Friday, December 19, 2008

Free Things to Do Over the Holidays

For those of us economically challenged this year, I compiled a list of cost-free activities you can enjoy - depending, of course, on your weather, location, and resources. If you have some other suggestions, or location-specific additions, please Comment below!

Fun and Free - for a Holly Jolly

1. Sing Christmas carols. If you don't remember the words, look them up here.

2. Take a walk while holding the hand of a friend (or spouse or niece or the leash of a puppy). Hold hands while crossing the street - no, you are not too old to do it.

3. Play "catch the snowball" with your dog - hours of fun!

4. Write a family Gratefulness list to hang on the wall. Add things as they pop into your mind three days later.

5. Put some of your photos into albums...it's time. Or if you have three bazillion digital photos stored in your computer, print some of those bad boys.

6. Tell the children funny stories about when their parents were growing up. Try explaining the concept of Atari (and don't worry - they will think you are totally lame, but we know you are wicked cool). Give them the old "we walked to school uphill both ways, barefoot" story. It's time they heard it again.

7. Play board games like Taboo, Balderdash, Scrabble, Life, and Stratego, or card games like Hearts, Gin Rummy, SlapJack, Euchre or Spades.

8. Make a fort in the living room out of chairs and blankets, with rationed goodies inside (Cheezits, Cheerios, chocolate chips, cookies - apparently foods that start with "C").

9. Put on your favorite album that you forgot about. Play it loud. Lie next to the speaker and listen for incredible harmonic undertones. Marvel at the genius of Dave Matthews...or Dave Brubeck. Or any other Dave you happen to like.

10. Practice putting on makeup. You never quite learned it right the first time, did you? Me neither.

11. Soap up everyone's hair and see who can make the most funny hair sculpture. YouTube it, Baby!

12. Get big pieces of paper and make your "Map of the World," including anything important in your world. Share it with a friend.

13. Write in your journal. I know you have some thoughts just waiting to spill out. Or if not, try your hand at a Haiku (5-7-5). Poetry always cheers the soul.

14. Play in the snow! Try building an igloo. You're gonna need a bucket of water and some good warm gloves. If it's the first snowfall of the season, get your boots on and stomp a message in a big open field!

15. Clean out your closets [for the dear Capricorns who have to do something useful before they can be frivolous]; then rip apart the panty hose that always strangle you. Life is too short for that kind of pain.

16. Make hard boiled eggs. You do have time.

17. If you are somewhere warm, go swimming on behalf of those of us freezing in New England!

18. Tell your dad you love him. Do it.

19. Do a favor for your neighbor: get groceries, shovel a walkway, wash the car, take out the trash barrels, or walk the dog (who will become instantly devoted to you).

20. Decorate the house with crazy stuff you found in the yard (thinking more along the lines of pine boughs, berries, sticks, and grapevines than of grass clippings and dog doo...you knew that, right?).

Have fun, dears! There is no reason we have to go broke just because it's Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or Santa's Time, or just winter. Or summer, for those of you south of the border. Today is a day you can enjoy. Tell me how you'll spend yours! I am going to a free Christmas concert (in which Mom is singing!) with the fam, the kiddies, and the porkiest, cutest baby you ever saw. Yay.

Love, Ally xo

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm doing what I like to do best

...and that is writing. Today at work I finally have the opportunity to do some writing, editing and proofreading. I can't tell you how much I love doing this type of work. I am only taking a brief break right at the moment for my brain to recharge so I can edit 6 or 7 more pages of the company newspaper. This is the work I was truly meant to do, just like my mother.

She found her first satisfying career in her early 30's, editing an education magazine, no less. She reviewed curriculum and new books and materials for children. She loved it. Here I am working in education, reviewing and copy editing material for publications to teachers and school district administrators (and for the last two years to school board members). What a lovely life. Wish I could do it full time.

Looking forward to some time off after Friday, for the next two weeks. We picked up Lauren and Co. last night in Boston and thus begins our big, festive holiday celebration. Lauren's three children are so dear, I could just spend every waking minute with them. Chubby Bubby, the new baby, is so fat and sweet and delicious - I could just eat him up with a spoon! Anna and Emma are as beautiful and interesting as ever and I love them so. Aunty Ally (and soon, Grandma Honey, as the other children call me) is revived. I am looking forward to lots of Christmas cheer.

But for now, back to the words, my other love.

~Ally

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Obama on writing

(photo not by me)

Check out this page of Amazon.com, and scroll down to 20 Second Interview, to read a quick Q&A with Barack Obama on his writing process and ideas. This is located under the description of his book, The Audacity of Hope. I found the interview v interesting and you may too.
~Ally

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

THIS

(photo not by me)
is the Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie, by Martha Stewart.

Uh, yep. These are THE cookies to top all Christmas cookies. They are a bit time intensive, but the effort is worth it. Make sure to take them out before they are too done, and once cooled, to wrap them or store them right away - don't want these babies drying out. If they do, just start dipping 'em in milk or coffee or hot cocoa and you'll have a whole new level of delights. Mmmmmm.

Recipe is on Martha's website, here.

To Do or Not To Do

It’s hard to be at work with not quite enough to do, when you have so many, many things on your own To Do List. I would like to be home finishing up bankruptcy cases, getting them filed, and getting paid. I would like to clean the house, put up the Xmas tree, decorate said tree, and deal with the enormous heap of laundry that threatens to completely overtake the hallway. I would like to bake some Xmas cookies, and have time to share my recipes with Marie and the rest of the blog kingdom. I would like to…nap.

Oh, sweet bliss of a cozy bed on a grey, chilly afternoon. Maybe a Judy Cat would curl up on my chest (after the obligatory face-bumping-greeting session). Maybe I could watch one of my “Christmas Movies,” since I have had NO TIME to even rent them, much less watch them this year.

But, from the couch I would turn, ever-so-slowly, and see THEM…the unsigned, unstuffed, unstickered, and unmailed Christmas letters. I think I wrote a decent one this year, all things considered. The paper isn’t pretty, but the words are from the heart. And I think people will give me a little leeway this once. But those letters ain't gonna mail themselves.

Needless to say, sitting here and begging for work – and even that I gave up on for the moment – is tiring in an irritating sort of way. Oh! And the shopping…I still need to finish the shopping! The wrapping. Oh dear, and…(trailing off into infinity)

Hmm.

And what are you doing this afternoon?
~Ally

Daily delights from Shoeboxblog.com

From 12/12/08...

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“If it’s been said many times, many ways, isn’t it time to shut up?” - Bill

[That one's for Scroogey Poo, and you know who you are.]

FAVORITE HOLIDAY RECIPES: by Scott

Grandma’s Nog

Cream (optional)

Sugar (optional)

Egg (optional)

Bourbon

*Serve in festive cups and enjoy!

FUNNY, BUT NO - card slogans that luckily didn't make it to print

Front of card: My cat would like to wish you a merry Christmas.

C’mon…c’mon kitty…go…

Inside: Actually, my cat needs about another 20 minutes to lick her butt,

then she’ll be ready.

[a ha ha ha - that one was for Judy]

From 12/15/08

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Whoever came up with wassail must not have heard about a little thing called hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps.” – Mark

[so true, so true; and a special shout out to Uncle Fred for this little discovery]

~Ally

Monday, December 15, 2008

Honesty is the best policy (and it could win you stuff)


THANK YOU, KRISTIN, for this great award! Since my name means "truthful," I take the Honest Scrap (or honest crap) award as a high compliment. XO

10 Honest Things About Myself:

1. I have become neurotically afraid of bees in the last few years, reverting to my childhood fear of bees.

2. I hate being fat.

3. I miss smoking every single day. In my nighttime dreams, I always smoke.

4. I have a false tooth.

5. I have desperately wanted to bear children for the last twelve years. I am wondering if that desire has begun to run its course.

6. I was too afraid to enter competitive gymnastics, and thus ended my gymnastics career at age 12. I have always regretted that.

7. I wish I had more sex.

8. I have fibromyalgia. No, it is not a myth. It is not a psychological disorder. It is a possibly-degenerative, chronic physical condition. And it hurts.

9. I secretly don't believe my father is dead. He is probably just on a long fishing vacation. Let me think this. Just let me.

10. I am secretive. (Okay, Laurel? I admit it.) Though I am very honest and open, I always have control over what spills out...and some things hopefully never will.


My favorite honest bloggers, to whom I give this award:

1. Kristin at Jilli Java and the Garden of Eden - she is truthful and realistic, with a dash of hopeful; she tells a brave story of recovering from drowning in alcohol. You go girl.

2. Marie at A Year From Oak Cottage - in her cooking, love of family and friends, acceptance of all walks of life, and spiritual side, she does not mince words. But she does mince garlic, and you gotta love a girl for that.

3. Scott (my dear husband) at Rock, Water and Light, for he conveys truth through his photographs, capturing the beauty of this harsh and wonderful world.

4. Mama Zen at The Zen of Motherhood, for she is hysterically funny, irreverent and joyful. And she loves her family.

5. Bella at Beyond the Map, and though she stopped writing, you can still read previous pages of her inner struggles - she is painful, thoughtful, and searching through her lyrical prose.

6. Steve at Virginia Journal, who explores the world with photography; he has exquisitely beautiful macro work, as well as delightful photos of children and animals.

7. Karen at Cheerio Road - a Zen practitioner and published author, she is a great writer. I appreciate her willingness to share imperfect moments - that is priceless, and it enables me to receive her spiritual guidance.

Good people. Check them out.
~Ally

Rules for the recipients:
♥ list 10 honest things about yourself
♥ pass the award onto 7 blogs that you find brilliant in their content or design
♥ link to the blogger who gave you this prize
♥ link to the blogs receiving the prize
♥ notify the recipients

Duck, Duck, Bush

In this image from APTN video, a man throws a shoe at President George W. Bush during a news conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008, in Baghdad. The man threw two shoes at Bush, one after another. Bush ducked both throws, and neither man was hit.(AP Photo/APTN)
~
Well now, that's just beautiful. And about time. And patriotic - no single man has done more to harm this country than he. I hope the shoes weren't hurt in the process.

~Ally

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A ha ha

Those crazy kids at Shoeboxblog have done it again! I am stifling laughter here at my desk...(as soon as I got to "Hide and Molt," I was done for).

MOST POPULAR REINDEER GAMES
Red Rover Send Vixen Over
Hide and Molt
Boggle
Mutton, Mutton, Who’s Got the Mutton
Freeze Tag
Halo 3
Tether Penguin
Tug of Harness
Wii Elf Boxing




ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (there, that felt better) ;)
~Ally

What are your favorites?

What are your favorite Christmas cookies? Maybe we can get Marie to bake something special that we love, for her family to enjoy in England.

My favs are:

Chocolate Crinkles
Martha Stewart's Ginger Chocolate Chunk
(ohhh, i found these last year and they added a whole new meaning to the word Cookie...)
Almond Crescents
Gingerbread People (with decorations of course)
Kahlua Bars
Rum Balls (yummm)
Anything in a pinwheel formation
Chocolate dipped peanut butter balls
Lemon Squares
Susan's Brownies (graham crackers, s. condensed milk, and chocolate - can't go wrong)
I love the look of Peanut Butter Blossoms, but am satisfied after one
Candied Pecans

mmmm...I better stop. Tell me some of yours. And if you need recipes, I will love to share!
~Ally

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday

(photo not by me)

Well, this weekend was full of pre-holiday activity. We celebrated Saint Nicholas' Day on Saturday (St. Nick brought us each a Christmas ornament), worked on signing and addressing the Xmas letters, did some preliminary baking - I have somewhat given up on the diet until January - and decorated the house for our holiday party this Saturday. I even finally plugged in a lamp I got two years ago (ahem). Progress.

Also did some bad bad bad girl shopping at Borders...damn those literature retailers! Was supposed to trade books at the used book store and therefore get basically free books for the kiddies. But was lured in by Borders' fancy coffees and holiday music, the sale items OUTSIDE the door, and those pesky Clearance stickers. Oy vey. But I did get some wonderful kids books (let me know if you want recommendations).

Mom and I made the super-grid of who's getting what for whom by when and from where (what Nanny gave Weenie, what Weenie gave Emily, and of course what they all gave me)! So instead of Black Friday, we will be having Black Wednesday, and ol' Wally World better look out! You may have heard, but WalMart is the only major retailer (supposedly) that had increased sales last quarter. And why do we think that is? Well, for the same reason, we will be shopping there on Wednesday. Morality be damned!

Hope your holidays are shaping up nicely. Any of you readers not celebrating Christmas? What do you like to do instead? Anyone want to share their December traditions, of any nature?

~Ally

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Speaking of Pet Peeves

...or as Kristin says, "things that get under your skin," why don't we do a list of top 5 or 10 things that irritate you. And then top 5 or 10 things that take the edge off, or make you happier. Put a comment on this post if you are going to do the activity on your blog, so we can all check it out!

5 Pet Peeves:
  1. Drivers not using turn signals and then slamming on the brakes to turn.
  2. Telemarketers. Add to that, those completely automated telemarketers. You say, "Hello," and there's a silence and then the recording starts. You know the ones.
  3. Teachers who can't spell. Seriously, people!
  4. President Bush saying "nucular" - that drives me insane!!! Sarah Palin did it too! THE WORD IS NUCLEAR! Noo-clee-ur. Practice it, know it, and stop being an idiot.
  5. Hair clippings in the sink. Ickkkkk.

5 Things that Cheer Me Up:
  1. When people start singing along to the radio. (I especially love singing to that song "Chicken Fry.")
  2. Seeing a dog to pet in Petco. And a new favorite activity of hilarity - watching the mice cages at Petco. Hours of fun!
  3. Hearing a message from Anna, Emma, or Matthew (little children) on my answering machine.
  4. Finding a paycheck in the mailbox.
  5. Snow falling.
Now your turn.
~Ally

T.W.I.C.E....grr

Stepped in it again after work, in the evening. Same shoe. Is the universe trying to tell me something??

~A

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Crap!

It's got to be Karma when you find yourself walking down the hall at work, first thing in the morning, and you realize you have somehow stepped in the world's biggest pile of dog poo on the way to work.

It took me about 10 minutes just to get it all off the shoe - and I am talking full sole coverage here. Niiice.

I just hope I "paid up" for whatever I had done to bring this on. Keeping my fingers crossed.

~Ally

Monday, December 1, 2008

Five Natural Remedies for Colds

(photo not by me)
Check out this interesting article for new ideas on fighting cold and flu symptoms. I would also add ginger tea for all symptoms, including nausea and sore throat; and ginger powder (1-3 tbsp) in hot bath at the very first signs of sickness - this will make you sweat profusely for about 15 minutes, then get out and rest for the remainder of the evening; and peppermint tea for upset stomach and nausea.

My holistic doctor used to say you should always stay home for 24-48 hours when you are sick - that is when you are most contagious and also when you can control how long and hard the sickness overtakes you. Rest! The best medicine. And stay away from all caffeine, processed sugars and fats while sick. Drink LOTS of fluids, but nothing caffeinated.

Best of health to you this cold and flu season!

~Ally

Sunday, November 30, 2008

World's Oldest Person (115) Dies

Edna Parker (photo not by me)

Read the article on this remarkable woman's life.
~Ally

Monday, November 24, 2008

Photographic endeavors

Have you checked out Scott's photos lately? He has come back around to winter scenes, and is capturing the first NH ice and snow of the year. I have not posted many pictures here, though I continue taking them, because my laptop is suffering from won't-work-itis and every time I get ready to post something, it crashes out. Too frustrating. Meanwhile, do enjoy Scott's excellent taste in art and nature.

~Wifey

i am (what i am)

i am . . .

i am: tired of having a neckache
i think: i could really enjoy the bankruptcy cases I am working on, if I had time to work on them
i know: it isn't snowing right now

i want: to have Wednesday off
i have: in-laws coming to visit tomorrow, for the week

i wish: the bathroom was already cleaned
i hate: loose hairs on the floor - grosses me out!!
i miss: my friend Juli (who likes to be called "Jewels")
i fear: my fibromyalgia making pregnancy and motherhood very painful
i feel: most at home in my pj's

i hear: the printer whirring away - someone's working
i smell: dust
i crave: dust (a ha ha, just kidding)...a massage

i search: for a job, endlessly
i wonder: as i wander...(i am already heavily into Xmas carols)
i regret: not having a baby sooner
i love: Christmas, oh, i do, i do
i ache: to be near my sister - she's coming in December, thank God
i care: about the cats, and maybe that makes me "The Cat Lady" - i'm not sure
i always: talk to the dog, and sometimes i sing to him
i am not: insane (or AM I?!?)
i believe: that everyone will like LOST if they watch it from the very beginning
i dance: when Mexican music comes on
i sing: while i do the laundry, or get dressed, or do dishes
i cry: while i do the laundry, or get dressed, or do dishes (a ha ha)
i don’t always: waste time
i fight: the urge to stay up all night, especially during the holidays
i write: the Christmas letter for our family every year
i win: at Taboo, often (i love that game!)
i lose: at Trivial Pursuit, always...embarrassing (then again, who cares)
i never: say "no" at work - well usually never
i confuse: everything lately - i think it's the grief
i listen: to the moon whenever possible
i can usually be found: in front of the TV, or behind the steering wheel
i am scared: of never having any children
i need: some money, in a bad way
i am happy about: Obama becoming our next President!!!
i hope: he is not harmed in any way


Und du???
~Ally

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday afternoon, 3:26

Out “my” office window, I can see a small park between official-looking office buildings. It looks like the courtyard of the State House. There are tall, regal trees lining the small enclosed patio, and stone benches, which are probably iced cold right now. I see interesting architectural designs on the building next door – round windows, octagonal columns, tall vertical windows that draw the eye upward. It is quite lovely.

I am temping, and as usual, have run out of things to do. However, I don’t mind, because I have been working most of the day and this most enjoyable workplace. A real office, with professionalism and fun and camaraderie and a few whispering, griping co-workers who are mad at so-and-so. What a real business is supposed to be like. Smart people doing good, thoughtful work that is helping their community, while enjoying free sodas from the Coke machine and wasting time on Friday afternoon. Good times. The copy guy just brought the tape dispenser I requested – so I guess it really is my office. A ha ha.

My neck has been killing me for days and I desperately need a massage. Too bad Kristin H. lives so far away! I will go to the chiro instead tonight – she’s way cheaper than a massage and needless to say, Mama is broke. B-roke with a capital B. But I can still write, so all is not lost.

How are you?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ho Ho Ho

I have written the Christmas letter! It all came out in a rush of thoughts while driving home from the coast the other night. Scott was driving, so I tore up a Dunkin Donuts bag to write on, scrabbled around and finally found a pen, and wrote by the light of the glove box. And now I have a Christmas letter. Yay!

Merrrrrrrrry Christmas!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm Grateful For...

1. A warm kitty sprawled out beside me, in her red rhinestoned collar. I trimmed the cats' nails for the second time last night. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it can be done.

2. "Everybody Loves Raymond," 11:30 pm. Even though they are yelling at each other all the time, I find it relaxing to watch.

3. My new fuzzy brown sweater. Mmm, cozy.

4. Scott is still employed and though things are tense at his workplace, with everyone wondering who is about to be laid off, he has made himself doubly useful to his employer by doing several jobs in one. We love him for that.

5. Harvest Stuffing, as modified by Allison. Who ever heard of carrots in stuffing? I am practicing and narrowing down a stuffing choice, the only variable for Thanksgiving. If it turns out well, I'll share my recipe.

6. Not having to get up at a specified time in the morning. I am working freelance from home right now. Will probably spend a few days sorting out the delicate balance of how to ignore the laundry and clutter and focus on work. Once I get into the work, I lose myself in it and suddenly, it's 5:00. But the getting started - aye, there's the rub. Especially when the house is a mess. I find it almost impossible to work (or clear my head) when there's stuff all over the place. I'm sure this is a skill - segmenting? Any advice?

7. My cacti are growing new tendrils, even though they aren't getting much light indoors.

8. Mom is coming over for dinner on Wednesday. I really like having her around and especially need her company right now. She is bringing the movie Wall-e.

9. I am tossing around thoughts for the Christmas letter. This is the cooking part, the marination of ideas.

10. Tip had his 16th birthday today! I bought him some duck jerky (what?) to celebrate. Unfortunately, it was too hard for him to chew since his teeth have gone soft. So he gummed it for a while and that seemed to make him happy.

How are you?
~Allison

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Christmas Letter


It has been exceedingly hard to write lately. I'm sure you have noticed (especially my bereft Yahoo readers...sorry). I get brief glimpses of inspiration. If I am lucky, I have a scrap of paper, or an old envelope, or a sticky with dirt plastered to the back. And I write. Or scribble. Or jot down an idea, pretending that after this moment, it will not be lost to me forever. If I am not lucky, I miss it. And then the waiting ensues.

My brain is tired, my heart is tired. My brain is functioning at work though, and for that I am glad. It is a wonderful distraction from reality.

Nevertheless all of the above, it is time once again to write the Christmas letter. An annual tradition, which I love. A tradition started by my Dad. Making it that much harder to accomplish. What the hell am I supposed to say? Hmm, was tortured at my job, then lost my job, went broke, Daddy died, dog almost died but then didn't, Merry Fucking Christmas! If you like that approach, well, let's call it a day.

For the rest of you friends and family, you'll have to wait for the sweet, poetic version. It very well may come in a flash after three things take place: 1) the battery for my laptop comes, thus fixing all of its problems (let a girl dream - it's Christmas), 2) I get my desk cleaned off (again, the dream...), and 3) I have a steaming mug of holiday tea (or maybe a Jack and Coke) to inspire my fingers to type. And then there's the finding of the perfect year's poem for the back of the letter. Oh, dear.

Aside: Several of you dear blog junkies may like to receive the Christmas letter this year (???)...let me know, and email me your address. No online letters for this traditional gal. Only requirements are that you are not a creepy stalker (and you know who you are), and you promise not to post my address and phone number on the Internet - ahem. Fourteen year old boys posing as middle-aged or thirtysomethings who just loooove all my inane insights need not apply.

Love you as always. And yes, I mean you.

~Ally

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I LOVE this

Click on the image to enlarge it.

(Not sure who drew it.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A funny

from Shoeboxblog

Anniversary Findings

Scott took me around to local garden shops, greenhouses and farm stands for our anniversary a couple weeks ago. I picked out flowers, pumpkins, fall decorations, and orchard apples. A lovely day, just us.A picture I took for Marie. I know you love garden friends.
Fall maples.
Hydrangea in beautiful wedding colors.

Happy Fifth.
~Ally

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tippy

photo by Scott Snyder

Gave my baby a bath tonight. Snuggly fuzz bug. I'm so glad he's still alive.

This pic is of us last summer, 2007.

~Ally

Idea

Fear is a self-perpetuating entity. So is love.


~Ally

Monday, October 20, 2008

for Marie

You will be glad to hear the bird feeders (a.k.a. peanut butter and birdseed pinecones) have disappeared. Scott thinks the squirrels carried them off. They are nowhere to be found. Nor are the birds. So the fine feathered friends are safe* for another day.


*from my little hunters, that is.

That said, there was a dead mouse, entrails hanging out, in front of the stoop today. Hara-kiri? I think not. Well, the circle of life...

~Ally

Words

There are some of mine at Rock, Water and Light today.


;'[[./;

Those words are from Judy the Cat, who stepped lightly across the keys.


And from Rumi, today's teacher:

BIRDWINGS

Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you're bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you've been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.


***
~Ally

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Photos

Pinecone

Friends: Red and the niecelings

Hoit Road Marsh: Reeds

Leaf

~Allison

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bawk!

When I got home today, there was a trail of fuzzy grey feathers along the fence, leading to a big pile of feathers under the, uh, birdfeeder. Oops.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Update

I love this picture. I will call it, "Determination."

So life goes on. I have been temping at a bankruptcy lawyer's office, and that work has been very interesting and nicely distracting. It feels good to discover I still have the work-work-work gene alive and well in me, when needed. The other day I got to visit bankruptcy court (and not as a client, thank god) - that was fun.

Mom is back from Mexico and we had a nice time reconnecting over lunch at Uno's and a walk in the woods, along the beautiful Merrimack River.

I just made an apple pie (with crumb topping), since Mom and her longtime friend Sandy are coming for dinner tomorrow. I'll be lunching with Laurel and Bumbers - it's my last day "off" this week. I am looking forward to regaining some of my own time when this assignment ends. It's easy to get wrapped up in the moments of the day and forget to take stock of what's happening inside. I don't know if other grieving people feel this, but I feel a sense of urgency or importance to feel what I'm feeling and let this new situation sit in my brain.

I have to forge a new life. That may sound dramatic to some of you. But to those of you who have lost a parent, I bet you understand. Everything has been tossed upside down and will never be "normal" again. We will all need to create a new normal.

Judy The Cat has just come round the hall, shaken the bell on her collar, and is thinking of asking for some food. I swear they eat all day long. Ever since we let them outside, they run around all day, up the trees, tripping their way down, along the fence, under the fence, through backyards, back through the hole in the fence, to the patio door, up the tree...you get the idea. I put out three pinecone bird feeders today (pinecones spread with peanut butter and then rolled in birdseed). I imagine they will attract birds tomorrow morning and that ought to drive the little kitties wild. They'll be hungry tomorrow night. Unless of course, they're full. Ahem.

Hope you are surviving your life. Hope you are getting a taste of beautiful Autumn - we are surrounded here and loving every minute of it. Very comforting, especially this year.

~Allison

This is a picture of Dad on the last day I saw him, August 9th; we were at the NH League of Craftsman's Fair. It was such a good day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A giveaway not to be missed

There's a wonderful giveaway with prizes at Marie's A Year From Oak Cottage. Marie is a dedicated blogger who always has something inspiring and thought-provoking to say. And to top it off, she's an excellent chef.

Check it out and maybe you will even win the giveaway!

~Ally

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Funnies

from Shoeboxblog

Worst Lipstick Color Names

* Cheese-Curl-Fingers Orange
* Hockey Mom.
* First Response Pink
* Rose McGowen.
* Mid Level Whore
* Guacamole
* Two-Shades-Lighter-Than-The-Liner Pink
* Spinster
* Old-Lady-Scalp Pink
* Stubborn Bloodstain
* Naughty Grandma Red
* Preparation L
* Uptight Sweater-Set Pink
* There’s Something On Your Lip
* Mystery-Carpet-Stain Brown
--------------------------------------

Have one to add?
~A

Friday, September 19, 2008

so you don't have to live in the mire with me completely




heh heh

good old Shoeboxblog

Tidbits

Did I tell you we got two kitties? They are both black, one the mama (Judy) and the other, her son (O'Reilly). Both are quite young and they are v sweet. They both have terrible cabin fever today though. Their spay/neutering was on Monday and they are supposed to be resting, but instead, they are running wildly all over the house, batting things off the tables, swinging at feet that pass by, thinking of terrorizing the dog, and generally, going nuts. They are big-time stir crazy. But the vet says 5 more days before they can go outside and burn this energy off. So it should be a loooooong weekend. ;)

Am going to lunch with Laurel today, to celebrate my birthday. I am finally up for a brief outing. This grief is so weird. I had no idea how many things it could affect - like my energy level and desire to socialize, to name a few. And it goes up and down rapidly - one moment I am ready to talk, make calls, see friends, and the next moment, the mere thought of answering the phone is overwhelming. So if you've called lately, please understand if I don't call you back for a while.

I did manage to use yesterday's energy to get a few job applications out. And to deal with some of Dad's estate paperwork. And to bring my plants in so they didn't freeze in the season's first frost.

It is fall here, and that makes me happy. Yesterday my birthday was a cool, slightly blustery fall day, like the day Rebecca and Molly and Lisa and I went down to the river to celebrate my birthday with a picnic, a million years ago. Coming into my favorite season will help me with the grief. I am both looking forward to and dreading the holidays. Should be hard, but also comforting in some strange way.

Remind me to tell you about the banquet we went to the other night to receive an award for Dad.

~Ally

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dad

Well, the last few days have been really hard for us. Mom is now gone to Mexico and I have been feeling very alone. It is amazing how alone you can feel when a beloved parent disappears off the horizon. I really don't know how to chart the waters without Dad. Scott had an especially hard day today, with every moment full of Dad memories and a longing for his presence.

Today was also a special blessing because Lauren's baby, Caleb Benjamin, has arrived - and both are alive and healthy! I was in a blind panic - the kind you get suddenly whenever someone close to you has just died - waiting for news. I don't know what I would have done if something happened to Lauren. Thank you God.

I am not ready to talk about my father in past tense - I may never be. So here are a few things you might like to know about him. These are some of my favorites, today, to celebrate him two days before the horrid one month mark, and on 9/11 (now and forevermore to be known as The Day of New Life).

***Dad likes birds. Of course he is obsessively in love with loons. But he also likes other birds, large and small. He is always on the lookout for an eagle or an eagle's nest. He can name different hawks, knows the difference between a hawk and a buzzard, and knows the calls and natures of the Chickadee, Nuthatch, Blue Jay, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, Cormorant, Red-Winged Blackbird, and Common Grackle, among others. Woodpeckers seem to always appear for him, especially at Bass Lake. Dad spots animals in the field as you drive along the highway - wild turkeys, deer, a fox, and the ever elusive moose. He is always looking for the infamous New Hampshire moose (and don't even bother arguing this, Hampsters - they barely exist).

Dad likes beer in cans: Coors Light, Miller Light, or Miller Genuine Draft. He loves salted mixed nuts, but likes sugar-coated walnuts or pecans even more. He has a wicked sweet tooth, and the older he gets, the more he is seen sneaking chocolate or cinnamon-sticky goodies into the house. He likes sandwich cookies, and always takes six, carrying them in a perfect stack in one hand. Oreos are a big hit.

Dad whistles in the car. He also has been known to break into song at the top of his lungs (particularly with the song "Maria" from West Side Story), with arms held out wide. "Blue Moon" seemed to be the soundtrack through my childhood, and he would change the words as he liked on the particular day...usually starting with, "Big Al, I saw you standing alone." He and mom often sit in the car in the garage if a good song is playing when they arrive home, to listen to the end. He had the big-time hots for Wonder Woman (a "You Go Girl" shout out to Linda Carter). He also thought Angelina was hot, but please, what guy didn't? (I never agreed with that one.)

Dad likes to give motivational speeches, and advice a-plenty. He likes to teach - God forbid you ask him about something he really knows (like insurance, marketing, motivation, positive thinking, fishing, loons, nature, history, science, et al). You are in for a long sit and you might as well settle in with a cold drink. When he smoked (which he did for over 50 years), he would sit on the back porch and drink his coffee, smoke, and watch the birds in the morning. He might take a tablet and pen and write some thoughts to organize his day. Lauren reminded me he used to put inspirational phrases to himself on his screen saver, like, "Just write one chapter this week, Larry - the book is pretty good!"

Though he is a major motivator, encourager, and mentor (apparently, to many, as the sympathy cards and emails attest), he could be seriously grumpy and cranky and depressed. Years of his life were cloaked in depression, until he finally, FINALLY tried some anti-depressants. And then he/we recovered his lovely inner self. He liked to go to The Pub at this time and tell the crotchety old fishermen and underemployed construction workers to try anti-depressants. "It'll change your life; it did mine," he would say. Quite humorous really.

He is a big-time fisherman and is quite good at it. For no reason I can uncover, the rest of us never learned to drive the damn boat, and so now it will probably be sold. Mom says we don't know how to drive it because Dad never let anyone drive it. Ahem. He also never let me mow the lawn (what?) and now I don't know how. Ridiculous. Well, once he let me try the riding lawnmower in Pennsylvania, but I near ran it into the shed because I didn't know how to stop or turn it. Dear god. So that was the end of that.

Dad is a very good writer and has completed one book of fishing/life memoirs and one book on loon species and his love of loons (that's what Scott says it's about b/c he laid out the book, spending countless hours with it). Dad has a 100% article submission-to-publication rate, which he is very proud of. (To us writers, that's an incredible statistic.) He has written many articles for newspapers, magazines, online publications, and countless insurance newsletters. He never minded ghost writing for Presidents and Vice-Presidents of his insurance companies. But he also went on to publish many things under his own name.***

Dad is woven through me in so many ways. We have a practically matching personality, same level of inner angst, unfortunate temperamental digestive system, ability to sympathize and empathize, desire to help others in need (particularly in the local community - Dad always said, "Charity starts at home and goes outward from there"), mushy sentimentality and propensity for getting choked up to tears at family events, and the same crazed, impulsive energy, to be shortly followed by a desire for blob-like inactivity. We both like to read, to learn continually, to share holidays with as much family as possible, to hide at times, to keep things in, and to let things out by writing them.

I miss him terribly. He is and was a good, good man. He has always been a perfect father. He constantly yelled, "Who's the greatest Dad you ever had?!?" You are. Love you Daddy.
~Ally

Friday, September 5, 2008

Does this make sense to you?



UPS driver Brent Boyd poses with his truck on Friday, Aug. 29, 2008 in Palestine, Texas. Brent Boyd on Thursday surpassed one million miles on his UPS delivery van, the same vehicle he's driven for 22 years with the company. (AP Photo/Palestine Herald, Cheril Vernon)

--------

...'cause it doesn't make sense to me. But then, I have been very slow on the uptake recently.
~Allison

Thursday night

It strikes me as very odd that I have been crying for 23 days in a row. I can't imagine I've ever cried so much in my life. And several times a day, for a variety of reasons. A bird flew overhead while I was driving, the people at the car loan company wouldn't help me (or even talk to me about my Dad's account), the flowers are dropping, I found a letter Dad wrote to me over ten years ago that was so funny, I am too tired to make the bed, mom and I found ourselves in a huge yelling match for no reason, the To Do list on sorting the estate is too fucking long, I still don't have a job, I can't imagine having the energy to get a job, I have perpetually puffy eyelids, Anna and Emma sent cards to Tip - the dying dog, the dog woke up another day...you get the idea. Any old reason will do.

I have brief glimmers of needing the people to surround me - the people who are not here and available to surround me. Then the window closes up and when they return my calls, I am sorely irritated. I need casseroles. Then hate my fat reflection in the mirror. I want hugs. Then can't stand to be touched and find my legs twitching or everything aching all over.

Oh, this is good times.

I'm sorry I don't have the strength to read your blogs tonight or even ask how you are (but how are you?)...I am tired down to the insides of my bones. My Dad would say, "Don't print that on your blog or the employers will never hire you." Guess what Dad, you can't give me advice anymore b/c you are dead. [as if that will stop him]

Anyway, I do care how you are. So if you feel the energy in your life, put a Comment on this blog and tell me a little something about you. I promise when I have the strength to ask you again, I will.

Love,
Ally

p.s. Mom and I went to see "Mamma Mia" tonight - that helped.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I say to the Universe, and whoever may be listening

..it's really unfair that my dog is dying amidst (and as an indirect result of) my father's death. Really freaking unfair.

~Allison

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Love is never done.

I invite you to check out a post by my friend Lisa, at Chance of Kingfishers:

A Late Reflection on the Death of Jesus


Seems appropriate. The last lines are perfect:

"At some point everything is done.
Except love.

Love is never done."

~Ally

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two Weeks Gone By

There are so many difficult tasks right now, looming like icy mountains that need to be climbed. Like sifting through piles of Dad's paperwork, accepting the flowers and cards that keep arriving without falling into a puddle of tears, calling the million people who need to be contacted (and notified), and figuring out how to move on without the guidance and love of my father.

What people don't tell you are all the chaotic things that will happen, like: your muscles will hurt, your bones (your actual bones) will ache, you will be unable to sleep yet when you doze off on the couch, you will sleep the sleep of the dead, with arms and legs like lead and unable to move. You will cry for no apparent reason, suddenly in the shower. You will think the most awful, hateful and spiteful thoughts toward the deceased, and then start to cry saying, "Daddy, I didn't mean it; I know you didn't mean to do this." And they also don't tell you that people you never expected will say the most sweet and generous things. "He was such a good father to you," "He used to give me advice and I always appreciated that," or, "Larry made such a difference in my life - he was a mentor to me." Death is one big shocker after another. That's the punchline. Now you can laugh.

The only way I am getting through all this is with the loving arms of your support, encouragement, and kindness. Your cards and flowers, emails, voicemails and blog comments are lifting me up. And though I have not responded to barely anyone yet - I just can't - your thoughts and prayers are felt. Your love is coming through in a big, big way. I am deeply indebted to you and forever grateful.

Today some beautiful roses and ferns arrived in a rust colored pitcher - so lovely - from two of Dad's friends. I don't know them. Turns out he helped edit their book on writing (and so did Mom), and they even featured him in a chapter about his writing, to inspire teen writers. Who knew? I read it today. He had a vast life I didn't even know about, and every moment like this helps me love and know him more. Daddy, you are so missed. You have no idea.

***Also today, Hillary gave a fan-f*cking-tastic speech at the Democratic National Convention! Did you see it? I would've jumped out of my seat and shouted, save for the leaden appendages and poor Scott trying to catch a few hrs of sleep. She told her supporters to get on board with Obama for crying out loud, and make this change happen! Thank you Hillary. I am on board, officially. Go Obama!


We are keeping our chins up and moving ever forward. Keep those loving thoughts coming. We need you.

~Ally

Monday, August 25, 2008

Moving Onward Bit by Bit

from Shoeboxblog
Not exactly sure what this means, but it feels about right. Looks like Mom and me on our journey to the great beyond. We are back in NH. Hard day today. Starting the long road to the rest of life tomorrow. Now, sleep.
~Ally

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Very Bad Week

This is more for me than for anything else, but will explain why I have been out of touch and will continue to be out of sorts.

Tuesday 8/12 - doing day 7 of early, early temp job (and day 2 with no help, as the training employee went on vacation and I was alone in the HR fray); v tired.

Wednesday 8/13 - up since 5, at work since 7, got call at 10 a.m. from Mom - Dad died in his sleep at 4 a.m. of massive heart attack; life as I knew it crumbled; met Scott at home, made miracle travel arrangements, got Puppy to kennel and got on plane to Indiana.

Thursday 8/14 - after very, very long previous night ending at Holiday Inn, got up and went to Benners' house (home of my cousins, where we all basically grew up, the most stable place in my world); family arrived in droves; went to funeral parlor to see dead father (absolutely AWFUL); talked to irritating minister about Friday's brief service and tried explaining that though there were many Christians in the family who would appreciate the Jesusification, my Dad would probably not have; dinner at Benners' with everyone under the sun.

Friday 8/15 - breakfast at Benners'; funeral, which turned into more of a real service since more and more people kept showing up. Sister Lauren and family could not come (horrible) since she is eight months pregnant and not allowed to travel. Cousin Jake came, Uncle Bob and Cousin Amber, The Ladds and Birdsalls (my parents' lifelong best friends), Leslie and family (wonderful to see her), and others. Service was brief in Jesusland and then opened up for people to speak - wonderful tributes, often funny, lots of fishing stories, and heartfelt remembrances. We videotaped it for Lauren. Chad, Karen and Amber put together a slideshow of old pictures - v nice. Lunch after at a restaurant; everyone in a surreal daze; dinner again at Benners'. Oh, and poor Scott's birthday (f*ck!!), celebrated with cake and a song. The little kids made him cards and told him special birthday secrets, and that made up for a lot.

Saturday 8/16 - Said early and reluctant goodbyes to Amber and Uncle Bob; went to Bass Lake (scene of the obscene crime) and had a swimming, relaxing day with Mom, Birdsalls, Karen and Jake; broke the miserable curse of the cottage - now we can go there again; Jake took us out on the boat and that healed a thousand sorrows. Dinner at Karen's enormous house with her kids, various relatives and Grammie. Saying goodnight and goodbye to Karen's four kids (whom we are now officially in love with) was hard. Their love and little games and "watch me, watch me" were healing us. Spent night at Karen's.

Sunday 8/17 - Left early. Went to Benners' to say goodbye to Grammie, Aunt Anne and Uncle Fred (also hard) and caravaned with Birdsalls and Mom to Beaver Island, Michigan for a few days to recover from total shock. Scott kept saying all weekend, "Dad woulda loved this."

Monday and Tuesday - Michigan; Scott left this morning to drive back to Chicago and fly home - hate being without him; we will be here a few more days until we can bear the thought of going home; then Mom and I will drive across the country, soaking up our Motherland the Midwest and its corn, big skies, bright fields, and nurturing crops...and make our way back home to all the misery that awaits us.

Dad will arrive in two urns in the mail. That promises to be a fan-f*cking-tastic day.
Uff-da.
~Ally

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The truth and nothing but the truth

Some pictures from two weekends ago at Mount Kearsarge - trying to catch up. I am temping this month, getting up very early [read: insanity] until the end of August. For those of you who don't know me, that means I am discombobulated and my blog time (11pm-4am) is non-existent! So hang in while I write non-sequiturs for a while. And don't worry if I don't comment on your blogs. I will be back in September - I look forward to catching up on my reading!




Thinking of you.
~Ally

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Update on the plants

New Hampshire has been either sweltering hot or raining continually. Both of which seem to be helping the plants.Now who knew they had such funny faces?
Dahlia. Oh, dahlia.
My old gentleman, who is always happiest outside, in the summer months. He puts up with fall, winter and spring, just so he can relish summer.
Cannot get that marigold plant to bloom again. There are several buds, and I have tried the "haircut" approach, but no luck. She's getting quite wooly.
Basil a plenty. And begonias.
Happy little orangeness.

Under the largest plant I have ever had - thank you Robin - is the pond I made for toad. I thought, "Why not a terrarium for the little guy?" He has never yet languished there, despite the welcoming bridge Scott suggested... I fully expect to one day come out and find him sunning himself among the rocks and cool water.
Our patio, with two beauties from Robin's porch. And my trusty beach chair. Without frequent trips to the beach, drinking buddies, and smokefests, it doesn't see much action these days. But maybe it will be a good reading spot in September, when I come back to life.
It is so good for my soul to be surrounded by happy living things.
~Ally

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

NEWS ALERT: There is a whole world going on out there at 6 a.m.! [insert loud sounds of shock and dismay] I am doing a temp job right now that actually starts at 7 a.m. - 6:45 next week - and I have come to find out there are restaurants open at this breakneck hour (thank God for Dunkin Donuts), several people on the road (going where??), and yes, people already at work! Who knew?

Since I have virtually no time or coherent thoughts left, here are a few pictures of my darling to refresh your spirits.



Couldn't you just eat him up with a spoon? And doesn't Mom look fantastico??
~Ally

p.s. My "e" button has fallen off (ain't that the truth...) and it is making it vry hard to typ! (see?)

Quote of the day, from the world of Scott:

"Argh. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to sit in a bowl of lettuce and declare myself King Salad." ~ someone named Maggie

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bumbers and Uncle Scott: Destined for Greatness

I had the privilege of watching two people fall in love tonight, Gabriel (formally known, by me, as "Bumbers") and his Uncle Scott. The latter was all hemming and hawing over whether or not to hold the baby, what if he's fussy, he doesn't seem to like me. "Just hold him, " I said, "It'll do your heart a world of good." And a few minutes later, he did.

Never have I seen such immediate and unabashed love between two people. Soon they were speaking their own language and having quite the spirited conversation. Might I mention that Bumbers is a mere two months old and does not speak, has no vocabulary that I know of, and his sounds are basically just squeaks and squawks while waiting for food or filling his diaper (no offense, Bumbers' mom). But with Uncle Scott, a star was born. Fully formed baby sentences (well timed squeaks with inflection, inspiration, and conversation) burbled forth. Uncle Scott seemed to know just what he was talking about. They went back and forth like this, telling each other all kinds of guy secrets, for about twenty minutes.

During which time, they stared intently into each other's faces, mesmerized.There were jokes.
Animated stories.
"Oh, wait 'til you hear what she said next!"
And total, absolute admiration.
It was quite lovely to behold. Uncle Scott's dinner got cold while this transpired. And Mom (formerly known as "Laurel") had a whole dinner, hot, from start to finish. And went back for seconds. And then wandered around the living room a bit, not sure what to do with herself and her newfound mere moments of not being ON CALL 24-7.

And then, as quickly as it began, it was gone. Bumbers caught a glimpse of Mom. Then realized, "Hey, I haven't eaten in at least a half hour!" The back arched. The howl erupted. And the moment passed.

But oh, was it a sight to see. I imagine Uncle Scott and Bumbers have a long and beautiful relationship ahead of them. I am thinking two weeks every summer at Snyder Camp for sure. Surfing, hiking, how to walk the dog or roll a sleeping bag or make a campfire, arts and crafts, quiet time, floating in the swimming pool....oh the possibilities.

~Aunty Ally (awed observer, with a little mist in the eyes, ahem)