away from NYC, with her friend and her children. She wrote in a lyrical way about nature, love, loss, housekeeping, pets, children. She died in 1980 and her books are out of print. Search for her books in libraries as I did.  Check out Gladys Taber; you will not be disappointed.

We get lots of magazines. The New Yorker is my all-time favorite. My nephew and his wife give us a subscription for a Christmas gift every year. Bloomberg Business is an easy way to keep up about what’s going on in the markets and the economies around the world. Yoga is inspiring. Catholic TV magazine. We are not Catholic, but we watch the mass each evening and the magazine let’s us know which priest is serving~we have our favorites. This Old House gives practical advise. Simple has good recipes as does Shape. Better Homes and Gardens and Country Living for recipes and decorating. Birds and Bloom, a gift from Bruce’s sister, filled with great photos and tips for attracting birds to your backyard.

taste and see

We also get Poetry, a monthly. I don’t read poetry; I don’t get it. Bruce does. And, we get The Daily Word.  It is a small booklet filled with biblical passages and an uplifting message for each day of the month.

We go to the town library about once a week and take out a cookbook or two for inspiration, even though we have lots of cookbooks.

kitchen hutch

In January, I started my presidential journey with His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis.

george washington

Next up, our second President,  John Adams by John Ferling was a great read and especially interesting as he was from Massachusetts. His relationship with Thomas Jefferson was played out in this book as well as in American Sphinx about Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis.  Jefferson was full of contradictions; an absolutely fascinating read.  Our fourth President, James Madison, by Richard Brookhiser, was an easy read.

In these books, I learned about the forming of our nation, the particularly genius minds of the time, how intractable differences were worked out [relationship with Britain, states rights versus federal government, central bank] or ignored [slavery], diplomacy, the conditions which led to the Revolutionary War. I learned about the formation of our two party system and the beginnings of the Democrat and Republican parties. Madison was quite a political animal, I mean, strategist. He assembled one of our nation’s first political parties, the Republicans, who became today’s Democrats.

I am up to our fifth President, James Monroe, another Southerner. He was not a very interesting person nor President from what the historians say and there are only a couple books written about him and they are not well written, lacking and biased.  I have chosen to read James Monroe: The American Presidents Series: The 5th President, 1817-1825 by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Gary Hart. It was written in 2005.  Monroe is known primarily for two things: being the last of the southern, Virginian dynasty, following Washington, Jefferson and Madison and for issuing the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine, written by John Quincy Adams, is a statement of principles that the western hemisphere was to be considered closed to European intervention.  I look forward to reading it and getting back on track. I estimate I will be reading the American presidents for the next few years.

freddyglobes

This is how I got off track in the Spring. It is my habit to read a spiritual book during Lenten season. In the past I have read Keep a True Lent by Charles Fillmore and The Week That Changed the World by Ernest C. Wilson. I highly recommend these books for reading any time of the year. This year I choose, regrettably, The Real Christ by Bernadette Roberts. It is 620 pages and it took me forever to read. I hated it, every single page, but I kept on reading it til the bitter end, because that’s the kind of person I am.  This is what the synopsis says:  “The Real Christ is simply the E=MC of theology, unfolding the deepest mysteries of the Trinity with profound clarity. This is a must read book for anyone who has struggled with remaining a Christian or grown frustrated with the banality of what seems to be the “Jesus industry” of corporate Christianity.”

WTF??? Had I read that, I never would have started this book. I wasted my time on this awful book. What more can I say? Except that I still felt the need to fulfill my yearly Lenten habit of reading a spiritual book. So, I read The Forty-Day Fast: A Spiritual Journey to Eliminate Toxic Words From Your Life by Tim Cameron. This book was a mere 258 pages. The premise of the book is that when you eliminate negative words [judgment, sarcasm, negativity, complaining and gossip] from your mouth, your heart will change and ‘ye shall be transformed’.  Definitely sound advise…I may need a refresher.

what you say

I saw an interview on PBS with a writer, Glory Edim, about the importance of telling stories about women of color. She edited Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves.  Of course, I had to read it.This is a beautifully curated collection of stories by and about women of color.

Book well read black girl

Next, PBS aired “Les Miserables”. I watched it and recalled fond memories of when my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, read this book, by Victor Hugo, to us each Friday afternoon. So, I decided to read it. All 1070 pages of it. Truly considered one of the greatest novels of the world, I enjoyed the universal moral theme of redemption, but did not enjoy slogging through French history and the French Revolution[s]. You can see how my mind gets caught going down these mazes….

Next up…While trying to find a good book about James Monroe to read, [remember my original goal] I started The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin. It’s a Harvard Classic, don’t you know? Here’s a description:

When HMS Beagle sailed out of Devonport on 27 December 1831, Charles Darwin was twenty-two and setting off on the voyage of a lifetime. His journal, here reprinted in a shortened form, shows a naturalist making patient observations concerning geology, natural history, people, places and events. Volcanoes in the Galapagos, the Gossamer spider of Patagonia and the Australasian coral reefs – all are to be found in these extraordinary writings. The insights made here were to set in motion the intellectual currents that led to the most controversial book of the Victorian age: The Origin of Species.

I am still reading it, haven’t finished it, yet. We are now at Tahiti; I trust we will be ending our trip soon.

But in the meantime….We were watching PBS Newshour and heard an interview with Arthur C. Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute talking about his latest book, Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt. It sounded so interesting I was compelled to read it. I found this book refreshingly challenging and for me it echoes back to our founding fathers and the way they acted and dealt with conflict. Brooks’ premise is that we should not try to agree more; disagreement and competition are secrets to excellence. He offers suggestions for bridging divides and mending relationships, rather than feeling contempt and demonizing our enemies. I recommend this book to all of us who want to work towards a better civil discourse with our brothers and sisters.

And then, lastly, on Saturday, July 6th, I was at the West Springfield Public Library with my Nepali friends, when I saw an intriguing title:  How to Raise Successful People:  Simple Lessons for Radical Results by Ester Wojcicki. 336 pages.  I am not a parent; I don’t have children. Yet, I am a grandmother [to Bruce’s daughter’s children], I volunteer in the 3rd grade at a local school, and I am a friend to 3 Nepali children. I want to be the best role model I can be. This book is about bringing out the best in people based on the values of trust, respect, independence, collaboration, and kindness [TRICK]. I recommend it as “a must read” for parents, teachers, managers and anyone who wants to have a positive effect on the development of others.

bella2

So, there you have it friends. That’s what I have been reading. Tell me what you have been reading.

susan at epic bookstore

 

 

my skin and hair care routine since rosacea and alopecia

I have an appointment coming up at renew.calm with Dawn Nooney, the owner and esthetician. I had been seeing another esthetician , but when Dawn’s schedule opened up, I switched. I thought it will be easier to write about my skin care routine than to tell her about it. It would use up my precious treatment time and I would likely leave something out. This litany will also be helpful for my dermatologist who treats me for rosacea, demodex, and alopecia and my ophthalmologist who I see for ocular rosacea  [when it spreads to my eyes]. Do I even need to say that I am post-menopausal?

For the most part, I have a nice complexion, so I am told. My rosacea outbreaks take the form of small red dots and small pimples on my face and on my eye lids [ocular]. I have two bald spots on my scalp which have not grown nor spread to other parts of my scalp. My hair has been steadily thinning.

Here are the vitamins and supplements I take daily for a variety of reasons:

B-6, Magnesium, and zinc tablet

Evening Primrose oil, 1100 mg x 2

Milk Thistle, 200 mg x 2

Vitamin D3, 2000 units x 2

Vitamin D3 10,000 iu, liquid drops

Turmeric, 1160 mg

Metagenix Multi Vitamin Packet

Probiotic

viviscal PRO [I just started using this hair health supplement 4/2019 and purchased it at lovely skin which had a 20% off sale.]

Liquid Extracts [1ml each]

Liposomal DHEA

White ginseng  extract

Fo-ti extract

Green tea antioxidant extract

B-6 extract

grapefruitSeed extract

Ashwagandha extract

I buy my vitamins and supplements and extracts from various online vitamin sites and tend to buy high-end clinical line products.

Prescription medications and OTC recommended by my doctors

For the facial rosacea, I take an antibiotic orally Doxycycline hyclate 100 mg twice a day,   as well as apply two antibiotic facial creams:  Metronidazole cream, 0.75% and Azelaic Acid Gel 15%, twice a day.

For the ocular rosacea, I use a prescription antibiotic ointment on my eye lids. I also use a prescription spray–Hydrocholoros acid spray.  I use OTC OCuSOFT lid scrub. It’s a pre-moistened pad.  And, I use OTC Systane eye drops for dry eyes. I buy OTC at the local Rite Aid store.

Here’s my skin care routine.

First thing in the morning, I clean my eye lids with the pre-moistened pad. Then, I massage my face with almond oil which is infused with tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a very effective antiseptic to use in treating rosacea and ocular rosacea. I take my oral antibiotic with breakfast.

Later, I shower and use tea tree oil soap which I make myself, Soap by Susan. In addition to washing my face with soap, I also use a clinical facial cleanser, such as  Perricone MD Nutrtive Cleanser or Obagi Nu-Derm Foaming Gel. I use Foreo, a facial cleansing devise–it is made with silicone and it has a gentle stimulating motion. You can find it here at:  foreo

After showering, I apply Physiodermie Stabilizing Lotion ph Balancing to my face. Then, the two antibiotic creams to my face.  I put in the eye drops.

I use tizo2 sunscreen before applying my make up. I won’t go into my make up though it is relatively quick and easy.  I set my makeup with Mario Badescu Facial spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater. It is quite divine.

At lunch, I take all my vitamins, supplements and extracts with a tall glass of water and pomegranate juice.

At dinner, I take my second dose of oral antibiotic.

At night, I remove my make up by washing my face with Soap by Susan. It is olive oil based so make up dissolves easily. Then, I apply the second dose of antibiotic creams.  And lastly, I apply physiodermie Multi-Revitalizing Oil.

I use lanza Healing Oil Shampoo and Conditioner for my hair which is thinning. I also have two bald spots, cause is unknown as I did not elect to have a biopsy. I did have two rounds of cortisone injections, to no avail. I have just started using Viviscal Pro supplements and will consider their hair care products once I have finished the Lanza products.

I also use minoxidal 5% on my scalp. It is a topical aerosol foam that I massage into my scalp daily after shampooing and conditioning. It is intended for men [the 3% is for women], but my doctor recommended it at 5%. Sadly, I haven’t noticed any hair growth. You can buy this anywhere so shop around for the best price which I found at costco

On a weekly basis, I apply a mask all over my face–physiodermie Soft Face Biopeeling. This product sloughs off dead skin cells and gives a smooth texture.

On a monthly basis, I give myself a clay mask in my oily T-zone~nose and chin.  It is 100% natural calcium bentonite clay. The brand I use is Aztec Secret, but I don’t think the brand matters. I mix the clay with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to make the paste and then apply it to my skin to deep clean my pores.

I get a professional facial at renew once a month for a deep clean and to slough off dead skin cells.

I see a dermatologist  a few times a year for the rosacea. I am thinking about getting a chemical peel. It costs about $200.00.  The product my dermatologist uses is VI Peel.

Then, when I ponder all the time and money I spend on my skin and hair care and still experience rosacea break outs and thinning hair, I take a valium to calm my nerves.

I hope this is helpful to women who have rosacea. Please feel free to share your experience. Comments and questions are welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life is an Adventure

Some days it seems that nothing happens, like a Seinfeld show. “It’s a show about nothing.” We give meaning to our days by what we think, how we react. It seems no matter how mundane my day is, I always try to find some meaning or at least some humor in it.

“One way to get the most out of life is to look at it as an adventure.”  William Feather

When I am out and about, I come home and tell Bruce what I encountered and he listens with  attention and says “That’s amazing!” Of course, it is nice to have someone to listen to my yarns, a good listener such as Bruce Barone. “Susan, how was your day?”

Let me tell you.

yoga class 2

On Saturday after a yoga class at Transform at Amy Bourque, I brought Prashna and Prashik, my Nepali friends, to a musical concert at the West Springfield Public Library.

ppp christmas3

Aine Minogue played the harp and told tales for over an hour. She has an Irish lilt and the gift of gab that the Irish are so famous for. She told a folk legend about the selkies on which the movie, “The Secret of Roan Innish” is based. When I told Bruce about it, he knew of the man, John Sayles, from Hoboken, NJ who directed it. We’ll see if we can watch it On Demand. In the meantime, I ordered the book on which the movie is based, “The Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry” from Abe Books. When I finish it, I will pass it onto Prashna, in the hopes that she will read it. It is actually considered a children’s tale. Despite my prodding and bribing, Prashik who is now in 6th grade and is struggling with reading and writing, has no interest in books nor reading. He took out a video game when we were at the library and told me it was “a movie”, a flat out lie.

charles diner

I asked if they wanted to get something to eat. I suggested Charlie’s Diner, as they had never been there. Going out to eat is an adventure for them as it is not something that Nepalis do. Prashik ordered soda, scrambled eggs, bacon and home fries. Prashna had a hot chocolate, chicken tenders, and fries and a side of ketchup. Their table manners are somewhat lacking, but we got through, with a little direction. They know nothing about nutrition and healthy eating, but every occasion cannot be a lesson.

Okay, that was more of an adventure for them than for me, but it gave me joy to do something for them. And, I had my favorite western sandwich on toasted rye.

western990

Going to Costco can be an adventure. Bruce always tells me “Be careful.” Once when we went together, I confronted a woman who did not return her carriage, one of me pet peeves. She reacted by screaming at me and Bruce thought she might take out a gun and take me out. Last week, when I was at the Costco Liquor store, a man had planted himself in front of the wine bins, on his mobile phone. I asked him if he were “shopping or talking?” He said “Both” and I kindly pointed out to him he was not doing either well. I am on a spiritual journey and I think everyone would be better off if they, too, practiced “one pointed attention”, as Eknath Eswaran describes in his landmark book, “Meditation”.

Not all my shopping experiences allow me to share my spiritual wisdom. Here I am with Bruce at Ocean State Job Lot having some fun.

Susan at ocean state

 

Bruce sees beauty everywhere; the seed packet display. It is nice to be out and about with a photographer who “stops to smell the roses”, so to speak.

SeedPackets

“Fill your life with adventures not things.  Have stories to tell, not things to show.”

Having a dog lets me experience life in a whole different dimension. Is that true for you, too?

susan and freddy lake ontario

Our mini labradoodle, Freddy, is full of energy. I ride on his roller coaster of excitement, wanting affection, eating, sleeping, barking, playing. He has a lot of personality and is demanding of our attention. Rather than look at him as annoying, I choose to see him as a gift from God, someone to remind me to slow down, pay attention, take care of the basics, be nurturing, show love, affection and devotion.

Bruce and I are alike in that we enjoy the social connection with folks  when we are about and about, doing errands, volunteering, shopping, taking care of business. It is an opportunity to be kind and helpful to others, share a moment, build good karma.

bruceand students

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller

I wasn’t always so joyful, uplifted, and positive. I have been racked with depression, had many dark nights of the soul and lonely days, felt that it wasn’t worth it to get out of bed. It seems so long ago, going through each day with a dark cloud over me. After many years of moving through to the light, I see that life is not a struggle for me any longer. It is an adventure.

How did I achieve this transformation? I took to heart the words, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  and “You need to come up higher in consciousness to solve your problems.” It took years of therapy, mind-expanding work, prayer, travel, faith in God, enlightened friendships, spiritual reading, yoga, passage meditation, repeating the mantra, letting go of painful experiences, and the Grace of God to turn to the light, to see the light in myself, in others, in the world.

Sunflower2018

My wounds, hurts, fears, doubts, etc. were incurable to the extent that I held on to them; they don’t go away on their own.  In fact, they continued to accumulate and motivate all my thoughts, choices, and actions until I treated them.

I learned to ‘treat’ through the Mind of Christ,  each pain, each hurt, each insecurity by coming up higher in consciousness.  A “mind change” is essential if there is ever to be any “life change” at all. This is not a one time deal; our minds need to be tended to with constancy.

“I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye many prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

What is life but one grand adventure?

adventure

A song, “Say Yes” by Bob Franke may inspire you.

 

It’s Mare’s Birthday

marebirthdayToday, January 17th is Mare’s birthday. She often told the story of her birth. Her great aunt, who acted as the midwife to her mother, had to walk through “snow that was this high”, she would indicate about 3 feet with her hands. Her family home was “back lots”, meaning a place off of Hillcrest Avenue, where the DiStefano family now call their compound.

snow

The year was 1923 and Harding was President.

 

Mare was the first born to Frank and Angelina (Rossi) Germano, both immigrants from Italy. Frank and Angelina would have 5 more children in the next 12 years–Benny, Lena, Helen, Ray, and Anna. Thirteen years after Mare’s birth, Angelina would end her own life.

Her birth certificate gives her name as “Germain” and there are a few iterations of the name–Germani, Germain, Germano–before her family settled on ‘Germano’. Also, her mother’s maiden name was stated as “Russelli”, but was later called “Rossi”.

mare birthcertificate

Mare described her Mother as kind and gentle. She had “big hands” as did Mare, and as I have, too.

marenov2014

That is about as much as Mare remembered about her Mother and what I know about my maternal grandmother. I had a sense that there was some shame to her death. Angelina is buried in St. Thomas Catholic Cemetery in town and I often wonder what was done to achieve that feat when the Catholic Church considered suicide a sin.

Mare had only two things that belonged to her Mother–a beautiful cut glass sugar bowl and a glass vase. I managed to break the sugar bowl when I was dusting the shelf it was show-cased on. At that time, I did not know of Martha Stewart’s advise to remove all objects from a shelf or tabletop before dusting to avoid mishaps. I now have the vase and I am very careful.

mare vase

Mare was 13 years old when she lost her Mother. She was in the 8th grade and had to leave school to help manage their household and to care for her younger siblings. By this time, the family was living at 20 Bonair Avenue.

mare house2

Later on, Mare and my father would buy the lots next door, from her father, at 40 Bonair Avenue and build their home, the home I grew up in.

mare house

The two youngest girls, Helen and Anna, went to live with their godparents. Helen went to Warwick, Rhode Island to live with Louise and Larry George. And Anna, 1 year old, went to relatives in town who lived in what was called the Mittineague section.

It must have been heart-breaking  to leave school, for Mare loved her teachers and learning. Much later on, when Mare was in her 60’s, she returned to school, took “night classes”, and earned her GED. What a goal to set and an accomplishment to achieve!

Mare never complained about her childhood. She said it wasn’t easy, but she never said it was hard. It was 1936, in the throes of The Depression, when she was 13. Her family was poor and so were her neighbors. Her father worked as a conductor on the Boston & Albany railroad. He also sold fruit and flipped real estate. She said Pop brought a lot of “junk” home. I guess he was a collector of sorts.

She did say she “didn’t even have a doll”. Later on, as an adult she bought herself a doll and sewed clothes for it.

marew doll

Her childhood experience did not leave her bitter, nor sad. She was keenly sensitive to others who experienced pain and loss and she offered a compassionate, helping hand to many people throughout her life.  She had a formidable inner strength. Her byline was “to persevere” no matter what came her way.

Memorial bench at Old Tatham School in West Springfield where Mare attended grades 1-6.

memory bench

I give heartfelt thanks to my Mother for all that she was as a person and all that she accomplished in her life. Truly, she was the wind beneath my wings.

susanmarenov2014

Happy Birthday, Mom.