Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

April 21, 2016

Long Overdue

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 9:26 am
Tags: , , , ,

The title of this post has dual meaning. I am long overdue to write a blog post. It has been a wonderful spring with so many enjoyable moments! As I’ve looked around and enjoyed posts from Robin, Dawn, Kathy (welcome back!), Mike, Amy, Gerry and Carol, I get so very inspired to write and then something else takes my attention and I don’t do it. I decided to change that this morning and actually do it, so I started scrolling through the photos on my phone, looking back at the moments I wanted to remember for one reason or another. (Sorry Rebel camera, I have been very bad about picking you up and making use of you lately. I promise to change that soon!) My plan was to write another post similar to the last one I did – a journalish kind of post updating what’s been going on so that I had words to go with my photos. As I scrolled, I realized I had more than enough photos to focus on one very special event, one that was indeed long overdue.

Long time readers will know that my sister Jennifer, our best friend Renae and I have been like the three muskateers for most of our lives – literally we have been friends for 40 years! Since we were 4, 5 and 6 years old respectively. Even though Renae does not live as close to us as we would like any more (she was just down the street as we grew up), we make the time to see each other throughout the year. We have taken girls getaway weekends together. In 2014, we were planning another little trip together to a seaside town in New Hampshire. Then horrific news struck. I think Renae will be okay with me sharing this at this point, as she has gone public with what she has been through on her Facebook page, Renae was diagnosed with breast cancer and discovered she carries the breast cancer gene. A double mastectomy followed, then chemo and radiation. A year from hell. Strong, amazing woman that she is, Renae is doing well and feeling healthy these days and is a strong advocate for research into Stage 4 cancer – the constant fear in the back of any cancer survivor’s mind.

Back when Renae was diagnosed and we had to cancel our girls’ weekend, we promised ourselves that when she was well and ready, we would do a BIG celebratory trip – not somewhere within driving distance, somewhere we would have to get on an airplane together to reach – something we’d never done before. And we finally did it. Just about 3 weeks ago, the three of us boarded a plane to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

After a very late arrival Friday night due to a long delay and rerouting of our flight due to strong thunderstorms happening in parts of the south, we woke up Saturday morning to a beautiful day.
First Ft Lauderdale morning
view from hotel room balcony

I could feel my entire body just relax into being present in where I was – a warm, tropical climate with my best friends in the world with no agenda other than to plop ourselves on the beach and enjoy each others’ company.
On Ft Lauderdale beach
Ahhhhh!

Since we did not rent a car – just about everything you might want or need is in walking distance in Ft. Lauderdale – cocktails from the poolside tiki bar at the hotel were indulged in just about anytime we felt like it!
Beach cocktails!
Something melon-y. I don’t remember the name, but it was good!

Our hotel
This is the hotel from the beach. That thatched roof you see to the right side of the photo is the tiki bar. Very convenient!

Just because
This is a great picture representing how we spent our days. Lounge on the beach, go for a walk, go for a swim – whatever we wanted. I went for an invigorating swim in the ocean in amazingly warm water with some wild crashing waves. It made me feel so very alive and thankful and conscious of appreciating the present moment.

Each night we walked to dinner at a local restaurant and we were not disappointed with any of our choices. How wonderful to walk the sidewalks and see tropical flowers in bloom as we went!
Hibiscus

Tropical flowers

I think the three of us would agree our favorite meal was at Greek Islands Taverna. We had a wonderful Greek waiter who recommended this delicious Greek wine.
Wonderful Greek wine
We would love to be able to find this wine for sale back home somewhere!

We shared a Greek salad as an appetizer – Renae took this shot of me with it.
Me, with Greek salad

And I had a delicious moussaka for my entree.
Fabulous dinner

We were super full from a great meal that night, but we couldn’t resist taking some dessert to share to go – baklava AND baklava cheesecake!

The next night’s dinner was at Aruba Beach Cafe. Another wonderful choice. Our bartender took this picture of the three of us while we waited for our table:
"Ussie"
That was one delicious margarita! Well, I think it was actually two delicious margaritas…

Appetizer and dinner that night:
Conch fritters
Conch fritters

Seafood quesadilla
Seafood quesadilla

Our final dinner together was at 101 Ocean.
Appetizer:
Crab, artichoke and spinach dip
Crab, artichoke and spinach dip

Dinner:
Lobster paella
Lobster Paella

Both the Aruba Cafe and 101 Ocean are located in the quaint neighborhood of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a cute little touristy area with shops and restaurants and ice cream. We decided that last night to enjoy one last walk on the beach – walked from the restaurant to the hotel. On the approach to our hotel, I noticed the palm trees there were decorated with lights and had to take a quick picture:
Lit palm trees

We had an early flight home on Tuesday morning, so on Monday morning I took an opportunity to enjoy an early morning solo walk on the beach.
Morning walk

I was so very appreciative that we made the time to take this trip. It is one I will remember forever, and something that I hope we make a tradition – perhaps an annual one. Thank you Jennifer and Renae for this wonderful experience!
Last day on the beach

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September 7, 2015

August Dreaming

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 9:37 am
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It is Labor Day here in the USA – a day to celebrate work by playing all day! For most people it is also the day that feels like the end of summer, even though that isn’t “official” for 16 more days. It has been a beautifully warm and sunny long weekend in the northeast, and I hope you’ve been enjoying whatever you’ve been up to. I’ve been taking my baby steps toward adjusting to both girls being off to college, reaching out to friends for help along the way.

Maine sunset
a memory of mine from August

Today is also the day to have a look back at August. At the end of July, I made the suggestion that we play along with I Heart Faces August photo challenge in the loosey-goosey style of the “When I Feel Like It” way.

As of this writing four bloggers posted pictures for the August photo hunt.

Mike over at Picture Day decided to do an approximately weekly look at August. He started off here, and added more here, here, and here Did I get them all Mike? I enjoyed following along with Mike’s thinking process and seeing the very creative results!

Carol at Wanderings of an Elusive Mind did three posts on the challenge. The first one is blended with “Share Your World” questions, she continues in this post and finishes, with a little kick-start from her muse here. I always enjoy Carol’s photos from the other side of this country and from her travels all over the world, and these did not disappoint!

I was sure that Robin at Breezes at Dawn would find a unique way to present her August photo challenge. She created a beautiful post, showcasing her month here. Robin pointed out how this challenge ended up being a fun look back at the month for her and mused that maybe it could be fun to wrap up a month in a similar way from time to time. I like that idea too, but won’t be making any blog promises!

Sonali at Dreams Hope Destiny started out with a happy post here and continued with some more shots in this post giving us fun look at her part of the world.

In the spirit of reaching out, I extended the invitation to a couple bloggers who really seemed to want to participate in this challenge but perhaps ran out of time. If they happen to add posts today, I will happily add them to this wrap up.

I’m sure you’ve already seen my posts for this challenge, but if you missed any of them my three posts are here, here and here.

As we transition to the next season, I’m beginning my transition too. My heart is still heavy with ache for the two big pieces who are no longer here on a daily basis. I’m still thinking and sorting and trying things out and wish to maintain a presence here in the blogosphere – connecting with all of you is something I enjoy. I’ve been touched by your comments of support and hope to continue this sharing as I find my way.

January 1, 2015

My View of 2014

January 1st. A day for looking both forward and back. I spent some time yesterday looking over the photos I took in 2014, trying to mentally select some for one of those year-end reviews I usually do, but the format for how to do it just wasn’t coming to me. I think my photography lost some focus, figuratively and literally, last year as my focus was in other places. 2014 was a year of changes and struggles, but of triumphs as well. My photography became more about story-telling and memory-keeping than of creating technically good photographs. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. I do, however, miss having a lot of those moments when I sat back and reviewed my shots on any given day and thought to myself, wow, I really like that one.

These days I really am about moving forward and continually trying to discover and create a better me. However, 2014 had some moments I will chronicle here that were big and small parts of becoming who I am today, and who I will be as I continue to find my place in my changing world.

image
This book was the inspiration for my approach to 2014. I honestly did try to find as much joy as possible in the events of my life. There were definitely several days throughout the year where this proved impossible: the closing of our home away from home, our dance studio, finding out that I would not be a candidate for the teaching job at my school for which I had been hoping dearly for 9 years and, worst of all, learning that my best friend in the world since I was 6 years old had breast cancer.

I do believe that things happen for a reason, although I’m sure there will never be one for my friend going through this horrible experience. She is an amazing woman, currently undergoing chemotherapy. She is unbelievably strong, even keeping her wicked sense of humor that I love so much about her intact. We are counting down the days with her until chemo is done – January 27th is her last treatment. Celebrations will surely be planned.

focus.jpg (1 of 1)
2014 was a full year of taking better care of me physically. I began what I consider to be a new way of life, a new way of thinking about and experiencing health and fitness. I eat as “clean” as possible, meaning as many whole, one-ingredient foods or minimally processed foods as I can. I workout 4 to 5 days a week. As I result I’ve lost about 20 pounds and I’m feeling more physically fit than I remember for most of my life. Hopefully this work will result in a me who is ready to live fully and experience many new things as the future comes our way.

Our crew
It was a year of keeping connections with an amazing group of friends. I’ve mentioned before how much these people mean to me, and I do believe that what we have is unique for adults in our age group. The fact that this connection that began in the 1980’s when we were teenagers (earlier for some of the guys here) and continues to the new generation of our children, who are now becoming adults, is surely not something that happens every day.

My amazing girls
It was a year about discovering, defining and accepting my place and who I am to these two wonderful young women. My changing role as a mother has not been an easy one for me to come to terms with. The loving, caring about, trying my best for, doing whatever I can for them will never ever change, but I know now that I am no longer the director of their life experiences. It is now my job to support their decisions, offer guidance when asked for and be here for them whenever they need me.

image
It was the year I got to experience teaching in my own classroom, albeit temporarily, for the first time. My time as 6th grade math teacher is now winding down. I will have only two weeks left of this excellent opportunity when we return to school from this holiday break. I have no idea if this experience will lead me somewhere in the future, but I have loved every moment of it – the teaching, the planning, the kids, even the correcting.

The more that I scroll through my Flickr feed as I’ve composed this post, more I realize that I did have at least a few of those “aha” moments with my photography. As I said earlier, not necessarily in the creation of a technically good photo, but photos that bring me joy from the memory or the simple beauty of the moment. Here are a few of them.
Robins

IMG_0898

pool ducky

Applause

pipevine swallowtail 1

image

...and now

dragonfly face

IMG_1284

IMG_1294

Oreo cows!

Color and reflection

Reindeer dog

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015 full of promise and hope.

November 2, 2014

Hallowasn’t

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 8:40 am
Tags: , , , ,

As often happens to me as I do my best to keep up with all of you in the blogosphere, I got inspired for my own post by reading this post from Robin who was inspired by reading this post from Bo. Many beautiful thoughts can be found in both of these posts, and they got me thinking about my own changing rituals.

I titled this post “Hallowasn’t” because for the first time in a long time, Halloween was no big deal around here. It usually has been in some way or another whether it was big parties or murder mysteries or just enjoying the excitement of my daughters as they went out to trick or treat. I’ve written several posts about ways we’ve celebrated in the past. I did dress up for Halloween for school (sorry forgot to take a selfie for ya) and I did have a wonderful dinner with my friends last weekend which I alluded to in this post, but the real Halloween spirit was not here. Friends seemed too busy to want to put much thought into costumes for a party and my girls are far past trick or treating age. ONE trick-or-treater came to my door! As I told you in this post, my dance studio closed its doors this year. My dance teacher is one of the most Halloween spirited people I know. I missed the excitement of planning for several Halloween parties the week before Halloween at the studio. We did still get to have a little Halloween fun at the new studio, but of course it wasn’t quite the same.

I found this message posted on my mom’s fridge the last time I went to visit her.
Message
It is true and a good one to remember. Doesn’t necessarily make accepting some of the changes easier though. I know this is the way of the world. If you’ve done your job as a parent well, you’ve created good people who go on to create their own good lives. Doesn’t mean I can’t miss enjoying the days like this:
Tiger baby

Lunette
does it?
(Does anyone remember the PBS children’s show “The Big Comfy Couch“? It aired on PBS when my girls were little and they loved it. Meghan is dressed up as Lunette the Clown, the main character from the show. I made that costume and was quite proud of it!)

Life brings changes, and with those changes, changes in our rituals. Party and costume planning was always a big ritual for this family at this time of the year. It seems that ritual could be fading into the past.

Connecting with the people who mean the most to you is one ritual that I hope never fades. A few weeks ago, I once again got to go to visit dear friend Renae, and my sister and mother, and her close friend Katie joined us at a place that has become a new ritual – Pickity Place.
Toffee cheesecake w/strawberry sauce and whipped cream

My sister made a new friend of one of the Pickity kitties:
Kitty loves my sister

Last night I had the pleasure of a delicious dinner with some wonderful women: Sherry, Tracey and Sherry’s mom Carol (who is also Tracey’s mother-in-law). I was the only one who wasn’t “officially” family, but that’s okay, I’m close enough! We went to a local restaurant, La Cucina di Hampden House and enjoyed great food and drinks and each other’s company.
Espresso martini
espresso martini

Eggplant tower
eggplant tower appetizer

This occasion came up because our husbands were together playing poker and visiting in support of a man who has had some health issues recently and was joyed by the idea of spending time with the men he has known since they were boys. We ladies toasted each other and Carol even suggested that this dinner become a tradition. A new ritual, so-to-speak. I like that idea.

October 4, 2014

It was a great month!

Filed under: Joy — Karma @ 8:55 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Four days of October have already passed as I sit to write this post, but I just couldn’t let September go by without creating a little memoir of it here on the blog. It was a beautiful, busy and wonderful month. Let me show you some of the great things I got to experience.

I’ll start by saying that the weather was, for the most part, outstanding. August left me desiring more sunshine and warmth, and I feel like September brought all the beauty and heat it could muster. It was my first month of teaching full time and I absolutely loved it – and still am loving it. I often brought papers home to sit outside on my deck and correct and enjoy the sun at the same time.

September is Big E time here in western Massachusetts. The Big E is a huge 6-state fair, and people come from all over to attend the 17 day event – 1,498,605 of them this year. I enjoyed some favorite things on my visit there this year:
Fried food
Fried food (this is a basket of tempura veggies)

Big margarita
A really big frozen margarita in a plastic mug with a handle for enjoying while strolling the fair

Oreo cows!
Oreo cows! Squeeeeeeee!

Belted gallway
I discovered that belted galloways (their “real” name…phffft!…not nearly as interesting as “oreo cow”) also come in other colors.

My sister, Sarah and I made a trip to the Cape to visit mom in September as well. We had one day of lovely weather. Warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a warm beverage at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans…
Hot Chocolate Sparrow Orleans MA
(my sister’s pic of her hot apple cider with caramel)

Smuggler's Beach South Yarmouth
…and watch the wind surfers at Smuggler’s beach (also Jennifer’s pic)

The weekend after we visited the Cape, Jennifer and I visited our dear friend Renae. Renae took us to lunch at a fabulous winery in New Hampshire called La Belle Winery. It was a gorgeous day and we sat outside.
Nice lunch
We enjoyed this wonderful cheese slate as an appetizer. That’s my yummy sangria in the background of the picture!

And then, at the very end of the month, something that I have been waiting for for a very long time finally happened!
New floor
My new tile kitchen floor was installed! The ugly, permanantly dirty nearly 20-year-old linoleum is finally gone!

A beautiful month – and so much to be thankful for and appreciative of. Life is good.

August 23, 2014

Stuff’s Getting Real

Filed under: 66 Days of Summer — Karma @ 8:23 am
Tags: ,

Yesterday, day 64 of summer, I went to new teacher orientation! Much of the information wasn’t new to me since I have worked in this school for 9 years now, but it was interesting and helpful and good to refresh my memory on a lot of things. Monday will be a work day to really get down to the business of getting ready for the kids who will arrive on Tuesday.

I went out and bought some supplies for “my” classroom after I left school.
School supplies

These are just some things I thought I’d like to have to help make my own life a little easier. Thank you Ocean State Job Lot for carrying very reasonably priced school supplies!

Last evening, I got to spend some time visiting and relaxing with some very special people. I’m wishing now that I had remembered to take a group photo. The group was my former jazz class: our teacher, her mother (who always danced), dear friend Julie who I don’t see often enough, and me. We are promising each other we won’t wait so long in between getting together again. I’m going to do my best to hold us to that.

August 3, 2014

17!

Filed under: 66 Days of Summer — Karma @ 8:44 am
Tags: ,

My baby is 17! The 44th day of summer was Sarah’s 17th birthday. In a few short weeks my youngest daughter begins her senior year of high school. How the @#%* did that happen?
17 year old

blow out the candles
Sarah blows out the candles while her boyfriend and besties from school look on.

All the kiddos in our lives are of course growing up, no matter how much we don’t want them to. At the party yesterday, I got to photograph a picture I’ve been wanting to recreate for a couple years now. Twelve years ago, at Sarah’s 5th birthday party, I took this picture of my daughters along with the daughters of great friends of ours. The girls have grown up as friends, getting together with our “gang” of friends as often as possible.
Our princesses then...
In this photo (from left to right) Eva is 6, Meghan is 7, Sarah is 5 and Brianna is 9.

The tiaras were part of the party favors for a 5-year-old who was into dolls and dress-up at the time (my how times have changed!)

I’ve had the idea to take a picture of the girls all together, all grown up, with tiaras on their heads for a while now. I got my chance yesteday when they were here for the party and I remembered earlier in the week to get the tiaras at the party store.
...and now
Eva 18, Meghan 19, Sarah 17, Brianna 21
(I couldn’t take the photo in the exact same spot the original was taken because my hot tub now occupies that space.)

The girls patiently complied with my request and I was happy with the result. I hope these are shots that will become favorites of theirs some day, as they are favorites of mine now.

July 24, 2014

Sweet Friendship

Filed under: 66 Days of Summer — Karma @ 8:27 am
Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday, day 34 of summer, I spent with my dear friend Renae. The girls and I drove out to visit. Renae’s children adore playing with Sarah. I should have taken a picture of my almost-17-year-old goofing around Renae’s nearly-10-year-old daughter and nearly-8-year-old son (all 3 of them have August birthdays). I think they wore her out pretty well by the end of the day. It used to be the other way around when they were younger!

While the three of them enjoyed play time, Meghan, Renae, Renae’s mom and I went out to lunch. Not to Pickity Place this time, just a spot local to Renae.
When we walked in, I thought this display of after dinner mints was pretty:
Mint display

We enjoyed our lunch, and at the end, the waitress brought over the tempting dessert tray for us to peruse. Had I been there without Meghan, I would have easily refused the tasty-looking treats; it isn’t my habit to order dessert. But when one’s 19-year-old daughter, who one knows will be disappearing back into her own special world at college in just a few weeks, leans over and looks up at you with her pretty aqua-colored eyes and says, “We could split something…” one has a tendency to cave in! We ordered this:
Super rich dessert

That was a super-rich, incredibly dense piece of chocolate. The waitress called it cake, but it was really more like fudge. Even the two of us sharing could not finish it all.

I’m very happy for the time we spent together yesterday. Renae’s husband took a picture of all of us together – I hope to share it here later if Renae agrees and sends it to me.

June 26, 2014

7 and See You in a Few

Filed under: 66 Days of Summer — Karma @ 9:43 pm
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I only took one picture today, Day 7, but that picture is enough for me for this journal of my summer.
Antipasto salad
Salad for lunch with a friend

I visited a very dear friend today, my sister in heart and in spirit if not in blood, who has been in my daily thoughts for weeks and will continue to be for months to come.

Tomorrow we head out for the annual camping trip, so I won’t be around in the blogosphere until Sunday evening.
Keep posting whimsy if you have it over the weekend.

February 6, 2012

7 Things about Me, Day 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 6:00 am
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(If you are tuning in this morning and haven’t read this post yet, please pop down and read that first.  This post will make much more sense if you do!)

I’ve had a long-time fascination with France.  Part of it may be my heritage.  One of my mother’s cousins traced our family’s ancestry back to the time of the French Revolution; that’s when it appears my ancestors first headed for North America and settled in Quebec.

When I was in 4th grade,  foreign language was offered as a class for the first time. I can’t remember if we had a choice of taking French or Spanish or if my class was simply given French.  I loved it!  I had started taking flute lessons in school that year too, but if the flute lessons coincided with French class, as they often did, I refused to go!

My love affair with the French language continued into junior high school, where I’m sure we had the choice of French or Spanish.  Seventh and eighth graders were allowed to take the equivalent of the high school class French 1 over the course of two years, then begin French 2 as a freshman.  I loved it so much, my teachers decided to place me in French 3 as a freshman.

One other freshman girl and I were in the class with many upperclassmen.  I was undaunted and I began my long-standing “pen-pal” relationship with Regis in France.  I still remember my French teacher passing a list around the class with the names and interests of students who were taking English class in France.  At the time I remember being proud of myself that I could also read the teacher from France’s side notes on the list too!  I selected Regis from the list and happily wrote my first letter.

In the summer of 1990, three years after we graduated from high school, Regis and I met in person.  He was travelling the United States with a youth group.  At the time he was to be in Massachusetts, my family was going to be on vacation on Cape Cod.  Hating to miss the opportunity to meet in person, we figured out a plan!  (Remember – this was pre-internet, pre-email days!) He took a bus to Cape Cod, and I picked him up and brought him to our vacation rental.

By the time we met in person, I felt badly that my conversational French had gotten fairly poor.  I started college with plans to become a French teacher, but after freshman year, I decided I was no longer able to understand French with the fluency I’d eventually need to pursue it as a career.

Regis and I still keep in touch.  We are friends on Facebook, and we still write a letter along with a card around Christmas.  His son Marc and my daughter Meghan are the same age.  I hope that we will get to meet again in person again someday – but next time, in France!  Despite the fact that my French is no where near as good as it used to be ( I can still read some French), a visit to France is on my “bucket list.”