Facets of Lucy

Looking at the various side of a life

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Immortalizing a Family Tradition

I remember so well that when my first child was in college,  how she dreaded the last six weeks of the semester.  She knew that in those weeks were papers due and exams to study for and to take.  And all the while she did the hardest work of the term, we were home shopping, decorating the house, making Christmas cookies and generally cranking up the excitement. As I cranked up the AOL, I tried to think of a way for her to feel closer to home.

I hit upon the idea of an Advent basket, a variation of an advent calendar, with one item to be opened and enjoyed for each day from the day she returned after Thanksgiving until the day she came home.  The gifts, mostly quite modest, were a hit.  The basket idea stuck with us, through the next 3 children as well.  But now, youngest child is about to graduate, and I have made my last basket.    I’m writing this last, probably maybe, post to immortalize what was 13 years of holiday fun for all of us.

Advent Basket 2914

A list of some of the items that have made it into the Advent Baskets.

Room decorations (window stickers, Advent Calendars)

Christmas ornaments

Small Nativity scene

Christmas fuzzy socks

Christmas tie (for boys)

Christmas music (CD)

Classic Christmas video

Hot Chocolate, Apple Cider mix

Starbucks gift card

Cute small Christmas-themed book

Christmas boxers (for boys)

Christmas print undies (for girls)

Christmas themed earrings, bracelet

Harry and David’s Moose Munch
Any other food you can think of

Holiday coffee mug
Package of cute Christmas cards and stamps
Warm gloves
Soft winter scarf
Holiday shaped or scented bath soaps, hand creams
Framed holiday pictures from childhood
Empty holiday-themed frames
Santa or elf hat

I don’t include candles because most dorms don’t allow them.

What has gone in the basket has changed over time.  Early baskets held VHS Christmas movies.  Later ones had DVDs.  This year’s featured no movies.  Why?  Digital streaming.  Netflix replaces the need for videos.  The same for Christmas music.  We went from CDs to I-Tunes cards to… no music.  Thank music streaming apps for that. But I’ve also learned to get some of the little treats at after Christmas sales each year (not food or drink).

The packages also look fancier now than in the beginning thanks to adopting the clear wrap like that used for Easter Baskets, and using treat bags for the various items. Let me know or post pictures of your basket if you are inspired to make  an Advent Basket.



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Thank-snow-giving 2014

Its lovely, its peaceful but the timing is all wrong for gathering the family together.  These beautiful images were taken by a family member whose home backs up to the Skyline Drive in Virginia (and may still be checking this semi-retired blog (Thanks!)).  Enjoy, unless you’re from an area that just had 7 feet of snow or more.  You’ve had enough, I’m sure.

photo 2-4


photo 3-2photo 1-6


Good-bye and Thanks

This is my final post.  I started blogging in 2012, spelling out the experiences of my step-father as he served in World War II ( onemansjourneythruww2.wordpress.com ). Once that was complete, I wanted to try my hand at a more personal blog.  I’ve posted over 100 times and I’ve learned some things:

  • I’m not as funny as I think I am.
  • I don’t have a voice which moves other bloggers online.
  • I’m more private than I thought I was.

Sisters Dad

I love the blogging world and will be checking in now and then.  But after looking at how many drafts I’ve started that I’ve not published because of my privacy or someone else’s, I decided I’m more of a journal keeper than a blogger.  Believe me, the audience of my journal finds me funny, and is fascinated with what I have to say.  And I have no privacy concerns with keeping a journal.  So thanks for dropping by and giving me a try.

Last bit of housekeeping:  To my most constant blog follower:  I love you.  Thanks for your faithful support.  A sister is a special gift in a crazy world.

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Smooches: Love that Lasts

Making a life-long commitment to another is not for chickens.  The good times can be marvelous.  A new job, a raise, a promotion, a new baby, new house- all are reasons to celebrate and its wonderful to have a partner to share it with.  But life isn’t always like that we know.  Jobs are lost, money can be tight, children come with issues or don’t come at all, a spouse is deployed to a combat zone – there are so many challenges that you can face in a lifetime.  I’ve truly found that, for me, having my partner beside me has made the bad times easier to face even if not easier overall.  When good things happen, he’s still the first person I want to tell or share it with.  We made a commitment and because we both were sure of it, we’ve held strong even when it was the hardest thing to do.

But we’ve been together a little over 30 years.  This couple has been together for over 60 years.  Life has given them the sweet but also the bitter.  They remind  me of a quote I once heard.  An older man was asked what the secret of his marriage was.  He replied, ” I never considered divorce.  Not once.  Murder a few times but never divorce.” After the photo was taken, they enjoyed a shared laugh.   Who wouldn’t be envious for a life led together like that?

M and M Kiss




There is something about young love, the early fascination with each other, the magnetism you can almost touch between them.  But there’s something even more special about couples who have been together for years, who have layered the early fascination with a deep, shared history and strengthened the magnetism with an abiding trust in each other.  They have, in most cases, passed by the stage of the PDA (public displays of affection).  That does not mean that the affection is gone.

I’ve been collecting photos of couples who have been together for years .  Each was asked if they would let me take two photos, one of each kissing the other on the cheek.   This is not the raciest of PDAs and the results  showed some embarrassment, as their eyes met in shared humor at the request. The results, while not stunning photography, were humorous and warm insight into  relationships that have lasted.

To be fair, I’ll start with my better half and I.  Obviously, someone else took this picture but the result is what gave me the idea to collect these smooches shots. So, in time to look forward to Valentine’s Day, I hope you enjoy the Smooches.

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I am one of approximately 110,000,000 people in the US “Targeted” this Christmas season.  That is, hackers installed malware and were able to get card information and more personal information such as addresses and such.  Anyone who shopped at Target roughly between November 15 and December 15 was violated the same way unless they paid cash.


This isn’t the first time its happened to me.  Years ago, BJ’s Warehouse was hit and then more recently, the chain that owns TJ Max, Marshalls and Home Goods was hit.  Both made me leery of those particular stores for awhile but I gradually came back.

It feels different this time.  The fact that I’m one of so many makes it worse not better.  We’ve also heard that customers at Neiman Marcus were “Marked” as well.  Large companies are not the ones I expect to have insufficient security on their systems.  I hold them responsible.  I have heard that there are class action suits filed already and I wish them well.  Its not that Target hasn’t tried to make amends.  They had discount days, they’ve offered account protection services, lots of emails and website postings have appeared.  Everything short of the CEO calling me to apologize has been tried.

I feel very vulnerable. One swipe of a credit or debit card to make any purchase puts my whole identity at risk.  Anywhere possible, I’ve been using cash since this happened.  I have found two pluses from using cash.  One, there are less receipts that I need to enter in Quicken to balance my checkbook (yeah, I still do that).  And, two, I spend less because I’m aware of how much money is in my wallet.  There are far less impulse buys or purchase of things  that I “will” need.  For now, I’m content to get them when they’re really needed.

Maybe the US will change credit cards to be more like the EU with the digital chips encoded in them.  Of course, by then hackers may have figured a way around those, too.

In the meantime, there’s a dichotomy between businesses and government who want us to do everything online and a nation that can’t protect us when we do.

I may be the only one in America who was shaken by this security breach.  I may, in time, break down and go back to trusting my cards.  Maybe I’ll even go back to Target (someone pointed out that they may be the safest place to shop at this point).  But for now, my greenbacks and I are making do.

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Let Them Eat Cake! Or, Why I Don’t Have a Cooking Blog

Sometimes the simplest things can trip us up.

To celebrate a family birthday tomorrow, I planned to bake a cake.  You know, a birthday cake, a basic requirement to celebrate such an event.  The only request was for homemade chocolate frosting. Even the flavor of the cake was up to me. This is something I’ve done for decades.  Not a big deal.

Pulling out the available cake mixes, I looked at what flavors we had.  Luckily, there was deep chocolate, devils food and white.  I opted for the white mix, a nice contrast to the chocolate frosting.  Now, these days the mixes are fairly uniform in what needs to be added.  Directions were followed, batter was split between the two 9″ round pans and baked. The layers baked beautifully, they were taken out once the toothpick came out of the cake clean.  I set them aside to let them rest for 10 minutes, as per the directions before turning them out to cool.


But when I turned them out, one broke in half.  Great. I took the broken layer with a fork to my husband and he helped me get rid of it.

I was still upbeat as I washed all the utensils and bowls and prepared them to be used again.  This time I went with the deep chocolate mix.  I cracked eggs, measured liquids, added mix and beat exactly according to the directions.  The two 9″ pans went back into the oven filled with lovely batter.  With a sense of satisfaction, I began to clean up.  I reached for the coffee maker to wash the pot, and at the same time, spotted the measuring cup of oil, a critical ingredient sitting beside it.  I rushed to the oven, but it was 10 minutes in already and had begun to set. Groaning, I realized my good humor was slipping away. Time for the reinforcements.

While I let the oil-less cake finish cooking, my husband and I finished clean-up and turned our attention to the devil’s food box.  I measured; my husband double-checked. He verified the oven temperature for me. Before I put it in the oven, we made sure all the ingredients were included.  We set the timer.  What could go wrong?  I sat in the kitchen to mind the oven.  When the timer went off, I opened the oven and looked at…..two pans of batter.  What??? Guess who accidentally turned off the oven when he went to verify the temperature.  The digital buttons are easy to hit if you aren’t paying attention?  We turned on the oven and tried re-baking or to finish baking the cake.  It came out looking pretty normal but who know how dry it’ll be.


It’s someone I loves birthday.  All they want is chocolate frosting.  At this point, I was thinking maybe I’d just serve frosting, no cake.  Luckily, our mutual sense of humor wasn’t lost so after a quick run to the store for supplies ( having gone through a dozen eggs).  Once home, we measured, mixed, stirred, double-checked, made sure the oven was on.  No problem.  Twenty-seven minutes later, we had two lovely chocolate layers. Tomorrow, I’ll add delicious home-made frosting.  The family will come over to eat, celebrate and enjoy cake.  Let them eat cake!  Let them laugh at the cake-making trials.  Let them enjoy seeing our exhibits from the failures.  I’m grateful to have been given a sense of humor .  We’ll all laugh together.

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Taking a Second to Say Thanks

I come from a family of “thankers”.  Thank you notes are stressed early on and expected.  When my children were little, I would ask them what they liked about a gift.  They would them tell me and scribble their thanks.  I’d then print the ‘translation’ at the bottom and help them write their names.  By early elementary school, they were able to write, with help, “Thank you for the [gift[l  I like it.” The next step was to say what you liked about it.  By the time they’re in the double digits in age, each was able to write a wonderful thank you note.  Santa has always included thank you note cards in their stockings.


Lucas Thanks


I was raised to write the notes, too.  Perhaps because our military family was often far from family and friends and there were no ‘face to face’ opportunities.  Whatever the reason, I think the process of writing the notes makes the writer consider the gift and the giver through the prism of gratitude.  And, a mostly giver these days, each thank you note is read and appreciated.  We aren’t just going through the motions, By the way, while they didn’t do it when they lived at home, my children send us thank you notes, and we them.


To me, writing thank you notes is part manners (if someone takes the time to pick out a gift for me, I want them to know I’ve received it) and part gratitude (no only received but loved).  Is email acceptable?  I think that, yes, it is.  There is no cut for the USPS required for this.  In fact, those of us who had already written our thank you notes at a post-Christmas gathering handed out our thank you notes like kids giving out Valentines.

There are the gifts that are challenges, the ones the kids received when little that were not age-appropriate (much too young, often).  Those thank you notes stress the thoughtfulness of the giver more than the gift). Cash is tricky. You aren’t really supposed to say money, so that would go, “Thank you for the generous gift; it’ll come in so handy for[whatever]. But my favorite thank you notes are the ones my children write every year to an elderly relative.  She can’t afford to buy gifts.  I manage her money and know this.  So she and I decide each year what modest gift to give them.  The gifts are not actually purchased.   I turn around and tell the kids what she “picked” for them and they write heartfelt thank you notes which mean the world to her.  We do this at Christmas and birthdays every year.  You see, there’s still a gift.  Her love for them dictates what she wants for them.  As the commercial says, “…..priceless”.


Snowy Night Gratitude

The snow started falling last night.  It was beautiful but my 21 year old daughter still had to drive home from work at 11pm.  No, we don’t live in the hard-hit northeast facing much more snow and cold so I’m not going to complain.  However, with watchful eye on the window and cell phone at hand ready for a text or call, I went through my evening feeling anxious about her drive.  She isn’t a very experienced snow driver yet and  I am a worrier; I fear the worst, having learned about loss and children through the heartbreaking experiences of a few of my friends over the years. Grief is a horrible, painful process.  Each family dealt with it in their own unique way but I think they’d all agree that a part of them is broken.

I know when I was younger, I laughed at my parents’ concern.  I don’t know if I thought I was invincible but I brushed off their concern.  Payback is hell, as they say, and my kids laugh but humor me about my concerns.  But I still worry about their safety in unusual driving situations.

So I looked out the window, enjoying the beauty but wincing for my daughter’s drive. My husband and I were both a bit relieved when the snow plow went down our residential street.  Certainly the main roads were fairly clear if they could attack the back roads, right? It turns out that it was right, because my daughter bounced in at about the usual time.  The main roads were clear and she was home.

I’ve just written a blog post about a small snow event and my daughter getting home. I apologize but it got to me to today’s point.  I am so grateful for my four no longer really “children” children and for their health and continued safety.  There are those who would give anything to be able to write those words and my heart goes out to them.


Glancing Back at the Past With an Eye to the Future

I’m going to try something new to me on this blog, if for no other reason that to get the blogging juices flowing again.  I’m going to try to really examine what I’m thankful for.  My daughter is very optimistic about 2014 and I am weary to the soul of  having so little to be optimistic about in the world around me.  So I start today with my first thankful mention:

Today, I entertained 16 people for Prediction Day.  At our house, on January 1st, we get together to eat New Year’s Day soup, made with black-eyed peas for luck.  Then, we read aloud our predictions for the outgoing year written a year ago and kept together in sealed envelopes  and enjoy laughing at how things actually turned out, or similarities in predictions.  For example, someone made a prediction last year about getting the troops out of Iraq but someone else predicted an engagement in the family.

In preparation for this, I was making a lot of corn bread and corn muffins.  I had 3 batches I was trying to prep simultaneously.  I had to continually remember which one needed 1 cup of flour and which needed 1 ½ and so on.   At one point, I panicked thinking I had put no baking powder in one and twice as much in another. Luckily, it worked out. Then, while the corn muffins were in the oven,  I was finishing prepping the corn bread when I looked down at the mix.  It looked as if I had put the milk and egg in there twice which was going to ruin one of the best parts of the meal.  There was no going back so that corn bread went into the oven as it was.  And it came out great! ( The recipe uses cream style corn which gives it moisture and texture and, served warm, can’t be beat.)

So I’m thankful that 16 people, some family, some as good as family, joined me in the fun of looking at the year ahead and back at the one just ended and also thankful for the blessing of the food. Most of all, I know, even if the cornbread had been ruined, all those people would still have been there for me.  How can you beat that?

Final thought:  A quote from Nelson Mandela I used as a theme for today’s celebration:

We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.

Happy New Year!