Thursday, November 13, 2014


We removed as many leaves as feasible from Bella's yard. It took 15 39-gallon trash bags. The only reason I want those leaves raked is to prevent fleas and ticks from living in them and hitching a ride on Bella when she digs through them on her quest for the largest rock her little mouth could carry.

I know, that's a freaky picture; I had it on dramatic setting. See that rock in the right hand corner? That's the latest edition to the pile. Pretty big, huh?

And there lays my dear Max who is sorely missed.

I could never rake up all the leaves from my property. Look at all the trees I have.

See that nest up in that leaning tree? Here's a closer shot.

I always thought it was the ravens' nest, but I discovered today it's the squirrels' home. I saw one leaping from limb to limb with a leave-filled branch from the oak tree in his mouth which he brought to the nest.

I don't quite understand the zeal of people to remove every single leave from their yards. Why? The decaying and decomposing leaves is what makes Appalachia soil so rich as to create a forest unlike any other in the world, except for one small province in China. I watched a documentary on Appalachia recently. I learned that each tree is "designed" to lose their leaves at different intervals from other species. This allows the nutrients from the leaves to sink-in at different intervals, one following the other...mixing, mingling, morphing.

The leaves that wind up in our pond keep the fish fed through the winter, as well as hidden from the long arm of the raccoon. The composted bottom keeps frogs warm, and the tadpoles who emerge in the spring, protected.

I don't have a problem with leaves. I will never own a leaf blower. Sorry if some land on your property, but that's just the nature of things.

I probably should bring my hammock inside before the squirrels cut up the rope for their nest.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Brighton Beach

With winter breathing down my neck I thought I would warm up the day with a couple of shots from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.

On the Brighton Beach Boardwalk looking towards Coney Island. The parachute and ferris wheel  loom ahead.

From Bay Ridge it's a quick jump (if there's no traffic) on the Belt Parkway, a nice drive along the shore, just a couple of exits down. Be warned when exiting the Belt to immediately slow down as NYC has put speed cameras on many of the exits, and if you do go above 25mph, in a couple of weeks you may find yourself the recipient of an expensive love letter...

And just like that...the seasons change...the shore, sun, sky, and sand stay the same, yet, as the sun changes its mood, so does the shore, sun, sky, and sand.

At the top of the shot there are two seagulls standing on each side.

That's the elevated train, now called the B from the D which takes you to Brighton Beach.  I can't figure out why they switched the B & D line names and it drives me crazy,
This used to be the lobby to an old movie theatre, now it's the entrance to an expensive food forum of sorts.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Letting Go

When I handed my son an envelope he asked, "What's this?" "Open it." He read the outside of the "Congratulations, I'm so proud" card and when he looked inside, read my personal note, and saw the bulk of dollars he said, "Mom, you don't have to do this." "It's not my money, it's yours." As he raised an eyebrow I explained, "Remember when you were young and Grandpa would hand you money, or you got gifts for your birthday, Christmas, whatever and you would ask me to hold it...well I did. I put it in a special envelope with your name on it, and always planned to give it to you when the time was right. Well, now that you're moving to Raleigh, the time is right. Just spend it wisely." And with that, the boy burst into tears. And with that, I burst into tears. We hugged each other tightly and cried on each other's shoulders.

My little boy is no longer a little boy. He's a 22 year old grown man and has moved to another state to better himself. There were no opportunities here in Roanoke to have a bright future, and although it has broken my heart, I supported his decision. He was made an offer he couldn't refuse for a position that normally requires a bachelors degree and five years experience. He might not have either, but his boss realized he does have the smarts (paper unnecessary) and a good work ethic (three alarms clocks are necessary) whereby he would be a great asset to the newly formed analyst team. Although I hate that his company chose to move to Raleigh, I am thankful for the relocation package, salary, and promising future they are providing in a technical computer position where my son's interest lies. I've always drilled into my kids' heads if they work at a job they like, it will never feel like work, and that's when they'll be most happy. His girlfriend is joining him so they can lean on each other during this major transition. I hope they will be happy.

And yes, I cried and cried. If my son was a piece of shit I probably would have been happy he left, but he's not. He truly is one of the most kindest and compassionate souls I've ever met, and I say that not just because I'm his mother. I'll never forget when he was in elementary school and was playing in the fields with other kids. There was a pitiful cry and when the children went to see what it was they discovered a bunny tangled in a temporary plastic fence. While other kids laughed and threw rocks at the poor creature, my son ran to the bunny and released him. He was always that way, always a good soul. He never drank, smoked, or did drugs. He was always a leader, not a follower. I hope he always stays that way. I wish his grandfather was here to witness how he turned out. Grandpa always said he was special.

I'll try not to cry any more. I am happy for his success. I have to let go. I am grateful that he's only three hours away and not stationed in a foreign land, or, tragically gone forever. I am fortunate we have a wonderful relationship and I pray we continue to. Most importantly I pray for his safety and well-being. Please Mother Mary, keep a watchful eye over him...

"Good habits formed at youth make all the difference." - Aristotle 

Ain't that the truth!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bay Ridge's Gingerbread House

If you live in Brooklyn, especially in the Bensonhurst/Bay Ridge sections, you've probably visited the Gingerbread House more than once.

It looks like a home taken straight out of a fairy tale and plopped down in the southern tip of Brooklyn.

Built in 1917, this house is on the market for a mere $10.5 million. I wish I had that type of dough because I would buy it in a heartbeat. To see more pics and the inside, click here. It's a beautiful neighborhood to live in with the shore a mere block away.

For Halloween the house across the street has decorated, and based on their warped tastes I wouldn't mind having them as neighbors...

My cuz with the Verrazano Bridge in the background
After taking a couple of shots we jumped on the Belt Parkway and headed to Brighton Beach, passing under my second favorite bridge...the Verrazano.

The ever elusive "Stairway to Heaven" shot. I think every Brooklynite has attempted to capture it.

When I get a chance I'll post the Brighton Beach pics...bye bye Bridge!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Brooklyn Bridge Park

This was the first time I actually got out of a car (found a spot!) and was able to visit Brooklyn Bridge Park located near downtown. All I can say a change from 20 years ago...

A carousel! $2 rides.

Some sort of art installation made for some interesting shots...

Under the Brooklyn trolls.

Manhattan Bridge doesn't get the love like the Brooklyn Bridge does...

Remember these? It's called a bookstore...
Wonder if that's where the cannons were placed...

Waiting on line for pizza from Grimaldi's...must be tourists. New Yorkers only wait on line for Apple products.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Typical Italian Brooklyn Wedding

During Sunday's drive around town my friend and I stumbled upon a wedding being held at Regina Pacis church. This is where my mother's funeral mass was held.

Off to the side of the church is a small basilica honoring Mary where pregnant mothers go to pray for their unborn child. I knelt before her statue during both of my pregnancies and every time I go to Regina Pacis I stop in to say a prayer of thanks. Although I never have, mothers leave photos, notes, and mementos of their children after they are born.

What follows are pictures of what you can expect if you attend a typical Italian wedding in Brooklyn...they're a little different than the ones I've experienced in Southwest Virginia.

The bride and groom will ride in a Rolls Royce.  Parked in front of and behind the RR were two huge fully-loaded tour buses which will transport the guests to and back from the reception. This has become more in vogue since extravagant halls are fewer than they were in the past. Many couples now seek ones in Manhattan, Staten Island, New Jersey, or Long Island. The guests don't have to worry about driving their or home drunk...once they get in their car back at the church, well, that's another story.

The wedding party was taking their sweet time coming out of the church and these two coronet players kept tooting the same notes over and over. I began to feel like I was in a Bugs Bunny cartoon...Lo, the King approacheth! I wonder what these guys got paid.

Yes, those are live doves, but they were the stand-ins. These birds were the ones that were released...
There were six of them, I'm assuming/hope they are trained to go "somewhere safe."
Some of the grooms were out before the rest of the bridal party and it looks as if they were all given monogramed sterling silver flasks as a bridal party gift (we do that up north) which they were already partaking from. 

This bridal party was huge! There had to be at least 15 bridesmaids and grooms, and then a couple of flower girls too. The bride was radiant and those bridesmaids gown were ones you wouldn't be ashamed to wear again.

I bet this was one wild wedding.