Homework…

…not an “old school” h word

On June 23, 2015 our little neighborhood in Maryland was struck with a catastrophic hail storm. We were home when it hit. At first, we thought it was quite a spectacle to witness. We took some photos and Hubster ran out to grab a couple of the pieces of hail.

Hubster’s Hand Holding Hail (4H)

(I couldn’t resist the “H” alliteration)

IMG_1292

He only did that once because as soon as he got out there the hail took a turn for the worse. It went from golf ball sized to tennis ball sized in a blink. Suddenly, the sound on the roof became a parade of elephants trampling across rather than the pitter-patter of pesky pecking pigeons.

More 4H

IMG_1293

 

 

View from bedroom window

IMG_1295

By the time it was over, we actually felt like all was well until Hubster looked at his car. Pockmarks graced the hood and roof. My car was parked safely under the humongous oak tree which provides afternoon shade for our driveway. The tree, which we typically curse in the fall due to the amount of leaves that blanket the lawn, suddenly became my car’s protector.

Hubster’s car was 13 years old. (We tend to drive our cars for a long while.) Anyway, he thought about getting it repaired, but instead opted for a shiny new vehicle. My car was two years old so I offered to switch his new car for my more classic vehicle. This option was nixed.

About a week after the storm, we had another thunderstorm; only this time, torrential rain. Rain cascaded over our storm gutters. The next day, Hubster decided the gutters must be clogged. He took out the trusty ladder. Once he reached the gutters, he noticed the screens which are supposed to protect the gutter from getting clogged were all bent in from the hail storm the week before. He also noticed the roof was pitted. Ugh!!!!!!

We had to get a new roof, rain gutters, and down spouts.

Roof being delivered last August

IMG_1818

Since we were getting a new roof, I determined other outside “homework” (the school teacher in me) must take place. I did the hard work of choosing the shingle color and popping over to Home Depot to choose the new siding, shutter, and door paint colors.

Hubster completed the majority of “homework” by painting the entire house late last summer.

I chose the new light fixtures as well. He acquired the electrician to install.

Our neighbors were quite impressed with “our” homework. Many inquire if we are moving…No, we are not moving.

Home, Sweet Home

IMG_3450

It was worth all the work…please, no more hail.

 

IMG_3443

My little annual garden by the mailbox always brings a smile to my face.

Have a great day!

DSCN1346[1]

Greatest…

…a superlative G word

Approximately 46 years ago I became an aunt at the ripe old age of seven. At the time, I was devastated that my brand new niece would be given the same name as my own. I can’t explain why I felt that way, but I do remember pouting on the steps of my childhood home once I learned a girl was born.

My namesake being held by her mother.

IMG_0565

Upon my first visit to the new parents’ home, I found the name borrowing to be very exciting.

I became known as Auntie C…because of my closeness in age to the majority of my nieces and nephews, I was anointed their leader and playmate. I would be an aunt 10 times before I became a mother myself. My own two sons would look up to their cousins who were older, wiser, and “the coolest”. (Little did the Son-sters know I was responsible for their cousins’ “coolness”.)

In what seemed like a flash, my nephews and nieces began to get married. Then as nature would follow, children would be born. Suddenly, my nephews would be called Uncle and my niece & namesake would be called Auntie C…my own brothers and sisters would also be called Uncle and Aunt (at present, 8 more times). The problem was my name…how could there be two Auntie C.s? It was decided that they would call me Great Auntie C. Obviously, I loved being called “Great”…when the name fits, it really fits.

A boat ride just for me…

IMG_1938.JPG

Perhaps one of my relatives could have told me I didn’t have my life jacket safely buckled.

When my niece, C’s son began to talk, he heard all of his cousins call his mother, Auntie C. One morning he woke up and asked his mother, “Mom, are you going to be Mom today or Auntie C.?”

She laughed, “I am your Mom, your cousins call my Auntie.”

That confusion aside he asked about me…she explained the relationship. It just so happened I was arriving in town that day. All the cousins were together when one of them asked, “When will the “Greatest” Auntie C. arrive?”

My niece and her son, Brendan* turning toward me.

IMG_3102

My nephew, Link*, beginning to feel a bit queasy inside the cabin.

Everyone laughed and a name was born….they call me the “Greatest”. You should see the looks I get when one of them calls out across the beach, “Greatest, are we going to build a sandcastle?” or “Greatest, can we get an ice cream?”. Needless to say sandcastle building and ice cream out the “ying-yang”.

Ask and ye shall receive

Image (4)

Mason*: “Greatest can you build me a sandcastle?” Greatest: “Of course I can build you a sandcastle.” Socks help keep the sensitive feet from burning on the sand.

More

IMG_3333

Great Niece and Great nephews: “Greatest, we need to practice for the sandcastle competition.” Greatest: “Do you want to build a snowman?” 

When it was time for the competition, I must admit I was a bit tired from all the castle building, but the “Greatest” tries not to let them down those who idolize her.

Team Sea Serpent

IMG_3351

Try to look only at the youngsters. Their fearless leader should have closed her beach cover-up.

 

IMG_3346

One of our team members was wooed away by the call of free ice cream.

Time for dinner

IMG_3356

Appetizers in the yard…steamed clams, steamed shrimp, and Maryland crab dip. Interestingly, my niece, C’s fiancé, Brad* has a cast on his arm (an unfortunate arm meets ice incident…He’s a wonderful guy and I am thrilled for both of them). All weekend, all we heard was, “I have a cast. I can’t build a castle.” Seems eating clams, shrimp and crab dip are not a problem in a cast.

 

IMG_3091

Family Matriarch and Kitchen King….this was not the meal we ate after the appetizers, but I forgot to take a picture because I was overwhelmed with the food for that meal which included; mussels marinara, steak tips, crab cakes, homemade potato salad & cole slaw, and corn on the cob. The Kitchen insisted that we have lobsters one night, who am I to say no.

Did someone say Ice Cream?

IMG_3297

Echoes of “You’re the Greatest” heard between bites. (L-R) Scarlett*, Jake*, & Link

Once sandcastle and ice cream needs are met…it is time for s’more fire on the beach and fireworks….

The “Greatest” does not disappoint.   

IMG_3372

(L-R) Jake, Scarlett, their Dad, my nephew, Jay*, my niece C. and Brendan

 

IMG_3380

Lucky photo of remnants of sunset and first fireworks of the evening.

Because homes at the beach don’t come free, it is always a family effort in good times and maintenance. Everyone contributes whether cooking, entertaining, (see above photos)….

finding beach glass,

IMG_3406

Found by the “Greatest”

sewing,

 

IMG_3090

“Greatest” can you bring your sewing machine with you? 

Blood, sweat, and tears …

IMG_3384

Blood: I stabbed myself in the finger with the seam ripper. Sweat: They don’t call it a sweat shop for nothing. Tears: Did I mention the stabbed finger? I’ll be fine.

and learning something new.

My phone has a panoramic photo feature. I did not know how to use it. My nephew, Adamo and my great-niece, Scarlett taught me how to use it.

My first Pano

IMG_3360

The “Greatest” Pano

IMG_3403 (1)

On my last day, I woke up to a rainy day, eventually the sun came out, but the fog off the water was stubborn. Suddenly a “fogbow” (fog rainbow) occurred. I managed to capture it.

Have a “Greatest” day!

DSCN1346[1]

 

*names changed

PS: Speaking of the greatest….I was able to squeeze in a lunch with my greatest blog inspiration, Katie Clooney of Preppy Empty Nester…it was like we have known each other all our lives and so much more….Lunch was the greatest!

FullSizeRender

The Three F’s…

…Forced Family Fun

(alphabetical posts return…who doesn’t love an F word?)

When in the course of human events, families are brought together in a moment of mourning that resembles more of a party; it becomes necessary to reminisce. My family holds many true events in our lives to be self-evident that time spent together is always fun, whether brought together freely or by force.

When it comes to force; let me clarify that no one need notify the Department of Social Services. At no time, in the history of family tyranny was any member dragged kicking and screaming to an event; however I can’t promise that no one ever left without kicking and screaming.

IMG_3023

There are six of us now…(L-R) Piano Man, Beemie, Family Matriarch (FM), Baby Boy, and Heir.

Prudence, indeed, does dictate that no family event be destructive.  It is the Right of the Family to lay a foundation of delicious food, organized entertainment (usually involves us singing, someone playing the piano, occasionally karaoke, puzzle making, sandcastle building, cribbage, scrabble, charades, &  me someone crying), hours cooped up in a packed car, and everyone talking over one another. In the end the most likely effect is Safety and Happiness.

The history of dedication to the beliefs of Forced Family Fun come in the way of photographs to be presented here as proof and submitted to a candid world as our country approaches its 240th Birthday, a few samples of the Three F’s ala Birthday Celebrations of my family.

susan089 revised

A dual event for the FM and Susan…FM front right, Susan in the back just to the left of the light on the wall. Girl at the left unknown, but seems genuinely thrilled to be invited.

 

corinne180

Keary’s 11th Birthday….she is in the white dress with navy belt…I appear not to have been invited in the cat top and “head lice free” hair cut, but due to my 5-year-old popularity among her friends who cherished the times I invaded their privacy; still managed to photo bomb this photo well before it was a thing.

 

step photo

My 40th 50th Birthday…me in the crown (they recognize my royal status)…many family members could not fit on the stairs. Also, while I don’t hold a grudge, some couldn’t make it.

 

corinne181

The Milkman’s Birthday (1975?) with my nephew, Jay.

 

corinne182

Milkman’s birthday (1991) with #1 Son-ster…plenty of cakes to go around.

corinne094

My mother’s birthday (1984).

Hubster and Son-sters…here are a few of your birthday celebrations.

corinne183 revised

Hubster at 30…#1 Son-ster…#2 not born yet.

corinne184

#1 celebrates 4 years… #2 on the right, waiting patiently (patience not always a virtue at age 21 months) for cake.

corinne185

#2 celebrates 2 years

To my brothers… I am petitioning for Redress in the most humble terms that you be more forthcoming with family photos of your birthdays so that I may declare your birth-rite to the Three F’s in birthday posterity.

Because we have mutually pledged to each other our Lives, our Fortunes (← funny), and our sacred Honor I do declare; Forced Family Fun occur on a more regular basis.**

God Bless the USA!

DSCN1346[1]

 

** a few lines from my post borrowed from the Declaration of Independence (DOI). Apparently the DOI was not well-received by the King 240 years ago so I hope my spin has a better response from my tens of thousands of readers.

Please Excuse…

… the interruption in my quest for 26 alphabetical posts. An alphabetical post starting with F will be concluded in its entirety a few days after this brief 30th Anniversary message.

This post is brought to by the writers of a few song lyrics. Credits at the end of the post. I want to stay on the right side of the law.

Wise men say (mostly, my mother) only fools rush in…*

corinne187

You say your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation…..♥

corinne188

The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall…♦

corinne186

I hear babies cry, I watch them growcorinne190

 They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever knowcorinne189

 And I think to myself

corinne191
What a wonderful world!◊

fixed IMG_1888 (1)

IMG_3076

Love you,DSCN1346[1]

*”Fools Rush In”: SONGWRITERS
MERCER, JOHNNY / BLOOM, RUBE

♥”Only the Good Die Young”: Billy Joel

♦”When You Say Nothing at All“: written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz.

◊ “What a Wonderful World”:  written by Bob Thiele and George Weiss.

E is for…

…eulogy.

For obvious reasons (read here) it has been almost two weeks since my last post. 

It is with a heavy heart that I publish this eulogy which was written by me and read to family & friends at my sister, Susan’s memorial last weekend. She was previously known as the Irish Twin on my blog to protect her privacy, but I feel it is important to name her as my parents intended. 

Yesterday is gone, today is almost over…never pass up a chance to love and reach out…tomorrow isn’t promised.

Susan was born to stand out, rather than fit in…

070 copy

First Communion, 1956…Susan in her glory in the veil and white dress. My three brothers and the FM.

Some may describe her as simply a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mother, an in-law, a grandmother, and a friend.

107 copy

A family portrait, by her 1956.

Love for her because she was family was easy; at times liking her and keeping her within your circle was challenging; especially when she would seek you out in the wee small hours of the morning after you had been up all night trying to put a sick two-year-old to sleep. Most of us, her siblings, will state for the record, as we are safely out of earshot, that Susan’s apple didn’t fall far from our mother’s tree.

128 copy

Our mother and Susan…a proud moment.

Through the years, I recall hearing from our mother (almost with a statement of pride) that Susan contributed to a nervous breakdown of one of the nun’s at Our Lady of Lourdes School.

063 copy

Hard to believe the above was true, but trust me it happened.

The next memory repeated from our mother was that Susan stated under no uncertain terms would she attend a Catholic high school. As the story goes, because she was adamant about this, Susan would attend a local public junior high. Due to proximity, her designated school was less than desirable, per our mother. Being frightened for Susan’s well-being our mother went to the Washington Irving School (WIS) in Roslindale and told some story (probably not true) in order to have Susan enrolled. Whatever the story was, it worked. Susan would attend 9th grade at WIS and go on to graduate from Roslindale High School (RHS), where according to our brother,  the Piano Man…she learned the latest dance moves and would come home with a new 45 or album to show the family how to dance. Dancing to her own tune would be the unspoken mantra for life.

065 copy

Susan was a trailblazer; for which I suppose the rest of us can be grateful because if Susan had forged the route, whatever we did that may have disappointed our parents seemed far less a problem because Susan had already pushed the envelope…before us.

131 copy

Relaxing on our parents brand new living room set…we were not permitted to sit on sofa unless the slip covers were present….mutiny in action!

An early memory for me, was one afternoon returning from a shopping trip in downtown Boston with our mother. I was kneeling on the train seat looking out the window on the Orange Line which paralleled our childhood home. Our mother was also gazing in the same direction as the train lumbered above Washington Street passing our house. Susan had the window to the third floor bedroom open; she had half of her body hanging out the window in order to smoke a cigarette.

Our home

The window she was hanging out of was actually in the back of the house.

The walk home with Mum from Green Street Station was grim. As we opened the back door, Susan was sitting at the kitchen table acting rather nonchalant. Our mother, who was smoking mad, laid into her with the usual inferno and brimstone that was appropriate for Susan’s rebellious effort toward doing what she wanted in a smoke free home. Unfortunately, Susan would continue on a smoker’s path for most of her life. At 13, I myself, who apparently didn’t take the advice of “Don’t try this at home”, suffered the same fate as Susan, only I gave it a try in the bathroom…live and learn. My first and last cigarette!

141 copy

Around the age the window incident occurred.

Susan was quite the trendy dresser.

IMG_2975

She saved this pink suede miniskirt. She wore this many times, single digit size on the label inside. Susan bequeathed it to Keary when Susan married, but as my nephew, his wife and I were cleaning out Susan’s home; we discovered Susan took it back.

After graduating from RHS and then Boston Business School, Susan went to work. She was truly a Downton girl, taking the subway to her job in the city. Her weekly paycheck went to more fashionable clothing for herself; although I have a vivid memory of a lime green plaid jumper that she bought for me, more cigarettes, and dancing at the Surf in Nantasket Beach or heading down the Cape.

surfballroom1

 

Her good looks and sense of style earned her an opportunity as a model with the Ford Agency, New York City as part of the Fashion Board for Seventeen Magazine.

A model in the making

115 copy

113 copy

088 copy

Susan was our parents second child. She arrived 12 months and 4 days after the Family Matriarch (FM). The term Irish Twin comes to mind, although we were clearly good “French-Catholics”.

049 copy

Often undeclared; I believe, Susan looked up to the FM, but at the same time always felt like she was in her shadows. Given Susan’s bright-eyed beauty, boisterous personality, bold disposition, and fragile temperament; it is hard to imagine why Susan felt that way, but she did. It was difficult for everyone in our family to instill in her that standing shoulder to shoulder, in fact made you stronger than squaring off face to face.

007 copy

My wedding… given our body mass index in this photo, we look like we have survived a famine.

Often fighting for her independence in true Boston form; suddenly Susan, felt the need to move out of our parents’ home. This day stands solemnly before me with Susan positioning herself on the second floor landing throwing some kind of duffel bag down the steps to the hall below. With the duffel bag at the Milkman’s feet, he pleaded, “Susan, cut it out now.”

109 copy

My #1 said this photo reminds him of Sally Draper in the later seasons of Mad Men.

She would move mountains to make this happen. There were tears and hostile words among most who watched her dial with force, on our rotary phone, the number for the local taxi company. In what seemed like an instant she was gone.

Although she never revealed the address of her new home, if she wanted to come home, the Milkman was a phone call away. He would drive to Kenmore Square to pick her up and bring her home for a visit or holiday.

106 copy

In November, 1969, Susan stood with the FM as her maid of honor when the FM married the Kitchen King, one of the sons-in-law who managed to survive our mother. Not long after this wedding, Susan would bring home a young Navy Seaman, Ronald M. to our family Thanksgiving in Jamaica Plain.

Ron was certainly smitten with Susan and when honorably discharged from the Navy stayed in Boston in hopes of winning her hand. They married in July, 1970. Without this match we would not sit here today with Rex*, Ranger*, his wife, Maggie*, affectionately known by me as “The Saint”, as well as Annabelle* and Ranger Jr.*, Susan’s cherished grandchildren. Forty-six years ago next month, our family lost Susan to distance as she moved with Ron to Muncie, Indiana his hometown.

173 copy

(L-R) My mother, the Milkman (our father), the FM, Ron, Susan, the Piano Man, the Heir. July, 1970.

susan177 copy

The once happy couple with me on their wedding day.

When cleaning out our parents’ home back in 2008, with Susan in the room, I found a letter amongst our mother’s possessions. Knowing Susan’s fondness for removing evidence, I have to be honest; I quickly absconded with it (see it’s in the blood) and brought it home to Maryland.

letter bill010 cover edit

I forgot about the letter, but recently found it. When I read it I was filled with emotion for I knew Bill M., Ron’s father, wrote a heartfelt letter to my parents just four days before Susan and Ron’s wedding in Boston to offer comfort as Susan would soon move away from the family.

Bill tried to ease our parents worry about the family she would now be moving toward. He wrote about two young people in love who did not want to be apart. He assured our parents, after meeting Susan that not only was she easy to look at, but she fit right in with their family who did not have monetary wealth, but plenty of family love. He wrote that Susan had shared our parents’ apprehension at such a speedy Love Story and that he himself shared some of these same feelings with the two lovebirds. It is sad for me to think that I never was able to share that letter with Susan, but fortunately I have now read it to her two sons who know that she was indeed loved by the M. family. Having spent two summers in Indiana with Susan and her in-laws in my early teens I always felt they were a wonderful family who made me feel right at home.

letter bill011first page edit

This was a several page letter.

Susan was an incredible smother…mother. Rex and Ranger speak fondly of the wonderful science projects she created for them. She They often won awards for the projects she tirelessly produced on their behalf. In 1982, Susan returned to Boston with the boys for a several months long stint. She enrolled Rex in the second grade at Our Lady of Lourdes School, however she found no place in Kindergarten for Ranger because of the late enrollment. Due to Boston’s bussing, Ranger would have to attend a public school a great distance away. Susan would have no part of this and having learned from the best, our mother, she found the closest and best public school for the cherubic Ranger. Once again no room in the inn, so being wise on her feet and tearing a page from our mother’s playbook, she declared Ranger a Native American. A seat was suddenly opened.

133 copy

Susan, her two sons (my nephews) in the front Rex* & Ranger*…my nephew, Adamo* ( youngest son of the FM) is the little guy to the right. The FM in the hat carrying a box, the Milkman to the left.

Susan would return to Muncie and eventually her husband Ron would be transferred to Oklahoma. There they tried to make a life. Circumstances were not in their favor.  In 1989, Susan moved with her two boys to Maryland. I know they appreciate all the efforts their mother took to make a life for them when she was a single parent. Today, I see that they stand in awe of the fact that although their parents divorced, somehow these two people managed to push them towards adulthood. Their closeness proves that their mother and father shared lessons of a family’s love.

151 copy

In happier times.

167 copy

Their first trip to DC when they moved here to Maryland in 1989. I can’t explain my outfit (me on the right) other than to say I was a nursing mother.

While raising two teenagers on her own, Susan worked for Johns Hopkins University, Institute for Policy Studies. Knowing that a business school degree would not earn her security for life, Susan persevered and earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from the Johns Hopkins University. Academic accolades were prominent as well as invitations to membership in prestigious academic clubs.

123 copy

With her JHU Fellows in the 1990’s.

Her job provided her opportunity to travel the world. She went to Africa, The Netherlands, Estonia, Romania, and Rome. It seemed the world was calling.

171 copy

One of her trips to Africa.

With elation came deflation; each occurrence does not require an itemized line for having lived through it with her or at times, without her because of her intense need for privacy; the road was rocky. Those mountains she moved to get out of the house so many years before became walls; disguised as frequent ups, downs, sideways and byways. She interpreted our lack of enthusiasm toward the latest and greatest proof that life had not handed her a bouquet of roses as we were somehow against her. As those who cared for her tip-toed around on egg shells in hopes of not wanting to send her away again, it was often problematic to keep one’s own strength.  We truly did care and want her to be happy. We reasoned and offered a helping hand that at times was bitten as we reached out.

Susan returned to Boston for ten years and was present for the care of our parents as their lives came to an end. Eight years ago, Susan returned to Baltimore to rejoin her grown sons. The bites would heal even though they still hurt. We came back for more because Susan was our parents’ daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mother, an in-law, a grandmother, and a friend.

078 copy

1994…the Milkman’s 75th birthday

001 copy

Three grandchildren not born yet, 1986….eight great grandchildren as of today.

172 copy

How I choose to remember her.

IMG_3018

All the family we could wrangle before it was time to eat…at the FM and KK’s home. In the front is one of my great-nephews, he is three…we typically do not include face painting at our family memorial services, but he attended a birthday party earlier in the day. He was a stand out at the Mass.  Susan would have loved it.

In loving memory of my sister, Susan…gone too soon.

DSCN1346[1]

*names changed …need a refresher on Who’s Who, read here.

Difficult…

…a d word in passing.

It is about 11pm as I sit down to write this post. Once again the mission to 26 alphabetical posts has pointed me in many directions. Dreamer, decade, dutiful, daughter, dolls; all d words and posts that were started, but now cast aside.  This will be a challenging post to write as my head is pounding and my eyes are drooping.

My sister, the Irish Twin died today, 68 years young.

My d words will not feature bolded font for the Irish Twin used to be the bold one. Sadly, in the last 8 years we lived a little over a mile apart, but may as well have been living on opposite ends of the continent. It is not that we had a falling out of any kind; it was a complicated relationship.

I have many wonderful memories of the Irish Twin as well as some family tales (mostly true*) of tumultuous times. The photo below was featured in a post about my mother, but I doubt she ever read it. (See asterisk above) I mentioned the blog to her, but sometimes I think looking back was just too difficult.

IMG_0551

The Irish Twin is in the striped sweater. Keary in the red sweater re-posted this photo on Facebook for National Siblings Day. The Irish Twin was none too pleased. 

I have to admit it is not the most flattering, but if you knew her this would speak volumes. Her own sons admitted to me today that indeed the above photo captured her essence.

My nephews lost their Dad last August, so as Father’s Day approaches, they will now include their Mom. One of her sons is married and has two young children. They will miss their “Mimi”. The Irish Twin was a frequent sitter.

A few photos from past posts…

corinne119

Easter, sometime before I was born. Boston Commons. The Irish Twin is standing behind two of my brothers.

 

IMG_1692

Exactly one year ago, the Irish Twin (watch and black purse) goes out to dinner with us when several of our siblings come to town.

The Family Matriarch has asked me to write the eulogy for my sister. Since the letter e would be my next post, it seems the timing was set in fate. As the unofficial family historian, I hope to portray a woman who took risks we wished she hadn’t, moved far away too many times, wore her emotions on her sleeve while shouting them from her mouth, valued her privacy above some relationships, would defend a family member to her demise, and provided a smother’s love to sons, a daughter-in law, and grandchildren.

Thanks for taking the time to read…eulogy, more than just an e word to come.

DSCN1346[1]

Cutting Corners

… two C words

26 posts to keep me writing

When this quest to write 26 posts in alphabetical order began, I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be to “choose my words carefully.” As this weekend approaches, many in my life are celebrating a child who will commence with the rest of his/her life.

graduation

This is my commencement, 1985. My father was thrilled when I received my degree because he knew this meant I  (the baby of the family) was off the payroll. When I received my Master’s Degree 24 years later, the Hubster and Son-sters attended…they couldn’t believe that my “home office”, where I wrote endless papers and completed my Master’s portfolio was finally cleared for more important functions again, like eating dinner at the kitchen table.

I truly do not believe that college is for everyone. I do believe that education whether self-taught after completing high school, learning a trade, military service, civil service, or time spent at a luxury all-inclusive parent funded 4/5 year resort (some call this college) is essential to survival. I also believe that learning is life-long. This will sound cliché (another C word, if your counting), but I can honestly say, I think I learn something new every day.

A few years back I wrote an essay about Memorial Day and Education, I posted it last year. Some may call it “cheating” to repost, but I call it “cutting corners” in my quest for 26 posts. Also, fear not, I do not intend to bold every C word, but I will update the post for clarity.

 

Memorial Day & Education

Many of us have come to recognize Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer. The weather is usually warm and the “great outdoors” beckons.  It is not that we don’t care or have truly forgotten the real meaning of this day, but the demands of life have a way of forcing us to think of the holiday as merely a day off from work or school to relax.

memorial

Memorial Day was listed as an official holiday in the District of Columbia in 1888 although many cities and towns across the United States try to lay claim to its beginnings. The actual name given for the remembrance was Decoration Day. The holiday became official chiefly because a significant portion of federal employees would have lost a day’s pay in order to participate in ceremonial events to honor those who died and with whom they fought in the Civil War.¹

My school holds an annual Memorial Day Assembly to remember and thank fallen heroes, those who served & serve, recognize the sacrifices made that enable the freedom to learn and celebrate the achievements of students.

IMG_2937

Service members; both present and past, of students, faculty and staff are remembered on the Wall of Valor. This year marks 30 consecutive years for this assembly.

Seventy-three years ago, May, 1943, my father was a Sergeant in the United States Army Air Corp. He was stationed at Lowry Field No.1 in Denver, Colorado. In a letter to my mother, his “sweetheart” at the time, he wrote about his course work.

corinne125edit

He was learning about the effects of “magnetism in electricity” in order to improve flight equipment powered by electricity for the war effort.  In his exquisite penmanship he also noted with regret that he wished he “had been a little more studious” when he was younger as he wouldn’t be struggling to learn the lessons he was being taught as a 23-year-old man.

corinne126 copy

He spoke of the great opportunity he was given by being permitted to attend the classes as many of his fellow soldiers had already attended similar schools. My father did not have a high school diploma as he lived most of his young life in a Catholic orphanage. He considered these men much smarter than he and apparently he asked many questions. At least I know that my many inquiries today come to me through honest heredity.

corinne127edit

As I read his letter, I think about the fact that cursive handwriting is no longer taught in school. I am saddened that this man’s great-children who are elementary age at present, will not be able to read the words he wrote during one of the most difficult challenges our country endured.

This Sergeant did not fight the battles of World War II with a weapon in his hand on the front lines, although I am certain he was trained. He learned in a classroom in order to build and repair safer, stronger and technologically advanced flight equipment.

Learning is life-long and one of the many great freedoms afforded to all in the United States of America. The opportunity of education is not to be taken lightly although difficult to convey its importance on some of the very young as my father had lamented seventy-three years ago.

corinne128

New Mexico, 1945…Sweetheart and the Milkman

On this Memorial Day, as it became known after World War II, we continue to decorate in red, white and blue. We hold strong the high expectations of education for all and we remember and honor those who sacrificed in battle and studied in a classroom in order to provide for us the most precious freedoms we have today.

In loving memory of (the Milkman) my father, the Sergeant, and those who died in the service of our country. A special thank you to all United States military personnel present and past.

 

Happy Memorial Day!

DSCN1346[1]

¹credits to:  © 1994 – 2009 SUVCW & David Merchant   Updated 4 April 2009 and CRS Report for Congress, Federal Holidays: Evolution and Application, Updated February 8, 1999, Stephen W. Stathis, Specialist in American National Government Government Division

 

 

The B word(s)..

…Alphabetically Speaking: 26 posts to keep me writing.

 I have started and stopped this post about a billion times. I bantered back and forth in my brain (since I was seeking expert advice) as to the most bewitching b word to use. It was burdensome, let me tell you. The list basically kept me awake (before bedtime) most nights.

b word

There are just too many b words from which to choose.

For instance,  if I chose Beauty as my b word, then what; would I bolster my “head to toe” perfection by beguiling you the benefits of being dark beige blonde which I highly recommend to camouflage the stray grays that want to inhabit one’s head. Or I could brag about the many balms I have tried to keep the bags under my eyes at bay. I could possibly share the blessings of being “big boned” (another way of saying I have gained some unwelcome weight in the last 10 years). Next, I could broadcast the fact that the joints which connect my thighs to my calves really are the “bee’s knees”, however they, the knees, are not to bbeat by the two (that’s right TWO) bulging, yet symmetrical bunions beside each big toe. No, Beauty will not be my b word.

under eye

I will bypass this method of under eye bag disguise.

I thought about blood for my b word, but then I remembered that is why I am a teacher and not a nurse like two of my sisters. Blood…In the seventh grade sometime between Biology and Bible Study,  Sister Bertha Brimstone* behooved the class (mostly the boys) to stop leaning their chairs back on two legs. “You will bust your head open,” Sister blasted. Brian Billings* bent that bench back once too often.

BAM! Head bashes cast iron radiatorBlood blew from the back of his head. I buckled under the sight of the bulging wound boiling over his carrot-top buzz cut.

Brian and Beemie (me) were both sent home. He received a boat-load of stitches and I had to brave the look on the Milkman’s face at having to pick me up from school on his rare day off.

My own students today can quote this story every time someone boldly bends his chair back. Bellows of, “Remember Brian Billings” are echoed about the classroom; because no one wants to call 911 for a blacked-out teacher.

jimmy naughton

Brian always reminded me of this actor, Billy Mummy, seen here with Angela Cartright.

This next b word to barge in each time I tried to draft this post was busy… First, that b word busy barked that the job, which provides my biweekly income 10 monthes out of the year was the boss of my free time. Then this so-called busy life berated me with the need to clean the bathrooms and the rest of the house. Had I known the sewing machine and fabric would demonstrate blatant disrespect and bullying as each blocked my view of the keyboard then that b word busy could not be blamed.

Busy, I don’t know what it is like to not be busy. Somewhere in that “busy-ness” I attended a WNBA preseason basketball game and I celebrated Mother’s Day with brunch.

IMG_2888

Another beauty secret…if you use a blurry photo of yourself with your “blessed with boyhood”genes husband no one will notice the under  eye bags.

Finally, the b word that bounced around in bulk is the one I choose not to write as technically it is a blasphemous word to the female gender; especially to those of us with high expectations, the ability to defend oneself, and opinions that sometimes exit the mouth when one believes she’s right. The b word which rhymes with stitch, twitch, glitch, pitch, and other rich words; brings to mind another story from school, only fast forward 33 years.

A young man in my class, Barrister*, burdened himself with the daily task of reporting those who betrayed the student bi-laws. He disguised these breaches against basic justice in the form of a question.  “Should people blowing bubbles with gum? …or …Why do people try to hide their blank homework sheets?” I am no Alex Trebek, so rewarding him with bonus points would not bolster his position with classmates; however it is always important to hear him out as student safety comes first.

One day I questioned a student about an incomplete class assignment. I imagine my disbelieving expression was boldly displayed on my face. As I turned to walk away after hearing his excuse, he mumbled something under his breath. I clearly heard his one word utterance, but opted toward beating a path to the high road. Believing he had my back,  Barrister raised his hand with confidence and blared his query aloud, “Should people be calling you the b word?”

b monogram

If only the B word resembled this…

My response, “Brilliant, someone called me brilliant? I am flattered,” I blurted with pride and beaming smile. The offender noting that I had cut him a break, brushed his brow humbly. Barrister was bothered that I did not banish the offender from the room. I determined that being a role model toward the “sticks and stones don’t break my  big boned body bones” position was far better than really being branded, the b word.

Have a blessed day and remember beauty & the b word is in the eye of the beholder.

DSCN1346[1]

 * names changed to protect innocent and not so blameless bystanders

Alphabetically Speaking: A …

…26 posts to keep me writing.

A is for Accessory

No need to fear, I am no Sue Grafton nor have I ever read one of her books.

As you have probably noted I have been absent from my appointed post as creative non-fiction writer. I could make a boat load of excuses, but I’ll skip that and head right to the point of my post.

Accessories

Over the course of my 23 33 43 53 years I have accumulated a variety of accessories…hats, bags, shoes, reading glasses, and jewels, both costume and the real deal.

When it comes to accessories, I would call myself a minimalist…I have worn the same earrings for the last 30 years and as bragged about in the past; the earrings still fit.

corinne143

Hubster gave me the diamond studs for Christmas the year we were engaged. Us, leaving our wedding reception; the sparkle in my ear and eyes courtesy of him.

I purchased this little bracelet when I was 8 years old as a souvenir on a visit to the Basilica of Sainte Anne de Beaupré in the Province of Quebec with my family.

IMG_2501

So far this year, Sainte Anne has been with me for seven days of testing, with six more to go, and most other school days when the opportunity to make a difference in a public school is challenging. In other words, of the 180 student days, 175 days.

I have also been spied wearing a few other accessories to school.

Image (4)

Notice that I place myself in the center of my two younger, beautiful teammates. (“A thorn between two roses” style.) The cape on my superhero costume is metaphorically in place everyday and the badge on my math police costume hangs on my teaching cart because in my own mind “I really am the Math Police”.

Peggy Anne made this photo collage of Hubster and me back on our 29th anniversary and posted it on Instagram. In the two larger photos, I am seen wearing the two sets of pearls that my mother gave to me in college. According to her, both family heirlooms from dead aunts. I still have both sets, but I don’t wear them as often.

FullSizeRender (1)

Neckwear as of late, has been rotated between a few items; however these two make an appearance on me at least once a week.Image (5)

As for hats go, I don’t like hat hair, so unless I am wearing the hat all day or it is super cold outside, I typically don’t wear hats. In the last year, I have been “paparazzi-ed” in the following hats.

Image

In my youth, when my mother wasn’t forcing a hat on my head because it was cold and I would definitely “catch my death”, I did enjoy the three hats below.

Image (1)

In the top photo, I am the cuter, younger girl in the bonnet sitting next to Keary. The hat on Keary was handed down to me and worn a few years later. The girl in the Catholic school beanie is not me…I have no photo of me in that beanie, but I did love wearing it.

If given the opportunity, a crown on my head would always be welcome as I believe there may have been a mix up in the maternity ward for I am certain I was born a royal. Really, just ask the Hubster.

BourbonParmeTiara

Bags, Purses, Handbags, Satchels: whatever you want to call the item…I switch between a few.

One of the thousands I have made…read about them here.DSCN0677[1]

For the occasions where one of my handmade bags just “don’t quite match”, I switch out between the two below.

black coach

br. coach

For the record, I think this photo from the past week is one of the cutest ever of the Queen (not me, see above) and her purse.

Queen-Elizabeth-II-with-her-five-great-grandchildren-and-her-two-youngest-grandchildren

Warning loud: ADORABLE!

I always wear my watch because I hate being late.  I switch out between two that might as well be mirror images, but one slightly fancier received as a gift.

Image (2)

Eyewear: I devoted a whole post to the following accessory…sunglasses. I still wear the same brand I wore back in 1984 when my body was just a wee bit smaller in girth than it is today.

image-3

IMG_1111

Perhaps it is just the iPhone camera that adds to the width of my body…I am going with that idea.

Unfortunately, when it comes to eyewear, age has also betrayed me when it comes to reading small print…  “readers” are found all over the house, in several key locations in my classroom, car, purse, and I have been known to sport the glasses as a headband.

IMG_0001

When it comes to shoes, before I had children I always wore pumps to work, my favorite brand back then was Nickels…today many years post at-home motherhood, you will find me mostly in clogs, Crocs, and sandals… usually no more than 1/2″ in height.Image (3)

As I gaze into my crystal ball, 10, 20, 30 years down the road in my “accessorized” life I can only assume this will not be the spitting image of me.

accessories

Have a wonderful week!

DSCN1346[1]

 

The Long, Lost Art…

…of the Handwritten Letter.

     I don’t need to tell any of you reading this that with the advent of email, texting, Instagram, Facebragbook, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine, etcetera…etcetera; that writing a letter, on paper, with an actual pen, in cursive handwriting has gone the way of the VCR tape. (Note how I chose a much more trendy VCR tape reference than the Dodo Bird.) However this week, I received an actual handwritten letter. When Hubster saw it sitting on the kitchen counter and recognizing the familial handwriting, as well as newspaper clippings… inquired, “Who died?”

IMG_2766

         I have not received a handwritten letter in years; yes, a thank you card, birthday card, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Christmas card, but not an actual letter. My mother, who has been gone since 2009, used to write letters; although her handwriting was quite challenging to read because she wrote with her less dominant hand; her right hand. (The story about her handwriting…here.) Her letters usually began with the fact that she did not hear from me as much as she would have liked, but frequently, the letters included a newspaper clipping….The early years while I was in college, included announcements from the local Boston papers about goings on at my high school, engagements, and her singing gigs. The early years of my marriage, included more clippings of her singing gigs, wedding announcements, birth announcements, Hints from Heloise,  and the razing of the old elevated Orange Line which ran about 20 yards parallel to my childhood home.

photo 5 revised

I suppose I should mention one of her singing gigs. Ringing in the Millennium…one day away from 82 years old…

    Sometime around 1990, came the first of many letters which included clippings  of obituaries. The funny thing about the death notices was that she had already called to inform me of “so & so’s” passing so the clipping was more of an actual nail in the coffin. When I would open one of those “thick enveloped” letters I could almost hear the death march playing in my head. After a time, she did stop sending the obituaries; maybe she started to see her own mortality, as more frequently the notices she sent were that of her friends, both the same age or younger.

     Anyway, back to my present day letter…it was from a member of my family, in fact the Family Matriarch…she read two articles in the Boston Globe which she wanted to share with me. The first about a canvas bag maker in Boston…I do sew handbags, so perhaps she thought I too, could be a famous bag maker. Yes, a dream of mine, as I do love to sew, but given the teaching career keeps Hubster and I fully insured with lavish health care benefits, I do not see bag making for $$$$ in my future…more “sew” (pun intended) for entertainment and deluxe mental health care away from the stress of the classroom.

     The other article, coincidently, on the same page was about the author/illustrator, Jan Brett. The first thing I thought about when seeing her name, boldly in the title was listening to Captain Kangaroo read The Mitten,  the original Ukrainian Folktale, on his show when I was a very young child. We had a black and white TV, so I had no idea of the actual color of the mitten or the animals who came to inhabit it. Jan Brett, retold and illustrated, a version of The Mitten around 1981.

Bob_Keeshan_Hugh_Brannum_Captain_Kangaroo_1960

The first “in living color” view of The Mitten came when Miss Wellington,  read it aloud at the Margaret Fuller School, where I spent two years in kindergarten preparing for my long career, 16 years of Catholic education. By the way, I was not retained in kindergarten, Massachusetts changed the age for entry to 1st grade to six years by August 31st, thus my second year in kindergarten was more of a victory lap waiting for me to turn the ripe old age of six with Miss Wellington. Oh, and I still love The Mitten; although shouting out the ending to my fellow “kindergarteners” prior to it being read required a sabbatical  away from reading circle with my head down on the desk for ruining the ending for the others. The good old days of “consequences for actions” in school.

The interesting thing about the Jan Brett article was not so much the content of the article, rather the fact that the Family Matriarch saw some resemblance (albeit a less flattering resemblance, older version, and no offense to Jan Brett) of herself.

I think I see what she means….Jan on the top, and the Family Matriarch, below second from right.

Image

 

     Now, let me return to my regularly scheduled mail…

 …and my sewing.

Image (1)

Check out two lucky dogs..sporting their home team bandanas courtesy of me.

Have a great week!

DSCN1346[1]

PS: If you haven’t seen it yet…watch:

the-intern

I cried, I laughed,…I could watch it again.