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.

 

thoughts about women’s shoes, on a rainy day

crow

Today it’s rainy, cold and windy. A good day to shop, online

I love shoes. I love buying them and I love wearing them. Just last week as I hopped up on the examination table in my doctor’s office she said , “I like your shoes.”  Navy patent leather Weejums.

shoes my weejums Man, music to my ears. Because everyone knows that women dress for themselves and for other women, not for men. If we dressed for men, well, we would just be naked, wouldn’t we? My brother told me when I was in high school when I was fussing about my clothes that it didn’t matter because boys don’t care what you are wearing.

first impressions

Still, I enjoy compliments from anyone especially when they notice my shoes. The thing is since I have gained weight and am no longer my lithe, petite self, I don’t like buying clothes and I don’t like the way I look in clothes. Not that I am advocating nudity. It’s just that your feet don’t gain weight and they always look good.

bathroom-scale

I have a pedicure every month so my toes and feet are always ready for sandals, open-toe shoes, mules, or sling backs. susan toesJoanne does the best manicures and pedicures; she works at renew.calm.joanne3

I buy most of my shoes at Nordstrom, online. I am a 9 Medium.  Nordstrom has free shipping and returns, though I rarely need to return shoes.  I don’t pay full price; I only shop the sales. In addition, I earn Nordstrom Notes on my Visa credit card [no airline miles for me] and use my Notes for my shoe and make-up purchases. So, they are basically free to me!

Nordstrom Note

Right now I have an $80.00 Note that is burning a hole in my pocket. I spent some time this morning looking at shoes, online. To my dismay, and this is happening more frequently, I did not find anything I was heads over heels about. Sorry for the pun.

I do not like gladiator shoes and this trend seems to be going on forever. We are not walking for miles in the desert sands in the Roman Empire, are we?

julius ceasar

I do not like metallic~anything. Although I have read that metallic is out, I still see a lot of it. Studs~really? Bows and ruffles on shoes? Embellishments~no way!

So let me show you what I came across today.

Shoes that look like you stepped on an animal and still have the poor thing stuck to your foot.

Shoes that have bows.

A pair of shoes with ruffles.

shoe ruffle

Shoes that have embellishments.

 

A pair of shoes for the woman who always wanted to be an architect.

shoe iwant to be an architch

Shoes that you could not possible walk in and stay upright.

Shoes that say “happy hooker”.

shoe happy hooker

Shoes that say “Don’t take me seriously.”

shoe dont take me seriously2

 

Shoes that are down right stupid.

shoes x

And a pair that says, to me, “WTF?”

So, tell me what you think when you go shoe shopping. What is your experience? Pictures, please.

 

 

When was the last time you learned something new?

“When was the last time you learned something new?” was a question I used to ask candidates interviewing for positions when I was working in Human Resources. It was amazing to me how many people were stumped by this question. It was not my intention to stump anyone; rather, I was seeking out  people who have a zest for learning, are open-minded, can change their minds when presented with new information. The Vice Presidents and CEOs that I supported insisted on these qualities in the people we brought on board.

I  love learning new things and having my mind-set challenged by contrarian views. This week I was so challenged.

 

Prashna asked me if I could  provide transportation to West Springfield High School to one of her 4th grade classmates who is also in the band. The Elementary School band is performing at the West Springfield High School. Prashna is in the school band; she plays the trombone. “Sure, no problem”, I say.

I picked up the young girl at the house that Prashna directs me to. Her Mom comes outside. I get out of the car and introduce myself, assuming that the Mom must be concerned about the person who is driving her daughter to and from the school for the evening performance. I also give the Mom my business card so she knows my name and has my telephone numbers and somehow I think it makes me seem more legit.

She doesn’t give me her telephone number which would be more practical, should some situation emerge regarding her daughter. I don’t even know her last name.

She is Muslim, wearing the traditional dress and head covering. She is petite and quite beautiful. She seems stressed and explains that her husband works many hours and at night. He works at a restaurant. I ask if she has other children. Yes, an infant and a three year old, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome. She takes my hand and we say good-bye.

Zmrda is a lovely 10 year old girl. She is well-spoken and poised. She too wears the traditional head covering of Muslim women.

zmrda

Later, Prashna asked if I can provide transportation for Zmrda, if she gets accepted in the GOTR program.

Girls On The Run is an after-school program for girls that focuses on fitness through educating them and preparing them for a lifetime of self respect and healthy living. The ultimate goal of GOTR  “is to provide the girls with tools and resources that develop their ability to think critically–a skill that will serve them well for a lifetime.”

Prashna gotr

Prashna let me know that Zmrda was accepted into the GOTR program. I contacted the school coordinator and let her know that I would be providing  Zmrda transportation from school to home and asked if the proper clearance was given by the parents so as to avoid any problems when I pick up Zmrda  later in the afternoon.

Ms. O’Brien returned my call and said “yes” the form had stated “Mrs. Susan” [that’s what Prashna and Zmrda call me] as the ‘responsible party’.  Ms. O’Brien wanted to be sure that meant me and she had confirmed it with Zmrda’s Dad by telephone.

I enjoy seeing the girls two afternoons a week. They have become friends and listening to their conversation is always enlivening.

This past Tuesday, I brought Freddy along for the ride as I would not be making any other stops along the way. [On Thursdays, I bring Prashna to Girl Scouts meetings, after we drop off Zrmrda.]  As Prashna is approaching my car, she sees Freddy and Freddy sees her and they both are very excited.

Freddy in the car

As the two girls tumble into the car, Prashna tells Zmrda Freddy’s name and says that he is a good dog and says how much she likes him. She is petting him and Freddy is wagging his tail uncontrollably. Zmrda sits back and says her Mother does not allow her to touch a dog. I ask why and she says “because dogs are dirty and they have germs.”

Uh-oh, did Freddy hear that?

freddysaywhat

“Say what?”

Islam forbids Muslims to keep dogs, and the punishment for that is that the one who does that loses one or two qiraats from his hasanaat (good deeds) each day. An exception has been made in the case of keeping dogs for hunting, guarding livestock, and guarding crops.

Most Muslim scholars agree that in Islam the saliva of a dog is ritually impure and that contact with a dog’s saliva requires one to wash seven times. This ruling comes from the hadith:

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “If a dog licks the vessel of any one of you, let him throw away whatever was in it and wash it seven times.”

Prashna’s response to the situation was: “Zmrda, pet him and then you can wash your hands and your Mom won’t know what you did.”

Yes, she did say that and I did admonish her for it.

The Nepalis have their own rituals about cleanliness, washing, food and what one can and cannot do with their right and left hands.

I am uncomfortable with beliefs, superstitions, traditions, and rituals that have no basis in what is True. I know I am wandering into dangerous territory here. It just doesn’t sit well with me that parents let their child get into a car with a woman they do not know, yet the same child cannot pet the women’s dog. Which, the stranger woman or the dog, poses the gravest potential danger?

I heard a commentator on television the other day say that “it’s not that Trump doesn’t know anything, it’s that he doesn’t learn anything new and he is not open to learning anything new.”

Religions need to question and revise their man-made interpretations of Truth as new knowledge and insight unfold. Religious dogma cannot remain steeped in the past with all of its cultural backlog and baggage, if it is to be meaningful and relevant to today’s generation.

“Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy, the mad daughter of a wise mother. These daughters have too long dominated the earth.” Voltaire

Jesus, the Nazarene, reminded the Pharisees and the high priests of the day that their religious practices on cleanliness missed the mark when he was asked “Why do your disciples break the traditions of the elders?  They don’t wash their hands before they eat.”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”

Jesus then taught the people, saying “it is not what you touch or put in your body that defiles it; for what you put in your mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body. Rather it is “the emissions of your hearts, your thoughts, words and deeds that cause you to be unclean. But eating with unwashed hands does not make you unclean.” Matthew 15

Petting, touching or kissing a dog does not make you unclean.

freddyatearthdayfair

To read about Prashna and my involvement with a Nepali family, read a previous story:

https://storiesaboutsusan.com/2017/09/18/how-did-this-start/

 

 

 

 

 

one day, about town and in our home

Are you a Jerry Seinfeld fan? jerryseinfeldI am. This is a story about nothing. Nothing special, just a typical day in the life of me. So this is how it goes…

Bruce gets up first and sets the coffee pot. Then he takes Freddy out for a 20 minute walk while I get myself out of bed and try to make myself presentable. The operative word here is “presentable”. My hair is wild in the morning and it takes some work for it to look human. There will be no pictures of me in the morning.  By this time Bruce and Freddy are back. If the bathroom door isn’t shut tight Freddy bursts in; otherwise he waits for me to come out and I pick him up in my arms and carry him around and we look out the windows. Every morning!me

Bruce and I have a cup of coffee and breakfast while catching up on the news of the day. breakfastCoffeeMugWe always kiss and hug and this was a special morning as it is our third wedding anniversary.  And then, we go about our business.

This morning I had an appointment at the salon for a manicure as I do every other Wednesday. It is always a pleasure to see Joanne at Renew.Calm and receive a spa service from her. joanneI have been going to her for years and knew her when she worked at the salon at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires. I was Director of Human Resources at Canyon Ranch for more than 3 years. She is from West Springfield and we have a lot in common. She used to give my mother manicures and pedicures, too.

After my manicure I went to Savers to drop off some of my gently used clothes which no longer fit [for obvious reasons]. Mostly all my clothes are from Talbots and they ranged in size from 4/small,  to shall we say infinity? I once had a financial adviser tell me to stop gaining weight to save money on clothes. bathroom-scaleOh! If only I had followed her advise I would be a richer and thinner woman. But, alas, that was not to be.

I also went inside Savers and shopped for vases which I make glass sculptures for the garden.

I also look for frogs for the garden.frog

I found a few vases and a bright pink/fushia/purple string of tinselly garland. It will work beautifully into our sitting room holiday decor.sitting room w freddy2 I would say I scored!

I checked out the cookbook section, but didn’t find anything. I was looking for something with a holiday theme, even though we already have about 5 Christmas cookbooks at home. No luck. But I did see a book entitled “Living Somewhere between Estrogen and Death”. What the heck? I didn’t even pick it up.

hotflash

While I was cashing out, the cashier took a telephone call. She said only one word–“No”–and hung up and started laughing. I asked what was funny and she said the person on the line asked if they had any Tylenol or Ibuprofen. That is funny.

Then off to the post office to pick up our mail and packages. Only junk mail in the box and a package from the printing company I use, Evermine, of the Soap by Susan labels I use on soap boxes. soap in boxes

On Thursday, I will be at a house party hosted by Laura Dromgold, our former yoga teacher, selling Soap by Susan along with a woman selling hand-crafted fine jewelry. Last year, I had a successful evening and ended up spending all my sales money on jewelry. I am hoping for a repeat.

While walking out of the post office, a man was making a repair to the cement walkway. I told him he did a fine job, nice and smooth and he was appreciative of the compliment.

Next stop was Rite Aid to pick up prescriptions and buy an antihistamine for Freddy. As I walked in, I remembered it was our anniversary and thought I should get Bruce a card. So, I found a card that seemed kinda right, but I will make some changes to it, to get the message ‘just right’. We usually give each other cards and we don’t generally exchange presents.

Of course, I had to look at all the crappy, tacky Christmas stuff made in China. I have been in the store about 10 times since Halloween, but I still need to look down that aisle each and every time I go in. I love looking at Christmas decorations; it makes me feel happy. Looked at chocolates, but didn’t buy any.

Then I saw a display of West Side Terrier stuff–caps, tee shirts, socks, etc. The baseball cap was very  nice looking and made in the U.S.A..  I thought of getting it for Bruce and then thought I might as well get one for myself. The sales benefit West Side High Sports–such a deal. And a nice anniversary gift surprise.ws

I get to the register and cash out and realize I forgot to get Freddy’s medication. I look for Claratin–jeez, there are a lot of choices.

I went to a different register to check out, so the same person doesn’t see me again. At the register, I see a small holly plant and think of a spot it will look just perfect in our living room. I ask the cashier if she thinks it will last til Christmas and she smiles. Okay then, moving right along. I had to read each newspapers’ headlines. Harvey Weinstein made headlines and a big picture of him in the NYT. I think he is the man of the year in that he caused a sea-change in the way harassment is being spoken about and reported on in America. And Bruce wonders why it takes me so long when I am in a store?

I am starving at this point and usually I would go to Wendy’s for a chicken sandwich and fries. But I think better of it, knowing Bruce will be waiting for me to have lunch together. And sure enough, Bruce is warming up homemade chicken rice soup for us.ChickenSoup Bruce and Freddy come out to greet me. I am a very fortunate woman, on this day of our third wedding anniversary.weddingdaywithfreddy

Someone once wrote, “Don’t despise the day of small happenings.” I love all the small details of my life. They make my life whole and lovely.

How about you? What is your daily life like?

“what a wonderful life”

Bruce Barone has written a short story about an experience we had on Saturday at Mittineague Park. I am sharing it here with you and hope you enjoy it. I have also included a poem Bruce Barone has recently written about Bridges Together.

mitt park 2017

On Saturday, Susan and I, and Freddy, ran into these two angels at the park down the street from where we live–Mittineague Park.

emma and felcia

They are cousins and they were at the park with their family celebrating their grandfather’s 70th birthday. There were lots of people, adults and children of every age. One man was overseeing the grill and wonderful aromas were wafting throughout the air. And, women were sitting on the picnic tables preparing foods.

The girl on the left was in one of the past 3rd grade classes where we volunteer every Tuesday—reading, talking, laughing, creating art. When she saw us, she ran over and gave us a big hug! That is how wonderful this volunteer program, Bridges Together, is; it benefits both the children and the volunteers.

Freddyat mitt park 2017

She asked if she could introduce her grandfather to us. “Of course”, we said. He came toward us, with a great big smile. He said, with pride, one granddaughter was his daughter’s daughter and the other was his son’s daughter. The large extended family has immigrated to the United States from Moldova.
mitt park fall
Later in the day, I went back to the park and gave the girls and the grandfather each a 4×6 print of this photo—–and they gave me a big plate of food (chicken, beef and lamb kebabs, salad, home-made bread) to take home!

Here is the poem Bruce Barone wrote recently about our volunteer experience.

What A Wonderful World

 https://i0.wp.com/www.brucebarone.com/wp-content/uploads/CoburnPractices.jpg

This is an account of children, third grade students, of Coburn Elementary School

Located in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Children who are 8-10 years old

Interacting with senior citizens—building bridges together by talking, reading,

Listening, creating art, laughing, sharing pieces of ourselves.

2coburnpledge

Many children of refugees and immigrants. Children of dreamers

Of a better way of life. Children of parents and grandparents

From Nepal, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Russia, Puerto Rico,

Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Latvia, Belarus, Germany,

Poland, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Moldova.

Children who speak two, three, four languages.

Children named Maimuna, Luis, Jayden, Ivy, Haydia, Nabaa,

Evan, Luca, Layla, Bogdan, Isabella, Victoria, Mohamed,

Prashna, Prashik, Prateemna, Prabesh, Jaylin, Tisha, Milana,

Emily, Jordan, Miyana, Joseph, Yuliya, Matilda, Lilly, Emil,

Michael, Kimberly, Yariana, Elijah, Hailey, David, Caleb,

Matthew, Emil, Yariana, Mykle, Jade, Mihaela.

3coburn girls

Children who dream of being firefighters, lawyers, baseball players,

Basketball and soccer players, doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers.

Children who say, “You are the best Bridges friends ever.”

“Thank You for listening and talking with me.”

“Thank you for doing the Macarena with me.”

“Thank You for playing cards with me.”

“Thank You for making me laugh.”

prashik and friend

“Thank You for helping me. You were funny, helpful and supportive.”

“Thank You for your company and helping us with our art projects.”

“I am grateful you spent time with us.”

“Thank You for your time. Remember when we made the banks?

That was so much fun! Hope we can do it again.”

“Thank you for being here when I am down. You get me

Up and going. You make me happy.”

“Thank you for helping us with the fun stuff we made.”

“I love you. You will always be in my heart.”

6coburnmamuma

Our Bridges friends: Children who believe the world is wonderful

“Because Nature is a painting by life;”

“Because there are lots of beautiful things and happy families;”

“Because there are computers, cats, people, food, pets,

Family, friends, water, emogees, sunflowers, rainbows,

Waterfalls, forests, and cookies;”

“Because we have families, food, and trees;”

“Because we see different people every day and they are beautiful;”

“Because of family, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles,

Grandparents and food and drinks;”

“Because of many beautiful faces;”

5coburnprashna

“Because everyone loves each other. We all are family;”

“Because of flowers, grass, trees, animals, people, religions;”

“Because of friends and family and my teachers;”

“Because of every person in the world smiling and laughing;”

“Because the roses are red, the clouds white, the sky blue.

They are there for me and you.

What a wonderful world.”

“Mr. Bruce and Miss Susan………

When will we see you again?

I love you.”


“How did this start?”

Prashna asks me again “how did this start?” And she answers, “Oh, yeah, with the eye glasses.”

My husband, Bruce Barone, and I volunteer at a local elementary school with third graders through  Bridges Together program.

It is a school where more than 40 countries are represented by the students.

CoburnMap

 

Prashna and her family came to the United States from Nepal in 2010. She lives in a rented home with her 12 year old brother, her 15 year old sister, her mother, her uncle and her maternal grandparents.

The children speak English fluently and are good students. Prashna loves to sing and make youtube videos; Prashik plays soccer and says that he “was instilled with the destiny to play professional soccer”; and Pratima loves to dance in the Nepali tradition, wearing colorful saris.

I met Prashna while she was in the 3rd grade, a bright, gregarious, energetic 10 year old. I noticed that she was holding her eye glasses, rather than wearing them. When I inquired, she told me that they were broken and indeed they were. I asked her if she knew the optical shop where she originally obtained them and she did. I spoke to the classroom reading teacher about getting them replaced and I offered to arrange for it. With the help of the classroom volunteer who speaks Nepali, he asked Prashna’s Mom if I could help in getting the prescription refilled and also let her know that I could help with transportation to the optical shop, if it were needed. She agreed.

As the weeks went by, I became more familiar with Prashna and her daily living experience. I could sense that she had a very tight-knit, loving family who were very steeped in the Nepali culture and within the small Nepali community in town. She is proud to be Nepali and likes to talk about and share her traditions with us. I could also sense that despite living in our town and in the US for seven years, she had little awareness or knowledge of the outer community or country.

I thought that she would be open to some greater exposure to experiences within her reach and hoped that her Mom would be supportive.

When the eye glasses were ready for pick up, I asked the para-professional if he would let Mom know and I also offered transportation. She was all set. I asked him to let her know that I had a special interest in Prashna and wanted to provide access to activities in town that would be a benefit to her. It was a bit awkward speaking through the interpreter, but I got the go-ahead that I needed.

prashna glasses

At the same time, I let the school principal know of my insights into Prashna, my intentions to open up the greater world to her, and that I was also interested in making sure she had all the school supplies she needed to be successful at school. A few days passed, and she let me know that Prashna needed a backpack. Great! An opportunity to meet Mom and let her know directly that I wanted to help and be involved in opening some doors to greater opportunities and experiences.

In the meantime, I thought about what would be a good initial experience for Prashna to venture outside of her familiar comfort zone. Another third grade student told me she belonged to Girls Scouts and enjoyed it very much. I did some research and spoke to a local troop leader and learned that they meet weekly at the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club. I explained that I wasn’t sure if Prashna would like it, but wanted her to have the chance to check it out herself and make a decision. She offered to have Prashna come to the remaining few meetings and, if she wanted to, she could officially join in September when the meetings resumed. Great! And the Boys and Girls Club is within walking distance of Prashna’s home.

I spoke to Prashna about the Girl Scouts and explained as best I could what it was about and that I thought she would enjoy making new friends and joining in new activities. She was very interested and  excited. I let her know she would need her Mom’s permission. Another reach out to the para-professional who spoke to Mom about the Girl Scouts. She agreed.

I arranged to meet Mom and Prashna a few minutes before the Girl Scout meeting started to make introductions all around. Prashna saw some familiar faces from school and the leader asked one of the girls to make Prashna feel welcome. It was the first time I met Mom. She is the beautiful, warm, caring person I envisioned. I am sure she was relieved to finally lay eyes on me and make an assessment of me. We chatted for a short time and I gave her the new back pact to give to Prashna later at home. She was very appreciative.

Durga

Prashna has since attended the meetings and decided to join in September. She asks me when meetings will start. “Soon”, I say, “soon.”

In the meantime, we have sponsored Prashna and Prashik, her 12 year old brother, to one week summer camp, Fun Fitness Week, at the Boys and Girls Club. I asked Prashna what her experience was like during the week. She said, “On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 100.”

Pratima mentioned to me that she was interested in doing an internship during the summer, before entering the 9th grade at West Springfield High School. I researched some options and she decided to pursue a Junior Leadership Program at the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club. She had a fabulous learning experience and the Club was delighted to have her.

prashna and pratima

We have taken Prashna, her brother and her older sister to the cinema to see a movie, something they had not done. We spent a sunny afternoon on a riverboat cruise on the Connecticut River. It was delightful and they enjoyed it very much.

They have come to our home for dinner, to play, and to “just hang out”, as they say. At first, they were afraid of our cat and dog and now they feel very comfortable and look forward to playing with Freddy, hearing him bark when they arrive, and petting Nadine. Their friends and cousins have visited at our home, too. prashna at our home

prashna and cousin

prashik and friend

We have shopped at the local mall, which they had never been to before and had ice cream at the local garden stand and shop. And, yes, we have gone to McDonald’s more times than I care to count!

My husband and I have been most welcomed at Prashna’s home. Her Mom serves us tea and fruit when we arrive to pick up the children. We have joined them for dinner, having traditional Nepali food. We have gone to a Nepali wedding which was lovely and fascinating, open and welcoming. We were invited to Prashna’s birthday party, as well as her brother’s party and learned about Nepali traditions and met many of their relatives and friends. We attended a Bhutanese-Nepali cultural festival where Prashna’s older sister danced in the traditional Nepali way. I also went to “a Teej” celebration, an annual Nepali holiday, where all women are honored. Prashna’s older sister, Pratima, danced and her grandmother sang.

prashna b party

bhutan cultural event

 

It’s autumn now and we have sponsored Prashna and her brother in local soccer leagues. I never would have pictured myself a “Soccer Mom”, yet that is what I have become, bringing them to their practices and matches, and cheering them on. For her brother, it is a dream come true as Prashik dreams of becoming a professional soccer player and we are pleased to be part of his happiness. For Prashna, she wasn’t so excited about the thought of playing soccer. I convinced her that she will make new friends, enjoy the fun of the game, and learn about competition and teamwork. She has taken to it like a fish to water. Prashna has expressed to me that she would like to take voice lessons. I have started to research it.

prashik soccer player

The children have had greater experiences and enjoyable adventures as new doors have been opened for them. We have been learning about a culture we did not know and sharing our love and attention with a Nepali family. It truly is a wonder-full world.

super bowl weekend 2017

It’s Super Bowl weekend.

Bruce Barone has bought a half bushel each of avocados and tomatoes to make guacamole and salsa dips.

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avocados

Never mind that I don’t especially like either. There are 4 varieties of chips, too. He grocery shopped on Friday as he “wanted to avoid the crowds on Saturday.”

salsa

He has made hummus for me. I like it served with roasted red peppers and toasted pita. That’s how it was served at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires when I worked there as Director of Human Resources.

hummus

Stop by Sunday; but you’ll have to leave by 9 p.m because that’s when we go to bed. We’ll find out who won on Monday morning.

Actually, we would rather be in Denver with Bruce’s son, Daryl Barone and his good woman, Julia Mae, watching the game with them and their friends.

daryl-and-julia

But what would we do with our little Freddy and Nadine?

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We used to go to my brothers’ bar, Rallys, in Westfield, MA each Super Bowl Sunday. [They  sold the bar a few years ago.] It was a closed party for their customers who put on quite a spread of food. My mother always made lasagne. The customers always made a big deal of Mare and Joe.  Of course, I continued the tradition when she no longer could. One customer, Kim, made little pineapple cream puffs and would put aside a plateful for us to take home for Joe. It was a good time.

cream-puffs

I am not especially interested in sports and Bruce is not a rabid fan. I am glad for that because I would not like to be married to someone who spent a great deal of time watching sports on television. Surprisingly, to me anyways, Bruce Barone used to play high school football. He was a star athlete and was called “the gazelle” as he ran very fast. Those were his glory days.

brucebarone-football

Sports can do many things, large and small. It can be a unifier, a source of tremendous pride, in a city which has a team. And certainly, it can be a revenue stream for a city, if the powers that be haven’t negotiated away all the monetary benefits.

It’s a shame the cost of tickets. Did you see the woman who asked NFL Commissioner Goodell if he had 2 extra tickets?  http://abc13.com/news/woman-asks-nfl-chief-for-suite-tickets-gets-them/1737209/

“Would you happen to have two extra seats in your suite to watch the game? ” the woman asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during an hour-long fan forum at the House of Blues. “It’d be a little better than my couch, but I just thought I’d throw that out there,” she added.

Goodell responded with a laugh and then, “Are you serious?”  He said to her, “See me afterwards.” He arranged for her 2 tickets in his suite of seats.

Man, that was something! Just like Mare used to say to me, “Susie, you have to speak up and ask for what you want.”

It’s a positive thing for folks to get together and pass the time under convivial circumstances, with friends, family, food, and drink all around. It’s fun, to be sure.

As I said earlier, stop by and have a beer or a glass of wine and some food with Bruce and me. I hope the team you are cheering for wins. If you are betting, the Pats are favored by 3 points. [I put that in because Bruce has no idea what it means.]

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A Tribute to Alberto Mancini

Bruce and I are saddened by the loss of our friend Alberto Mancini who passed in April at the very young age of 56 in Italy.

albertodarksirt

We met Alberto through Ann Black who was Bruce’s neighbor in Eastworks, in Easthampton.  Alberto was from Italy and they carried on a long distance relationship over many years with Alberto coming here and Ann going there.

albertoportraitann

Alberto Mancini was from the small town of Atina, located in the mountains of southern Italy where his family has lived for 400 years.  His father, a portrait photographer, taught Alberto to draw at a very young age, and encouraged him to experiment with a variety of media.  Alberto had his first art exhibition at the age of 15.  The work displayed was of figures and landscapes in oil. He earned his doctorate in architecture with highest honors from the University of Venice.

In 1992, after a two-year hiatus from painting, while recovering from a brain hemorrhage that put him in a coma for two months and left him partially paralyzed for two years, Alberto began painting again. His work, a series of thirty-five abstract paintings inspired by ponds and skies, is filled with layered color and light.

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Living in Ann’s loft in Eastworks was an ideal setting for Alberto to work, creating wonderful, large pieces of art in oil.

albertoandannlofteastworks

He had a special way of seeing the world through nature and he wanted the viewer to enter his work, but to see for themselves what moved them.

alberto

He was good-looking, funny, approachable, spoke with an Italian accent. He and Ann often conversed in Italian. They met in Florida where his works of art was exhibited by a gallery who represented him.

They hosted  lots of parties in their loft and they were always grand affairs, with lots of people, food, drink, conversation, and their huge candle-lit chandelier. They later moved to a brownstone on Mattoon Street in Springfield.

For some odd reason, Alberto said “Fuckin chicken” when he saw Bruce. He said it was a line from the movie, “Little Miss Sunshine”.  Something must have been lost in translation because we didn’t get the connection, but we all laughed, every time

One conversation we recall:

Alberto: What are you doing to those artichokes? Did they not teach you how to cook at Smith College?

Ann: It was not that kind of place.

Alberto: But it was a college for women?

Just for the record, Ann was a Smith College graduate and she is a wonderful cook.

They came to our home for gatherings with family and friends.

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Mare was entranced with Alberto as he came from Italy and he actually knew of the small village town, Arche, where Mare’s father came from.  She took quite an interest in him and she always asked us about Alberto. Where was he? Was he painting? When would he return to Italy?  He enjoyed Mare equally~maybe she reminded him of his mother.

mare

In 2005 Alberto undertook a project to create a body of work based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson. His fascination with her poems lay in what he saw as her desire or need to see beauty in acts of daily domesticity as well as the bloom of a flower or the wings of a butterfly. He created 29 paintings, linked to Emily Dickinson’s poems, and named the exhibit, “I’ll tell you how the sun rose-“.

albertomolten

Bruce and I and other close friends went to the exhibit at Amherst College. Alberto spoke in Italian to the crowd assembled and Ann interpreted. It was a beautiful day, Spring of 2008.

He dedicated the exhibit to “Ann Black without whom neither this journey nor one of the paintings could come to the life!”

We loved Alberto and will miss him dearly.

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Shopping Brimfield

Hi! Bruce Barone here, filling in for my wife Susan who is off today.
Back in May of 2012, I wrote a guest Blog post for Dovecote Decor. Here it is. I hope you enjoy it.
In geography class we learned
between Boston and the Berkshires
sits the small town named Brimfield;
35 square miles
first settled in 1706–
today its population is 4000
and the town is the site
of the largest antique show in New England,
some say the largest outdoor antique show
in the world, held since 1959
in Brimfield three times each year.
Thursday, May 10, found me on the fields of Brimfield
booked to dealer capacity
under a stormy sky.
Soon after my arrival
the clouds parted and I saw a sign.

Ahead of me the puddled path:
If I fell in the water
I would say “Save me friend.
Throw me a life
preserver.”

I swam on and forward
taking me first to a woman
who I asked “May I photograph you?”
“Here’s my card,” I said, and she said
“How should I pose?”

Then I walked on
and I studied the signs:

I wondered why
they wrote this one
as it was so clear
what it was:

“Great for cooking”
I would have written but no
one asked me. Never-mind I said
as I turned a puddled corner and beheld:

I realized then abundant blessings
flow to me and through me.
I saw
the beautiful bottles

How lovely I thought
they would be in my garden
near a bird house:

this one nailed to the top
of an old pitch fork
contrasting with the recycled license plates:

Maine, I read,
Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania.
In junior high school in
New Jersey
I played the drums:

Today I might play
a beat or two
with forks and spoons

Have I mentioned there is here
on the fields of Brimfield
a flea market atmosphere
what with Goofy and Mickey:

And Donald Duck:

Once I worked with a woman
named Tita:

In college I was
an art history major:

I thought of Cezanne when I saw
this painting and later Grandma Moses:
Ah, yes, over the river and through the woods
to grandmother’s we go;
be sure to bring along the luggage dear:

I hope she serves us
tea or hot chocolate
in her beautiful cups:

And maybe we all will get
to play with those old toys:

Honk. Honk.
Watch out I am
heading out:

Where are you
going, Bruce,
to a fire?

I saw this old jug;
I thought my friend
Scot Meacham Wood
might like it:

And a frog for Susan;
my fiance, she collects
frogs for our gardens:

Never one to be shy
of color I loved
these chairs:

And this telephone chair and table:
Hello. Hello.

And I love these items
simply for the color:

Open the door,
pull out the gin
and lets make
a pitcher of martinis:

I could tell
by the hands
of the clock it was
getting near Tweet Time:

I walked first
to the great tent of Pandora–
Pandora de Balthazar
A MUST see:

Along the way
there were dolls
in an old police car:

There was this year’s model
or was it last year’s model:

Saw another sign
but alas I never saw
the advertised merchandise:

I had to get to the tent;
the Tweet up
was starting

here my friend
Warren Bobrow
mixed me a delightfully thirst-quenching cocktail;
homemade lemonade, gin, and bitters–I think:
wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee….

I chatted with
the friendly and fashionable
Anne Flanders,
Managing Editor of Fashion Decor

I chatted with
the handsome and distinguished
Shane Inman

I chatted with
the charming and charitable
Cari Cucksey

And me?
You would have recognized me
by my green sweater
and hat

Let me end this update
with one last sign
I saw on the fields of Brimfield
which I believe
is a beautiful daily mantra;
because of the power of words–
whatever we voice
we begin to attract: