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

December 30, 2015

Christmas Wrap

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 10:22 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I felt like sharing a little peek at our Christmas this year. With only 2 days of 2015 left to go, I’m feeling reflective as many of us are at this time of year.
Tree

After a breakfast of cinnamon rolls, bacon, and fruit, we did what we’ve done every Christmas morning for 20 years and sat by the tree and opened gifts. The girls are no longer up super early, eager to find out what Santa has left, but there were still some gifts to be excited about.

IMG_9500

Sarah’s “big” gift was tickets to see the band Imagine Dragons.

Tix

She and I will be headed down to Foxwoods tomorrow. A great gift for both of us – precious time together and a fun way to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I enjoy the music of Imagine Dragons as well so it should be a good time.

IMG_9503

We did not surprise Meghan with her “big” gift this year. As I’ve mentioned before, Meghan is a member of Clark University’s ballroom team, assistant captain in fact, and it is a huge joy for her. This is her third year competing, and for the first time, she will have a custom-made-for-her ballroom gown to wear. We are awaiting its arrival. This was something she needed to choose and many measurements had to be taken to place the order. Just to be silly, I took a picture of the dress from the website we ordered from and pasted her head on it. This is what it will look like but in emerald green:
dress

I can’t wait to see her in the real thing.

IMG_9504

Other fun things received – Sarah got a Chewbacca bathrobe and this cap relating to a character from the “Homestuck” web comic that my daughters read.

New Kindle
I got a new Kindle, as my old one has been acting rather wonky as of late.

My girls got together and gave me some grown-up coloring books and nice colored pencils. Have you noticed this seemingly growing trend of coloring books for adults? They have intricate designs that take some time and patience to color. My daughters had a couple of their own, and I’d remarked how I’ve always loved coloring and that I’d probably enjoy them too. Here’s my first picture I’m working on:

Hippie fish

Interestingly enough, my sister had a similar idea, and also gave me one of those books. She put together a well-appreciated “zen” themed gift that also included yoga clothes and a gift certificate for the yoga studio I attend.

My sister and the rest of my family Christmas guests arrived in the early afternoon. We had a delicious feast – wish I remembered to take a few pictures of all the wonderful food!

IMG_9505
Uncle “Sonny”

IMG_9507
Jim (my stepfather) and Sonny

IMG_9508
Joan (my mother-in-law), Mom, Jennifer (my sister) and Larry (her husband) Craig managed to avoid being within view of my camera’s lens!

Christmas celebrations continued and will still continue this week. We had a Christmas dinner with my father the day after Christmas at my sister’s house. She made a delicious white wine coq-au-vin. And this Friday, New Year’s Day, will be the famous annual Pig Out!

I hope the holidays are treating you well. If I don’t get my 2015 wrap up post done before midnight tomorrow (and I imagine I won’t since I’ll be seeing Imagine Dragons as we ring in the new year) a very happy new year to you all!

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.

December 28, 2014

A Little Nostalgia

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 3:49 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

As my mother was getting ready to leave my house Christmas night, we noticed one more gift still wrapped under my tree. Oh yeah, we remembered, my sister had dropped off a Christmas gift for my mother from her sister, my aunt Janet. The wrapping paper ripped a little as my mother went to pick it up, and she decided to open it then. Inside the large box were 5 smaller boxes and a note from my aunt. It read something like, “This isn’t really a gift, it is more a trip down nostalgia lane.” The 5 smaller boxes inside were addressed one each to my mother, my sister (who had unfortunately already left for the evening), myself and my two daughters. Inside each box, there was a pretty pink sack like this,

Pretty in pink

a copy of this photo of my grandmother
Grandmother
(my mother estimates this photo to be from possibly the late 1930’s or early 1940’s when her mother was around 30; my mom had not yet been born when it was taken)

and a handwritten note of explanation from my aunt.

My grandmother, Grace Marie, passed away in 2006 at the age of 98. She was a young girl when the Red Sox won the World Series in 1918 and was pleased as punch when they broke that 86 year drought and won it again in 2004. They won it again what would have been the day after her 100th birthday in 2007. But I digress.

Of a very different generation than the one that currently finds it acceptable to go out in one’s pajama pants, my grandmother always dressed up whenever she left the house whether it was to run errands or visit family. She loved costume jewelry and to match it with whatever she was wearing.
She left behind a rather sizeable collection of it when she died. My aunt decided that a nice way for her mother to be remembered would be to pass along some of the pieces to female members of the family. She sorted through and chose pieces for us, often picking ones that resembled our birthstones.
Antique costume jewelry

The four of us marvelled at the amazing thought behind this gift of nostalgia. There was much “ooh-ing” and “ah-ing” as pieces were tried on and questions asked by my daughters who do not remember her well, due to their young age at the time of her death.

I received these, since April’s birthstone is diamond:
For me

Meghan’s birthstone is an amethyst. There are some purple drop earrings here in the jewelry received by her.
For Meghan

Even Sarah, my tomboyish daughter, enjoyed receiving the glittery gift which included the green necklace close to August’s peridot. She thinks maybe she will be able to wear some of the treasures she received when she goes to the prom next June.
For Sarah

Thank you, Auntie Janet, for your thoughtfulness and this beautiful gift to the women of our family.

November 9, 2014

Sharing Answers to Interesting Questions

I found today while reading Carol’s post at Wanderings of an Elusive Mind that Cee has some intriguing questions this week. Sharing my world with Cee is always a great place to jump start a blogging block.

1. What is your most vivid memory of the kitchen in your childhood? I have this really strong memory of my parents doing some remodeling in the kitchen. I think they were taking down the paneling you see in this shot to left of me (that’s my sister in the foreground) and the big yellow refridgerator:
1970's kitchen
I can’t remember what they put up in its place, but I remember that my sister and I were allowed to doodle on the wall before whatever the replacement was went up. When my parents sold that house, we always wondered if the new owners would have a laugh when they some day discovered what was on the wall!

2. As a child, who was your favorite relative? I’m assuming this question means a relative outside of your immediate, nuclear family that you grew up with, at least that is how I am interpeting it. I’d have to say my Uncle Sonny. He’s pictured here between my mom and her husband:
sonny
Uncle Sonny (real name Maurice, but my grandmother called him “sonny” therefore he became Uncle Sonny to me) is 21 years older than my mother – he is the eldest of 9 children in the family where my mother is the youngest. He is much more like a grandfather to me than my actual grandfathers were, neither of whom I knew very well when they were alive.

3. What did you like or not like about the first apartment you ever rented? I never rented an apartment. It’s one of things I feel I missed out on in life – living in a place that was just mine. I went from living with my family to living with my husband in the house we still live in today.

4. What kind of TV commercial would you like to make? Describe it. I’d make a public service announcement for taking responsibility in life and passing that responsibility on to your children when you decide responsibly to become a parent. I feel there are so many bad cycles in life that could be broken if everyone was responsible for their own actions and didn’t expect other people or the government or lawyers to step in and fix things. Take credit where credit is due and accept the blame if it is yours.

Because I don’t feel I could leave a blog post on a sour note like this and because my daughter just sent me a video clip of ballroom contestants marching into the room to the famous John Phillips Souza march that opens every episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus…

and now for something completely different…

So relaxed

A totally relaxed kitty from our last visit to Pickity Place who cares nothing about what I choose to babble on about in this space!