Wednesday, November 27, 2013

White Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Storm
Early this morning, after days of of anxiety over the impending "winter event" that started yesterday afternoon and was expected to last several days, we made our way down the NYS Thruway to pick up Annalisse for the Thanksgiving holiday. Before hitting the open road, though, we stopped by to pick up big bro at RIT. I was really happy he came (And early! We picked him up at 6:30am) since he had not been to Mercyhurst, so that was nice.

We got to the college by 9:15 and were back on the road heading home, after a stop at Panera, by 10:30, arriving back at around 1:30. Thankfully, the storm was over-predicted (as usual), and the roads were clear with very fine flurries but no accumulation. Now the anxiety can start about the trip back on Sunday, but not before we spend some wonderful time together. It's so nice have my chicks back in the nest - and puppy is pretty happy, too!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Decking the Halls, Super Early

As I count down the days to a delicious turkey dinner, I cannot believe I am decorating for Christmas today. Well, actually, I'm doing the first stage of decorating, which is the inside house stuff. Next weekend or shortly after, Mark will decorate the outside/porch. Then, in a couple of weeks we will get the tree and the transformation will be complete. I'm doing it so early this year because next Sunday, the day I usually decorate (the Sunday after Thanksgiving), we'll be driving Annalisse back to Mercyhurst. And, knowing me, I know I am too tired after work to decorate (especially being so dark and cold when I get home).

You know, I spend a lot of time during the year not wanting Christmas to come. In May, June, July, I marvel about how fast the year is going and how it will soon the the holiday season again, and that, too me, is not a welcome thought. It's not really Christmas, but rather the decorating and shopping that I'm not too crazy about. It's a huge financial drain and most of the time things feel commercialized and rote, rather than thoughtful and heartfelt. I think it also bothers me because another year has flown by in the blink of an eye.

For some reason I'm not dreading Christmas this year. That probably has a lot to do with looking forward to having both kids home for a couple of weeks. Also, this year we're celebrating with my sisters and their families at Mary's new house during the weekend between Christmas and New Years. There is even talk of Anthony coming home from NC for the get together, which would be awesome.

So, tonight, I will once again be able to enjoy the glow of holiday lights coming from the mantle, and in a couple of weeks we'll enjoy the lights from the tree. How fast time does go.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Your Coming In and Your Going Out

Last night I had an hour long conversation with Aunt Carol Chase to make arrangements to have lunch and go see my Mother when I visit on Friday. Obviously, it doesn't take an hour to make such arrangements, but I know when I call Aunt Carol I've got to set some time aside. I guess I'm lucky I got away after only an hour.

During the course of the conversation Aunt Carol was talking about Auntie, whom we lost in September. Auntie and Aunt Carol have always been as close as sisters as Aunt Carol was just 10 years older than Auntie and her lifelong best friend. Aunt Carol said something that was particularly touching, about how when Nonnie was in labor with Auntie, Aunt Carol was told by Aunt Pasqueline, who was attending to Nonnie's home birth, that it was "time for her to leave," as Nonnie was "getting close."

Shortly after Auntie was born Aunt Carol was right there, and by her side for the rest of her days spending time together, and, in later years, talking many times a day - exchanging advice and confidences. On the day Auntie passed away, Aunt Carol was back by her side, holding her hand as she slipped away. As we were speaking, Aunt Carol said, "I was there when she came into this world, and I was holding her hand as she went out." Not unlike the thoughts of a parent, I suppose. So sad. Aunt Carol, being 93, has lost all her beloved cousins, except for my generation. As humans, we all strive to live a good, long life, but that's what's got to be so hard: losing loved ones who pass away before you do.

Aunt Carol loves to tell the stories about life on Martin Street, and truthfully, I never get tired of hearing them. She has her quirks, but the love she has for her family has been at the center of her life.

Monday, November 18, 2013

All roads lead to...Fairport!

Get ready for another post about the awesomeness of Fairport. You've been warned.

Maybe it's just my street, maybe it's living in the Village in general, but when your neighbor is walking by your house and says, "C'mon, let's go!,"you go. Especially when it's to the grand opening of the Fairport Brewing Company. That's right: Fairport even has it's own microbrewery. My God, before long there will be absolutely NO REASON to ever leave Fairport.

Anyway, we headed down to the FBC grand opening in and around their cute little building in the heart of downtown. They had live music and festival type food, and Southside Johnny played great '70s and '80s rock. The best thing, though, was the demographic, which skewed my age or older (wonderful given my recent sensitivity to aging). We saw tons of people we knew and it was a blast.

I seriously can't think of a better community to live in. Lucky!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the KFC

April 13, 1976
Funny story.

A couple of weeks ago I convinced a car full of coworkers to accompany me into the city to go to Swan Market, a German deli, for lunch. Let's just say German food was waaaayyyy outside some their comfort zones. So far out, in fact, that two of them got a turkey sandwich on rye. IN A DELICIOUS GERMAN DELI. But I digress.

On the way to Swan's we passed by a Kentucky Fried Chicken (or, KFC as it is now known), and I remarked that it had been years since I had eaten KFC, and I would love to have some but it's no longer part of my diet. I love that stuff, I think if I had some now I'd feel pretty sick from all the grease. Me and KFC, we go way back. Back to 1974-5, in fact, when my sister, Mary, had a job there and would bring home leftovers every night after work. YUM, what a treat.

So, ironically I had just talked about eating at KFC when the Facebook page for my hometown paper posted that they were looking for stories and pictures from the day Colonel Sanders visited Massena's KFC in 1976. The tribute was in memory of the KFC building which, after being empty for two years or so after an abrupt closing, was recently demolished to make way for a Tim Horton's donut shop.

Right away I went to the family photo albums (I'm pretty sure the family is regretting giving me all those albums...) where I knew I had seen a picture of that fateful day! I posted the picture, which featured dad, Carol, the Colonel and the then-KFC manager. Lots of folks commented on it and a fun time was had by all. End of conversation. Or so we thought.

THEN, this weekend while visiting Mary we stumbled across a newspaper clipping of the event and--wait for it--an ancient KFC order slip with the Colonel's autograph on the back. Isn't that wild? After years of not thinking about KFC, within a couple of weeks it's all  we can talk about! I posted a picture of the autograph on Facebook especially for my friend Sue to see, to which she promptly replied: OMG!! This is the secret recipe for your retirement investment! That Sue!

BUT WAIT, that's not all! On Monday morning I got a message from a reporter for the Massena paper wanting to interview me about the picture I had posted. I was happy to respond to him to let him know my sister Carol would be the better person to speak with him since she was actually there; I'm just the keeper of the pictures. It turns out Mary was also not there - she was in college at the time. I thought Carol would kill me for referring the reporter to her, but she was actually a really good sport about it. So, Carol has now gained her 15 minutes of fame.

Well, that's the story. It's really the tale about how a silly story about basically nothing really gained legs. Chicken legs, that is. Regular or Extra Crispy?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Harvest Dinner

On Saturday we took a trip up to my sister Mary's for a "Harvest Dinner" celebration in her new house.

For the past three years Mary's awesome husband, Larry, has lovingly (and painstakingly) renovated his parent's 30+ year old huge split level. The house had great "bones," but needed much updating, and Larry outdid himself honing his Jack-of-all-Trades (master of many) skills to do literally everything in the house (plumbing, ad/heating, roof, floors, counters, drywall, painting, windows, etc. etc. etc!!). Larry also built all the cabinetry, and even some of the furniture, including an amazing bar with three different types of curved wood, an Adirondack-style wooden bed, and a dining room table with 300 year old wood found in one of the family barns. My sister's role has been to scour the Earth for decorations, including the hicory/leather-seated dining chairs, bar stools and counter chairs. The house is absolutely stunning, yet warm and inviting. HGTV shows are made for these people.

Now, having been satisfied with how the house turned out, Larry will turn his attention to the yard, then back to their "old" house where my nephew is the new renter, for some much needed updates. 

But I digress...back to the Harvest Dinner.

The Greco family members headed to Mary's from Massena and Rochester, and all converged around 2pm on Saturday. We started with delicious appetizers at Larry's homemade bar in the "man cave," which featured overstuffed leather couches and a 70" HD TV. It was great to get together with cousin Lisa and her family as we don't see them very often. After a delicious turkey dinner with all the fixins, we cleaned up and hung around for the evening. There were old pictures to sort through, and laughs all around. Serious laughs. It seems like the older I get the more I enjoy spending time with my family. It turns out we all just like to get together and there is never any drama. I feel very fortunate for that. I regret that my kids have not been able to do much my family over the last couple of years as they always seem to be away at school, at their summer jobs, or otherwise engaged. Some day!

How happy my dad, Auntie, and Uncle Joe would be to see the family enjoying ourselves in this way. These big get togethers are like the ones I grew up with...they help tie us to the past.

So, in advance of Thanksgiving and the opportunity it gives us to step back and give thanks, I give thanks for my family all year long!

Friday, November 8, 2013

6000 Calories!

Last year, as I noticed my weight creeping up-up-up, I decided to get back on track with watching what I eat. About 10 years ago I was able to lose approx. 20 pounds with Weight Watchers, and got myself down to an appropriate size/weight for someone who is 5 feet tall (and has a short waist...). But, like many other things, I started to slip back into old habits and gained, not all, but a bit back. Let's just say I was on a trajectory that was not making me very happy about my body image.

The key for me has always been journaling, portion control, and, of course, making smart food choices. People don't realize how much they actually eat until they start to write it down. So, not wanting to re-invest in Weight Watchers (at least for now), I decided to download a handy little "app" called MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal helps you determine your optimal daily calorie intake to meet your weight goal, and has a very robust database of foods - from general type foods and dishes to many restaurant calorie guides. It also accounts for exercise so you can build that into your daily calorie count. To get to my weight goal, my daily calorie count was 1,200, which, believe me, is very hard to achieve at an average of 400 calories a meal, not including snacks.

I'm happy to say that most days I can stay within 1,200 calories, and, as of "now," I've lost approx. six pounds using MyFitnessPal (although that usually fluctuates between 4-8 pounds lost when I sporadically weigh myself). When I go over, though, I don't beat myself up - tomorrow is another day! I bring this up because Wednesday we were having a discussion at work and one of the guys I work with said he needs to eat 6,000 calories a day. A DAY! He has intense daily two-hour workouts, and he does other fitness type stuff. He is also 6' 7" tall. 

But, WOW. 6,000 calories. Wouldn't that be wonderful?!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Funk-y November

Over the last couple of weeks I've felt the funk settling in.

I've been aware for a very long time that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). Truthfully, for those of us who live in the north, who doesn't have it to some degree? But, boy, am I aware of it as I feel myself getting more cranky, prickly, hypersensitive to any type of criticism or feedback, and over analyzing any real or perceived slights against me (paranoia?), and just generally wanting to roll up into a ball. Last  week Mark was in Denver for work and I was kind of glad for that because I think he might have been on the receiving end (undeserved) for my foul moves and unrelenting picking. Best to keep a distance.

This, THIS, is why I need to live some place warm and sunny. My soul will battle the good/happy vs. cranky/unhappy Judy until the days get longer, warmer and sunnier again.

Come, spring, come!!

This post is dedicated to Barb "Ma" Bell, with whom I shared many discussions about our shared challenges with SAD.