Friday, March 31, 2006

daylight savings time......

It's that time of year again.... when the days get longer, and the mornings darker. Don't forget to *spring forward* your clocks Sunday night. Oh.... and have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

god beams, and my little piece of heaven.....

"When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion."
~Abraham Lincoln

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail mind."
~Albert Einstein

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
~Albert Einstein

"I won't take my religion from any man who never works except with his mouth."
~Carl Sanberg

"Everyone ought to worship God according to his own inclinations, and not to be constrained by force."
~Flavius Josephus

"The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible."
~George Burns

"The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself."
~Sir Richard Francis Burton

"To believe in God or in a guiding force because someone *tells you to* is the height of stupidity. We are given senses to receive our information within. With our own eyes we see, and with our own skin we feel. With our intelligence, it is intended that we understand. But each person must puzzle it out for himself or herself."
~Sophy Burnham

"Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one."
~Thomas Jefferson

"It is a fine thing to establish one's own religion in one's heart, not to be dependant on tradition and second-hand ideals. Life will seem to you, later, not the lesser, but a greater thing."
~D.H. Lawrence

"Everyone likes to go their own way-- to choose their own time and manner of devotion."
~Jane Austen

"The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."
~Oscar Wilde

"To thine own self be true."
~Henry David Thoreau

"Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you concieve him to be; and whatever your labor and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul." ~ found in St. Paul's Church (Baltimore) in 1692

I had the opportunity to stop for a minute today, and just gaze out the window. Having a free minute is golden, and I try to sneak in as many as I can in each day.... it has become instrumental in keeping me sane.

This afternoon I saw a plethra of birds, different sizes, colors, and breeds, pecking at the ground and looking for any useful seed to feed upon. Of course it wasn't long before a neighborhood cat patrolling the area made them all take flight safely up into all the budding trees, still closely located to the many birdfeeders in my yard. As kitty crossed the yard, I noticed the purple carpet of violets that brought life to my rich green grass (that sorely needs mowing). Hostas were stretching their stems through beds of violets, azalias were donning bonnets of pink, and the hydrangia bush has thrust it's cabbage shaped growth, like long stretched arms, to the sun. Choirs of birds were sending messages to their loved ones that an enemy has crossed into the area; but everyone was safe, and the world was unfolding as it should. And the only other noise I heard was the sound of my heart, because I knew my God was in His heaven today.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.......

So here we are at the third anniversary of a war nobody wants. While our current government ponders the quest of how we are going to get out of this mess, daily terrorist acts continue to dominate our news, and many innocent people become the pawns in this quandry. What a world, what a world.....

It's not like we can just pull out, although that seems like the easy answer. Our President had a hard enough time convincing the countries of the world that this was the right course, and he's not about to back out now. While he continues to blow out his relighting candles on the birthday cake of this anniversary, in our hindsight, we realize that all tactics have changed. What looked good on paper in the "war room" is not being played out according to the blueprints that "convinced" us we were being noble to bring democracy to an area that "needed us". The Middle East is no happier that we are there invading their lands than we are about being there. But being true to their course, and we to ours, there seems to be no magical moment where everybody just puts their guns down and walks away. It further seems that we have far surpassed the point where there will be an understanding reached by both sides... and evidence to that is the continuing terrorist acts held in random soft spots around the world, and mostly in Iraq itself.

They are convinced that we are the infidels, and ingrained thinking on their part means that we will have many more years ahead of us; second and third generations who feel the need to press on in the absence of the leaders who started this course. If bin Laden were to be captured today, it still wouldn't stop, as his beliefs are too grounded into the minds of his followers. Proof of that is the capture of Saddam Hussain. Perhaps we feel that a bad leader was taken out, but Iraq is still a hot-bed of hatred, that has esculated into a civil war... and not brought peace to the area as we had hoped. His followers still proceed to conduct unnatural acts against their own people, or anyone else who has befriended or helped the United States. In many cases, it is the innocent people who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, just going about their day in the marketplace, that become victims of car bombs.

We are not fighting on the same terms our forefathers fought in World War I or II, where there was a defined enemy in a defined country. It was clear that if you were defeated, a great ceremony was conducted, treaties were signed, and life went on. We even returned back to build up these countries that were, for the most part, reduced to rubble. Somehow, the world no longer revolves around that theory. Now the "terrorists" are all over, and the quest is that we stop terrorism in order for our future generation to live in a world of peace between Christians and Muslums. This is a tall order to fill, and we seem to be lacking the blueprints that is able to pull this miracle off. Too many lines have been blurred and too much hatred has developed in order to help to unite over common causes.

What some see as a eventual need for the world to behave in a civilized manner in order to combat environmental problems that plague us, others see as the holy grail of unifying the world into one religion that answers to no one but Allah... everything else be damned. After all, it is Allah's will if the world were to end tomorrow. It has caused the worst rift for both sides.... both feeling their cause is better than the other. In the meantime, the people between the causes suffer greatly, and the world continues on with all sides firmly sticking to their ground. What is amazing about this is that we will all continue to lose ground, if we do not come together to save the very ground we are standing on.

So, what to do? Well, we could bomb the crap out of them, but that doesn't look too good in the annals of history. It may stop the problem now, or at least slow it down a bit, but probably not.
Besides, we have to remember that everything is not confined to just one country anyway. So like Bullwinkle, we would end up pulling a growling rhino out of the hat instead of a rabbit. This is not good. How about becoming less dependant on the resources of the Middle East so we no longer need their oil.... then slap them with embargos as we did Cuba. Well, that would probably collapse their economy, but it's not likely that it would stop the terrorists, as they have their own agendas anyway. It seems that we have stepped on a tightrope that feels more like a double-edged sword.

There are no easy answers.... and this situation will continue on into another Presidency. After all, there are no "off" switches currently available to shut down this mess that started on 9/11. We were asleep at the wheel then, and continue to nap along when it comes to protecting our own shores. Any laws and rules we put in place, have continually been pushed aside while we try to be politically correct in the eyes of the world. One does not have to look far to see that our current government is only using their elected status as a positioning tool for the next election. Ask any one of them how they would pull a rabbit out of their hat, and don't be too surprised if the rhino resurfaces again. As Bullwinkle would say: "oooops, wrong hat!" We are in for the long haul, folks........ and no magician is in sight. Try to explain that to our children.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

submitted for your approval, the words of a master..... Rod Serling 1924-1975

~ The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosives and fallout. These are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy. And a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all it's own for the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is, is that these things cannot be confined to the twilight zone.

~ I happen to think that the singular evil of our time is prejudice. It is from this evil that all other evils grow and multiply. In almost everything I have written there is a thread of this: a man's seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself.

~ If survival calls for the bearing of arms, bear them you must. But the most important part of the challenge is for you to find another means that does not come with the killing of your fellow man.

~ I think the destiny of all men is not to sit in the rubble of their own making but to reach out for an ultimate perfection which is to be had. At the moment, it is a dream. But as of the moment we clasp hands with our neighbor, we build the first span to bridge the gap between the young and the old. At this hour, it's a wish. But we have it within our power to make it a reality. If you want to prove that God is not dead, first prove that man is alive.

~ Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.

~ I don't believe in reincarnation. That's a cop-out.... I anticipate death will be totally unconscious void in which you float through eternity with no particular consciousness of anything.

~ Ideas come from the earth. They come from every human experience that you've either witnessed, or have heard about, translated into your brain, in your own sense of dialogue, in your own language form. Ideas are born from what is smelled, heard, seen, experienced, felt, emotionalized. Ideas are probably in the air, like little tiny items of ozone. That's the easiest thing on earth is to come up with an idea. And the second thing is, the hardest thing on earth, is to put it down.

~ It may be said with a degree of assurance that not everything that meets the eye is as it appears.

~ Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.

~ The creation of an idea, the following of a story germ, the building up of a plot, the creating of people of flesh and blood character - these are not easy things, they are extremely difficult. But conversely, don't be put off by the fact that this month you can't do it and next month is maybe even harder. That is, if not a lifetime process, it's awfully close to it. The writer broadens, become deeper, becomes more observant, becomes more tempered, becomes much wiser over a period of time passing. It is not something that is injected into him by a needle. It is not something that comes on a wave of flashing, explosive light one night and says, "Huzzah! Eureka! I've got it" and then proceeds to write the great American novel in eleven days. It doesn't work that way. It's a long, tedious, tough, frustrating process, but never, ever be put aside by the fact that it's hard.

~ I was traumatized into writing by war events. By going through a war in a combat situation and feeling the desperate sense of terrible need for some sort of therapy. To get it out of my gut, I wrote it down. This us the way it began for me.

~ There is a fifth dimension beyond which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of a mans fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call the Twilight Zone.

Born in Syracuse, New York on Christmas Day in 1924, Rod Serling would refer to himself as the "present that came unwrapped". He would grow up in Binghamton, New York the son of a butcher. After graduating from high school in 1942, Serling would join the army and see first hand the horrors of war during World War II. This very experience would make him have a profound concern about a moral society. Upon his retrun to the states, Serling would enter Antioch College and enroll himself in the physical education program. Still, a longing call would make him alter his major to English literature, where he would try his hand at writing. After marriage in his senior year to Carolyn Kramer, he would win an award for a script he had written for television. Feeling encouraged by that, he would continue to write more scripts, submitting them to radio and television, finding a home for his unique writing style. His scripts consisted of psychological dramas; real issues of the time, such as lynching, racism, and union organizing.
However, due to his controversial style, and fed up with the conservative censors over how a character was displayed, Serling switched to science fiction and fantasy. He would say that the characters were more believable in his stories if they were aliens or monsters, rather than being portrayed as real men. In doing so, The Twilight Zone series was born, and an ingenious blend of fable and fantasy writing was able to circumvent his television networks and sponsors. At this level he could address different controversial subjects, saying, " I found that it was all right to have martians saying things Democrats and Republicans would never say."
He would win several Emmys for his outstanding work on his series, and go on to the big screen co-writing for movies. One such script was "The Planet Of The Apes".
In June of 1975, Serling would succumb to a heart attack while on the operating table during heart by-pass surgery. The world would loose a master and pioneer of television writing.... but would never lose the cult status the Twilight Zone has given us.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

again... no title.... only a happy spring to all. Yay! It's finally here! Get those kleenix's ready, the pollen season is upon us....

Monday, March 20, 2006

all in a days work........

This morning when the alarm rang at 4:30 AM, I knew that no matter how hard I wanted to cover up and snuggle back in.... the shower was calling my name, and I needed to be on the road by 5:30, heading to my kitchen to make breakfast for my clients. I abhor the hours I keep sometimes, as they are not normal... but then there are days when I have the best hours in the world.

By 9:30 AM, I was already headed back to my office (home) after delivering two breakfasts, running to the bank and stopping by the post office. Day over, right? Well, not really, now I have to spend the rest of the day sitting by the phone, checking e-mail, and looking through the list of chores to see what can be accomplished early for some future jobs. It's all a matter of perspective and looking at the larger picture, than it is to pick a few random over-worked days to complain about. Some days are so quiet, that I can stay home and man the phone in my jammies; others have me going across town two or three times to prep and deliver food. Somehow, it all seems to equal out, though.

Usually I try to run my errands so that they coincide with areas that I will be in (except my *jammie* days), and I feel that I bring new meaning to the phrase "multi-tasking". While running here, there and everywhere, I also have to manage the phone remotely. This means that I need to check messages left on voice mail in my spare time between deliveries, or even answer my cell phone on the road, as my cell number is at the end of my VM message for the office. It amazes me what some clients will and will not consider an emergency when they call me on my cell. But that's ok, that's my job to coach them through.... while being ever so careful to keep my eyes on the road at the same time.

The days I do get to stay home (even though I am technically working; jammies or not) I am on the computer. I have become fascinated by all the neat and cool things I have right at my fingertips. If I want to look up anything, the web supplies me with all the resources I need to get the information. I have become hooked.... much to the surprise of everyone I know. So much so that I really have to pull myself away from the computer even if I've been in front of it for hours on end. I wasn't like this six months ago, until I started blogging. Now I sit chained, going from one new friend to another... checking back to see any new responses, while surfing around to come up with something new to talk about myself. Oy! The whirlwind involved... but so addicting at the same time!

I've always been the type of person to clear my desk at the end of a shift, even if that shift is 18 hours long. I like a clean slate to work with, and rarely leave anything for the next day.... if I don't have to. Lately my daily list has included blogging. I don't feel pressured into posting every day, but I do find that I need my regular fixes of reading as soon as I get near the computer. With everything else I do, "blog fixes" rejuvinate me, as well as keep me in touch with some of the nicest people I've ever spoken to. I may be exhausted by the end of the work day, but I always make it to the blogs to get my daily dose of reading and learning, laughs and giggles. Since I don't trust my brain to always come up with a response, after a long day, I'll save that for when I can think better.... or at least make cohesive sentences. No matter what, I always read. To me, it's all in a days work.

post script~ I've been experiencing problems with blogger lately, but not sure if everyone else is too. When I try to get to my favorite reads, I am hit with a big *403 FORBIDDEN* from blogger. A few days back, I was having problems uploading a picture onto my own site, then spell check went out. It seems that one problem after another keeps popping up, then fixes itself, then re-appears again. Hmmmmm.... I'm still a novice to this, but I'm at a loss to figure out if it's something I'm doing wrong, or is blogger just being stubborn. (I did run Norton, just to be sure I didn't have a virus.)

So I will apologize in advance if you run across mis-spellings or any other funny stuff I didn't catch before posting this.... as well as apologize to my favorites for not getting onto their sites to leave comments. It's not that I haven't been trying... it's just it's been added to my "new things to fix" as part of todays work.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

the prices we pay......

Back in the late 1970's the American public was appalled that gas prices had risen from 36 cents to 58 cents a gallon. Jimmy Carter was our President, and he was encouraging everyone to lower their thermoststs, drive less if we could help it, and learn to conserve wherever possible.
He even gave a speech in a Mr. Rogers-friendly sweater to press his point. We were told that the gas resources were running out, and we were only on limited time before the industry would become extinct.... just as the dinosaurs did, who created these earthen deposits in the first place, upon their demise.

All of a sudden it was no longer cool to drive a big gas guzzling car, and Toyota became the top selling car of the time. It was cheap (my first car cost $3,000.00.. one year used) and mileage was a whopping 26 city/ 36 highway. Such a deal! With $95.00 car payments a month, I could barely squeak by on my $1.65 an hour pay... but I had to have transportation. Back then, I also had my own apartment which was only $40.00 a week. Things were tight, but still manageable.

Last year when my son graduated from high school, I took him over to my computer and gave him a lesson in economics he never studied in school. We went to my quicken file and I pulled up reports where my money was spent throughout the year. Granted, I make more than $1.65 an hour now, but I also pay more for a mortgage.... which mysteriously raises each year with property tax hikes, both city and county. It was a real eye-opener, and "welcome to the real world" lesson for him. With the cost of fuel raising by the moment, utilities are no longer stable, and neither are the prices at the grocery store. Besides my mortgage, my personal grocery bill runs a close second to where my money is spent monthly.

Few things phase my son, but this did. I saw the raised eyebrows, open jaw, and look of slight panic as to how he was going to manage all this and college too. Well, the easy answer was that he never threatened ever that he was going to move out on his own (unlike me at his age), and being that he was the only child, he was entitled to having his parents purchase his car for him (all the other kids at school had parents who did). I told him to look out the back window and point out the money tree I could pick the dollars from. We did somehow manage to find him a vehicle, and pay for it outright.... which became his graduation/ birthday present (as they fell in the same week), but told him that insurance, gas, and incidentials were now his problem.

As far as college was concerned, he had every opportunity to go to school free. All it took was maintaining an 80% average in high school, and the state accepted you on the Hope Scholarship Program. Tuition, and in some cases books, are covered by this program.... but it was up to each individual to keep their averages up in order to be considered. He missed by two measley points, and now realizes the advantages he missed out on. Having an inate ability to want to do everything the opposite of advise given, he scouted out on his own the path he needed to take in order to achieve being accepted at a college. He was told that he needed to pick up a remedial math at a two year college, as he was still lacking in Algebra 3, then could transfer those credits to a state university when all things were lined up properly. If he maintained an 80% average the first year, he would then re-qualify for the Hope Scholarship program.

He worked hard all summer, even taking on extra shifts whenever possible; saved his money, and paid for his first semester of school. Am I proud of this achievement? You bet! Am I embarrassed that I could not afford it on my own for him? Not at all! I warned him a long time ago in elementary school that this day would come. He would need to pay attention in school, keep his grades up and the world would be a little easier for him due to the programs the state offers. He always poo-pooed me, and felt that he was part of the entitled set. Ah.... reality is like a cold glass of water to the face, and some people need to experience all that for themselves; regardless of the advice and warnings to the contrary. He was no exception.

Through all of this, he has taken on a new sense of maturity. He no longer sees that everything has to be handed to him, and he has grown a new respect for buying things for himself with the money he has earned. Because I love him dearly (who wouldn't.... he's a great kid!), I don't charge him any rent. I know he works hard, not only because I see it, but because he has taken on a second job to suppliment the hours they cut him out of on the first job. Every day this week he has come home from either work or school dragging, but never complaining. He continues to save his money, because being 19, his insurance rates would feed a small third world country. He also has to pay for his own cell phone bill, personal groceries, and gas.

When I think back to what I had to pay to live on my own at that age, I have nothing but empathy for the generation behind me. The world we know today is no doubt expensive and harder to keep up with. Perhaps the minimum wage has jumped up a little, but even then it is not nearly enough to live above the poverty line. Vendors who supply the groceries to stores, or any other goods to the public have taken an extra slice of our money by charging a fuel tax on transportation. With the price of gas that fluxuates by the moment, the cost of living is almost out of hand.... and if you think it will ever go down, I suggest you start looking for the money tree in your back yard. In all my lifetime, prices have NEVER gone down. They only go up.... it's the price we pay for living in our "real world".

Friday, March 17, 2006

wearing of the green............

I'ts not really going to matter if you are of Irish descent or not on March 17th.... for some reason EVERYBODY'S IRISH on St. Patrick's Day. Perhaps it is because it has been so ingrained into our culture as Americans..... celebrating yet another holiday. We Americans LOVE holidays, and the greeting card industry loves Americans just for that reason. I'm ok with that as there's nothing better than getting a special greeting card in the mail; rather than the usual tonnage of junk mail and bills. I assure you, no one can convince me otherwise.... corny or not.

As mentioned in a previous post, I am of Italian descent.... only on my Mothers side. My Dad was of Irish and German descent.... so technically, I am *Irish* on St. Patrick's Day; even if it's only 1/4th. It's a day we celebrate by wearing a touch of green.... even if it's in the rivers in Chicago or Savannah we dye to assert our celebration of the day. No matter what..... everybody and everything is Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

That's no problem for me.... and not because I really am Irish, but because green has always been my favorite color. There is something so earthy in it's tones, and so comforting about it's pleasurability to the eye..... as long as you don't count the kelly or lime colors; they are a little too off the chart sprectrum for me. The sages and hunter colors are my favorites. If you'd ever visited my house, there would be no doubt what my favorite color is.... these colors are the dominant palatte that I reside in every day. I always say it's my Irish side, along with my love for meat and potatoes rather than pasta. It's my everyday of "wearing of the green".

So whether you celebrate by wearing your favorite green shirt, or accessory, or going to your favorite watering hole for a few beers, or even attending your favorite parade, everyone has an Irish side on St. Patrick's Day.... be it part lineage or culturally adopted.

Happy St. Patrick's Day..........

Monday, March 13, 2006

quotable quotes.......

The trouble with talking too fast is you may say something you haven't thought of yet.
~Ann Landers

A true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success.
~Cullen Hightower

Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.
~ Adlai Stevenson

You don't look back along time but down through it, like water. Sometimes this comes to the surface; sometimes that; sometimes nothing.
~Margaret Atwood

The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting in above-average effort.
~Colin Powell

Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.
~Barbara Johnson

We learn only when it is too late that the marvel is the passing moment.
~Francois Mitterand

There is no power on earth that can neutrilize the influence of a high, simple and useful life.
~Booker T. Washington

Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can't even describe, aren't even aware of.
~Ellen Goodman

Friday, March 10, 2006

no message..... no title..... just a wish that everyone have a wonderful weekend! Relax and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

counting the beans......

Yup, it's here again. My my, how time goes by so fast when you're having fun, huh? Just when you think things are on an even path, it's time to fill out those confusing tax forms. For most people, the forms will be the 1040EZ... but not for me. I have to hire a CPA to do mine, as they are so complicated, and I am so mathematically and directionally challenged.

That I have made simple mistakes in the past that cost dearly, I no longer rely on the handy adding machine that sits on my desk. Let that be the problem of the accountant. Besides, they are up to date on all the new tax laws, which would require me to stay awake through long passages of boring materiel to read. If you think they simplify the instructions for you, then think again. You not only need a "dummies" book to get through the initial instructions, you need a "dummies" book to get through the first "dummies" book. Personally I am under the belief that the government gets a kick out of complicating things further for you. I can just imagine the IRS agents that sit at their desks looking over the forms we send them, and laughing over our inability to put things in the correct spaces. Laughing to the point that might end up costing you dearly on penalties and interest., as well as red flagging you for audits in the future. Believe me, once you are on the audit list, you are on it for life. (It's kind of like the jury duty lists.)

It all seemed so simple when I did my first tax return back in the 70's. Living in New Hampshire, I only had one form to fill out, as the state had no sales taxes. Grabbing a 1040 form, and getting advise from everyone I knew that was well versed on government tax processes, I filled it out in a matter of minutes and mailed it along. Within a month, I got my first check back in the mail. Oh joy, I thought, this was one easy process, so what me worry? Ha! The joke would be on me in enough years to come. Not only did the tax laws change and modify (which was ok), but moving to Georgia meant that I now had to fill out state forms. Ok..... I managed that with little to no problem.

Then there was the challenge of forms I butted up against when I became owner of my own business. No more 1040's for me, and no more W-4's either. I was introduced to the world of 1065's and K-1's. (yeah, I had the same reaction... what the heck was all this?) Not steady on my brain of such numbers or procedures, I hired an accountant to handle it all for me. I gave him the explanation that I cook the beans, not count them. After he hooked me up with a wonderful bookkeeper who could make sure my quicken files were always straightened out, we enjoyed eight wonderful years of solved tax filing.

Last year, my CPA retired, and I was on the lookout for someone who could fill the void I had so easily not concerned myself with. Well I found her, but she does not come without a cost (to the point of $900.00, just for the business taxes.... I can't wait to see what she'll charge for my personal ones). Being that this is her first year with me, she had to plow through the last three years of forms (business and personal) and I can conclude that it took some time for her to do so. She did send me a tax organizer to fill out, to the tune of 50+ pages. This was a bit confusing in itself, but next year she'll have all my information in the right areas so that I can fill it out without all the extra notes I had to write in, as I wasn't sure where everything really went. Yeah, I got the name and social security numbers in the right place, but I have a mountain of deductions that all had their own pages... some of which were similar to different pages of the organizer. Calling her, I asked where I should put "x" deduction. No problem, she said, just put it down on page "y" and she'll figure it out. Well that's comforting, if nothing else about the process is. I also enjoy the fact that I can call her, and she doesn't charge by the minute. All questions are free, as well as time on the phone with her.

My son will be filing his first 1040 this year. In a way, I almost envy him, but not quite. Since he has no idea what it's all about (other than he made too little for the government to keep very much of it), he is looking to me to help him through the process. Not confident that I am still versed in the tax methods, I'm counting on help from my bookkeeper. She on the other hand is happy to do it if I can pay her off in lasagna and banana bread. Such a deal, huh?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

gateway to the Cape......

Stretching like a well muscled arm off the lower eastern coast of Massachusetts is the beautiful landscape of Cape Cod. It's location is exposed to the elements of Atlantic Ocean temperaments; and it has seen it's share hurricanes, blizzards, and worse of all, the tourists who claim the sandy shores with "cape" and stilt houses. Because much of it was unspoiled beauty, many New Englanders favored it for the sandy beaches, and because they could escape the thickly settled areas of the Northeast and feel like they had gone to the "country seashore". The only problem is the tourists never stopped coming and the land became prime real estate.

During the Pleistocene Epoch, the great ice age that began over one and a half million years ago, the Cape was fully engrossed under ice. When the last continental ice sheets melted away, the water returned to the ocean basin and the sea level rose. Within time, the rising sea began to drown out the land left behind by the ice. With waves attacking the shore and eroding away the glacial deposits, sand was transported and redeposited to form bays protected by barrier splits and islands. Within these bays, marshes grew as the sea rose, and the remaining glacial landforms make up the landscape of the Cape that we know today.

It would be given the name of Cape Cod by Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602 when he settled on the Elizabeth Islands, southwest of what is known as Woods Hole now. Visited by Samuel de Champlain in 1605, the Cape was detailed in description and charts which would help present day scientists to determine the rate of change the land of Nauset Beach Spit and Nauset marsh had made over the years. The Cape would also be the first landing spot of the Pilgrims before they chose to abandon it for more fertile and less sandy lands. Although it had potable water and food, it would not sustain them and they chose to resettle across the bay in 1620 on more stable shores, calling their settlement Plymouth. There were other Europeans who had settled along the shores dating back as far as 1498, but none would be more successful than the Pilgrims and the treaties they established with the Nauset Indians (in 1621) for forty years.

Early settlers to Cape Cod were from deforested lands of Europe and took full advantage of the forests of the Cape for fuel, housing and shipbuilding. Unlike the rest of New England, and because the forests were never really that big, the thin sandy soil was extremely vulnerable to wind erosion. An abundant amount of clearing and topsoil loss occurred over the years, and by the early 1800's, laws had to be enacted to protect what grazing land was left. It would also promote the planting of beach grasses. From the mid 1800's till 1951 over 70% of the land was forested, yet the trend reversed itself again, and residential as well as commercial development, in recent times, has decreased the forests by 100 square miles (about 25% of the Cape).

My first memories of the Cape date back to the 1960's when we would spend our summers there with our cousins. It would be at a cottage my Grandfather had nailed together out of two cranberry shacks (at least that was the legend I was always told), and was located just minutes from the beach. It is no secret that I am a beach lover, and always have been, so jaunts down to the shoreline were a morning daily event for us all summer long.... except for Sunday when we had to attend church first.

This was where I would learn to dig for clams and accept the risk of coming home with bleeding fingers at the razor-sharp shells. We had to be careful though, as we never had a license to take them off the beach. Hiding them in our pails we'd sneak off through a back route home and deposit them into Grandmas kitchen over expressed glees of what good catches we had. It really never amounted to much, and most times Grandpa would catch a ride to the nearest fishery to supplement our meager findings. Being of Italian decent, Grandma would put just about anything and everything into a marinara sauce, as pasta was a daily staple with every noonday meal. Many times there were sauces that included our daily catch.

Needless to say, mealtime was a required event, as Grandma spent time from the moment she woke up till serving time over the hot stove in her kitchen. While we were flapping and rollicking around the beach or huge yard to play in, with boundless energy, she would be preparing a feast for six adults and eight children. Being of fair skin, she had to be careful of any sun exposure so she never joined us at the beach. That was never a problem for the rest of us as we had "olive" skin, and could stand the hours outside bolstering our already tanned skin.

When we became old enough to drive, we would cross the bridges that separated the mainland of Massachusetts by a canal to the actual Cape lands. Our little town of Wareham was known as the "gateway to the Cape", but technically, "not on The Cape". The Bourne and Sagamore Bridges would bring us to less populated areas, real funny looking scrub pines, and even better beaches. Day trips to Falmouth and even the tip of Provencetown to see the dunes, grassy marshes, and quaint towns along the way were fascinating and filled with picturesque landscapes. The Cape was always our second home, no matter where we lived. It is the one home that has remained in my family our whole life.

When my Grandparents became too old to maintain the cottage by themselves, they deeded it over to my brothers and myself for care, and it has remained that way for the last twenty years. I don't spend time there anymore as the distance is too far for me to pop in for a weekend. However, I still think about it often and wonder about the changes I hear about. The road that lead down to our cottage used to be mostly forest and marshland, and it remained that way throughout all my childhood as well as most of my adulthood. I've heard that it is all subdivisions and condos now.... nothing I'd recognize if I were make the trek on my own. In a way I find it somewhat sad now, because my Grandpa used to walk this road and search the woods for fresh mushrooms. He knew the difference between the poisonous and harmless ones, and they ended up in the food that Grandma prepared. Like my Grandparents and my parents, the mushrooms and little country road have passed through the annals of time. The little cottage still remains, and amazingly enough, it has held up through several hurricanes; although.... it's age is showing.

It's been eight years since I've last seen the Cape, my second home, and the gateway town I spent my summers in. I can hardly believe that so much time has passed, and it makes me realize that I do miss the area terribly. So much so, that I wonder if I'll recognize anything whenever I do get the chance to return for a vacation........

Thursday, March 02, 2006

tagged by milkbrain........

1) What were your doing 10 years ago?

I worked in a grocery store with student chefs who were happy to teach me tricks of the trade.
Within a year, I quit and became a catering coordinator.... and eventually bought out the business with two partners. I also traveled to New England to attend my 20 year class reunion.

2) What were you doing 1 year ago?

Pretty much the same thing I do now: cater weddings, business meetings and home parties. I also held a graduation party in my garden for my son who finally left the world of public education. It was touch and go the last year as his math scores were low. Funny, now that he's in college and paying for it, he doesn't mind the math as much. Goes to show you that when you have to pay for something, the equation changes.

3) Five snacks that I enjoy?

mint chocolate chip ice cream (always #1 on my list), chocolate scones, hot chocolate, hersheys kisses, anything chocolate.

4) Five songs I know all the words to?

"Leather & Lace" Stevie Nicks
"You Are So Beautiful" Joe Cocker
"Cool Change" by Little River Band
the complete albums "Let It Be" and "Abbey Road" by the Beatles

5) Five things I 'd do if I were to become a millionaire?

Quit my job, hand my share of the business over to my partners and pay off all my bills.
Send my son to a college of his choice.
Put some away for retirement and investments and let that money go to work for me.
Travel the world.
Give to real worthy causes.

6) Five bad Habits?

I still bite my nails.
I still smoke. ( yeah, yeah, I know!)
I sometimes speak without thinking first.
I curse in traffic at bad drivers.
I watch entirely too much TV

7) Five things I like to do?

Go to the beach whenever I get the chance
Travel anywhere when I have the money
Have quiet zen moments to myself
Watch TV

8) Five things I'd never wear?

Anything with plaids, polka dots, or stripes
Thong underwear
Stiletto heels
Goth make-up
Any clothes that contain racial slurs

9) Five favorite toys?

My vehicle as it allows me freedom
My computer as it keeps me in touch with friends
My TV because it keeps me amused
My house because it contains more than 5 toys to play with
My cell phone


Ok...... so I'm supposed to remove the top name on the list and put my name underneath, but I don't know any of these people and have no way to get to their blogs (except milkbrain) so I'm just going to offer this up out there for anyone to take their own challenge. For the most part, my side links have already done this (as I've read them already) so all this fun might just end right here.

Have a good day y'all!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

a little sleepy town.......

Located at the mouth of the Connecticut River, and facing Long Island Sound, Algonquin Indians lived in peace and harmony amongst their surroundings. They would farm the lands with their neighbors the Nehantics until the early 1590's when the Pequot Indians, a war-like tribe from the North, conquered their lands.

In 1614, Adriaen Block, would be the first European to sail up the Connecticut River. He was sent by the Dutch West India Company on an expedition to explore, map and claim the eastern coast of "New Amsterdam" for the Dutch. Fearing that the Dutch would have competition in this area, they settled a group of men and women at the mouth of the river to establish a permanent community. Spending a few miserable months there, the community failed, and the settlers returned to New Amsterdam.

In 1631 President of the Counsil of New England, Earl Warwick signed an unusual deed of conveyance called the Warwick Patent. This deed would include eleven of his closest friends and family members, and be enlarged to include four more members within a year. Included in this list of men were Viscount Saye and Sele, Lord Brook, and Colonel George Fenwick. The area of the patent included a vast segment of New England land, part of which was the area located at the mouth of the river.

In 1635 the Warwick patentees would commission John Winthrop as the first govenor of the Connecticut territory. Learning that the Dutch were planning to re-occupy the lands, a boat was loaded with two cannons and 20 men. With orders to seize control of this land that sat on the river, they quickly put themselves ashore to ward off any attacks by either the Indians or Dutch. A year later, Lt. Lion Gardiner sailed to the area with more supplies and men in order to build a fort and lay out a town. This settlement would be known as Saye-brook in honor of Viscount Saye and Sele and Lord Brook. While it wouldn't be the oldest town in Connecticut, it was the oldest town located on the shoreline, as well as the oldest English town name in Connecticut.

As the town grew, the settlers would move farther away from the original settlement, and established their own parishes so as not to have to travel as far on Sundays to attend church services. They would become what is today known as the towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Westbrook, Chester, Essex and Deep River. Somewhere through the annals of time, Saye-brook's name changed to Saybrook Point, then to Old Saybrook.

In the early 1960's, my parents would come to this town with four small children in tow. I would learn to ice skate and go sledding in the winter, as well as cherish the beach in the summer (when not making the regular treks to our summer cottage on Cape Cod). It was, and still is, a picturesque town filled with yankee heritage, summer cottages, and small New England-town charm.

Besides the beach and two lighthouses, the best attraction we had was Katherine Hepburn who lived in Fenwick, a small hamlet of Old Saybrook. Her parents had come to the town back in 1911, and purchased a summer cottage. Although the hurricane of 1938 had demolished the original house, it would be rebuilt. Kate was our local celebrity, and became cherished over the years due to her gracious donations. When not spending time in her Manhattan apartment or Hollywood, she lived in Fenwick. She was never seen, and never made any grand entrances anywhere, although she had lived a colorful life in her younger days during her summer stays..... well before my time. It was said that she was evicted from a local pub (I don't remember the reason why), that later became the store where my brother, Eric, had set up a printing shop back in the 1980's. They would come to know each other in her later years.
Eric, being a volunteer fireman for the town, would be called to duty at her house one time, as she had an incident with her fireplace and could not seem to put a small blaze out by herself. In return, she would purchase a fire truck from Florida, and donate it to the towns fire department. Upon her death, it was stated in her will that a painting of her would be donated to the Old Saybrook Historical Society "for preservation". It still hangs there today, as the town was very proud to adopt her as their own.

Another attraction of the town was The Castle Inn. At one time actress Ethyl Barrymore (great Aunt of Drew Barrymore) married into the family that owned this magnificent castle. During Prohibition, it was said that the basement area was used to "run rum". This all makes perfect sense, as the castle sat on Long Island Sound, and was pretty secluded. Urban Legend has it that a young child died there many many years ago, and his spirit still walked the halls in search of his room.

Traveling east of Old Saybrook, you would come to New London and Mystic (where the movie Mystic Pizza was filmed.... and yes, there is a pizza parlor there named Mystic Pizza; at least there was one there in 2001 on my last visit to New England). My Dad taught at a school for Deaf Children that sat up on a hill that somewhat overlooked Mystic Village; a recreated whaling village of the 1800's. Needless to say, we were surrounded by history everywhere.

Shortly before I entered the 9th grade, our family made one more move.... up into the cow pastures of New Hampshire. My brother Eric could never quite get Old Saybrook out of his system, and ended up moving back several years after he had graduated and married his childhood sweetheart. He would raise his children in the same town he grew up in.... a sleepy little resort area that lies on the mouth of the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound that is still much the same as it was when we first moved there back in the 1960's.