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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Gramma...

Today the world lost a pretty cool person. My Paternal Grandmother passed away this morning in her sleep. She had been sick for a while now, and while it was something that we have been preparing for, it was still a shock when it actually happened. A woman who was born in the Roaring 20's and was a child of the The Great Depression, She was a college student during World War II and became a mother to 4 Baby Boomers. Three sons and one daughter gave her a full house and a full plate, but not only that, she was also a RN. She worked at one of the biggest Hospitals in Rochester NY for Over 30 years on top of being a mother and wife. . That barely scrapes the surface of who she was, and Let me tell you all, she was something!

My Gramma was a cool lady. Even when she didn't fully approve of what you were doing, she would give you the respect of letting you make your own mistakes. I spent a good portion of my early days living under her roof, and in later years I even spent part of a year living with her as an adult. She had her quirks, but she was a tough lady, and she didn't put up with crap she didn't like.

When I was a kid, her and my grandfather owned an old farm in Allegheny County (NY) and while they didn't raise much more than some chickens, the occasional pig and plenty of dogs she was still "Farm Gramma" to me for most of my childhood years. I always looked forward to going to Farm Gramma's house for a weekend, or better yet for a week in the summer time. Gramma always had things around that I liked, she had a bag of ballons in the buffet in the dinning room. She always had sliced cheese in the fridge, and Ice cream in the freezer. In the summer time she always had a plentiful supply of little jars to put fireflies into after my cousins and I captured them. Gramma's house was where we all went for Thanksgiving dinner and she always put out the relish tray at noon, so we could snack on gherkins and carrots and little chocolate mints while we waited for the turkey to be done. We always had to clean off the dining room table before we could set it for dinner. I am sure that I inherited my "flat surface syndrome" from her and Grampa. Gramma was a good cook, but she never trusted her memory for recipes, she ALWAYS used the cookbook or the recipe card, and she measured everything precisely. But she always had consistent results! She made the best custard and lemon meringue pies. She made great tasting biscuits, even if you could knock someone out with one if you threw it at their head! Gramma always had time to explain stuff to me.

It's funny the things I remember about Gramma. She hated rodents, especially mice. When I was living with her, I used to work a couple of late shifts during the week, and I wouldn't get home until after midnight, so usually she would be asleep in bed and most of the lights would be out. Well, one night after setting out mousetraps in the afternoon, I got home from work and as I pulled into the driveway, I see that every light in the house is on, and her car is gone. So I head for the house and I found a note on the door, that said, " I am at Ma's house, come and get me after you empty the mousetrap behind the stove!" She had been watching TV in the living room when she heard the distinctive snap of the mousetrap. She immediately got out of her chair, grabbed her coat and purse and walked out to the car. She never paused to turn off the TV, or any lights. She hated mice that much. When I put out poison for the mice and other vermin, I told her, they will eat the poison and then die in the walls and stink up the joint, and her answer was that she would rather smell them rotting in the walls, then know they were alive and peeing and pooping in her cupboards! She had her limits!!

A few years ago she suffered a mild stroke, and while it didn't take away her motor functions, it did affect her short term memory. It was heartbreaking to spend time with her, because we could have the same conversation five or six times in an hour. She loved to read the newspaper, and she had to dog-ear the pages so that she would know that she had already read them. Sometimes that didn't help, but it was always new news each time she turned the pages!

I will remember every day that I spent with her, every holiday, and special occasion. Every car ride, and each lesson that she taught me. The skinned knees and the scraped knuckles. Cuts and bruises bandaged and tended. I will remember the spankings that I definitely deserved, and sleeping in the beds that slid apart in the night. Her crisp sheets, and the warm, comfy quilts that she made for us. I have pictures of her that I will treasure. and memories that make me laugh. Stories that I will be telling until I get to see her again. Gramma will be missed, but she will live on with me far as long as I have breath.

SO... Dear Gramma, I love you, and I'm sure gonna miss you. You were the best Gramma a guy could hope for. XO

Sunday, April 18, 2010

what life has in store...

we are born, we live, we die. Everyone follows that basic path in life, but some of us fill the middle part with so much stuff, that it seems like they have lived 3 lifetimes. Other people, well, let's just say that they complain more about what they don't do than what they actually do.

Yes, I am one to complain, but I am also one to go and do too, so I fall somewhere in that middle ground. I like to try new things and see new places, and sometimes even meet new people. At the same time, I am limited in what I can accomplish because of financial or time barriers. Usually the time barrier is based on trying to overcome the financial barrier, but still! So that said, I have found that sometimes it is not the things that we go out and seek that bring the most fun, or satisfaction. Occasionally it is the surprises in life that are really the best things.

I have found that when I am open to new experiences, I find them. Whether it is trying new things, learning something new, or simply meeting new people. Everyday that we walk this planet, we have a chance to try something new. It's simply a matter of making s different choice than you have made before. Step outside of your usual rut and find something different. Have you driven by a particular road for years, and always wondered what down it? Take a few extra minutes on your way home some afternoon and see. Maybe you will find a park or a pasture, or someones flower garden that makes your day. Have you always wanted to travel but can't afford it? Maybe take the time to learn the language of someplace that you want to visit. You don't have to become fluent, but open your mind and perhaps find some friends who speak that language and practice. You will find a new way of seeing the world when you can describe it in a new way.

As a photographer, one of the things that we always try to do ( at least good photogs anyways!) is try to see things in a way that is unique and interesting. There are somethings in this world that have been photographed so many times that you may never have a chance to get a unique pic, but if you are looking for it, you just may find it. How many pictures have you ever seen of the Eiffel Tower in the fog? SO if you're ever in Paris and it's a foggy day, Go take that picture, you may just have the coolest picture ever! And all because you were open to something different.

We are on this planet for a relatively short time and while there is much debate about what comes afterward, the one thing that we know for sure, is that most people only remember one life at a time. Since we only get one chance to remember it, we may as well have some fun with it!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Crazy stuff

I never know what my life is gonna show me, and sometimes it surprises me. For many years I have guarded my credit rating like a fiend, scrimping and saving to make sure that I got my credit card bills paid on time. I have spent way more than I should have and then worked mad overtime and second and third jobs to cover the bills. On top of that I have been paying finance charges for nearly 25 years now so I guess the companies have made their money back from me and a pretty nice profit too. Last month I gave it up. I let the bills go delinquent and enlisted the services of a debt settlement company. I took the harshest road I could and went for the 2 year payoff. The sad part is that for the last couple years I have been trying to consolidate my outstanding debt and get it paid off, but nobody wanted to help me that way, they were making way too much off the finance charges. Now that I have gone off the reservation they are all telling me about these consolidation deals that they will offer me. Too late dick wads!! Tired of dealing with it all so now you can take what the agency will negotiate, and I am sure that it will be significantly less than I would have paid had you helped me when I was first asking. I never wanted to do this, it just turned out to be the way to get the end that I needed. I have cut up the credit cards and now if I can't pay cash. I don't get it. Pretty simple and it feels good. It will take a while to get used to the lack of plastic for any little thing, but in the end it will be better for me. Good riddance!