Shakin' The Tree

Location: Whitfield, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, December 07, 2006


No, I'm not talking about the old Bread song: if a picture paints a thousand words/then why can't I paint you? Eeek...did I used to listen to that stuff?

If you had the opportunity to create a scholarship fund, what type of person would be the recipient? Who would you name the fund after? What kind of qualifications would you require? Would you decide it could only be used for a certain school or age group? How would you choose the recipient?

Consider, of course, that everyone you know and love already has been given the gift of education.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Shopper Madness

Tony wanted to buy a Christmas present today at a Berks County store that shall not be named. I didn't really want to go with him because he was buying a digital camera which is always a long ordeal.

After forty-five minutes, I finished my shopping at three other stores and went back to retrieve him. He still did not have his desired camera in his hands.

Finally, a reluctant young salesperson found the camera Tony wanted. Then, without a word, he high-tailed it back to a counter to sort some papers. We had to wait in a long cash register line....

We got to the payment point and encountered reluctant young salesperson number two. No, he couldn't look up my teacher discount card, no he couldn't put a rebate check for his store towards the camera, no the camera was not eligible for the sale because it cost forty dollars less than the required amount, no our 10% off coupon could not be applied to our camera because it was considered a "technology item" and technology items were excluded...

I told Tony that maybe if he bought fifty bucks worth of ink pens he might be able to use his coupon if, and only if, he was a good boy all year. The cashier didn't even look up or offer a grin. He rigidly handed Tony yet another coupon for five dollars off his next item...with a credit card sized bit of print listing the exclusions on the back that even young eyes can't read. Maybe next time they'll give him an invisible coupon to save time!

As we left the store I recalled that earlier this month a man was arrested at the store because he was complaining into his cell phone that he wanted to blow the place up or use a gun or something. Wow...somebody got their attention that day...The salespeople probably got the rest of the day off...oh wait...I mean they must have took the rest of the day off while they were at work. Sheesh. I really felt a lot of sympathy for that arrested guy after my experience. I wondered who would hire salespeople with zero personality and work ethic.

You couldn't drag me back into that store. I predict its early demise.

Walking Garbage Can

Monday, December 04, 2006

Grandma's Tablecloths

December is when I often finds "gifts" for myself put away in boxes that I forgot about. Today, I forgot that I put the garland in with the artificial tree in its box. After tearing through several boxes of Christmas stuff and miscellaneous what-the-heck-is-in-there boxes, I finally remembered where the garland beads were...During my garland search, I found a box with some stuff in it from when we cleaned out Grandma's apartment.

I had to smile as I went through the stuff in that box. There were the napkins that matched the daisy tablecloth. There were some cool, but simple embroidered pieces. There, too, was the old-fashioned knife sharpener that is now put away in my kitchen. Somehow, one of those TV cook and drain pasta pots that Tony got for me got in this particular box too.

Then I came across them. Two cloth Christmas tablecloths from many Christmases.... and many Christmases ago....not a spot on them. I distinctly remember spilling gravy on one of them. Somehow Grandma got it out and put it away sparklin' clean, ready for a next Christmas that hasn't come yet. These two tablecloths would be easily labeled "vintage' on ebay with no problem.

These tablecloths are not stylish or trendy or made of something special from Somewhere Special. They're simple, heartwarming, and clean. They're salt of the earth Wyoming Valley Christmas through and through.

We used these tablecloths the holiday season after our house burnt down, and after Michael died. We brought out these tablecloths the first time Ann brought Jimmy home for Christmas and when Auntie Helen helped "watch the store." Those tablecloths were present when Grandma wrapped up the ham bone and put it in the freezer, and threw the ham bone from the previous Christmas away: a bizarre ritual that Grandpa joked about. Those tablecloths were probably there when I was brought "home" after we came back from New Mexico. The tablecloths were there when Carol lived there, and they were there when she brought Jan to visit. Tally and Bootsie ate crumbs under the table under those tablecloths.

Gosh, if only tablecloths could talk, could whisper the times past into my ears, to repeat the sounds of loved ones' voices, to remember the happy and sad times.

Oh, wait.

These tablecloths do that.

Christmas Snow

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Well, Now

I promised a few months ago to tell you of a possible reunion story and now have an update.

I found Colin's daughter one day while surfin' the net. After contact and fact-checking between Joan and Sammie (the daughter), we confirmed the actual relationship. This was enough to wow us over and over again. As Joan and I got to know Sammie, we became emotionally involved in that we didn't want her to be hurt by a second fatherly rejection.

Urged on by Sammie, Joan contacted Colin with the only e-mail address we knew. There was no certainty that he would see the message, let alone respond. As usual with a Colin Contact Effort, he did not answer for a few weeks, or was it more than a month? Both Joan and I expected a wrathful angry "HOW DARE YOU?" kind of response, if any were given.

Luckily, we did get a response, and even luckier, it was a positive one. Now the ball is in Sammie's court. She lives in Kent, and, with any luck, Colin is somewhere in the UK. I am daring to breathe some hope that there will be contact.

Perhaps Colin will glory in the fact that he has grandchildren and a beautiful daughter. Perhaps he will finally understand that he truly is a person worth loving, despite his fears and his past. Perhaps this little family will bring out the best in him. I know it's in there.

Some things are just meant to be. Some things are affected by our choices. Sometimes, God puts His muscle into our lives through grace. Guess what?

Joan's mom's name is Grace. This can be her miracle.

If you remember, before you go to sleep tonight, say a little prayer for a miracle for Sammie and Colin.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Some places just feel different. Many people don't like to visit hospitals or people in them. I can understand how funeral homes and cemetaries feel different than other places. Chuckie Cheese can be paradise or hell depending on how the consumer feels entering this wonderland.

When I say that some places feel different, I am referencing something a bit out of the ordinary. The place gives you a strong and unusual feeling that you don't really expect. For example, I got a strong sensation of sadness the moment I entered Graceland's foyer. I haven't been able to explain the meaning behind it, but it was as if a blanket of someone else's feelings wrapped itself around me. I got a similar, but not as strong feeling, one time when we were looking to buy a house. Again, it happened the moment I entered the door. Later, I learned that the couple who lived there were splitting up, but I don't think that was the reason for the sad feeling. It seemed to come from something else. What? I dunno.

Walking around Stonehenge one January day gave me a feeling that some important type of ceremonial happened there. Well, might say. But it gave me a regal, but scary sensation. It felt like I was walking on some kind of revered place and it was okay that I was there. Strange, though. When I visited Cancun I climbed INSIDE a Mayan pyramid to see a treasured jaguar statue. We made our way up a crowded tiny stairway in the dark. I'm sure my claustrophobia was working that day because I could hardly breathe. As soon as I got to the tiny spot where the statue was, I had to run away. The overwhelming feeling of some kind of violence or hatred broke through my claustrophobia and sent me flying back down the crowded stairs. You can bet I won't go there again.

Am I weird or what? Has this kind of thing ever happened to you?

I remember talking with someone who visited the Holy Land and spoke of how he felt he was walking inches off the ground at some of the holy places. I'm sure this is why people go on pilgimages, but that seems to be centered on their faith, not some gut feeling when you walk into a room.

As my husband complains of every so often, I enjoy visiting writers' homes. After I drag him through a few, he has enough. I can't get enough, especially if the place has period furnishings. Perhaps I like the feeling of kinship, or maybe I'm just hoping that something will rub off on me.

Strange, isn't it?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Musings

Well, I knew that my emotions were in for a rough ride this holiday break. I am thankful for everyone's thoughts and prayers.

Our Emma perhaps put it best after her Nana's Anniversary Mass: "I wasn't ready for Nana to go."

Neither was I, Emma. Neither was I.

I want to especially thank Cindy, Tom, Marilyn, Stan, Joe, my husband and children for supporting my sister and I, and of course, my Dad, through this emotional experience of a one year anniversary. I am so blessed that they are in my life.

Love never ends, you know. It might change a bit, but it never ends.

We all went to Norm's to eat after Mass. They have great Sicilian pizza if you are interested.

I want to write a story about the Mintz/Calderoni Mary Statue. John, if you are reading this, we have to get together at your sister's place soon.


I also have been wrestling with an idea about "Time-Turners" right before I go to sleep. I'm writing this idea down here so I don't forget about it.

Gotta get back to grading papers. Over and out.....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Well, it's officially Thanksgiving Break. Dreams of Macy's balloons, drumsticks, and a ride on I78 are floating about our heads. Thank you for Thanksgiving.

The girls and I went to see Flushed Away and enjoyed the film quite a bit. Emma makes a sound exactly like the cutie-wootie slugs in the film. She entertained us all the way home. If you get a chance to catch this fun movie, please do. I haven't enjoyed a CG movie more than this one.

Many movie critics are complaining that there are too many animations on the screens now. The movie profits are up, and they are complaining? Interesting. I like to read reviews, but I often take them with a grain of salt.

Dare I say that I despise many of the story lines in many popular movies? If I can guess what's going to happen next, why should I pay to see it? If I retch from the gruesomeness, I refuse to pay. If the piece is just a bunch of car chases and bedroom scenes...heck, I live in Reading, man. I don't need to pay to see that 'cause I can just turn on the TV or go to the mall and see it!

Sometimes I like movies that make me think, or transport me to another time or place, or make me laugh...really laugh. Make some more of those. Make some more movies that my kids and I will both enjoy.


Please keep Tony's cousin George in your prayers. He suffered injuries in a car accident and may take several months to recover. Also please pray for Adam's friend's fifteen year old son who has life-threatening cancer.


Thank you, Lord, for all the good things around us. Protect us from the bad ones.