Special Events

I’d Rather Work Than Wish

Jane Addams, 1915. Source: Wikipedia

This week’s theme for Six Word Friday is “wish”.  But you know what?  I would rather work than wish. 

Wishing serves a purpose.  It helps me identify the dreams and longings of my heart.  But in the end, wishing does nothing but frustrate me.  It doesn’t equal action, it doesn’t make dreams into reality.  Wishing avoids the hard work that goes into making things happen.

I realized this as I was working on a post idea about Jane Addams for Women’s History Month. My Six Word Friday for her life was initially, “I wish for a better tomorrow“. But that significantly downplays the living example of her life – she worked for a better tomorrow, she didn’t merely wish for it.

Hull House from the Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago Library

Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr began the Hull House in Chicago in the late 1800′s to help new immigrants.  It gave refuge to women who were victims of domestic violence as well as unwanted chiildren, in addition to helping immigrants acclimate to their new life and country.  Unusual for the times, Jane Addams actually lived at the Hull House rather than returning to her parent’s luxurious home at night.

The founders of the Hull House and other influential women became advocates for legislative reform on issues such as child labor, women’s right to vote, healthcare reform, compulsory education, occupational safety & health and many other things.  They opened one of the first kindergartens after observing how the bleak life of children led to mindless jobs and / or a life of crime.

Years ago, I had an opportunity to do a fundraiser for the Hull House.  Someone at work had put a bulletin up for a swimming fundraiser.  I swam then for exercise, as I have started doing again recently.  I looked at that and thought finally, here’s one I can actually do.  I had no association with the Hull House prior to that.  My focus was that it was a fundraiser I could participate in doing something I was capable of.

A wall-mounted quote by Jane Addams in The American Adventure in the World Showcase pavilion of Walt Disney World’s Epcot. Source: Wikipedia

I took it to everyone at work that I ran into.  My favorite boy toy was still in the workplace and I made him take it in.  I called friends and family, took it to church and my neighbors.  Many people were hesitant to just sign up for an undefined amount of swimming, so I promised everyone it would be whatever I could do in 30 minutes (which was usually 30 to 33 laps).

In today’s money, I raised over $5,000.  I was the #2 fundraiser in the entire Chicago area!  I was surprised to win a nice prize – a weekend at a spa retreat with my favorite boy toy.  Better yet, the Hull House wrote a very nice letter to the president of my employer, who gave it to my boss for my permanent record.  I was so proud of that letter and my accomplishment, proud that I could contribute to such a worthy cause.

So going back to the beginning, when I find I am wishing too much for something, when my wishes turn to frustration and disappointment, I remind myself that wishing is not enough to make my life happen.  I need to work, get out of my comfort zone, and put forth the effort needed to make a difference in achieving what I want in life.

My public accomplishments are not on a par with Jane Addams, but my life has had worthy achievements and will continue to do so if I am willing to continue working at it.

[Other posts for Women's History Month include Anne Morrow Lindbergh and my maternal grandmother.]

Categories: Special Events | Tags: , , , , , | 21 Comments

A Valentine’s Letter To My Husband

To My Husband -

Our love has changed and evolved so much over the years, from the giddiness of high school to the fast pace of raising a child and establishing careers.  Now we’re empty nesters and more in love than ever before.  But it’s a more settled love, with the knowledge we are working together and doing the best we can for each other.

I don’t know what’s ahead for us, but I know what’s behind.  It’s a lifetime of memories, of you and I together, making our way in the world.

Thank you honey, for your trust and faith in me when decisions got made and things happened.

Thank you for loving me as I am, for loving our child, and taking care of both of us.

Thank you for always being there for me.

One of my friends wrote a lovely piece of poetry several weeks ago and it reminded me so very much of our relationship.  She’s given me permission to use it in my letter to you:

The Choice

Counting back to that first glance, seconds and minutes,
 hours and years, the desire and candor of bodies,
when our days became charged with the pace of lives lived.
Years of longing renounce the yearning to another,
no longer young. The clamor of middle years
leaves satisfaction and knowledge in its place,
a quietness whose heft outweighs the struggles.
Wisdom is as wisdom does, patience is its own reward,
love never fails, never. And this is the choice,
made and kept, to choose you now and at each sunrise.
Until the day comes that my hand is not recognizable to you
 And my laughter is silenced by your unknowing eyes.
 
— Kathleen G. Everett © 2012

Love you always,

Your Wife

© 2012 dogear6 llc

To my readers – if you enjoyed this poetry, check out more of it at The Course of Our Seasons.  Thank you Kathleen, for letting me use your poem today!

For some writing prompts to get to your know yourself or your fellow bloggers better, check out these prompts to Share Your World over at A Daily Life.

Categories: Family, Special Events | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

What Is Love?

As we approach Valentine’s Day, I wanted to get in my two cents as to what love is.

Love is NOT about expensive jewelry.  It’s not about how much gets spent, whether the card is fancy enough, or if we go out for supper.  It’s certainly not about getting a new car with a bow on it, although when I bought my Honda Civic, I did ask for a bow.  The dealer didn’t have any.

Love is the day-in-and-day-out actions that we do for each other.  Love is being kind, giving more than getting, and using kind words to each other.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

It’s my husband cooking supper for us at night so I don’t have to be responsible for it anymore.

It’s me mopping up messes without being asked and bringing in the garbage cans from the curb.

It’s the SoftSoap fairy filling all the containers and clean laundry magically appearing in the closet and drawers.

It’s about keeping bushes trimmed, furnaces working, and car oil changed.  It’s about finding warranties and instruction manuals and dog vaccination records in an orderly file drawer.

Love is our daughter fixing up a guest room, because we asked her to.  It’s taking the time and money to repaint, hang light dampening curtains, replace a ceiling fan, put on a new shower head, and replacing the toilet.  All so her parents have their own room when they come to visit.

It’s buying us a complete set of new pots and pans because she knows how much we love the brand we recommended to her, and buying me a beautiful new watch when I admired hers.

It’s about her Dad coming to help her when she tried her dream of owning a dog kennel, then coming back to help her dismantle it and move back to her old life.

It’s about her Mom taking vacation days to come visit, just like years ago when she used to take vacation days so a small child could go the pool for the day or go miniature golfing.

Love is many little things and many little actions.  It’s a lifetime of kindness and generosities, both of time and money.

I know I’m loved regardless of the size of my diamond or my car.  I’m loved whether I get a big card or a fancy meal.  And they know they’re loved too.

For more ideas on knowing when you are loved, check out this guest post at A Daily Life.  It’s something worth writing up for yourself.

Categories: Life Lessons, Love Is, Special Events | Tags: , , , , , | 25 Comments

Gobble Up Special Treats

So many of our memories revolve around food.  Thanksgiving is coming up, followed by Christmas and the New Year.  Food is an important part of those celebrations.  Just the other day, I wrote about how an ordinary night our for supper turned into a special memory for no particular reason.

In the childhood memories of every good cook, there’s a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot and a mom. ~ Barbara Costikyan (10/22/84 New York Magazine) ‘Charles Wysocki’s Americana Cookbook’

Food evokes memories – from its taste, odors, the actions of the cooking itself.  There are so many reasons for it.

Food represents traditions extended through the generations, such as the gathering of the family for the holidays.  My paternal relations got together for every holiday and usually invited the other side of the family to come also.  That’s why I know my cousin’s other grandparents and they knew my maternal grandmother (hence my joke that I thought everyone’s grandparents spoke with a thick German accent).  That was one of the traditions of the meal together.  Another was my paternal grandmother and her sister doing all the cooking, so my grandfather could carve the meat and show off “his” wonderful meal.

Food can be a ritual that signals a special event.  My husband and I gave up on going out for Valentine’s Day due to how expensive and mediocre the meals were.  Now I leave work a little early and together, we fix a nice meal for ourselves using expensive ingredients that we never shop for otherwise.  The year we made filet mignon, we had to spend some time looking up how to cook it as in all the years we were married, we’d never cooked it at home!  Valentine’s Day revolves around a nice meal, whether going on or staying home.

Food also brings comfort and it evokes comfort.  I love the smell of the house when we bake winter squash or make a pot of lentil soup.  The kitchen is warm, comfortable, and inviting.  I can sit and relax, eat slowly, and savor the taste.

Food can also be part of fun.  My memories of going to Wrigley Field also includes the hot dogs, Cracker Jack, and peanuts.  When my husband and I were dating, he was hungry all the time – of course, what else did you expect from a teenage boy?  We frequently went bowling and then out for pizza, hamburgers or tacos, all of which were cheap for a date.

Food doesn’t have to be complicated to be enjoyable.  Although I love elaborate meals, I don’t enjoy cooking them any longer.  It’s too much time and effort and the time to eat goes too fast.  A simple pan of baked chicken breasts, baked potatoes, and some pan fried cabbage make for a wonderful meal with minimal effort.  Soups can take a while to prepare by the time everything gets cut up, sauteed, and cooked.  But a pot of soup can make for multiple meals and is worth the effort.

A good article on making food memories can be found here.  For the perspective on food memories from another author, check out this article.

Here I am, out with my mother, sister and niece, out for high tea as we get ready to gobble up those yummy treats that were just put in front of us.  It was a wonderful day after Christmas treat and visit, a special event that we remember with fondness.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – AUTHOR.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Categories: Cooking, Special Events | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Object of Today

copyright 2011 by mary anne radmacher

Several weeks ago, I posted about my desire to celebrate both big and small events in my life.  Today had two – it was Veteran’s Day and it was also one of the few days with a numeric synchronization – 11-11-11.  There aren’t too many of them, and I let last year (10-10-10) go by without even a note in my journals.

I wasn’t the only one to notice it.  The artist, Mary Anne Radmacher, posted this lovely piece of art on her Facebook page this morning.  She says:

   even when numbers line up perfectly. . . every moment is both rare and unrepeatable

What a beautiful sentiment to go with today!  I wrote her a note this morning and received her gracious response allowing me to post it on my blog.

So what was I doing on 11-11-11 at 11:11:11 am?  I was sitting at my desk, looking at the trees turning a deep maroon, and the flag whipping around in the wind, and thought - it is good in my world right now.  This moment was good, the day was good, I was feeling good, and life was good.

Will I remember this moment in a year, the year after, five years from now?  Does it matter?  Do I remember all the details of Christmas’s past?  Do the pictures show enough to remember the small things?  What were the presents?  Who was happy?  What special little things happened that made me so very happy for a little while?  Who fought (oops, no, don’t want to remember that).

View From My Desk Today

Yet, I do remember other small moments.  Over ten years ago, my husband and I went out for dinner to a favorite restaurant not too far from our house.  Thankfully I recorded it in my journal, although it took me several tries to find which year it happened:

We went to Hicks & McCarthy, sat in the window, and had a wonderful time just visiting and savoring our food (chicken breast for me; tilapia (a type of fish) for him; and desserts).  I don’t know what made it so special, but it was like time had slowed down and our universe only consisted of each other.  We watched the light fade into darkness.  We watched joggers go by with dogs on a leash, couples walking as they talked, elderly couples who had trouble negotiating the stairs in and out of the restaurant, and young women standing by a car talking, not wanting to end their conversation and go their own ways.

And we just held hands, looked each other in the eyes, talked about his orchids, my job, issues of faith, what we saw on the news about the World Trade Center tragedy, and just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves being together.  Even as it got dark outside and the restaurant’s dim lighting came to the front, we were aware only of ourselves and each other.

I’m sure that’s why we had dessert – we didn’t want the evening to end.  We didn’t talk about anything particularly
noteworthy nor did we have to.  We were comfortable together and that was all that mattered.

The object of today might have been to memorialize a few minutes that are not going to happen again, but as Mary Anne says, every moment is both rare and unrepeatable.  It’s not possible to predict ahead of time which ones will be memorable enough to remember ten years later.  But many of them area, becoming a string of pearls of remembrances.

Enjoy your days rare and unrepeatable moments.  Or as the poet Mary Oliver says:

. . . what is it you plan to do  with your one wild and precious life?

Word for tomorrow – THICK.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Categories: Special Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Bed and Breakfast Instead Of A Hotel

The pictures from chasing the fall colors are on Shutterfly and can be found at http://dogear6.shutterfly.com/.  Please remember that the copyright rules at the right apply.

My favorite boy toy and I made a decision with our recent trip to stay again in a bed and breakfast, as we did in May when we went to Pennsylvania (see Thursday in this post).  Having done it for a second time, we will definitely be doing it more in the future.

So why a B&B instead of a hotel?

  • Quiet – typically children under 12 are not allowed nor are pets
  • Limited number of guests
  • Breakfast the next morning – a gourmet treat
  • Clean – and I mean clean
  • Common rooms where you can spread out books & laptops, visit with other guests, and relax
  • Innkeepers who visit, want to know what you did, offer suggestions, and answer multiple questions – they’ve answered so many questions they know what you should be asking even if you don’t
  • Pride of ownership of sharing their home with you
  • Warm welcomes and warm goodbyes

There are some downsides to a bed and breakfast.  Once a reservation is made, it is difficult to change on short notice without a penalty.  A B&B can be more expensive than a hotel, depending on where you stay.  There’s no gift shop or vending machines, although both places provided after hours snacks and drinks.  The breakfast menu is set unless you’ve made a special request or have dietary restrictions that you mentioned beforehand.

This time we stayed at Laurel Lodge in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, run by Chris Craig and his partner, Ed Wheeless.  I didn’t take many pictures of it as their website has good photos on it.  The rooms were very comfortable, the house beautifully decorated, and it was in a wonderful location overlooking the Potomac River.  It was at the end of a quiet street, complete with a friendly black cat who came for a pet each time we went in and out to our car.

All three breakfasts were incredible!  We started with juice and a homemade bread (scones, biscuits, coffee cake), a fruit (stewed apple crumble, fresh fruit, broiled grapefruit), and a main dish (omelets, pumpkin waffles one day).  It was the highlight of the day.

There are several ways to find a bed and breakfast on the Internet.  You can Google for bed and breakfast + city name + state.  Two great sites that I use are http://www.tripadvisor.com/ and http://www.bbonline.com/.  I read reviews and go out to the individual websites to look at pictures and read descriptions.  I also put my own reviews out there afterwards.  These are very small businesses and a good review will help them get future business.

Laurel Lodge in Harper's Ferry

Word for tomorrow – RIOT.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Categories: Special Events | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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