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Photo Credit: The Independent

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

~Theodore Roosevelt

This month marks the halfway point in my term as president of the Wallingford Rotary. If you would have told me when I joined Rotary three years ago, I would be president, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here I am.

When you reach the halfway point, it’s always good to stop, look back and look ahead. Looking back, we have had some wonderful events that I am especially proud of including our first Pancake Breakfast with Santa which had a great turnout despite the snowy weather, not such good weather for driving, but perfect weather for Santa’s arrival.

My personal favorite thus far though is the creation of our Interact Club with the students from MRU. I really wanted to connect the opposite ends of our community, the young adults in high school and the older adults. My hope was that we could join forces (kind of like superheroes) for the betterment of our lovely Wallingford area community.  The Interact students have helped out at every event we have had (since before they were even an official Interact Club) and were instrumental in making our Santa breakfast a success with their personalized ornaments for the little kids. The officers have been wonderful to plan and work with and we are very lucky to have their abilities, creativity and assistance.

Looking forward as I plunge into the second half of my presidential year, our club has been asked to host and cater the Zone’s Rotary Peace Center fundraising dinner here at the little red schoolhouse in the spring/early summer, we also have a Hungarian themed community dinner in honor of our lovely exchange student, Eszti in the wings as well as our old favorites, Bike Safety Day and looking past my term, our annual Lobsterfest!

While I can’t honestly always say that getting up when it is pitch black and frigid outside (like this morning) is my favorite (or even anywhere in the top 10), I do have to say that I feel lucky and blessed to have made friends with the men and women who are fellow Rotarians. It is well worth pulling myself up and out early on a Monday morning, I always leave that meeting with a smile on my face. I haven’t been a part of Rotary for very long, but I do feel that these folks go out of their way to spread good fellowship and cheer (even on those dark, cold mornings) which make it all worthwhile.

It’s hard to believe that it is halfway over, it flew by. I am excited to continue to meet new people and share laughs, community and good cheer with my fellow Rotarians throughout our community.

If you’d like to know more about Rotary or think you’d also like to get up for one of our sunrise (doesn’t that just sound so much better than 7 a.m.) meetings or one of our once-a-month dinner meetings (unfortunately at this time of the year, also in the dark), please let me know or just stop by…. we’d love to have you visit us.

 

 

A couple years ago, Tom went out and bought himself a fat tire bike when his knee was acting up. The orthopedist’s advice was to keep his knee moving without jarring it too much and causing further damage. He suggested biking. Tom did his research and while we both have mountain bikes, they are probably as old (if not older) than the wedding anniversary we just celebrated. He wanted a new bike and the idea of a fat tire bike intrigued him. It would give him the ability to have a little more four season biking opportunity. When he showed up with his new bike that looked quite odd at the time, I really didn’t quite get it. We had mountain bikes, which could go almost anywhere, why fat tires? He seems to enjoy it, and he can go places (like the beach) where my little old mountain bike just can’t handle because of its fat tires. But alas, fat tires on their own can get you a lot of places but they still don’t work well when there is ice and snow on the ground. So, he has lusted after studded tires for his fat bike for a while. Honestly, we couldn’t justify the expense of another set of tires for a bike, when there were trucks that needed tires and the costs could actually be somewhat similar on a per tire basis.

When we were up in Stowe last weekend, we came across a fat tire bike convention/gathering of sorts that we decided to stop at and take a walk around. The place where he bought his bike, up in Burlington, Old Spokes Home (don’t you love that name?) had a tent with some cool bikes and accessories. Lo and behold they had some studded tires at a great price. I treated my sweetie to an early birthday present.

The next day, after doing some research, he decided to give a try to change over the tires himself. A few hours which included a complete clean up of the bike and reassembly and  the studded tires were on. He took it for a test drive on our icy roads and had nothing but good things to say about the studded tires. I think that this will make the snow/ice riding much more pleasurable and falls due to the bike slipping and sliding, less likely to happen.

If you are a fat tire biker and are debating the studded tires, I can say that they work, I’ve seen it up close.

 

 

img_5071We went away to do some cross country skiing for our anniversary. Both of us used to downhill ski, one of us was much better than the other, but we don’t want to give him a bigger ego so we won’t mention any names. Then I took up cross country skiing since I could literally walk out my side door put on my skis and go off into the woods behind our house and ski, no lugging of skis, boots, poles, accoutrements into and out of vehicle, driving, etc.

Some days, I would bundle up like I was headed off into the tundra, which sometimes best describes that area in our yard where we park our vehicles, and then as I made each loop through the yard I would shed gloves, the hat, a scarf or even my jacket – you get the picture, I obviously bundled up too much. The nice thing about skiing right outside your door was that I could just go inside by skiing back to my doorstep, no lugging  of equipment, no driving, no changing.

Tom started joining me and the loops through the woods got longer, mostly because he knows his way around the woods far better than I. To say I am a bit directionally challenged would make those that know me laugh hysterically, but I wouldn’t wander too far into the trails alone in the woods for fear I might never make it out.

This was the first time that we actually went to a nordic center to ski. It was nice, the trails were well groomed and wide. While it was nice and we had a fun day, it did make us appreciate our own little “trail system” all that much more. Often, you need to wander away from home to realize just how lucky you are with what you have and often take for granted.

 

 

img_5921When I was growing up, the Christmas tree never came down before Little Christmas. Little Christmas is also known as the feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany is when the three kings arrived to visit the baby Jesus. Do you know the names of these kings? Not something that I remembered learning during my Catholic school education, but their names were evidently believed to be Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar. Little Christmas also marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas which run from December 25th through January 5th. It is the traditional end of the Christmas season and I guess that is where the tradition of “de-Christmassing” the house came from in my family. Taking the decorations down before that date is considered to be bad luck in some countries.

In Ireland, Little Christmas or January 6th is known as Nollaig na mBan or Women’s Christmas since, particularly in Cork and Kerry (happens to be where our families were from), it is the day that the Irish men take over the household duties and watch the children so the women can go out and celebrate with friends and other female family, marking the end of their duties as hostesses in charge of the holiday visitors.

In Italy, they celebrate Epifania, which is a holiday where Italian children would put out stockings and find gifts from La Befana, an old woman who is said to deliver gifts to children on the Epiphany. She is said to sweep the floors when she arrives, to sweep out the problems of the old year. Italian children leave her a glass of wine and a bite to eat  a better deal some would say than Santa has going for him).

So, see no matter which side of the family you look to for me (Irish or Italian)  Little Christmas has significance. There is another reason the day has special meaning in our family.

January 6th marked my dad’s brother, my uncle’s birthday. Here’s a picture that my brother recently found of my dad (on the left) with my uncle Eddie (on the right). Both of them have left us (too soon) but I can never think of Little Christmas without also thinking of him. Somewhere, I am sure the both of them are smiling down on us. They are both dearly missed.

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p1000244Twenty-five years ago today, I made the promise to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. A promise I have never, ever have given a second thought. It’s sometimes difficult when I am offered a night out with the ladies (and I love my lady friends, all of you) but all I really would like to do is hang with this guy. Some of our best days have been spent in comfortable silence, reading by the fire together, knowing exactly what he’s thinking because I’m thinking the same thing. I know it sounds corny, but honestly, it’s true.

It was a beautiful January day, contrary to my worrying that the worst blizzard ever to strike New Jersey would pick that Sunday to arrive way before “snowpocalypse” was even a “thing”. It was a perfect day, surrounded by family and friends. My dad made the girls pancakes before everyone got dressed. He was in his glory. Lots of pictures, lots of smiles — I don’t think that I’ve smiled that much at one time.

Great friends who were just as excited I think as we were, since they had known us for a really long time and probably, like our families, thought the day would never come.

25 years is a long time, even longer when you consider that we dated each other 11 years and one day prior to that January afternoon. I think that one of the amazing revelations was the day when I figured out that I had spent more of my life with Tom than I had without him. Tomorrow, we are headed out cross country skiing. Another adventure with this guy. I love him.

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Christmas dessert-photo credit Tyler Heffernan 

I think my favorite part was making the chocolate “bark”. Crumbling all that frozen chocolate was fun!

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Sledding.

At night.

During a snowstorm.

In a cemetery.

On cardboard boxes.

With flashlights.

First date.

36 years ago.

Today.

He will always argue it was actually tomorrow since it carried on past midnight…..

He is wrong.

But I still love him.  🙂

 

img_5953Years ago, my grandmother gave me her Belleek tea set. The set was packaged up very carefully by my mom more than 25 years ago so that it would be safe since at the time I wasn’t married and didn’t have a place for it. It has been packed away safely like that up until last year, when I finally worked up the courage to unpack that box. It required a complete rearrangement of the cabinet that would host it in order to clear a special shelf for the delicate Irish bone china set that was cherished by my grandmother.

When I unpacked the box, I realized that while I had the tea cups, saucers, dessert plates, creamer and sugar bowl, I did not have the tea pot. Somewhere in my mind, the tea pot was supposed to be there, but sadly it must have got damaged all those years ago and never made it into the box so carefully packed. For Christmas one year ago, my husband bought me a Belleek tea pot with the same pattern as the tea cups.  I now had a complete set, but still not enough courage to actually use it.

Today, more than a quarter century later, it was finally used and enjoyed. Four of us carefully took down the pot, cups and saucers, brewed some delicious tea (Monkey Picked Oolong) and enjoyed that beautiful china Nanny gave to me all those years ago. Somewhere, I am certain she was smiling, watching her great grandson, his girlfriend, Tom and I enjoy a few cups of tea and the warm, delightful memories of family on a cold winter afternoon.

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The end of the year we are taught is always a time to take stock of your life, your world, your body. Explore what you like, vow to discard or improve what you don’t. It is a time of hope, promise, a blank slate. Honestly, though, isn’t each day a chance to do all those things?

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Last night, we were fortunate to spend some wonderful, quality time with friends, sharing food and laughter. Grateful always for my family, dear friends who share the bonds of many years, tears and laughter with us and those that have touched our lives and become an important part of our world here in Vermont. Most of all, grateful for the men in my life, who are my personal reason for living each day.

Instead of wishing our lives away, be thankful for what was and enjoy what will be and live each moment you are blessed to have. Mindful of your blessings and with a heart full of gratitude, welcome the new page on the calendar. Happy 2017!

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DC statehood campaign sign Photo Credit: Susan Walsh/AP

The state of New Columbia. Yesterday, the voters in the District of Columbia were given the opportunity to decide if they wish to become the 51st state in our union. According to the voters in the District of Columbia they voted 79% in favor of a petition requesting that Congress vote to permit Washington DC to become the 51st state. Yesterday DC voters said that they want (1) the State of New Columbia to be recognized by Congress as the 51st state in the union; (2) the approval of a state constitution; (3) the approval of the boundaries of the proposed new state; and (4) approval of elected representatives for the new state.

The approved petition will now be taken by the DC mayor to Congress with the hope that it will be presented on or before Inauguration Day for consideration. DC voters who do get three electoral votes have no representation in Congress. They hope that will change and that this petition for statehood is approved.

There are days that I wonder why it is that I choose to do what I do. There are days and then there are weeks. This was one of those weeks. It perfectly culminated in two things, a phone call where I actually couldn’t remember who I was calling or my own name since I had been on so many calls back-to-back this morning and then a short while later, when my phone rang, I couldn’t find it under all the papers on my desk. So, folks, I thought I’d share this little gem which just about sums it all up. 05c6e4b6c14213366d93d1c2a97c8264

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It happens to all of us at one time or another. We get knocked down, either figuratively or as more usual in my case, literally. I am really quite clumsy as those near and dear to my heart will confirm. I could go on at length to recount stories of this physical ineptness, but I diverge.

Here in this blog post we are discussing the figurative falling down. Last week almost exactly at this time, I had an interesting conversation with a company’s recruiter about a very interesting job possibility. It was exciting to have someone contact me, pretty much out of the blue, about an interesting opportunity that would meld my love of writing with my capabilities as an attorney. The weekend that followed was one that I haven’t had in a while, daydreams full of possibilities about what might be while working on some supplemental documentation that was requested from me.  I have learned that I am not a lucky one in a lot of respects and therefore generally resign myself to the pessimistic side of my own abilities and capabilities, but I succumbed on this one and actually became more and more intrigued by what seemed a pretty real potential opportunity and ever so slightly, more excited about this possible new chapter.

Did it work out? Short answer, no. Was I disappointed? Absolutely. But I did what a responsible adult that’s on the other side of the half-century mark would do (after my little emotional breakdown and pity party) and stood back up after that fall. I got up the next morning and did the job I have, not having the time to give much though to the remotely possible imaginary job I might have loved (or I might have hated). It was the stuff of daydreams and I had a great couple days imaging “what ifs” and feeling pretty flattered about being contacted at all. Lesson learned is that I was probably the most upset with myself that I let someone clear across the country have that kind of control over me and that I was that quick to fall. People don’t just get phone calls for potentially awesome job opportunities out of the blue that actually happen. At least not in my world.

If I were feeling optimistic, which I try to be, I would say that this means there is a better opportunity that awaits. Not sure I have gotten there yet. For now, I stood back up. That is enough.

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