Category Archives: Relationships

Listening to Each Other

I hesitated about whether or not to write about this subject, but I made a mistake recently and it’s been on my mind a lot.

The set up and mistake: Hubby and I went to the horse races, and overall, we had a fun day. But, it was very crowded. And everyone was saving seats, so every time we went to sit down on the bleachers, we got “sorry, we’re saving those seats.” My back hurts if I stand for too long a time and hubby’s back hurts no matter what, but is worse with standing. So I get that I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when I asked a man if the seats next to him were saved. His response was “My wife is coming back.” So I asked him if we could sit for just a couple minutes to rest our backs and he was fine with that.

At the other end of the bleachers, a lady offered to scooch together her family so we could crowd in with them. We were very grateful and scooched. I looked to be sure I left a seat for the wife of the nice man who’d let us sit there.

Mistake #1: I didn’t turn to this man and let him know we were staying, that the others had moved down to accommodate us.

Ten minutes later, the man leaned over to me and called me a liar. He reminded me I’d said I was going to sit down for just a couple minutes. I explained then that we’d crammed in with the others on the bench and I’d make sure I left a spot for his wife.

He said “I didn’t say I needed one spot. I said my wife was coming back.”

Mistake #2: I did what I accuse our government of doing. I didn’t listen. I was so stuck on the semantics of his statement vs. the one seat I left, that I couldn’t see past them to understand what the man was saying. And he was not listening to me, either. He just kept saying the same thing, and he called me a liar two more times.

We ended up getting up and moving to stand at the rail, because neither hubby or I wanted an out and out argument. But I spent a lot of time thinking about this. It’s how I learn, so I don’t make the same mistake again.

Neither of us were listening, but I am only concerned with learning from my actions. I did not try to understand his side of things. I intensely dislike divisiveness. Our government drives that dislike home on a regular basis. I keep telling my legislators that I wish they would listen and compromise. Very hypocritical of me since, when put in the same situation, I did exactly what they do. I followed the party line. My line.

What I should have done was 1) told him right away we were sharing with the other end, and 2) I should have listened when he got upset. Had I tuned into to his frustration, I honestly believe I would have simply apologized and moved, and I would have felt good about it.

For now, I’m hoping that putting my apology out on the airwaves is enough. This man was a stranger and I doubt I will ever run into him again. But I am truly sorry I didn’t listen. And I will try harder from now on to stop and think about what someone is saying before responding.

There. That’s it. My personal journey blog. Hopefully, I won’t have to post another one like this for a long, long time. 🙂

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Gallery

“Mish-Mash”

This gallery contains 2 photos.

I have found it difficult this month to write a blog! I had loads of random thoughts (Mish-Mash) about various activities I have done in the past month and cannot focus enough on any of them to develop them fully. … Continue reading

Turkey Stuffing Makes Me Cry by Valerie J. Patterson

Who knew?  I mean it’s not something that’s ever happened before.  I had no idea that stuffing and I were so close it could make me cry.  But it did.  In a very big way.  And I was caught unaware right there in the aisle of the grocery store.  Unaware and unprepared for the force of emotions that washed over me and left me sobbing and left my husband bewildered.

It was a very innocent trip to the store to stock up for Thanksgiving dinner.  Had everything in the cart and turned down the aisle with the bread crumbs and the premixed stuffing selections and the seasonings.  I looked up at the canister of bread crumbs and instantly, tears began to stream down my face as I choked back sobs.  Steve came beside me, placed a hand on my back and rubbed gentle little circles between my shoulder blades.

“What’s wrong?”

“S-s-stuffing…”

“I don’t understand.  What happened?”

“I saw the bread crumbs and it reminded me of my mom.”

“Okay…”

My mom passed away October 20th, and I’m in that phase of mourning where just seeing something or hearing something brings a flood of tears.  Mornings are the worst for me.  I’ll be getting ready for work, see the time on the clock and break down.  But stuffing caught me off guard.

From the time I was old enough to wield a knife, I sat in the kitchen with my mom and dad and–while they did other things–I chopped onion and celery into microscopic slivers for my mom’s homemade turkey stuffing.  Mom liked the flavor of both in her stuffing but hated biting into chunks of either one.  After I got married and moved away, my dad took over my dicing duties unless by some stroke of luck we arrived early enough for me to do the honor.

It’s been many years since I last chopped any onion or celery in my mom’s kitchen, which is why I was taken aback when, right there in the aisle, I was overtaken with emotion.  I guess I just never expected a canister of bread crumbs to affect me in quite a personal way.

Mom was an excellent cook.  She was the best friend I never expected, but was blessed to have.  She was strength and grace and beauty and charm.  She was warm and funny and loving and tough.  She was heart and soul and faith and light.  She was generous and giving and sympathetic and compassionate.  She and my dad were active participants in my life and I have equal parts of both of them inside of me–of the person I am.  And because of all of that, stuffing can make me cry!

I miss my mom.  I will miss her for the rest of my life, but we will meet again, and what a reunion that will be!

2016 has been a year of hard knocks and loss, but it has also been a year of great blessing, and I have much to be thankful for.  And I am indeed thankful.

Until next time, may you always be able to see the blessings in your life and may the memories you share add flavor to your days!

Free at Last, Free at Last!

Jillian here.  The case that has been absorbing my life for the last nine months went to trial today and it is over!! Praise the Lord. I am so relieved. It has absolutely been a nightmare and many nights I have gone home too wiped out to even function much less keep up with my friends and loved ones at home and on the web.

I plan to be able to do a lot more commenting and being supportive than I’ve been able to lately and hope you can all forgive me for being lax and preoccupied. I really didn’t intend to fall off the face of the planet.

And yes, before you have to ask, I won. My client prevailed on everything and I am so very glad that he’s happy with me and my work. He really, really, really wanted to settle the case for some ridiculous amount of money to make it go away and I kept telling him no. He FINALLY let me loose to do my thing and came out better than that settlement.

I made him repeat after me after court, “I will trust my lawyer. Always.”

My adrenaline level is off the charts and I can’t even focus on anything- I am so relieved this is over.  I have my life back!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy September!

 

Okay, decision made…or not!

I have to be the world’s worst decision maker, or that’s how it feels sometimes. Right now I’m trying to make a decision, not a particularly major one, but one that concerns my writing career and so is important to me. Today I’ve driven poor AJ mad with the shall I’s or shan’t I’s. He’s such a patient chap and listens to me (really listens) and then offers his sage advice. In contrast, he’s a ‘think of things from all angles’ man and after due consideration, he makes his decision and sticks to it. No ifs, buts or maybe’s. Oh, how I envy him.

Over the years I’ve tried loads of techniques for making decisions, including the old staple the pros and cons list, the sleep on it, the worst case scenario…but right now a decision is eluding me. There’s always the fear that whatever I decide it will be wrong but by then my fate will be sealed. The following quote I read years ago is guaranteed to send chills down my spine:

“A man spends his life climbing the ladder,
only to find when he reaches the top,
that it’s been against the wrong wall.”

So, what I’m wondering is how do you make decisions? Are you a major to-er and fro-er like me, or do you make decisions fairly easily. If the latter, I’m begging you to let me in on your process. My long suffering hubby will be ever grateful.

George & Louise…A Great Love by Valerie J. Patterson

George and Louise Boldt–their story is one of a great and deeply felt love.  It’s also a tale of tragedy and a future with a broken heart.  George was a poor immigrant in the late 1800s who managed to gain employment at the famous Waldorf Astoria, and later would own it and another hotel here in Pennsylvania.  It was while he was working at the Waldorf that he met Louise Kehrer and fell madly in love with her.  While vacationing in Alexandria Bay, more particularly, the Thousand Islands, he bought Hart Island, which he legally changed to Heart Island.  In 1900, he commenced building a castle there for his lovely Louise to live in.  In 1904, tragedy struck and Louise Boldt died suddenly at the young age of 41.  That same day, George sent a telegram to the island and ordered all construction to cease and all workers to leave the island.  The heartbroken George never stepped foot on Heart Island again.  He never allowed his children or their families to visit the island either.  Boldt Castle was 96% finished the day Louise died, and it would remain unfinished, too.  So great was his love for his wife, and just as great was his pain from losing her, that he could not bear to live there without her.

In 1977, the heirs of George Boldt sold the castle and Heart Island to the state of New York for $1.00 with the following conditions:  1) The castle was to be open to the public and every cent from the sale of tickets was to be put into restoring the castle, which had been vandalized over the decades it remained empty; 2) the restoration was never to go beyond 96% completion, which was the last Louise had ever seen; and 3) no one was ever allowed to live there or stay there.  To date, $38 million have been used in restoring the castle and only one and a half of the 6 floors have been fully restored.

Beginning at the top left corner and continuing clockwise, the photographs are: A view of 75% of Heart Island as seen from our hotel suite’s balcony; the Italian Garden at the rear of the castle with the castle’s power house (also a castle-like structure) in the background; the view of the castle’s main arch entrance where George imagined his guests docking their boats and visiting he and Louise at the castle–to the right is a 6 story playhouse he had designed and constructed for his children and their guests; a rear view of the castle; and, again, the arched entrance to the island.

Steve took me to the Thousand Islands for our anniversary trip, and I was instantly overtaken with the immense love George Boldt had for his wife.  I snapped over 500 photographs, and I apologize that I don’t have a closeup of the front of the castle for you, but those are on another camera card that I have not yet downloaded.

The entire time we were exploring the castle and its grounds on a self-guided tour, Steve and I discussed George and Louise.  All around us were visual signs of their love from heart-shaped flower beds to hand-carved granite benches with huge hearts carved out of the center of each bench’s backrest to the portraits of Louise to the Italian Garden with its carved granite statues.  We wondered what George would think of all the people tramping around the grounds and invading the castle.  We wondered how he would have looked upon the vandalism each room on each floor suffered from careless youths who didn’t know the story behind the castle or perhaps knew it and didn’t care.

As we sat on a magnificent porch, on a heart-shaped bench, I became weepy thinking about George and his immense love of Louise.  With all that Steve has been through this year, perhaps George’s story hit a little too close to home.  Or perhaps I’m just too softhearted and enjoy a good love story.  Maybe a little of both.  One thing I know for certain, George and Louise Boldt are now a part of my own history, and their love story reminds me to be thankful for my own love story!

Finally–so as not to leave on such a sad note–It has been my dream to own an island.  Strange dream, I know.  But ever since I learned that Raymond Burr owned his own island, I’ve wanted to own one myself.  During our stay in Alexandria Bay, we came to learn that there were 3 islands for sale.  The first one we saw had a price of $1.4 million.  The second one we saw had the hefty price tag of $5.5 million.  And the third one was selling for $80,000.  I’ll leave you with the photo of the third island, which is still swimming around in my thoughts as a possibility!

DSCN1396

It’s not the size of the house that matters, but rather the island itself that remains important to me.  <grin>

Until next time, may you be as loved as Louise!!  ❤

Boldt Castle

It’s Ladies’ Night by Valerie J. Patterson

It’s ladies’ night!  Oh what a night!

Last month I invited the ladies from the office over for a little dinner and some poker.  I expected it to be a good night.  I expected us to have a couple hours of playing cards, eating, and talking.  I expected everyone to have a good time.

I was wrong…

It was a great night!  It was several hours of non-stop laughter and shenanigans!  And everyone had a fantastic time!

I can’t wait to do it again!

Oh my!  Put five ladies in a room together, add a deck of cards, some poker chips, food, snacks, wine, and dessert [and a charming male who makes intermittent appearances throughout the evening] and you have the recipe for an exceptional evening!

We ate.  We played poker.  We ate again.  We played poker.  We ate again.  We played more poker.  We talked about everything under the sun, laughed at ourselves, discussed work for perhaps 30 seconds, and then went straight into carrying on again.

Did I mention we played poker and ate?

It’s good to get together and get away from the stress of the job, the worries of the family, and just relax and laugh and share…and be with other women who understand that we all need to escape once in a while, let our hair down, and be completely at ease being who we are individually.

The time passed so quickly that evening, but oh my how fun it was to be there in the midst of it all as one of the gals!

Until next time, may you gather your friends together, laugh until the cows come home, and play a little poker!