wwcitizen: (Long Road Ahead)
These past few autumn weekends, there have been times in the morning or late afternoon that we have had the windows open at the kitchen table. Light, cool breezes whip the blinds about making a friendly "tack-tack... tack... tack tack". We are sitting at the kitchen table reading through our news feeds or looking up recipes for that evening's dinner.

It's around these quiet times of day when I hear familiar distant sounds that tug at my soul. These specific sounds are off the in the distance, so I cannot see what is making the sound, which further tugs on me. At each occurrence, I want to run to the office to post about these distant sounds.

These sounds always bring forth throngs of memories. Some sounds even remind me of smells, such as hanging out the laundry mid-afternoon or passing by barns where the smell pork curing sneaks onto the sidewalk. Other sounds make me want to book a trip somewhere or just get in my car for a spontaneous road trip! Most of the sounds remind me of my grandmother or my childhood.

Every time these sounds occur, we are sitting quietly in the house. I suppose at those moments of focus and stillness that my soul is most willing to listen. I'm probably most present in that stillness.

Each sound is unique. Each memory is unique. The season of the memory or place the sound takes me to is fairly distinct each time. I love those distant sounds.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)

Every time we come to Disney, we have a sticker contest with the kids. I'm all into it because I like stickers too! It's usually Michael (11) and me against everybody else!  The last 2 times, we were essentially tied.  This time was different.

See, we got a guy on the inside, see. And he really hooked us up!  dude sauntered back to his drawer... and whipped out this roll for us.

Duh! Winning!

I'm ripping off some of the stickers for me and giving the rest of the roll to Michael.  Yay for Uncle Steve!

EDIT: Corrected "role" to "roll". Remember: Auto-correct on a "smart" phone is NOT your friend. Especially if you have fat finger syndrome.  :-D
wwcitizen: (Popeye - With Ciggie)

Welcomed to our first day by birds in the courtyard behind a white crepe myrtle tree. There's a pretty white bench along a path out there that's so inviting!

I called the front desk to find out our breakfast options in the hotel. Took four tries on the phone to speak to someone; the system got to a point in the automation and hung up on me. When I did finally get someone, they said, "There's nothing in the hotel for breakfast. Have a magical day!" rushing me off the phone.

I walked out of my room and around the corner to find a coffee/breakfast kiosk with fruit, bagels, cereal, and assorted pastries.  How's that for "nothing in the hotel"??

Have a magical day!
wwcitizen: (Sleep)
How do you trick your insomnia? Ever had a night where you're desperately tired or sleepy, but your mind simply cannot turn off or you can't wind down for some reason. Or do you wake up in the middle of the night after a dream (not necessarily a nightmare) that makes you think about a lot of things? Or you just wake up after 2 hours feeling like you should be refreshed, when it's only been two hours and a non-quenched lethargy sets in?

These things happen to me once in a while. There's no reason every time, either. Nothing to put my finger on and say, "Oh, I can remedy that by doing this or getting this done tomorrow."

Some people get up in the middle of the night and write lists of things they need to do. That works from time to time when there are actual things on my mind. Other times, I simply toss and turn and eventually get out of bed and play computer games, watch something that's bound to put me to sleep, make myself a cup of chamomile tea, blog a bit, or search for a themed picture thread to put on my computer desktop (which I do each season).

My typical go-to solution for many years and one I strive to retain in my bag of insomnia tricks is thinking of a field of wildflowers.  There was a meadow of wildflowers that I would pass on the way to college every spring when going from my father's house back to campus in Greensboro, NC.  This meadow was easily 5-6 acres between two houses on a country road. It's most likely built over now; I haven't driven passed it since about 20 years. But the memory of it is pretty vivid:

Once in a while in the middle of spring or at the beginning of summer, I would park my little light green Mazda GLC on the side of the road and wander a good distance into the meadow.  The flowers were tall enough that they came up to my knee and sometimes mid-thigh.  I got to a point in the meadow where I could sit down and barely see my car on the side of the road. There were wildflowers everywhere, the fresh smell of meadow, a blue sky with puffy clouds, birds chirping happily everywhere, and squirrels scurrying from yard to yard. Seriously, this was the serene scene. Simply beautiful, peaceful, serene, and filled with tranquility.  I always gathered some flowers - daisies, corn flowers, pink clover, black-eyed Susans, sometimes poppies, sweat peas, grasses, wild coreopsis, Queen Anne's lace, and much more. I picked enough for a nice couple of wild bouquets to remind me of the moment and headed home to put them in a vase. They lasted easily about a week or slightly longer and I never took a picture of them.

Yesterday, I was looking for spring-related pictures for my seasonal desktop on my computer and I came across some pictures that reminded me of the field and others of the flowers (NOTE: I did not take any of these pictures and claim no ownership of them).  Here they are (and a couple depict me in the meadow...):




Thinking of scenes like these and specifically back to "my meadow" makes me peaceful. It helps me turn off and think of nothing but communing with nature and just being. Sometimes this memory is so relaxing that in the middle of the day, I just daydream of sitting there for hours. After I brought the flowers home and put them in a vase, that sense of tranquility would last a little longer than the length of time the flowers lived in my vase. I suppose that I was subconsciously training myself to meditate or find a peaceful place in my mind and spirit to be able to remove myself from stress and be free - at least in my mind and spirit for a moment.

I think we all need that from time to time. Hope you can find peace in these settings, as well.
wwcitizen: (At Puter)
Yesterday and on Thursday, I was looking for some holiday pictures, specifically Saturday Evening Post covers, because they depict warm American scenes - for the most part.  Especially Norman Rockwell.

In the process, I discovered this really great site for magazine covers, including Saturday Evening Post covers.  I had forgotten about all the other, non-Norman Rockwell covers.  I ended up spending hours looking through (and saving) tons of covers.  Check them out!  Some of them are quite inspiring in their own way.

HAPPY WEEKEND!!
wwcitizen: (Smell The Flowers)
This puts me in a peaceful mindset for the evening (thanks for [livejournal.com profile] ironranger1 posting this!):

"Here is what I believe: that the natural world - the stuff of our lives, the world we plod through, hardly hearing, the world we burn and poke and stuff and conquer and irradiate - that THIS WORLD (not another world on another plane) is irreplaceable, astonishing, contingent, eternal and changing, beautiful and fearsome, beyond human understanding, worthy of reverence and awe, worthy of celebration and protection.
If the good English word for this combination of qualities is "sacred", then so be it. Even if we don't believe in God, we walk out the door on a sacred morning and lift our eyes to the sacred rain and are called to remember our sacred obligations of care and celebration.
And what's more, if the natural world is sacred, and "sacred" described the natural world; if there are not two worlds but one, and it is magnificent and mysterious enough to shake us to the core; if this is so, then we - you and I... - are called to live our lives gladly. We are called to live lives of gratitude, joy, and caring, profoundly moved by the bare fact that we live in the time of the singing of birds.
Gladness lifts the natural world out of the merely mundane and makes it wonderful, and reminds us that when we use the sacred stuff of our lives for human purposes, we must do so gratefully and responsibly, with full and caring hearts. That's what I want to say."

Taken from Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore, 2010.
wwcitizen: (NJ Quarter)
Money is fascinating. The history of money tells the story of civilization, commerce, governments, economies. It's hard to imagine the world without money and everything being taken care of, but more and more people are using credit cards, online bill paying, and check cards, such that money isn't as noticeable. When I'm in another country, I try to save a little bit of the money (a coin or a bill) as a souvenir.

It's fun to pay attention to your bills!
Do you ever go to WheresGeorge.com? Do you know what it is? WheresGeorge.com is a fun site to enter your US bills and see whether they've been and where - after you've spent the money - they end up. How often do you see the stamp on any of your bills like this?


Someone somewhere along the line of this website and tracking mechanism decided to make a red-ink stamp - like you see on this one-dollar bill section pictured above. I don't have one one of the convenient stamps; I've see that people have sometimes taken to writing "WheresGeorge.com" in red ink on the bills they catalog. Anytime I find one of these "marked" bills, I try to enter it into the system as soon as possible. If I have nothing to do on a given night, I'll enter all my bills ($1 mostly, $5 sometimes, and $10s & $20s). It's fun to see if anyone has also entered any of the unmarked bills.

It's fun to pay attention to your coins!
When I was a little boy (yes, I was once) growing up in the 70s, before more TV channels than you could surf in one day, and cell phones or computers, my dad got me into "looking coins", as he called it. Dad sat me down at a gray metal military-looking folding desk. Then, with a wide smile, he whipped out a couple of rolls of dimes, nickels, or pennies onto the desk's surface. The nickels and pennies were more numerous. He was bringing me up to be a numismatist!

I opened the wrapping carefully so the coins didn't go everywhere, one roll at a time. He told me, "Go through and look your coins to find oddities." I took that "look" to mean carefully scrutinize every coin, front and back, to see the oddities. The most blatant were always easy to spot: different mints, various minting years, different pictures on the fronts and backs, and sometimes missing things - like the mint stamps. There are multiple minting facilities, but for the people's currency, it's either "P" for Philadelphia, which is prevalent on the east coast, or "D" for Denver, which are prevalent in middle America and the west coast. If you're in Texas or Chicago, it's hit or miss what you'll find, for instance.

This past Christmas, my dad gave us kids all some coins he saved for us from years ago. I've been periodically spending time looking my coins - pennies, nickels, dimes, half-dollars, dollar coins, etc. After I'm done, they're all going into a (FREE!) safety deposit box. Here are some pictures of new pennies! Have you seen these? I think they're really cool and it's fun that the US mint is noticing a rise in coin collecting as a result.
wwcitizen: (New Year Ball)
It's that time of year again -

1. Was 2010 a good year for you?
Half and half.

2. What was your favorite moment of the year?
I have a lot of favorite moments of the year, mostly travel-related.

3. What was your least favourite moment of the year?
Political arguments with my family and some friends.

4. What are your plans for 2011?
Continue working as a contractor till (hopefully) June, then go to Ptown and Italy!

5. What countries did you visit?
Mexico, US

6. What date/s in 2010 will remain etched in your memory?
Apr. 8, 2010 - My youngest sister turned 50!!
Jul 13, 2010 - Matt turned 40!!

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Planning out and executing my sister's and Matt's birthday parties - from afar.

8. What was your biggest failure?
Not listening often enough.

9. Did you suffer any illness or injury?
Just colds here and there. OH, and a 4-week bout of sciatica!!

10. What was the best thing you bought?
My new computer.

11. Who's behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Well, one friend's behavior was over the top and offended some friends/family members, but

12. Where did most of your money go?
Health insurance, storage unit, food.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
A trip to Disney World and a last-minute trip to LA

14. What songs will always remind you of 2010?
Glee's version of Teenage Dream

15. Compared to this time last year are you:
a) Fatter or thinner? FATTER
b) Happier or sadder? More pensive, perhaps
c) Richer or poorer? Richer

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?.
Gotten out and exercised.

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Eating mindlessly.

18. How will you be spending Christmas?
With Matt's family for the first year, then take him to my family's for Christmas for the first time!

19. Which LJ user/s did you meet for the first time?
In LA: [livejournal.com profile] martini_tim, [livejournal.com profile] bigsabu, [livejournal.com profile] animbear
In NJ: [livejournal.com profile] goreyboy
In NYC: [livejournal.com profile] oscarlikesbugsy, [livejournal.com profile] sluggobear, [livejournal.com profile] boomerz1

May have met first in 2009: [livejournal.com profile] devil_cub52, [livejournal.com profile] gstorm17, [livejournal.com profile] njbearcub1

20. Did you fall in love in 2010?
I keep falling in love with Matthew, so I guess this could be "yes"... but for the first time with someone? Nah.

21. How many one night stands?
Zilch.

22. What was your favorite TV show of 2010?
Dexter/Real Housewives of ...

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
What an awful question... maybe one person. Doesn't live around these parts, thank goodness.

24. What was/were the best books you read in 2010?
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day & When You're Engulfed In Flames

25. What was your greatest musical discovery in 2010?
Florence + The Machine

26. What did you want and get?
A job that would keep me at home.

27. What did you want and not get?
A couple of interesting jobs in the city.

28. What was your favorite film this year?
Inception.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
We went to Warner Brother Studios in Burbank, CA, and then had sushi in Beverly Hills. I turned 42.

30. What one thing would have made your year more satisfying?
If I had not gained as much as I gained, and/or lost weight altogether!

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Easy and homey. Cozy.

32. What kept you sane?
My husband.

33. Which celebrity did you fancy the most?
Kathy Griffin for a part of it - went to her house!!

34. Which political issue stirred you the most in 2010?
The mid-term elections, DADT, ENDA, anti-bullying legislation, LGBT discrimination topics overall.

35. Who did you miss in 2010?
I'm not sure what this question means in the grand scheme. I saw who I wanted to see...

36. Did you treat somebody badly in 2010?
I don't think so - I would have a lingering bad feeling about it. I don't like to treat people badly; it's not in my nature.

37. Did somebody treat you badly in 2010?
My dad to a degree.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year?
Don't take things too seriously and don't let Facebook dictate how you maintain your real relationships!!

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year...
The dog days are over.

40. Bonus Spot
I loved my time at home this year. When it got too boring, we took off and went traveling somewhere. I'd love to maintain that trend for a while.
wwcitizen: (Default)
I was able to select the status updates that highlighted elements of 2010 through my eyes and experiences. It's funny to note how many of my posts deal with food, friends, travel, NYC, and NJ. This was fun. Now, I'll delete the app on FB. LOL

wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
Love the town, but New Hope, PA, is slowly becoming a den of yuppies from what I've heard. We haven't been there in years. Especially, since the best nightclub EVER "was inundated with smoke damage to the point that it was unusable ever again and had to be torn down." But, but, we all thought that part of the structure was under historical preservation...

When I came out, the Cartwheel (the best nightclub EVER) and the Raven (just down the street) were the places my best friend, Joey, and I went almost every Friday and Saturday nights. When we were exceptionally bored on a Monday or it was a holiday weekend (like Memorial Day), we'd head there for the Monday Night Drag Contests. We did actually like the contests and enjoyed seeing who was eliminated week to week till one of them was crowned with some shiny, plastic piece of crap.

Friends who visited me from all over were often treated to a day in New Hope or Lambertville (across the Delaware River in NJ). We'd get into town for a wonderful cup of coffee and a muffin, then take off walking slowly around the towns. Crossing the bridge, we'd anticipate the other town and the stores along the main roads.

Lambertville has an annual Shad Festival in April, and New Hope has an Art Festival in May or June. Sometime during the summer, they'll have other street fairs and antique shows or flea markets. Winter is the time for the annual Lambertville Winter Festival with ice sculptures all over the place. Fun towns, for sure. Lots of things to do back when I still lived in Trenton. That was about six years ago and we haven't been to those towns in about four.

So, today, we're heading to New Hope - four of us - meeting up with friends of friends for brunch and shopping. People around NJ, PA, and NY (even down to DE) are calling it "No Hope" because once the straight yuppies take it back from the artsy and gay folk, there's no hope for the town. It'll get dirty and run-down again. Then, one day, in a generation or two, the gays will return to gentrify the town once again and make it "Sparkle, Neelie! Sparkle!"
wwcitizen: (NJ - Greetings)
How would YOU write animal sounds?

Chicken laying eggs = Bwok-bwok-bwok-b'kawk! Bwok-bwok-bwok-b'kawk!
Rooster = Rau! Rau! Rau-rau'rau-rau'rau! (less of that "Cock-a-doodle-doo", you know?)
Horse = Whehn-hn-hn-hn-hnnn... p-p-p-p-p-pppp
Pig = rn-rn-rn-rn (groveling); Rehnn! Rehnn! Rehnn! (running); Rehnn-rn-rn (irritated)
Brown bear = Wah-wah-waaaaaah (pant pant pant)

I woke up this morning to the wonderful sounds of some birds singing and they brought me back to my childhood in the springtime again (much like an earlier post back around Christmas '09 when I was at my sister's house).

I just realized that I hadn't shared the link to the BEST website for bird songs I've found yet (this one used to be the best site, but they've removed the listening pages). If anyone else has one, shoot it my way. You can play all the songs simultaneously and it sounds like you are IN THE FOREST or in a wooded park and you haven't even left your house. It's wonderful - especially on a cloudy, rainy, foggy day when your husbear's still asleep and you're lethargically nostalgic.
wwcitizen: (Dont Know)
Unapologetically and therapeutically, I have to post about this one instance that has remained for the last few days as one of the strangest things I've encountered in Facebook from a childhood friend. Someone from my childhood posted a picture (I have a copy of the picture for some reason in my collection) of our church van. I'm not sure where we were headed in the van in the picture, but our church did many puppet mission trips to NYC. We also took the van to week-long Southern Baptist summer camps and to ski retreats. On the ski retreats, we skied during the day, returned to the church-owned cabin, cooked & cleaned up from dinner, and had Bible study.

There have been various and many comments (50+!!) about the picture with memories of the trips we took in that particular van in the 70s and 80s, and that that van was replaced by a bigger van/bus with bigger windows, a great stereo, and A/C!!

One of the folks who posted - and the most recent as of Mar. 14 - is a couple of years younger than me, but we used to have sleep-overs together as kids, went to school with each other, and considered each other friends. His older sister was my age, but there's apparently no contact between them at all. I think I remember a few years ago his mother passing away, which made me sad. They had a beautiful home and she seemed like a good mom. She was always so sweet to me, too.

This was his posted comment to the picture of the church van: "I was not in that van. However, I love you all and ask if anyone remembers poop in a cup on the way home from a ski trip."

I have no idea if he's joking. I have no idea what kind of person he is now, although his pictures present him as a rocker - he plays the drums. He also looks vastly different from how I remember him and his hair at one point was really long and permed (80s scary male perms). The question left the inferred image of "Two Girls, One Cup" in my mind, although I never actually saw the video (thank goodness!!).

Comment welcome!
wwcitizen: (Broadway)
Matt thought it would be cool to list out the celebrities we/I met or saw in 2009. Here's the list:

Meetings
James Gandolfini (NYC)
Leslie Jordan (Ptown)
Jeff Daniels (NYC)
Hope Davis (NYC)
Marcia Gay Harden (NYC)
Quentin Earl Darrington (NYC - Ragtime)
Alan Cumming (DC)
Bobby Flay
Egypt Sherrod

Sightings
Val Kilmer
Hugh Jackman (NYC)
Daniel Craig (NYC)
Lady Gaga (DC)
Cynthia Nixon (DC)
Kim Kardashian (in a store in SOHO - NYC)
Mike Straka (NJ - met in 2008)
Craig Bierko
David Letterman
Lauren Graham
Oliver Platt
Cheyenne Jackson
Seth Rogan
Adelle (British singer)
Ryan Di Lello (SYTYCD - at the local grocery store in Edgewater!!)
Billy Hector

Danced with
The Cast of Hair
The Male Cast of Fuerza Bruta

Retired Local Cabaret Celebrities
Vinny Costa
Thomas Privitere

This list is a LOT longer than I initially thought it would be. YAY!
wwcitizen: (New Year Ball)
Matthew found these list of things for consideration on reviewing 2009 and looking toward 2010. I liked the lists and thought others might benefit from them.
__________________________________________________
DAVID'S COACHING TIPS
For those of you who want ... form and structure, here are some questions that can guide you in your 2009 review and 2010 goal setting. When I go through these kinds of questions I like to consider my answers in several areas:

Physical
Emotional
Mental
Spiritual
Financial
Family
Community Service
Fun / creativity / recreation

Completing and remembering 2009
Review the list of all completed projects
What was your biggest triumph in 2009?
What was the smartest decision you made in 2009?
What one word best sums up and describes your 2009 experience?
What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2009?
What was the most loving service you performed in 2009?
What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in 2009?
What are you most happy about completing in 2009?
Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life in 2009?
What was the biggest risk you took in 2009?
What was the biggest surprise in 2009?
What important relationship improved the most in 2009?
What compliment would you liked to have received in 2009?
What compliment would you liked to have given in 2009?
What else do you need to do or say to be complete with 2009?

Creating the new year
What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2010?
What advice would you like to give yourself in 2010?
What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2010?
What would you be most happy about completing in 2010?
What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2010?
What would you most like to change about yourself in 2010?
What are you looking forward to learning in 2010?
What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2010?
What about your work, are you most committed to changing and improving in 2010?
What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2010?
What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2010?
Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2010?
What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2010?
wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
I just heard a crow cawing off in the distance. The caw echoed from across the treetops of the woods around my sister's house.

Such a crow's caw echoes around my grandmother's house, too. At grandmother's house strolling through the golden autumn leaves, I found whole walnuts still in their green casings on the ground. I remember the crows cawing while I bashed the casings against her chicken coop's back wall. I love the lemony, green smell of freshly bashed walnut casings.

Such a crow's caw echoes across fields around the house where I lived in high school. Many times I sat at my window listening to the countryside and watching the fields as the sun went down through the screen. The first time I saw a silver fox in the wild was through that screen, while she dashed along the edge of a neighbor's milo field and a crow cawed in the distance.

A crow's caw is bittersweet: In one breath the sound tells us we're alive, reminds of us days gone by, and foreshadows days to come. The sound, to me, is both happy and sad, and makes me yearn for younger days.

I'm glad I heard that caw today.
wwcitizen: (Stone Angel)
A childhood friend's mom died on Oct. 10. I just found out about it today. A flood of memories came rushing in about her and her son, Tony. He and I grew up together in NC and his mom was always so sweet to me. She taught me how to roll up my sleeves (as silly as this is) so they wouldn't unravel. She also made awesome soup - thick with ingredients and not too soupy.

Here's to a lady who will be missed and who left an indelible imprint on her world:

She worked at the local newspaper for 43 years in a number of capacities, and most recently was a features and lifestyle editor. She worked simultaneously in admissions at the local hospital for 23 years. She was a member of the NC Press Club, held various offices, and had been honored with the Communicator of Achievement Award. She had been a board member of the Family Support Network of Eastern NC and member of the county's Women's Commission.

Simply amazing. Here's to you Rosalie!
wwcitizen: (Bavarian Bear)
I'm listening to German radio (Bayern 3 out of Munich) and they just played MARILLION (Kayleigh)!!!

How wonderful, nostalgic, and refreshing to hear something on the radio that I only heard on cassette tape in the 80s. A friend of mine whose brother came to visit from Brazil (yes, hottie McHot-ster) in the 80s loaned me and then gave me his Marillion tapes, which I had and played till they broke. I replaced them years later (and not too long ago) with CDs. Most people don't really like Marillion (a little too Pink Floyd or Phish for some people), but to me his CDs told a story - long-winded, but a story nonetheless.

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Stephen Lambeth

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