Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I'm thinking of moving my office to the kitchen ... specifically the area currently occupied by the sink.

This is my view when standing at the kitchen sink. Not only is it beautiful and serene, it also has something new to see each time I peer out the window ... a butterfly, a hummingbird, a new bloom ... or one of those 8-legged creatures that I actually prefer not to see.

Settings like this tend to fill me with inspiration and creativity when I'm working.

Not that staring out a window is going to get me very far, but - as you may have experienced - writing tends to involve a lot of, shall we say, thinking time ... your fingers may not be tapping across the keyboard, but your mind is working, creating, plotting, solving, striving.

What fills you with inspiration? Do you have a favorite location where your writing flows more naturally and ideas come more easily?

Wishing you an inspiration-filled day of writing!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fear ... Gratitude ... and a Buck to go with that Deer?

Last week was unexpected ... it felt, in many ways, as if we were in the midst of a nightmare; and, simultaneously, had a gazillion little moments that filled me with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I mentioned my son turning seven one moment, and the next being incredibly sick for the first time in his life. After my post last Tuesday, his condition worsened. Over the remainder of the week, our little man endured blood tests, additional exams, a CT scan (requiring an IV, poor thing!), and – finally – a visit with a specialist. One by one, different possibilities were eliminated, and we ended up - despite an initial negative mono test reading – with a diagnosis of just that.

Thankfully, he’s turned the corner. Little ones rarely get mono but – when they do – they bounce back much quicker than the 14 – 25 year olds it usually invades! We can see it already … his sense of humor, his desire to play more, the color coming back to his face, the absence of a fever.

We are so thankful for this outcome … and for all your good wishes and prayers. And … the moments that filled me with gratitude … they were the concern from so many, including family and friends who were calling and texting daily to check in on his condition. And, the magnificent doctors and hospital who – despite us not having any pre-scheduled appointments – flawlessly worked us into their existing schedules on a same-day basis in order to quickly determine what was attacking his little body so they could fix it! And, my son, who despite being in pain and feeling so horrible, uttered not one single complaint. So brave.

On a lighter note …

TOOTH FAIRY PAYS DOUBLE! A lost front tooth brought a smile to our son’s face in the midst of a week where smiles weren’t coming as naturally and frequently as they usually do! And, we discovered that the tooth fairy pays a bit extra for pain and suffering when the tooth’s owner is under the weather!

WOULD THAT DEER LIKE A BUCK? We’ve been dining outdoors … and, on a regular basis, have been joined by our deer friend, who dines on the blackberry leaves at the same time. One evening, as the deer started walking away, our 3-year old hollered, “If you stay, I’ll give you a buck!” She then pretended to pick up a dollar bill and toss it to the deer, while we erupted in laughter at the irony of her choosing to bribe the deer with – of all things - a BUCK!

PLEASE LET THAT BE A HIGHLY TALENTED HELI PILOT! We’ve had much activity over the past few weeks in the green space behind our home. First, the towering maples came down. Then, the ‘placeholder’ lines were strung – by helicopter – to the electrical towers, in preparation for the real electrical lines to be pulled through. Helicopters are tricky to maneuver … so, I must admit to my heart pounding just a bit faster than usual as this one flew sideways, backwards, and very slowly over our house, as it strung the necessary lines! Oy!

Have a wonderful and healthful week!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Fiery Red Visitor

This past weekend was my son's 7th birthday bash - a Lego extravaganza! He was ear-to-ear smiles! We lucked out with a gorgeous day on Saturday ... comfortably warm with a slight breeze and flawless blue skies.

As we were decorating the tables outside, this little guy flew in for a visit. I've never seen one like it, and I'm not sure exactly what it is. To me ... it looks like a dragonfly. But, I'm not sure those come in a fiery-red variety.

I skimmed through a few lists of bugs ... but, I can only take so much of that before feeling like they're crawling up my legs and through my hair! I did find a similar-looking one called a Red Skimmer, but I'm sticking with the Red Dragonfly!

If you know what it is, let me know!

As for the rest of this week ... our big 7-year old, who has hardly been sick a day in his life, is very much a sick young man. He's got lymph node swelling in his neck giving him the look of a football player and making him unable to move his neck and head. That, combined, with a constant fever, has me a bit distracted. The doctor has ruled out several things, and we'll be re-visiting in a few days to see if the lymph nodes are shrinking back to their normal size, or if further investigation is warranted!

So ... please think good thoughts that our young man - who has been such a trooper while clearly not feeling well - will be back to his normal scooter-riding, bike-jumping, Lego-obsessed, silly, sweet, energetic self soon.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Beware the Fleas of Italy

Some might find it surprising that I have such an obsession with Italy - Tuscany, in particular - considering what happened to me while vacationing in the beautiful country a few years back.

Hubby and I learned, after our trip, that the weather we thought to be normal for the late May/early June timeframe was very much non-typical. In fact, they had been experiencing a somewhat unusual heat wave. And heat waves can, apparently, bring on infestations of certain pests, namely fleas.

I should note here that I have an allergic reaction to flea bites. There’s a back story to that … I’ll share it at another time.

Our first stop was in Rome. There, I accumulated five or six flea bites. Thinking it to be a fluke, I grinned and beared the bites as they grew into large blisters. I was slightly miserable, but thoroughly enjoying the historic and culinary experience that is Rome.

Florence was the second stop of this dream vacation. In an effort to be frugal, I had found a wonderful Florence apartment on-line, boasting a gorgeous view of the Duomo. The owner was going to be traveling while we were in town, and had made his flat available for a reasonable price to gullible travelers such as myself.

The flat, with its musty stench and jungle-like plant arrangements did – in fact – have a view of the Duomo. Yes it did. If you went into the bathroom, which measured approximately 3 feet by 5 feet, and stood on your tip-toes to look out the 1 foot by 1 foot window, you could see the peak of the Duomo perfectly. (See that little bug, strategically located on the picture above? That's the bathroom window of our flat, as seen from the top of the Duomo! :-))

The bathroom – view or not – brought me to tears. Upon arriving in sizzling Florence, with my ever-so-itchy blisters, all I wanted to do was wash away the itchiness with a shower. After standing on my tip-toes to view the Duomo, I turned my attention to the task at hand. Unfortunately, a shower did not appear to exist in the 3 by 5 foot bathroom space.

Sink? Check. Toilet? Check (sort of).

Oh, wait … there is a water tank mounted over the toilet; a floor drain in the middle of the room; and a hand shower of sorts propped near the tank. Super … the bathroom is the shower.

I had exactly four minutes to wash, relax, and get my mind off my growing, itching blisters before the tank of lukewarm water emptied. Certainly, though, things would start looking up soon.

The next morning, I awoke to oodles of new blisters. It was then that we pulled back the covers to find fleas dancing on the sheets.

Day’s agenda: Visit the Ponte Vecchio and the Piazza della Signoria; buy hydrocortisone and bulk supply of Band-Aids; and eat lots of gelato to numb the pain and itching.

That night, in the midst of an Italian heat wave, I went to bed wearing socks, sweats, and a sweatshirt. Certainly they wouldn’t be able to attack me through so much clothing.

They did. Our dream vacation was quickly becoming a flea-infested nightmare. Second only to my hubby, Lenirit Idrocortisone Acetato became my close and constant companion.

My main goal as I dressed each morning had become attempting to disguise the increasing number of Band-Aids and hideous blisters under the diminutive selection of warm-weather clothing I had brought along for the trip. “Certainly, I can make these capris stretch down to my ankles!”

In a heroic effort to keep his bride from going insane from the incessant itching, hubby suggested we ditch our next intended stop – Venice – and head north to the cool, fresh air of Zurich, Switzerland. Forget trying to be a good sport … I jumped on that bandwagon and, with a sigh of relief, concurred with the suggested change in travel plans!

By the time we left Florence in a mad dash to escape the heat-seeking fleas, I had 32 blisters lining my body from neck to foot … most of them concentrated on my legs, some measuring the size of a dime.

At this point, frugality was a distant and silly thought. I found and booked a room at the Zurich Best Western, where - upon arrival - I wept with joy at the beautiful tub and shower, and the gorgeous, fluffy down beds.

We emptied the entire contents of our luggage into the bathtub, ensuring no fleas had hitched a ride north with us. Dream vacation saved, though bite scars still remain as a bittersweet reminder of our time under the hot Italian sun.

We do plan to eventually make it back to Venice …this time, however, we’ll be a bit more mindful of timing, in the hopes that we don’t arrive during an Italian flea-infested heat wave!