Archive for Friends

My Husband’s Poem from his Friend at his Retirement Party

Lament to a Leader

Like a library without a book

Like Congress without a crook

Like an athlete without a ball

Like Bogey without Bacall

Like a bride without a groom

Like a custodian without a broom

Like a tourist without a condo

Like a rusty car without Bondo

Like a toilet without a flush

Like Conservative’s without Rush

Like a toothbrush without toothpaste

Like New Jersey without toxic waste

Like a sailor without the navy

Like a biscuit without the gravy

Like a poet without a rhyme

Like Jacksonville without a crime

Like Huddle House without a griddle

Like Bluegrass music without a fiddle

Like Tiger without a putt

Like HBO without smut

Like a burger without an onion

Like a podiatrist without a bunion

Like Ralph Nader without consumers

Like Victoria’s Secret without bloomers

Like a fisherman without a lake

Like maintenance without a break

Like a tire without a rim

Will we be without Tim

Goodbye, Tim                                          written by his friend Harold…


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Differences between the Northerners and the Southerners…

I have a good friend in Maine who decided this year she was going to make her own maple syrup. She was really excited about it, sent me a very knowledgeable article about how to go about it and I was really impressed with her ambition to tackle this project. We make our own cane syrup and that’s a job in itself, so I had a pretty good idea of what she was going to take on all by herself. Here’s a picture of one of the trees on her first day of tapping the syrup…

Cat's Maple Tree Tapping


Interesting, huh?  Looks cold and looks like a lot of work, but wow, how cool, I thought to myself.  I saved this picture to my screensaver.  Today she sends me this picture.  Now keep in mind, our weather here today in Florida is just beautiful, the sun is finally out and the wind is blowing a gale, and I can’t wait to get out in it…)

The Cars in the Yard Today


I looked at this picture and thought, “Wow, what an April Fools Day they are having!”  Then I noticed that odd shape sticking out of the front of the truck.  Emailed her about that…she said “They stand the wipers up so they won’t freeze to the windshields…better than trying to dig them out to warm up the car…”

Well, duh, now that I see that, it makes perfect sense.  Glad we don’t have to do that here in good old sunny Florida…

I proceed to ask her how her maple syrup making is going and  she tells me this and I quote…

“Well, let’s see, my maple syrup experience…where do I begin…We put out 15 taps in maple trees out to camp and in a week I had 35 gallons of sap.  My next part was boiling it down…where we have too much snow this year I couldn’t get to the fireplace.  So with my real smart intelligence that I have I set up two gas cookers in the shed out to camp (the ones used for deep frying a turkey).  I had one going real low to keep the sap hot and the other one boiling like hell, getting the water out of the sap…then I’d add the hot over to the boiling.  Do you know how long it takes to boil down 35 gallons of sap??? I DO!!!  I started at 1:30 p.m. and was still at it at 3:30 a.m., 13 frigging hours…and it was now down to only one gallon left…so I took it in camp and finished it off.  Took about another two hours to get it to 219 degrees…had my jars all ready to put it in.  By then I was so freaking tired…out of 35 gallons of sap I ended up with the grand sum of  5 DAM PINTS of syrup!! I call it liquid gold!!  Everyone has asked me for some…I tell them, “Are you for real!”

15 taps with hoses…$30.00

Trip to camp everyday…gas for car…$30.00

Propane gas to run 2 cookers 13 hours…$35.00

Candy thermometer – $5.00

Cheese cloth for straining…$4.00

Learning experience….PRICELESS!!!

I learned I’ll never do it again!!  So basically that is my maple syrup experience in a nutshell!!”

I had a really good laugh over this and just had to write it down.  Gee…I wonder…should I ask her if she’ll send me a pint of that liquid gold?  By Fedex?  I’d better not…I don’t really like maple syrup THAT much, I’m hooked on the cane syrup.

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Cursive Writing

Last week I found in the attic an old accordion file of bills and such that dated back to 1993 and 1994. Don’t know how it got in the attic but there it was and I took it to work today to shred. As I was going thru the “Miscellaneous” part, I found a Post It note my mom had written on a magazine. She was in the process of moving from Maine to Florida and she gave me her new phone number in Florida and added a little word or two along with  it and signed it, “Love, Mom.”   I read it several times, that little note. It was in cursive and Mom had a pretty handwriting even when she was hurriedly writing a note. I tacked it to my picture board just so I could look at it from time to time while I’m working.
Then I came across some letters my friend Cathy had written me. Cat would always write long, lovely letters – front and back, and would fill me in on everything happening in Mattawamkeag and Lincoln. All handwritten. All in cursive. I remember how excited I would get to open the mailbox and find a letter from her. I knew it would be a good long one full of news! I have saved many, many letters from her over the years and have a hard time throwing any of them away, even though I know they only mean something to me. Someone else will have to throw them away eventually, but it isn’t going to be me. Not all of them anyway.
I’m sure we’ve all read or heard how the schools are talking about taking cursive handwriting out of the curriculum.  They’re going to teach them how to print.  When I was growing up, we didn’t call it “cursive,” we called it “real writing.”  “I’ve got to do a book report in REAL WRITING tonight!” Killer.  I do remember the alphabet being written in cursive on the wall up near the ceiling.  Big huge letters that little kids can see easily from their desk and practice until they get it just right.  Sure, the printed word looks good too.  But when you print, you have to keep picking the pencil or pen up from the paper to move to the next letter.  There is something magical in flowing letters together to form a word and seeing how legible you can make it.  When I started writing in my diaries, it was as much as holding the pen and writing the WORDS as it was to just put my thoughts down on the page.  To this day I love the smell of ink and paper.  Or a new book or new magazine.  I love to open it up and just bury my nose in it and breathe deeply. 

I’ll be the first one to admit that I love to type.  It’s fast, easy and to the point.  Boom, zoom, it’s out there.  You don’t have to dot the i’s and you don’t have to cross the t’s.  However, I also like to write.  I like the way a pen feels in my hand and there are some great pens out there.  Yes, emails are wonderful, I absolutely cannot imagine life without emails now.  Best invention since white bread. 

I saw this past Christmas where more and more of us are getting away from handwritten notes and cards.  For years, I had trouble finding room to display all the cards I’d received.  I know that postage is pricey and ridiculous and we’re all in a crunch to save money and mailing Christmas cards is expensive.  I didn’t send near as many as I usually do.  But you know what?  I missed those handwritten cards.  I truly did. 

My birthday.  Thanks to Facebook I had birthday wishes from people that have never wished me a Happy Birthday or hadn’t in years because I mean, who can remember all those birthday’s anyway?  Get real!  But hey, look, there it is on Facebook!  It’s Donna’s birthday.  Shoot her a message.  It was great!  I loved it!  But you know what really meant the most to me and I didn’t even realize it so much until this year?  It was the few special handwritten cards that I did receive.  The joy of slitting that envelope to see what someone had picked out to send to me and what they had written in it to wish me joy on that day.  The ones you read and then press to your heart because they were just so darn sweet.  Yes, I enjoyed my “social network” cards, don’t get me wrong, I did.  I also realized that I had done the very same thing to other friends on their birthday – Facebooked or emailed them instead of sending a card.  It works, it’s great and I’m truly not dissing it.   I just think it is wrong, wrong, wrong to not teach children how to write in cursive.  I’m a little old fashioned that way, sue me.

You know what else?  200 years from now, or maybe not even that long, – handwritten letters may turn out to be worth money.  Can you imagine?  I mean look at the stuff on Antiques Roadshow that turn out to be worth a pile of money!  Stuff we or our parents had at one time and tossed out because they were old or ugly or we weren’t using them anymore.  I still grieve that I didn’t keep my Barbie and Midge, Ken and Skipper.  Dang things would be worth something now and I took good care of them too!  Shoot!!

So I’m saving my letters and maybe someone behind me will save them just for the heck of it, and maybe, just maybe, many years from now some tekky group that can’t even imagine  cursive writing will come across them and they might be worth more than just great memories to me.  Won’t THAT be a hoot…

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Another Summer Gone…

Summer is gone again.  Boom.  Just like that.  One day it’s hot as heck,  (it’s still hot as heck) and the next thing you know it’s cooler in the morning when you’re outside drinking your coffee.

I’m looking forward to:  outside fires, a cane boil, lots of stews in the crockpot, leaves falling, and crispy skies, Thanksgiving, football games, Christmas, being with friends and family and shivering happily by the fire.  Singing, laughing, dancing…

And I’m really going to miss my sister in law picking flowers and putting them in my kitchen window.  Here is her last creation…

Sil's Pick of the Day

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Mrs. Jia.

Earth Angel

I was about 16 when I first met this wonderful lady.  She is the mother of a past boyfriend and I immediately fell in love with her.  The first thing I noticed about her was her eyes.  They always lit up when she spoke and she made you feel like you were the only person in the world when she talked to you.  Her house was always immaculate and beautiful and you could spend hours just looking at the things she had in each room.  She was usually working on something, a craft, or painting a wall, or decorating a room, or cooking something delicious.  She moved quickly and quietly and was like a small fairy to me – waving an invisible wand, putting things in order and holding her family together in a sweet, warm bundle.  I loved going to her house and hanging out with my boyfriend.  She would let us sit in his bedroom and never even bother us and I couldn’t believe it because my mom wouldn’t even let me be alone with him if she could help it! 

 When my boyfriend and I moved in together, I knew I could call her for anything.  I called her for recipes; I could hardly boil water when I left home!  She taught me how to make many things over the phone and I still use her coleslaw and spaghetti recipes to this day.  I felt like she knew everything!  I felt closer to her in some ways than I did my own mom because at that time in my life, I didn’t much like my mother.   She wasn’t happy about my moving out, she felt I was too young and I was ruining my life.  But she did eventually come around to my way of thinking and even bought me an iron and silverware and let me have some linens and towels from home.  I was her only daughter – I guess it was a little hard for her.

 Over the years, things changed, of course.  Times marches on and people go their separate ways.  Yet I have always kept in touch with Mrs. Jia.  She is someone you don’t let out of your life easily.  For several years after I got married she made me batches of my favorite peanut butter fudge at Christmas.  Oh my gosh, she makes the best fudge!  I would hide most of it from my husband so I could eat it all by myself!  Each year we exchange Christmas cards and hers are always beautiful- whether they are store-bought or hand-made – she gives them  a personal touch that makes them special and sweet to open.  I have saved every one because they are a work of art in themselves.

 When my mom died, it took me months to actually have a good cry.  I literally held back tears every day trying not to cry because I knew once I did, it would take me days to recover from it.  My birthday came – it was the first time in my life I did not have a gift or phone call from my mom.  Mom and I had finally become close throughout the years and I missed her so, so much.  I remember going to the mailbox that day and there amongst the bills and flyers was a beautiful card from Mrs. Jia wishing me a Happy Birthday.  She had found a picture of a pretty woman sitting on a beach and glued a beaded pearl chain around the edges to hang it.  She wrote a funny little sentence on the back about me growing up to be a big girl.  It was funny and sweet and touching.  And needed.  I put my head down on the kitchen counter and started crying right there.  Crying because it was so thoughtful, and mostly, crying for my mom.  I got in my car, went to the cemetery and wailed over my mother’s grave for almost an hour.  She’d been gone four months.   I cried and I cried until I could cry no more.  Then I crawled into my car, locked the door and slept for an hour.  My face was swollen for two days.   That picture and that card from Mrs. Jia on my birthday, let me cry for my mother and finally accept her death.  I still keep the picture on my wallboard at my office to this day.

 She has written three lovely, funny, short novels about her childhood and life as she sees it.  I typed them for her and enjoyed every minute of it.  She had them printed and bound into beautiful little books and I have all three, tied up in a pretty ribbon on my bookshelves.  I wouldn’t part with them for anything.

 When her husband died, I felt so badly for her.  He was truly a great man and I thought he hung the moon.  He was handsome and good and in my eyes, the perfect father and husband. I remember once he bought a bumper plate for the front of his car that simply said “AMC”.   He would pull the car into the carport with the front of it facing his neighbor across the street.  I don’t remember who the neighbor was, but Mr. Jia was waiting for him to ask what the AMC stood for.  His answer was going to be “Atsa My Car!”  There was some joke going back and forth between the two of them that brought all this on.  You’d have to know the whole story, I’m sure, but that part of the story always stayed in my mind.  I really liked Mr. Jia.  Those Italian men are just so handsome!

After his death, Mrs. Jia was so strong though it all.  She was beautiful and gracious and still kept her home going and lived alone and helped with great-grandchildren whom she adores.  They all call her Mema and because I wanted to be a grandma like her, I had my grandkids call me Mema too.  (Although she is a far better Mema than I could ever dream of being, LOL!).

 Now…here she is pushing 80 in a few months and planning her own birthday bash.  We email back and forth quite frequently and I love that she is so totally cool in the computer world at her age.  Nothing daunts this woman.  If it can be learned, she will learn it.  I so enjoy our emails back and forth – she still makes me feel like one of the special people in her life.  Two weeks ago my sis-in-law and I went to visit her and I had my picture taken with her.  There she was, sitting out in front of her house, visiting with her neighbor, and still full of life and wonderful stories.  Sharon told me later that she understood why I love her so much.  She is a joy to talk with and to just be around.

There is so much more I could say about her and wish I could fit it all into this writing.   Mrs. Jia, I truly love you and thank God all the time for having known you all these years.  Thank you for all you have said and done for me in my life.  Thank you for being my friend and special angel.  I dread the day that I no longer will be able to talk to you and know you are there.  I also know that I will see you again in a better place one day.  Oh gosh, listen to me, it’s like you’re gone already!  I’m sorry!  But I do want you to know I will miss you –  miss you so much if you beat me out of here on earth, you know?

And that birthday party you’re going to have?  I know it’s going to be the best one ever!

Hugs and Love to you forever and ever. 



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