Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of Year Meme

(I posted this on my other blog too, but I think it gets kind of lost amidst all the other stuff in the post!)


I found this meme @Ramblin' with Roger, who found it @Spatula Forum and it was also part of @Sunday Stealing.  So now that I have given it proper credit as far back as I can trace, on with my answers.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?  Drove from Orlando to Philadelphia with 3 cats, a dog, guinea pig, one twelve  year old and my mom.  When we did the reverse trip in 2003 to move to Orlando, we had just two cats, and 3 people.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?  I did not make any resolutions as such.  I knew it would be a year of great changes for our family, and it was.  It's been exciting.

3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?  At home.  A nice meal, and some yummy snacks.  I hope to watch some of the Three Stooges Marathon on AMC.  It starts at 7am on 12/31 and goes for 23 hours.  I grew up watching these reruns, and Tara has never experienced them.  It is her kind of humor!  I prefer quiet New Year's celebrations.  (It was a quiet night, we did watch the ball drop with all three of us together)

4. Did anyone close to you die?  Not this year thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?  Just the good ole' USofA.  I had not left the state of FL for 5 years, so traveling through GA, SC, NC, VA, MD, and DE were exciting for me.  We also went to Ocean City, NJ for a couple days, and to VA for a weekend. Oh, and does the World Showcase at EPCOT count?

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?   A new job.  I retired in March, so technically I had it in 2009, but I am now looking for part time employment.  Keeping fingers crossed I get an answer this week from an interview on Tuesday.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?  March 27th, the day I retired from my career at AT&T, it was 29 years, 4 months, and 12 days long.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?  Getting back to PA to be close to family.  We had been working on it for two years.

9. What was your biggest failure?  I don't think I really failed at anything.  I might have managed money a little better.... but that's the story of my life.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?  Thankfully nothing serious.  I had the flu in November, not sure if it was swine, but it had me down a week, and not feeling myself for two.  My family has stayed fairly well. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?  My Canon Rebel Xsi.

12. Where did most of your money go?  Wow, I wish I knew.  Moving expenses, getting settle expenses, I paid cash for a pre-owned car.  Lots of technology - 2 laptops, 2 IPhones, 2 cameras.... like mother like daughter!  Cash, cash, cash, no credit cards were used!

13. What song will always remind you of 2009?  I'm not sure.  Music is something in the background to me most of the time.  Maybe something Brittney, Tara got to go to see her in concert and we listened to Circus all the time! - I realized last night that Boom Boom Pow came out in 2009, it seems like it's been around forever.  That song I thing is definitely the most rememberable.

14. What do you wish you'd done more of?  Saved money.  Slept.

15. What do you wish you'd done less of?  Spent money. 

16. What was your favourite TV program?  This is a hard one.  A new show?  Glee.  I found this show late.  Monday Night CBS shows are some of our favorites.  Big Bang Theory is the top favorite there.

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?  No, I try not to hate. 

18. What was the best book you read?  Read or finished?  Sadly I think I only read one full book this year.  It was a book from a series about the Amish.  I have six days to read a book for book club on 1/6 - Black Dahlia!  Reading more is one thing that I would like to do in 2010.  I just have to stay off the darned laptop!

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?  I don't have an answer for this.  I listen the music of so many blog friends that I really like, but sadly music is not big on my list.  I mean I listen when in the car, but that is about it.  I was so much different when I was young. 

20. What was your favorite film of this year? We saw 24 films in the theater this year (see list below), and many more for the first time on DVD (I wish I had kept a list, that was one great thing about Blockbuster and Netflix on line!)  We saw Star Trek 4 times, that was hands down Tara's favorite.  Movies that I came away from saying I totally enjoyed were Blindside and Julie and Julia. 

21. What did you do on your birthday?  Hmm, good thing I have a blog or I would have to say I don't remember... be right back - oh, I should not have had to look.  We spent the day in Magic Kingdom.  Disney was giving you a free day of admission this year for your birthday.  Since we had annual passes, I got a $75 gift card to be spent at Disney.  We had fun, at lunch at Tony's.  If you want to revisit that day  you can go here, here and here.  Tara got to spend her free day at Animal Kingdom.

22. What kept you sane?  Blogging and photography.

23. Who did you miss?  Okay, my who are our pets that we had to give to knew homes.  Maia the yorkie, Daphne, and Emmie and Cassie the cats (the latter two live local, so we can visit them, but it makes me sad, and I want to bring them home!)

24. Who was the best new person you met? I've met so many fabulous new people on line this past year, the list is too long to mention, in real life, I think I would have to say our neighbor Vivian.  I am just getting to know her, but she is so full of life and positive energy.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:  That I really do love being close to family.  When we lived in FL, I tried to tell myself that we weren't missing out on much being away from family, we kept in touch through pictures, etc., but it has been so nice being able to spend time with them all - for holidays and special occasions, and just for the heck of it!  Also, that we can do with less!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Pics

We had a great time on Christmas Eve hosting my sister and her family for our gift exchange.
Attending were Linda, Larry, Jodie, Jerry, Chad, Tasha, Tyler, Kier and Gavin, and of course Mom, Tara and myself.  First time we had so many folks in our apartment, but it worked.


Tara wanted a Chia Pet for YEARS.

My annual Moose ornament.

Princess unimpressed by Christmas!

Oops, I forgot these photos (taken with IPhone)
Some of Tara's "stuff" - the panther painting was given to Tara by our neighbor Vivian.  Tara admired it when we were looking through some paintings Vivian has for sale.  This was a year of "little stuff" for Tara.  She's fully loaded technology wise.  She was very happy with what she received from everyone!

We went to see Alvin & the Chipmunks - Tara enjoyed it, it was cute.  It was about what she wanted to day!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

More Sights around Town - After the snow

So, we had about 8-10" of snow on Saturday.  It was a beautiful snowy day.  I loved sitting inside watching the snow fall to the ground.  It made baking Christmas cookies and watching Christmas movies seem all that more special.  We even spent some time visiting with our upstairs neighbors, over a glass of wine, which was prompted by the snow.  I got to know my upstairs neighbor better, and met two other neighbors who I did not know!

Tara was excited to drive around and see the snow.  We really can't see much but our "own back yard", and I too was looking forward to getting out there for some photos.  Once we were plowed out of the parking lot, we headed off to pick up my great nephews.  Along the way, these are some of the things we saw.
First, the price of gas for my friend Matty.

Christmas decorations at Main & Broad in Lansdale.

The M&M gang greeting us as we arrived in Hatfield.

I loved this snowglobe!

Great nephew Kier, playing in the snow.

I made the kids hot cocoa from scratch, and baked them nice warm choc chip cookies.
Then it was time for them to go home.
Mickey was at the entrance to their alley to greet us

and so was Khan their dog!

After we dropped off the boys, we went for a ride.  I love that the roads were in good shape.  We stopped at a park, it wasn't plowed, I almost got stuck, but it was beautiful.
The sun was starting to get lower in the sky.

We headed to Green Lane
Nothing prettier than a red barn in the snow.

or the glow of the setting sun on the bare tree tops.

I was hoping to catch the sunset, but could not find the correct vantage point.  I did find this one beautiful cloud in the sky!

and then near home, Corpus Christi Church looked beautiful with the lights behind the stained glass window.

Tara and I could not have gotten a better early Christmas gift from Mother Nature.  I never dreamed we would have a measurable snow storm in December.  It just makes our first Christmas back "home" all that more special!!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Lights around Town

Tara and I took a Christmas light tour tonight.  We loved doing that in FL, only we had to PRETEND it was 31 degrees and the eve of a snowstorm.  We would grab hot cocoa from 7 -11, crank the A/C up on high in the SUV, pop in a Christmas CD and drive through the many sub divisions amongst which we lived.  We always had so much fun, and the lights were awesome.

First tonight, we headed to Skippack Village to see the luminaries that were set out each Wed and Fri night from late November until tonight.  I love luminaries, they have been one of my favorite things about Christmas Eve for many years.

I still recall when I was young, my grandmother coming home from having spent the Christmas holiday in Albuquerque, NM (is that not one of the hardest words to spell... I never get the first u right!) with my uncle's family, and telling us about these "paper bags with candles in them" that people put along their driveways and sidewalks.  Soon after, they seemed to sprout up here and there in our area, our church lined the driveway in front of the church with them, and before too long entire neighborhoods were alight with luminaries on Christmas Eve.

Do people do this in  your area?  I didn't see it as much in our part of Orlando... maybe I just wasn't in the right place at the right time.  Anyway, I was not as "awed" by the luminaries in Skippack, I guess too much other lighting from the busy road, street lights and other Christmas lights.  Don't get me wrong it was very pretty, just the luminaries didn't stand out too much!

I liked this window.
We stopped in a little jewelry store and I bought one of my final Christmas gifts, and then we headed to see what else we could see.  I picked two neighborhoods to drive through, figuring with the size of the houses.. they had to have some good decorations.  Maybe they are upper echelon to have inflatables and such in their front yards.  Many many elegant white lights, but not the major stuff we were looking for!  These are all very nice, and about as "over the top" as we got tonight.  Tara says she felt like a stalker!

We then headed to "downtown" Lansdale.  (Lansdale is the small town (borough actually) which I live just outside of, we share a post office, but our location is governed by a Upper Gwynedd Township.... PA is so confusing with all of it's local governement!)  Lansdale has seen better times, but they are trying hard to turn things around.  I think the downtown area has improved in the six years I have been gone appearance wise, but Iggy might be a better judge of that!  On a Friday night before Christmas back in the 70s (before the mall moved in), Main Street would have been alive with shoppers.  On this night, I saw very little in the way of foot traffic!  Our destination was "Railroad Plaza" (next to the train station) to take a photo of the Christmas tree and Menorah.  It is a nicely designed spot, glowing and twinkling with tiny white lights.  There is a Kugal Ball in the center (turned off for the winter).


So, that's a little of my world.  We are anticipating with great excitement, the snow that is approaching.  Still now sure what we will be getting.  The amounts I've been hearing are 2"-10".  I will take somewhere in between, enough to stay on the ground until Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pearl S Buck House - Perkaise, PA

Today, my mother, Tara and I took a little field trip to the the Pearl S Buck house.  This National Landmark is located at  520 Dublin Rd Perkasie, PA, just a short trip from home. The Pearl S. Buck House was home to Pearl S. Buck and her international family for 38 years.  More photos can be found here.

Today, it is only one of ten National Historic Landmarks open to the public in the US that educates the public about a woman’s contribution to society through a house with an intact collection. The original part of the house was built in 1825.

This home and I believe 50 acres of land, known as Greenhill farm, was purchased for $4,100 in the late 30s or early 40s, I thought I would remember the year.
During the holidays they have a "Festival of Trees" were local business and organizations take part in decorating a room of the house including a tree. Each visitor votes on their favorite.

The home, is beautifully, but comfortably decorated. With treasures and gifts from around the world.  Her Nobel Peace prize is among the items on display, as well as a piece given to her by a very young Dali Lama. I won't however, be showing you any interior pictures because there was no photography inside. (I did get a couple in the mud room before she remembered to tell us the rule!)
This is Pearl and a small tree in the mud room

Pearl S. Buck was born on June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia to Presbyterian missionary parents who were home furlough from their first ten years of service in China. When she was an infant, they returned to their assignment in Chinkiang (present day Zhenjiang).

In 1910 she traveled back to the US and studied at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Virginia. She graduated in 1914 and was invited to teach psychology at the college. She did so for one semester, but then returned to China to nurse her mother through illness. In 1917, she married John Buck, an agricultural missionary from New York.

Her first novel, East Wind: West Wind, was rejected by many publishers before being accepted by John Day Publishing. John Walsh of John Day Publishing felt she had great potential for future work. East Wind: West Wind was published in April 1930 and The Good Earth was published on March 2, 1931. The Good Earth on the best-seller list for more than 21 mos. It won the Pulitzer Prize for best novel by an American author in 1932. In 1938, Pearl Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. She was the first American woman to be awarded both the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes for literature, and would hold that honor alone until 1993.

Miss Buck had close to 1000 pieces of work published; among them 120 books. I personally do not remember reading any of her works as an adult, I did however have a glimpse of recognition of one of her children's book.  I will be heading to the library as soon as I finish my book club book!

Most of her writing was done at Green Hills Farm. Miss Buck and her second husband, Richard Walsh, who was the publisher mentioned above, (the bench on which she sat the first time she met his in in the dining room of the house), raised a large family here. They were married for 25 years and raised many children, seven which they adopted, two which were considered “biracial”, which was almost unheard of at that time. Many children were fostered in their care. While married to her first husband, John Buck she had two daughters. Her birth daughter Carol, suffered from PKU, and was developmentally disabled, and lived part of her life in an institution. Miss Buck’s desire to help publicize the cause of the mentally and physically disabled was begun by publishing the story of her personal experiences in The Child Who Never Grew.

In addition to her writing achievements, Miss Buck was a instrumental in many humanitarian causes. She was a longtime advocate of cross-cultural understanding, women's rights and racial harmony, and as a means of achieving world peace. Pearl S. Buck died on March 6, 1973, she was 80 years old and as she requested is buried on the grounds of her home.

This is Pearl's name in Chinese, and was a door on one of her homes.
Long after her death, her vision for helping children lives on through the three programs of Pearl S. Buck International Inc.
  • PSBI helps children around the world who have been marginalized due to mixed heredity, hunger, disease, poverty or other tragic circumstance.
  • The Opportunity House program focuses on the plight of children who live in a state of hopelessness and strives to offer them the hope of a successful and happy future through various health and educational services.
  • Welcome House the first adoption agency of its kind, finds homes for special needs children and children of mixed heredity from around the world.
If you live in or are visiting the Bucks County area, I highly recommend this tour.  I had never visited this before, and have lived 40 of my 51 years less than 15 miles away! Tara at 12 years old even found it to be interesting.  It was nice that our tour guide specifically directed some questions to her, and pointed out things of interest to her.  She was the only young person in our group.

The home is open from March - December with many events throughout the year.  The cost for the house tour was $8 for adults, $7 for students, $7 for the 60+ crowd, and under 6 are free.  The main floor of the house is handicap accessible, but there are two other levels which are not due to stairs.  We had a group with two gentlemen in wheelchairs who joined us only for the first few minutes.

I will surely be returning in the spring/summer when the gardens are planted with the plants that are presently growing in the two greenhouses.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Christmas

I would
like to put
up a tree in my
heart, and instead
of hanging presents,
I would like to put the
names of all my friends.
Close friends and not so close
friends. The old friends, the new
friends. Those that I see every day
and the ones that I rarely see. The ones
that I always remember and the ones that
I sometimes forget. The ones that are always
there and the ones that seldom are. The friends of
difficult times and the ones of happy times. Friends
who, without meaning to, I have hurt, or without meaning
to have hurt me. Those that I know well and those I only know
by name. Those that owe me little and those that I owe so much.
My humble friends and my important friends. The names of all those
that have passed through my life no matter how fleetingly. A tree with
very deep roots and very long
and strong branches so that
their names may never be
plucked from my heart. So
that new names from all
over may join the existing ones. A tree with a very
pleasant shade so that our friendship may take a
moment of rest from the battles of life. "May the
happy moments of Xmas brighten every day of
the new year". These are my sincere wishes.

Author unknown

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

and this time I did not have to drive 2 hours to see it!

We had about 8 hours of snow on Saturday, it was not blizzard like, so not much accumulation, but for the girls from Florida, it was enough to make it really seem like Christmas is coming!  The only snow we saw in Florida was the fake snow in the theme parks!
This is when the first flakes started coming down, but they were very sparse (a new word Tara learned!)

A little later the flakes are bigger, and you can see some snow on the ground behind her!

Princess after the first few minutes of being confused by the snowflakes, loved being outside in the snow.  I hope Santa brings here a sweater!

Giant snowball!

and then, a little Winter Wonderland... ev
en with only a small amount of snow it was still beautiful!

We KNOW how lucky we were to have snow on Dec 5th.... but now, we would really love some aroun Dec 25th.....