Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Books I Love

I have been carrying aroung The Kite Runner in my "go-to-work" bag for a couple of days now and have yet to start reading it. I know it's a good book - I've had several friends tell me and I know I'll get to it soon but right now I seem to be drawn back to my old favorites that I call "My Comfort Books" - they're the ones that when I am really sick I reach out for them and read all my favorite parts and sometimes I read them cover to cover again just for the coziness of them.

The all time favorite is Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter. My Mom introduced the book to me when I was a little girl and I remember I ordered it from the bookstore in our town and when it came in I walked to the store and carried it home - I still have that copy - it is an interesting story about a young girl and how she survives through school and finds the love of her life - with wonderful descriptions - especially of food (making myself smile writing that - there's a description of the contents of a picnic basket that I love to read and imagine).

Another favorite is The Twenty Fourth of June - the main character of this story is Roberta - and my Mom was named for this character because the book was given to her parents as a wedding gift and she was their first child - and again it is an old fashioned love story with high ideals and I just love it.

Then there are my Grace Livingston Hill books - again it started with one of my Mom's old books by the writer entitled "Maris" - but my favorite is Crimson Roses and then The Man of the Desert - my sister's favorite is The Enchanted Barn - all of her stories are mainly Christian love stories from I guess the 1920's and 30's - I can usually find these in second hand book stores - and I have a huge collection that I keep in a plastic under-bed-storage box in my room.

I love Louisa May Alcott's book An Old Fashioned Girl and her book of short stories, A Garland for Girls.

My Mom had asked me quite a few time to read two of her favorite books by M.M. Kaye, The Far Pavilions and Shadow of the Moon - and finally I did - and - I loved them and couldn't stand it when they were finished - they are two wonderful big thick books that you know you just can't "run" through - and the stories are great and the characters are fascinating - just really great stories. I had to give her copies back to her so I really need to buy my own copies.

One of the artists here at work told me to read The Count of Monte Cristo - that I would love it and he was so right - and then he kept telling me to read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings - and he was really right about those too - I read really fast so I love a book that makes me slow down and savor the experience a little.

So what are the names of your "book friends" - maybe you don't read them again but they stay in your mind as a really good read? I would love to hear what you think.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Stepping Out"

My family knows what a “big step” it is for me to write about this – my shoe size is 13 – actually it is 12 ½ but they don’t make size 12 ½ shoes so I always have to settle for size 13.

I have always hated shopping for shoes – ever since I was a little girl – I don’t ever remember having “normal” size feet – it seems like I was born with size 13 feet!!! I am 6 ft. tall so it is not entirely silly that I have large feet. But I have been the girl at the bowling alley wearing the men’s bowling shoes – at the skating rink wearing black men’s skates because they didn’t make them in white in my size (my parents did get me a nice pair of white ones for Christmas one year) – I’m the one getting a pedicure that can’t wear the flip-flops they give you to wear so I bring my Gap men’s flip-flops – I’m the one who was sitting at a women’s Bible study in my friend’s home when a woman noticed my feet and commented to everyone that if she had big feet like Claire she could really run fast in a marathon – and then went on to compliment me on how great it must be to have such big feet to run on!!!! Oh yes – and I am the one who’s boyfriend took her sneakers and wore them around the quad when I was in college showing everyone that we wore the same size and saying, “Look at me I’m wearing Claire’s sneakers” and I’m saying in my heart, “Look at you, I’m breaking up with you”– we broke up soon after that.

I do know about Zappo’s and other catalog stores available for large sizes – but I would just like to walk into Payless or the Rack Room or Dillard’s or Belk and pick up a cute pair of shoes – on sale – I would love to have different colored shoes – I remember one time when I was single and working in New York City I actually found a cute pair of yellow heels in my size – I wore them into shreds – but it was a happy summer. The choices are better now than they were - but the styles lag by about a year or two – and I am used to that too.

So – I will go shopping with you – just don’t ask me to go in your shoe store – I’ll find a nice bookstore and meet up with you later!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Baseball, Music and a MeMe???

The weekend was great - the Pelicans won - going into overtime - the fireworks were awesome and we saw a lot of old freinds and people that we knew. This is the 10th Anniversary year for the Pelicans. My sister and I each got a jumbo hotdog and I loaded mine up with saurkraut, mustard and onions and then we got Diet Pepsi's - I don't ever drink Pepsi - but it was the only diet drink they had and it tasted great!

Sunday was the last concert for the Long Bay Symphony for the season. My mom, sister and myself invested in season tickets in the fall and it was the best investment I have made in a long time - every concert was wonderful - the performance level was really high - and I have been to the Metropolitan Opera and Philharmonic in NYC and also the Houston Opera and I have to say that I am really proud of our orchestra here! I remember the first time I heard "live" music (besides church) was at Radio City Music Hall in NYC - and there the orchestra came up out of the floor while playing and the realization that all those people where making the sounds that I was hearing was a wonderful experience. I am one of those people that always would stop for street musicians in the city or subways - I love it all and it just captures me everytime when it is live and right there for me to enjoy! My Mom took us to Chili's afterwards for dinner so it was a really nice Sunday afternoon of music, food and good companions : )

Heather tagged me so here goes with 6 things about me - I told her I couldn't think of 6 things about me that she didn't know that I would want her to know and she laughed and said to write whatever I wanted to:

1 - I am now up to using 6 Splendas in my coffee with creamer and 4 Splendas in a Starbucks Latte Skinny Cinnamon Dolce with whip cream - oh yeah - Grande - I know I know it isn't in the right order. . .

2 - I expect used Q-tips to be wrapped in tissue before being thrown in the bathroom garbage.

3 - I have spent the last two Saturdays in my T-shirt and Sponge Bob Squarepants pajama bottoms

4 - Really don't like hair being brushed or combed near the dining room table or near the counters in the kitchen

5 - ditto to the sound of nail clippers (once watched a man in the pew in front of me when I was a little girl clip his nails during the sermon!!!)

6 - addicted to watching Antiques Road Show on Saturday afternoons

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Weekenddddddd!!!!!!!!

Tonight is Friday night and we are going to the opening baseball game of the Pelicans!!! I grew up with two brothers and a Dad who listened to and watched sports constantly - in fact when my husband asked me to marry him my reply was, "Do you watch or listen to any sports on the radio or TV?" He actually said no and I said I would marry him!

Well --- time went on and he really didn't watch that much on TV - but - I started watching football - every Sunday - and Monday night - he would fall asleep and I would change the channels and he would wake up and pretend to be grumpy and say, "Are you watching sports a-g-a-i-n!!!!" and so it went - I guess it got in my blood and now I even watch some golf --- what has happened????

I was never into baseball that much unless the Mets were playing - but then I moved here and they built this baseball field - using the old seats from the Atlanta Braves - and it is a beautiful stadium - and you are right there and can see the players and feel the excitement of a game - the sounds of the ball hitting the catcher's glove - the bat hitting the ball - the intensity of a close game - I am hooked!!! My sister and I really love to go and cheer and yell - wear our Pelican caps - T-shirts - eat boiled peanuts - I can't describe it all - it is just so American and so what summer is about - you can't help but get tears in your eyes when they sing the National Anthem - and then we all sing the "Take Me Out To the Ballgame Song" and we do the wave - and sing YMCA - you just have to come and go with us - it is the best!!! I used to cheer for Raphael Furcale when he started with the Pelicans and how proud I was when he got to go to the Braves - my own baseball player that I cheered for for a whole summer!!!! I knew it would pay off!!!

So tonight is opening night - and they are having the BEST fireworks - and I am taking money to buy a new baseball cap!!! I can't wait!!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Foggy Morning

It was very foggy this morning when I got in my car and headed to work. I always turn to the left towards the beach and drive along the ocean as far as I can until I have to turn inland towards the newspaper building.

The fog reminded me of a summer when Kik was just 2 yrs. old and the two of us flew to Presque Isle, Maine to meet my 7 month pregnant friend, Judy. She was married to an Air Force pilot at the time and expecting her first baby. The two of us loaded up her car with our stuff and her Norwegian Elkhound, Nilka, and drove to Nantucket where she had rented a house for the month of August out in "Sconset" that was just a walk over the dunes from the ocean. A pretty little house with a white picket fence all around it to keep Nilka and Kik in. We had a wonderful time at that beach house - exploring Nantucket - meeting locals through the smiling charm of Kik and getting invited to cocktail parties amd all sorts of neat places as long as we brought Kik with us our little ambassador of smiles - and going for long walks - and sitting on the front porch after making amazing munchies and drinking white wine (it was before all the warnings of pregnant women and alcohol) - for two beach aholics like Judy and myself it was pure heaven!

But I digress - This one foggy morning we were up and getting ready to begin our day - when all of a sudden we realized that Kik was missing - I mean - poof! - and she was gone - we searched the house - searched the yard - branched out starting searching the neighborhood and of course running like crazy down to the beach - no Kik - Judy went back to the house - and there she received a phone call from a neighbor several houses down the beach asking if we were missing a little girl and a dog (I don't think we realized Nilka wasn't around) - would we please come and get them as the dog wouldn't let them get near the little girl - and there they were Kik and and her trusty guard dog Nilka - safe and sound - I always had a special place in my heart for Nilka after that - apparently Nilka saw her heading out and just stayed with her as she walked along - scary moments that ended well.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rambo at Sam's

Soooo - tires were purchased for my car at Christmas time from Sam's and my son-in-law, Ken, had commented the other day that my front tires looked low and I should have them checked and I decided that yesterday at lunch I would take my car back and see what they thought.

I was all dressed up - skirt - pantyhose - heels - nice top - because they are my lightest clothes and I had to weigh in at Weight Watchers yesterday (lost 1 lb.) - my feet were killing me by lunchtime though - so I drove over and pulled in a parking place opposite the bays and saw a gentleman standing there and told him my problem and asked if I needed to go in to the desk first and he said that I had to - which was ok with me - so I traipsed around the building - went in the door - showed the door lady my card and went right to the tire desk - explained the problem - the man said to just pull the car up to the bay and he would check it right away - so - I turned to go back out the door I had just come in 1 1/2 mins. ago and the door lady stops me and tells me I have to go all the way to the other side of the store and go out the exit - I looked at her - and said, "Ma'm my feet are killing me and I just have to go to the tire place please don't make me walk all the way over there" - and she told me I still had to - I looked at her and asked her what she was going to do to me if I didn't and she started to "bluster" and I said "Goodbye" politely and walked out the door and got my tires looked at.

I was not trying to be rude or ill-mannered and I know she was doing her job - but common sense was not going to let me "do the walk"! Was I rebellious - was this a question of situational ethics - would I have done it if I had little children and they were watching???? I still think I would say "yes"!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Quiet Weekend

Totally quiet weekend - actually stayed in my "jammies" all day Saturday - did some cleaning and reading - a wonderful experience. I kept thinking I was going to get dressed and run some errands and it just kept getting later and later and finally I said, "Oh well."

Friday night I had gone to a potluck dinner for the Emmaus Weekend that I went on - amazing food - wish they had had the recipes available! Then it was late but I headed over to Kik's and hung out there while she helped me fix my profile and "tweak" some other things on my blog like the spelling of "potato" - while we watched Roman Holiday - didn't get home until after midnight - I'm not that far from her home but I went on this dark highway that has had sightings of bears and deer - so I drive in the middle of the three lanes in case I have to swerve to the right or the left (of course I don't slow down!) - anyway - I made it home safe and sound - though my imagination was going faster than my car!

Sunday I went to church - I go to a Vineyard church which is really laid back - great music - and the pastor wear's jeans and T-shirts and surfs and the people are very real - and I am saying that coming from being raised a Presbyterian - anyway - my daughter and husband in DC had given me a Starbucks card so I ventured in after church to the one right near my home - and told them that I really like my coffee to taste like melted coffee ice cream and what would they recommend? I got a "skinny cinnamon vanilla latte with whipped cream" and I am hooked!!! Took it home - sat on my couch drinking my latte and reading my Sunday New York Times --- heaven!!! Went to a family birthday party in the afternoon and then stopped at the beach and watched the surfers (big waves and about 25 surfers in the water) finsihed reading my mystery book and came back to my place and that was that - no spills - no drama - a much needed quiet weekend!

Friday, April 4, 2008


Our family, my husband Alex, our four daughters and myself, have been blessed to have at various times in our lives "additions" to our family.

It started in Texas when my daughter, Lauren, had a friend named Mandy who became such a part of our family that we called her "Number Five" - then we moved back to L.I. where Kik had a best friend name Laura and she became "Number Six" - Heather's best friend, Trisha, became "Number Seven" - and then we had Matt and Jason - who taught me to like Rush - they made me sit and listen and listen and made tapes for me of their music.

We still talk about "adopting" various ones - I am trying to think of what the criteria is - I guess the most important thing is a sense of humor - being a good conversationalist or a good listener because we need those in our family too - willingness to eat my "stretch meals" of meat pinwheels (Jason always called them ketchup holders) and hamburger stroganoff - and bowl after bowl of popcorn and drink Countrytime Lemonade - my staple "snack" for whenever we didn't have a lot a lot of money for food.

I guess it is all part of coming into our home - being willing to be yourself and let us be ourselves - helping when you can - laughing at the right places - clearing your place at the table - being nice to the little ones - maybe playing "Kings In The Corner" or "Scattergories" - working on the jigsaw puzzle set up in the bay window - and knowing we'll never kick you out - and you can stay as long as you like.

Keeping It Real

So last Monday morning I was getting ready for work - all dressed in my "professional" office look - getting ready to walk out the door - when I walked into the kitchen to get my favorite Diet Lipton Green Tea bottles to take to work and my bottle of V-8 Juice - opened the refrigerator door and was getting the bottles off the door when a large plastic container of homemade Potato and Leek Soup fell off the refrigerator shelf and landed upside down on the floor - exploding as it did so - all over my black shoes, up my black pants - all across the floor to the red rug in front of my kitchen sink --- you know the look - mouth hanging open - a loud "what-t-t-t-t-t--t???" coming from me - and the realization that the refrigerator door was quickly closing and was going to push the contents of the container under the refrigerator --- hands are full with the bottles - hip is trying to keep the door open --- trying not to walk anywhere because of the large globs of soup all over my shoes - trying to find something to prop the door open so the mess won't go to Stage Two (under the refrig) - got the door propped open with a pack of bottled water that was sitting on my kitchen floor - and started the clean up -

I refused to go change and towelled everything off - wiped up the floor - I just love paper towels (especially Bounty) - and got out the door - finally - laughing and thinking to myself - first the nail polish (still living with the "Jackson Pollock" effect in my bedroom) and now the soup!!!

Can't wait for next week!!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Baby Quote and Life with Four Daughters

"Having a baby is like suddenly getting the world's worst roommate, like having Janis Joplin with a bad hangover and PMS come and stay with you."

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

I love this quote because it always makes me laugh - though it wasn't necessarily true of my babies - the four daughters.

I have four really wonderful daughters - the youngest is 25 now so I can really say that they are all the real blessing in my life.

The first one, that was Kik, and she was born in that Fifth Avenue hospital that has just fed her "tastes" ever since. She was born on a very snowy day and I remember briefly standing at the window in the labor room looking out at Central Park with the snow falling thinking to myself that this would not go on forever and there would be a baby at the end of all this and there was!!

Heather was our second and she was born on Long Island as a C-Section (as were the rest) weighing in at 11 lbs. 14 ounces and 23 inches long (she was 16 days overdue). Lauren was born in Pennsylvania and was our smallest at 8 lbs. 6 ounces - we treated her like she was a preemie! And then April - she was born in Houston, Texas - exactly 10 lbs. - but because she started crying before they got her all the way out she literally was drowning herself and ended up turning Ralph Lauren navy blue and was in the ICU for 3 days.

When we had our third daughter, Lauren, the Dr. - who was a friend of ours - came out of the operating room and said to my husband that he was sorry it was another girl - the nurses later told me the story of how my husband grabbed him by the front of his scrubs and told him to never say he was sorry it was another girl again. The nurses were so proud of him and so was I!

His favorite song to sing was from the movie "Gigi" - "Thank Heaven for Little Girls"!

When April was in ICU for 3 days we were reinforced in the belief that it didn't matter what sex the baby was - all that really mattered was if she was healthy.

I have been thinking about what some of the important things I tried to instill in my children - I really believe in teaching good manners as early as possible - "please and thank you" - manners are really the cornerstone of being civilized - they are a way of enabling a child to walk into a room and being welcomed - as opposed to having people roll their eyes heavenward and reach for the breakables - children know when they are welcomed and when they are not and I really believe it was up to us to give them this ability to go places and meet people. Alex always said that what saved our daughters lives was that they knew how to behave it public.

Respect was one thing that I always went for - I always said that I wanted respect first and then hopefully love for us would come after that - because I knew that you don't ever really love anyone that you don't respect. They were never allowed to talk to us with their hands on their hips or to slam their bedroom doors or of course talk back or hit us - I was always the mom that my friends would threaten their kids with "sending them to Miss Claire" if they didn't obey them - and you know what? My house was always filled with kids - they all knew what the rules were and they felt safe there because they knew I cared enough about them to expect the best from them and I tried to have plenty of food available too.

The most important thing I can say is that I tried - and stayed close to Jesus - I tried to do the best job I could and tried never to give up - there were many nights when they were out past curfew - times when I got in the car to go looking for them - going up to the schools to meet with teachers - one of them tried to stab another child in the stomach with scissors (though she insisted she held her finger over the point) - times when they were sick - times when they had the wrong friends - and boyfriends - times when I thought our hearts would break - times when all four had the chicken pox -

and yet here we are - four wonderful daughters that bring such joy to my life - and I can look you right in the eye and tell you that they make it worth every moment of every day that we went through.

My favorite "Mom Verse":

He tends His flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11