Monday, May 14, 2018

DO NOT Sit Down!

Yes, my left foot hurts at times, and my left knee doesn't bend like it once did, but play a peppy tune and I'll be out on the dance floor, lickety-split (no, I don't  mean DOING a split, silly!). 

My hubby stands by the bay window and studies the GRASS. Strange fellow? Yes, but aside from this weird preoccupation, he's always a 'man on a mission!' He's anxiously awaiting any new growth that will give him the opportunity (excuse) to cut the lawn for the third time in less than two weeks!

We're both members of today's Senior Citizen Society, folks who are supposed to act their age, but absolutely REFUSE! We will not be relegated to the rocking chairs of old; we will not hire people to do chores that we can very well do ourselves; we will not stop learning new and interesting things; and we will certainly not SIT DOWN like needy, dutiful children!

The misconstrued idea of being 'elderly' is what contributes to the poor health and sedimentary life-style of so many people over the age of sixty. Although these very same folks lived robust, industrious lives either at home or in the work place, when they 'officially' become seniors, all of a sudden their energy and productivity mysteriously evaporates. Presto change-o, instantly aged! They think of themselves as 'old' so they behave accordingly.

Years ago our parents and grandparents lived functional, fruitful lives well into their eighties simply because they thought of themselves as being able to contribute to their families' needs. Wonder why there are so many filled-to-capacity assisted-living and nursing homes today? I don't think it's because seniors have become more feeble at a much quicker rate, but rather due to their early acceptance of growing old.

I've witnessed so many family and friends who sat down one day and never got up to do anything useful again. Their bodies rapidly declined, their minds turned to mush, and they became isolated and alone. Of course they died much earlier than necessary because they gave up on life far too soon.

In my estimation, every recliner and rocker in America should come with this warning label attached:

So fellow seniors, no matter what aches and pains you have, no matter how many candles are lit on your next birthday cake, and no matter how many of your kids, grandchildren, or neighbors shake their heads in disapproval, choose to dance, cut the grass, or paint the town red! Live your lives to the fullest, and when the young have something negative to say about it, OFFER THEM A SEAT!

Monday, April 30, 2018

National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day!

If you're thinking about adding a pet to your household, seriously consider going to your local Humane Society before spending hundreds of dollars on an animal complete with lineage papers. Mind you, I have nothing against purebreds, but with so many dogs and cats sitting behind cages without little chance of being freed, you could be a savior to one of them.

Over the years we've had four dogs, two purebreds, two adopted from shelters. Sassy was a female Schnauzer and Tibbit, a male standard poodle. Sassy was  somewhat difficult to train, and after months of trying we ran out of patience and gave her to a friend who had more success than we did. Tibbit was two years old when we got him, already trained, and fit right in with our family from the get-go. Unfortunately one evening after letting him out for the night, somebody abducted Tibbit from our backyard and sadly we never saw him again.

Our first adoptee was a terrier-beagle mix female with a peppy personality, hence the name, 'Pepper!' She loved to run around the yard chasing anything in front of her, and if need be, going after her own tail when nothing else caught her eye. This little character was my son's 10th birthday gift, but after a week or so of feeding, walking, and playing with her, he receded into the background, thus affording me the opportunity to be chief caregiver. When it was time to have Pepper spayed, we dropped her off at the shelter and expected to pick her up the next day, but instead we got a phone call telling us there was a problem during surgery. Pepper's brain was denied oxygen for a significant amount of time, her lips turned blue, and they weren't sure she'd survive. Our sweet munchkin came home a few days later, but was never the same happy-go-lucky girl from that moment on.

Years later, we adopted Shadow, a female black Lab/beagle mix and for 16 glorious years she has been a joy! We got her at nine weeks, and can honestly say she's been a delight from day one. Training her was a breeze, actually I truly think she trained herself 'in spite of us' instead of 'because of us!' After introducing her to our outside area, within a few days she completely respected the boundaries, never leaving the yard unless leashed and going on a walk. Shadow will not take food from anyone other than myself or my hubby. She allows all seven of our grandchildren to pet, play, and roughhouse with her without grumble or growl (she still holds a grudge against my son for teasing her as a puppy though). However, Shadow is our protector, and when someone approaches the house, she barks incessantly until we give her the Ok!

At her age, our sweet girl sleeps a lot now, but when awakened, she instantly returns to her happy self...most of the time (again she holds a grudge against Lori for approaching her when sleeping). Her appetite is great, and her mobility is hardly compromised. At night she loves to cuddle up next to me and snore away. My hubby likes to do that as well. I guess the old saying that 'men are dogs' has some truth to it after all!

I know the day is coming when Shadow will leave us. I look into her eyes occasionally and tell her that she is the best friend I've ever had and will be sad without her. I know she understands what I'm saying, and I'm certain she reciprocates the same feelings towards me.

Perhaps you think that Shadow was lucky to be adopted by our family, but believe me when I say that we are indeed the lucky ones! She is the best shelter dog we could have ever hoped for, and if you are thinking of getting a pet on the National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day, you'd be wise to visit your local Humane Society. Who knows, there could be another 'Shadow' waiting just for you!

Blessings and Peace!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Norwin High School Student Council...A+!

Yesterday we had the privilege of attending the 32nd Annual Senior Citizens Dinner presented by the Norwin High School Student Council. Since this was the first time we'd ever taken advantage of this yearly event, we had no idea what to expect.

We were warmly greeted by smiling faces and respectful welcomes. One of the students led us to available seating and asked if it was to our liking. Although we didn't know the folks around us, we soon became 'friends'. The afternoon began with an opening prayer. We were then served a scrumptious turkey dinner complete with all the trimmings and a fabulous dessert, apple pie with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. The teens were there to satisfy our every need, refilling our coffee and removing finished dishes in the blink of an eye. They treated us like royalty!

Once dinner was over, the students directed all 500 of us to the school auditorium for performances by the Norwin Show Choir, and the Norwin's Select Orchestra, both of which were an awesome delight! Each group received standing ovations from a very grateful audience!

Just when we thought things couldn't possibly get any better, the Student Council president began distributing prizes donated by community contributors. Literally well over 50 lucky folks won gorgeous baskets filled with everything from movie night essentials to car wash needs. To honor the veterans in the auditorium, a special raffle was held whereby recipients received a military hat and a gift card from a variety of area businesses. My hubby was the fortunate winner of a $25. gift card to Denny's, one of a favorite breakfast stops.

Another of the council members conducted a audience participation activity. He asked each of us to stand, and then began asking those of us who were younger than 70 to sit. He continued until one person remained standing, she was 98 years young! Wow! Her name was Mary and she was a prize winner as well.

Lastly we were thanked for our attendance and the wish that we'd come back again next year. Of course we intend to be there, who wouldn't accept an invite to such a glorious afternoon!

You know, we only seem to hear about our troubled youth in the media these days. The reporters should have been at Norwin yesterday, they would have had plenty of positives to write about regarding the young people who prepared and presented the 32nd Annual Senior Citizen's Dinner at Norwin High School. The mannerly behaved, well-spoken, talented teens we encountered are a proud tribute to both their families and the administration, teachers, and staff at Norwin who have been instrumental in raising such fine human beings who are the hope of our future!
Once again, our sincere thanks to all who treated us to such a beautiful event! Hope to have the opportunity to experience it again next year!

Blessings and Peace to all!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Back In The Saddle!

Well, you might say I'm back in the saddle since I started writing again after being idle for 18 months, give or take a few. I'm a firm believer though, if inspiration is missing it's like banging your head against a brick wall, nothing of any value is going to shake out no matter how hard you try! And in the end you'll have wasted tons of time to no avail.

Speaking of back in the saddle, here's a little story from my misguided youth. While attending a picnic in North Park when I was a sophomore in high school, our resident chaplain came riding into the grove on his stately chestnut mare whose name I can't recall at the moment. I wanted to mount her so badly and ride off into the sunset, but there was a problem, this beautiful creature wasn't saddled! (technically this story is not about being 'back in the saddle' for obvious reasons)

"Father Ryan, can I ride her," I asked pleadingly?

"Only if you've ridden bareback before," was his reply.

"Tons of times," I lied! And with that said, the goodly priest handed me the reins.

I guided the horse over to a picnic table upon which I quickly climbed, threw my right leg over her back, and sat up as straight as I could before signalling her to move.  At first she trotted slowly around the grove effortlessly. I was becoming a little antsy, so I gave her my shoe, ever so slightly of course. Stupid me! Father Ryan's horse immediately went into high gear, galloping towards the hedges that separated the picnic area from the parking lot. No matter what I did, she seemed to pick up more and more speed, and in an instant, she was flying over the hedges like Pegasus of Greek mythology with me aboard!

What happened next, I totally deserved. After her leap, the horse lowered her head and I somersaulted over her mane like an untrained Olympic gymnast.  I was splattered on the hard, hot pavement like the cracked egg, Humpty Dumpty!
Father Ryan rushed over and stooped down to see if I was alright. With only a bump on the head, and two scraped elbows, I wasn't any worse for wear. Relieved, our dear chaplain commented, " I don't think you've ever ridden horseback before, my dear, and I'll see you in confession next week!" And with that he mounted his mare and rode towards the stables, shouting over his shoulder, I forgot to tell you, she's a jumper!"

But I digress... Oh, yes, I've  finally started a new children's book that I've tentatively entitled, 'One Color, Many Shades!' It usually takes around 4 months to complete; story, illustrations, and finally publication. I'll keep you posted, so until then, riding bareback, forget about it, I'm back in the saddle...

Hasta la Vista, Baby! Giddy up, girl!

Monday, April 9, 2018


When someone says they're going to 'church', do you envision a majestic building with ornate paintings on the walls, huge statues of various figures towering over you, rows and rows of pews, and in the center, an altar accented by candle lights and white linen cloth?

Or do you define 'church' as a group of people, embracing moral and spiritual beliefs,who live and work together for the good of themselves and others?

My hubby and I are one of the couples who are elated to be listed as founders of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, North Huntingdon, PA. In 1978, because of the huge influx of members to St. Agnes Church on Clay Pike, the bishop decided it was necessary to build another structure to accommodate an overflowing membership. At first folks grumbled about being 'thrown out' of a church they'd attended for years and contributed to its prosperity, but it took only a very short time before we came together and embraced the challenge before us. We started from scratch in a fire hall and built the cozy church on the hill that for the last forty years we proudly call our own!

From its inception, not only were the bricks mortared together, the paintings hung, the statues erected, the pews installed, and the altar placed as the focal point of worship, but the wonderful people who became St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's first parishioners, also blended together into one big happy family!

Anybody who visits our church either to attend Mass or one of our many functions is always struck by the family-like spirit that welcomes them with a friendly smile and a warm handshake. Nobody is viewed as a stranger at St. Elizabeth, but rather a potential son or daughter!

Except for those who have joined our church most recently, I believe I know just about everybody who is an active member. I call them by their first names, I ask about how the kids are doing, and I would do anything to help any one of them in their times of need. And, without a doubt, I certainly believe that they would do the same for me and mine. If this isn't family, I don't have a clue as to what 'family' should be!

I oftentimes look around and see that many of the folks who took part in the building of our church are no longer with us. I think back to the great times we had doing everything from polishing pews, putting lights on the Christmas trees, teaching CCD, working at bingo, setting up tables for the parish picnic, and even playing poker in the church hall as part of an annual fundraiser. My soul  remembers each and everyone of them with fondness, and I can honestly say they were as much a part of my family as the family I raised under my own roof.

I guess by now you've figured out the definition I use in reference to 'church'.
Yes, it is a building, but more importantly, church is family, and I've been so blessed to have been a member of my church, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, for forty glorious years!  Amen! Blessings and Peace!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Easter: New and Renewed Life

I think the story of my own birth is a good way to begin a discussion on new life. I was born in Baba's house on a September Saturday in 1944. It was suppertime, and my Mom couldn't wait for her favorite meal, steak smothered in onions, and mashed potatoes drenched in butter. Unfortunately her water broke and sent her into labor,denying her the pleasure of actually eating the dinner she'd looked forward to all day. Instead she retreated to her upstairs bedroom and waited for Dr. Stimetz to arrive. Since the good doctor lived next door, she was by my mother's side in minutes. As Mom pushed, and the rest of the family nervously waited in the hallway, eventually I entered the world, kicking and screaming, or so I'd been told over and over again while growing up. 

After thoroughly examining the newly-born babe, Dr. Stimetz handed me over to Baba to be cleaned and clothed. As my grandmother whisked me down the stairs and into her kitchen, she secretly rejoiced over the fact that I was a girl. Again, I know this because over the course of many years, she mentioned it at least a million times. Baba filled her huge mixing bowl with warm water, and carefully placed me inside its white walls. This was the same bowl she used every Easter when making the dough for Paska, the special Slovak bread we enjoyed only once a year during the holy season of the Resurrection. As she gently washed the afterbirth from my tiny body, Baba noticed that I appeared to be struggling to breathe. She placed me in a soft towel, dried me, and then rubbed a dollop of Vicks salve under my nose. However, because of the powerful strength of the vapors, instead of alleviating the congestion, I turned blue and stopped breathing altogether. To have this precious new life for such a short time was something my Baba refused to accept. Quickly she began CPR. Within seconds, I let out a garbled cry, and voraciously began sucking air into my deprived lungs. When Dr. Stimetz entered the kitchen, she found my Baba clutching me closely to her bosom with tears streaming down her face. In a shaky voice, she told the doctor what she had done. Dr. Stimetz comforted Baba by saying that this infant was destined to do something special since she had been given new life twice in the course of just one day, a rare medical occurrence by any standards. Whatever it was that I was meant to accomplish, I hope I've made at least some strides in fulfilling my purpose. From that life-saving moment on, my Baba and I shared a unique bond that only grew stronger and stronger with every passing year, and will remain alive and well always and forever.

Spring and Easter are favorites of mine perhaps because they arrive together with warm temps, gentle breezes, and soft rains. Both the season and the holiday are symbolic of new and renewed life. Whether coming into the world newborn, or awakening from a winter's sleep, all life is pure and fresh again. There is a joy and lightness of spirit that fills the Earth unlike at any other time of year. 

Monday, March 19, 2018


From the time I was child, I had a keen interest in card playing. I'm not talking about 'Go Fish' or 'Old Maids' though. Every holiday after the dishes were cleared from the dining room table, my Zedo, uncles, and cousins would dig into their pockets and pull out all the cash they had. Zedo would shuffle the deck and a three hour poker game ensued. Although I was too young to participate, I would stand on my grandfather's left side and watch every check, raise or fold that happened throughout those 180 minutes. Occasionally Zedo would point to some cards in his hand and slightly nod. I knew that meant that those were potential winners, and excitedly waited as he threw down the duds and picked up ones that could complete a flush or straight. When he was lucky enough to get the right cards, I'd remain stone-faced as the rest of my insides trembled! Zedo would raise low so that as many as possible would remain in the game. As the group dwindled, usually one of the guys would hang in there, sure that Zedo was most likely bluffing. Zedo never bluffed!

As I got older, I learned to play Gin, Pinochle, Hearts and a bunch of other variations. My hubby enjoyed cards as well, so in the early years of our marriage  we'd spend weekends with friends and family playing the night away either for bragging rights, money, or both!

Currently we haven't found folks that know the games we play or don't have the time. When I'm finished doing marketing online for my children's books, I'll head over to the Facebook GameRoom to play some Hearts. People from all over the world plug in and either accept or decline your offer. Bids range from 20-500 coins. The first time you enter the GR, you receive a number of free coins. If you run out however, you then must purchase coins in order to continue playing. I've never once had to buy coins and have been playing Hearts for over six years!

What I truly love about this game is the mental gymnastics it takes to outwit your opponents. If you play long enough, by the cards in your hand, you can actually predict what the lead-off person will throw. Throughout the game, individuals will try to divert your attention by getting rid of a particular suit. This tactic can be used to set the rest of the group up to 'shoot the moon' thus adding 26 points to their total, or simply eliminate the possibility of oneself from being caught with the Queen. I'm not about to give a tutorial now, but if you're familiar with Hearts you know what I'm talking about.

I just finished a game with Mehmet, Lillian, and Rhonda. After the first hand, I was low man on the totem pole with 24 points. Mehmet, 0, Lillian, 1, and Rhonda, 1. Next round, I had 49 points and looked like I was doomed. However in the third round, I took in all the hearts as well as the queen and handed each of the players 26 points! For the next thirty minutes or so my three opponents continued to add to their count while I remained at 49. When I won what would be the last round, I elected to increase their scores and wound up winning the game! I had 64 points while Rhonda, the loser,  had 103!

In the GR, you can challenge anyone on the list of players. Over the years, we've formed a little group that knows Hearts very well and enjoys playing folks who have similar skills and experience. We love to test each other with crazy moves and sneaky plays. Oftentimes, I'm the QUEEN OF HEARTS and I owe all of my playing prowess to my Zedo for allowing me to listen and learn!