Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Taking a Leap

Today is February 29, "Leap Day," which is an extra day added during a Leap Year. Every four years is a Leap Year in our modern Gregorian calendar, and so in 2012 there are 366 days instead of the usual 365.

Now I'm going to play Bill Nye the Science Guy and explain that the earth actually turns roughly 365 and a quarter times on its axis, not just 365 times, by the time it has completed a full year's orbit around the sun. So that means that periodically, the calendar has to catch up. Thus, the invention of Leap Years.

There is an interesting 5th century Irish legend regarding Leap Day. The story goes that St. Brigid (or Bridget) complained to St. Patrick about how unfair it was for women to have to wait so long for a man to propose. So St. Patrick struck a deal with her and said that on this one day in February during Leap Year, females could be the ones to propose. I suppose the point was to balance the traditional roles of men and women, just as Leap Day balances the calendar; but I'd call putting that gutsy role-reversal into practice taking a giant leap of faith. Men who refused such a proposal (I'd call that saying "you can go take a flying leap") on Leap Day, also known as "Bachelor's Day," had to pay a penalty.

There are records of the practice in 13th century Scotland as well. Women were allowed to propose marriage to the man of their choice on Leap Day, and it was actually made law that any man who declined such a proposal must pay a fine--it could be simply a kiss, or payment for a pair of gloves or a silk gown. (Do you suppose that some gals might have proposed to guys they knew would turn them down just to get themselves fancy new frocks?)

I'm surprised that St. Brigid pushed for such a thing, actually, because I think even in our modern world, women--even those who call themselves feminists--like the idea of the man being the one who's down on one knee, with a diamond ring in his hand. I admit that I'm an old-fashioned girl and I like the traditional way. What do you think? Should marriage proposals come from ring-bearing men on bended knees, or should women be allowed (that's the wrong word to use in this day and age, but you know what I mean) to do the asking?

It just occurred to me that if only I'd been born on a Leap Day, I'd be going on 14 right now instead of going on 54. But I guess it doesn't really work that way, does it? Ah, well. We won't have another day like this until 2016--so until then, Happy Leap Day!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wise Words from WTP

I believe that Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne's lovable "Bear of Very Little Brain," is one of the wisest philosophers of all time. I ran across some quotes from good old Pooh Bear recently, and in light of how I've been feeling the past few days, they were right on target.

You see, I'm sad because on Saturday I had to say goodbye to my two little peanuts, after having the privilege of spending three whole weeks in their company.

I miss my sweet Bonny Babe:

I miss my impish little Kewpie:

Look at them: they're feeding themselves solid food already! (If baby rice rusks can be considered actual food...) In the three weeks I spent with them, they seemed to be growing and changing before my eyes! What next? Walking? Talking? Leaving for college? And because of the distance between us, with every goodbye I'm aware that the next time I see them, they'll be different--and they may not remember me.

But how lucky I am to have these two granddaughters! To quote Winnie the Pooh: "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

He's a wise old soul, our Pooh. He also said this, which perfectly describes what's in my full-to-bursting heart when I look at these pictures of the girls: "Some people care too much. I think it's called love."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Long Road Home

Sunday morning, from the Marriott Courtyard near the Atlanta airport:
Early Saturday morning, after spending three grand weeks with them, I said a sad farewell to my twin granddaughters (their mommy and daddy, too). The plan was for me to fly from a tiny regional airport in AL to Boston (with a stop in Atlanta) and meet up with my husband, who was returning from a trip to Amsterdam, and then we were going to drive home from there together...But after getting as far as Atlanta, I got stuck. Every single flight from that uber-crowded airport (a real people watcher's paradise!) to Boston--or NY, or pretty much everywhere that would help me get further north--was overbooked, and it soon became obvious that there was no way I was going to get out of there that day. So instead of heading to Boston after his overseas flight landed in NY, my husband flew down to Atlanta for a "date night" with me (dinner at the airport Chili's) so I wouldn't have to spend the night alone in the hotel.

That's right: we met for a date in Atlanta. I think that officially makes us a couple of jet-setters.

The last thing my husband wants to do when he's returning from a three-day trip, tired and anxious to get home, is board another airplane--heading in the wrong direction! But he made that sacrifice for me. I may have said this before, but he's my hero.

Oh, the joys of non-revving (being a non-revenue passenger flying stand-by)! The perk of free airline tickets for airline employees and their families is an enviable one, I know; without it, there is no way I would have been able to see my darling Bonnie Babe and Kewpie (the baby formerly known as Cutie Pie) as often as I have since they made their entrance into the world in June of 2011. But it can be a real pain in the neck sometimes. When you're non-revving, it's always advisable to have a good, long book with you, in case you get bumped from a flight and have to kill a lot of time at the airport waiting to try for the next one. That being said, even paying customers are sometimes inconvenienced these days. On Saturday, harried gate agents in Atlanta were offering cash and other enticing rewards to volunteers willing to give up their seats on the flights I was hoping to get on; and right there I knew that I, a mere lowly non-revver, didn't have a chance in h-e-double toothpicks of ending up with a seat.

Oops, better end here--it's time to head over to the airport.

Continued, Monday morning from home sweet home:
Well, I made it! It was a long road (make that sky) home for me--four legs in all, from a small regional airport in AL to Atlanta to NY to Boston--but my husband and I were together for the last two legs, and by Sunday afternoon, we were safely back in the beloved nest we've been feathering for the past 21 years. I am so happy that I was able to help my son and his wife as they went through the process of setting up their temporary home in AL, but it's good to be home. And I can't wait until they, too, get to set down permanent roots for their wonderful little family.

My fear of flying has been well-documented on this blog, so if you've read it much you know that this four-leg trip home was no picnic for me. But I must say, I've spent so much time on airplanes the past two years or so that I'm beginning to cope with the fear a lot better than I used to. And this may sound strange, but while I don't enjoy flying, I do love airports. Not puny ones that offer little more than a vending machine to weary travelers, like the one in AL that I flew out of on Saturday; I mean big ones, like the airport in Atlanta. I love having enough time between flights to grab a coffee and browse through the little shops, especially the bookstores. I found my husband's favorite cowboy hat, a beautiful brown leather one, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport; I've found some of the best books I've ever read at various airport bookstores. At the airport, I feel like I'm on the streets of some shiny little city (where all the residents are always in a big hurry), and strolling along those busy streets seems fun, especially as it delays--for a little while, at least--the inevitable dreaded flight to come. My husband does not share this feeling with me, understandably, because his job requires him to spend more time in airports than any human being should have to spend. He'd rather have somewhat tight but workable connections between flights, thank you very much. But I love airports, I do. I must be some kind of weirdo.

While walking through the Atlanta airport Saturday, waiting for my husband to arrive, I saw a storefront that reminded me of home.

Years ago, I painted similar trompe l'oeil exposed bricks on some walls in my family room and kitchen. (My youngest son, a grade schooler at the time, asked me why I wanted to make our house look like it was falling apart. He just didn't get it.)So when I saw that charming airport candy store with the same decorative paint effect, I just had to take a picture of it. See, this is why I enjoy spending time at the airport. I'd so much rather look at cute little shops than clouds...or fields that really do resemble a patchwork quilt...or cars and houses the size of Monopoly pieces...

How about you? What would you rather do: fly, or hang out in an airport? (Go ahead, discuss. Tawk amongst yourselves.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Missing Ronald Reagan

Our Lord died for us; now we must fight for Him!

Back in March of 2011, when I decided to become a blogger and sat down to write my first post for "String of Pearls," I made a decision to steer clear of political topics and keep my humble little blog focused on matters of Faith, family, and a smattering of other safe topics that interest me--like art, books, sports, crafts, recipes, etc. With only one or two brief hints about how I feel regarding certain hot-button issues that dominate the news these days (they snuck in there somehow, despite my best efforts), I have held strong to my original plans for this blog.

But I can't really keep quiet now. The president has brazenly declared war on the Catholic Church and her followers. On all Americans, really; because if he wins this war, the effects will ultimately be felt by people of all creeds: they will realize what has been lost is the cherished freedom of religion that was granted to each and every citizen in this great land of ours via the First Ammendment to the Constitution. President Obama did promise us, when he was campaigning to win the 2008 election, that he would "fundamentally change" our country; so it should come as no surprise that he is actually setting out to do just that. For those who were seduced by the mantra of "hope and change," I can only think of that old saying: be careful what you wish for.

If you own a T.V. set or a computer, or you read a daily newspaper, you've probably heard that President Obama plans to force Catholic hospitals to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion services as part of basic "health care" for their employees. If they refuse to comply (as they should, in good conscience) they would have a choice: to pay burdensome fines; or to fire all non-Catholic employees and hire only Catholic ones (and furthermore, they would no longer be allowed to treat non-Catholic patients). If this bill is passed, Catholic institutions that have served so many for so long could be forced to close their doors under the financial strain caused by these new restrictions. The Catholic Church is the largest private provider of health care in this country; there are more than 600 Catholic hospitals in the U.S., serving 5.5 million patients (roughly 20% of all hospital admissions). The closing of so many hospitals would be truly devastating. Since President Obama can't possibly wish to lose all those hospitals (can he?), he must be banking on the belief that Catholic hospital administrators will cave under the pressure, give in, and start offering employee health coverage for drugs and procedures that go directly against the teachings of the Church. Other private Catholic institutions, like parochial schools, are also being targeted in the president's plan.

The U.S. Catholic bishops are understandably outraged; they have formed a united front in trying to fight President Obama's anti-Catholic directive, and they're calling on the faithful to speak out against this attack on their freedoms. Of course, the best way to make voices heard loud and clear is at the voting booths in November.

Catholics should be outraged, right along with their bishops, about the president's attempt to strip them of the freedom to practice their religion in peace, without government interference. And Americans of other faiths should be very afraid of what it could mean for them, too, sometime in the not-too-distant future, if President Obama is successful in his attempt to cripple the Catholic Church in America.

I don't know about you, but right now I'm missing our 40th president, Ronald Reagan, who was quoted as saying, "Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged." That right there says it all, doesn't it? We could really use another leader like him.

(By the way, if you want to read a great book about Reagan that will turn you into a fan if you aren't one already, I recommend When Character Was King, by Peggy Noonan.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lenten Sacrifices

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and I attended noon Mass at the Army chapel--on the post where my oldest son is currently stationed--with my daughter-in-law. The priest solemnly traced the Sign of the Cross in ashes on our foreheads. These black crosses clearly remind all who see them that the wearers are well aware of their sinful human nature, their need for repentance, and most of all, their need for Christ's saving grace. Ash Wednesday begins the 40 days of Lent, wherein faithful Catholics try to prepare their souls to better celebrate the death and Resurrection of Jesus through fasting (on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), abstinence from meat (on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays), prayer, and sacrifices.

This year, I've chosen to give up Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, which sounds like a pretty paltry sacrifice to make, but is actually very difficult for me. Diet soda is my favorite beverage, other than that greatest of all liquid refreshments, coffee (which I've never seriously considered giving up, because I am weak and I know I would most likely not make it until Easter without falling off the wagon). I count on that calorie-free treat to give me a little cold, bubbly lift when I need it, and to keep me from snacking on fattening goodies between meals. I worry that without it, I'm going to pack on some extra pounds. But if I can't give up diet soda for a mere 40 days, joyfully and without complaint, to show my love for my Savior (who gave His life for me!), then how pathetic am I?

Pretty pathetic, actually: when I passed by the soda cooler near the register as I checked out at Wal-Mart this afternoon, I looked at it longingly and even thought for a second that maybe it wasn't too late to decide to give up something else instead. It is day 2 of Lent. Obviously, I have a very long way to go if I hope to one day find myself in the company of the saints.

We have been taught that God is merciful and loving; that He is patient; that He wants all of us to be joined with Him in Heaven in the next life. As I go through another Lenten season "suffering" because I have a ridiculous, constant craving for a diet soda fix and I can't satisfy it, I'll be hoping, as I do each year, that this will be the year I'll see some progress in my struggle to become a better person, a person worthy of God's love. I may not make that much headway, but here's the beautiful thing: I know that in spite of the fact that I'm not worthy, He loves me anyway.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I hope my daughter-in-law will forgive me for tampering with this sweet recent photo of her reading to the twins. I did so for two reasons: one, when she reads books to her baby girls, I am reminded of the movie "You've Got Mail" (a classic!)--that is, of Meg Ryan playing story lady Kathleen Kelly reading aloud to a group of kids at her bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, wearing a conical damsel's hat; and two, I just discovered this wondrous thing on my computer called "paint," which allows you to do all sorts of crazy things to your photos. Like give people silly hats. It only took me about thirty tries to produce this decidedly unprofessional-looking doctored photo, but it's a start.  (And it's kinda cute, isn't it?)
My girl, reading a book to her girls.
My not-quite-nine-month-old granddaughters are a couple of lucky ducks indeed, because their momma is a librarian--and that means she loves books and realizes how important they are. She reads to the girls all the time, and she knows which books are their favorites and which ones they get bored with. She reads stories to them with enthusiasm and accents and voice inflections, and those two babies sit stock still and become completely enthralled. Even when they're fussy, they will calm down almost immediately when she gets out one of their beloved books and begins to read.

My daughter-in-law not only reads multiple times daily to the babies, she also sings to them all the time. And again, they're extremely lucky--because she sings like an angel, or, as I like to tell her, a Disney princess. She has the most beautiful, clear, sweet voice. My son croons for his baby girls, too, right along with her--and hearing my boy sing soft bedtime songs to his wee daughters is indeed music to my ears; but--how do I put this gently?--let's just say that his talented duet partner elevates his performances a great deal!

As my time here in AL with my oldest son, his wife, and the twins draws to a close (I head back home--where I haven't been since the 7th--on Saturday), I intend to sit in on as many storytimes as I can...and even read a few books to the babies myself, while I still have the chance!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Move Over, Gerber Baby

Back at Christmastime, when all the relatives got an eyeful of my now eight-and-a-half-month-old identical twin granddaughters for the first time, many of them made the comment, "They look like Gerber babies!" It's true. Like that iconic image on all those baby food labels (the famous drawing of that adorable, wide-eyed baby, created way back in 1928), my granddaughters have big, blue eyes with long, dark lashes. They have round, rosy cheeks, button noses, and the most perfectly-shaped little Cupid's bow lips. But here's the one difference between the Gerber baby and the Pearl babies: the Pearl babies are infinitely more beautiful! (Said Grammy objectively, as a completely unbiased and innocent bystander. Hey, I just calls 'em as I see 'em.) Well, if I'm being honest, there's one more difference: the Gerber baby has more hair than my little darlings. They are still a tad on the bald side--but otherwise, in a cuteness contest with the Gerber baby, they would win hands down.

It's late, so I'm going to keep this brief tonight. Here in AL, where we're on Central time, it's about 9:15 p.m. I used to think that was much too early to turn in for the night; but I've decided that when you live in a household with twin babies, you get so tired by the end of the day that 9:15 is actually way past your bedtime!

I'll just wrap this post up with a close-up of one of my precious little girls, as proof of my above claims. This photo, taken this morning, happens to be of Bonny Babe, the "older" twin. (It's a bit blurry, because she was happily bopping up and down in her walker chair.)

Isn't she something else? Shouldn't this face be on baby food jars? Move over Gerber baby: there's a new kid in town! (Make that kids. New kids. Two of them.)

Hush hush, now; it's sleepy time. Good night!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Be Not Afraid

This will have to be a quickie tonight. I'm all tuckered out after another great day with my little darlings, my twin granddaugthers Bonny and Kewpie. Grammy is having a wonderful time at their house, lending a hand when I can so that their mom and dad can get all settled into their new digs. But by 8:00 or 9:00 every night, I'm ready to hit the sack! I never go to bed this early at home (at least not intentionally; I mean, I do often nod off on the couch when I'm watching T.V. with my husband...but I like to think of myself as a night owl nonetheless).


Yesterday, I attended Sunday Mass with my son, his wife, and their two baby girls at a Catholic church near his current Army post. This is a statue located in the foyer of the church: it depicts Our Lord, with a look of great love and compassion on His face, hugging a weary American soldier. I wanted to post something patriotic today, since it's Presidents' Day, and I decided that this photo fit the bill to a T. It's a comforting reminder that when our men and women in uniform are in harm's way, Jesus is always there with them, watching over them and ready to answer all their prayers. It makes me think of that hymn that goes, "Be not afraid, I go before you always..."Isn't this a beautiful statue? I just love it, and I wanted to share it with you.

God bless our troops, and God bless the U.S.A.!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Living, Breathing Kewpie Doll

The younger of my twin granddaughters (by a whole two minutes) is a living, breathing Kewpie doll--as in one of those figurines made to resemble the artwork of Rose O'Neill, whose comic strip-like illustrations of the rosy-cheeked, bare nakey imps first appeared in Ladies Home Journal in 1909. Her older sister, known in this blog as "Bonny Babe," breaks into wide, open-mouthed, lower toofy-baring smiles at the drop of a hat; but you have to work a little harder to get one of those out of the baby girl I've been calling "Cutie Pie." She does bestow them upon you sometimes; but she's more apt to study you, with a serious expression on her exquisite little face, while you work diligently at making silly faces and funny noises to coax a smile out of her. Then you're most often rewarded with a shy, tight-lipped little grin--just like the one in the picture on the left here. (Her parents call this her coy smile; I'm going to call it her Kewpie doll smile--and in fact, I think I'm going to change her blog nickname to "Kewpie.")

I say this coming from the perspective of being the grandma, who hasn't been around enough to have fully made my way into her trusted inner circle yet. Her mommy and daddy can make her face break wide open quite a bit more easily than I can. I do get those huge, gummy smiles from my Cutie Pie now and again, and when I do, I'm on cloud 9. But I love the Kewpie doll smiles, too. They are uniquely hers, and it's interesting to see that even with identical twins, there are very distinct, individual personalities.
So here she is, ladies and gentlemen, the baby formerly known as Cutie Pie: my little Kewpie! (If you're not smiling now, then I don't know what's wrong with you!)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Same Hats, Bigger Heads

I took this photo of my twin granddaughters five and a half months ago, when Papa and I were visiting them and their mommy (at their Nonna and Grandpa's house out in the Midwest), not long before their daddy, our oldest son, got back for good from his year-long deployment in Afghanistan. They're wearing some pretty, colorful cotton sunbonnets stitched up for them by one of their mommy's friends. Just a few months earlier when we put these same hats on them to take them for a stroller walk, they were comically big on the girls' tiny, newborn infant heads. Here, at three months old, they fit just about perfectly.

Now check out the photo I took of my little cuties on our walk yesterday, once again wearing those very same sunbonnets. The girls live a lot closer to the Equator down here in their new home state, "Alabama the Beautiful" (that's the slogan on the AL license plates), than they did at their old home in Upstate NY, so we thought their fair heads should have a little protection from the sun. Those bonnets don't fit quite as well as they used to, as you might have noticed! The babies' adorable noggins (and all of their other adorable parts, too) have grown quite a bit since the above photo was taken! But even in outgrown headgear, they're quite a pair of dolls, aren't they?

Their mommy did, however, send Daddy out to buy some bigger sunbonnets, and I must say that the new ones are pretty ding-dang stylish. I was hoping to stroll the girls all over the neighborhood today, sporting their new haberdashery; but it rained cats and dogs incessantly, and it still hasn't let up. The poor things were bare-headed and housebound all day long. Oh well, I should have plenty of opportunities to see them in those new hats during the week ahead, before I head back home to New England next Saturday.

But I'll miss these little sunbonnets. They've become a symbol for me of how fast time flies...and how quickly my grandbabies are growing up!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Beer Snobbery

Last night, my oldest son and his wife ended a long and exhausting day--a taxing day, by anyone's standards--by having a beer together. Lest you think that the stress caused by watching every available inch of their little townhouse fill up with boxes after the moving van arrived in the morning--while at the same time caring for time-demanding twin baby girls who haven't gotten used to their new surroundings yet--was driving them to drink, fear not. They both just really enjoy the taste of a good glass of beer. Not just any beer, however. These kids are a couple of beer snobs, and I say that with love, knowing that they would proudly agree. Neither of them would be satisfied with a brew as mundane as a Bud or--dare I say it?--a Miller Lite (did I just hear a collective gasp of horror from my Pearl sisters-in-law?). And my #1 son would literally shudder with revulsion if offered a Natty Lite, the wallet-friendly brand that was beloved by son #3 and his cohorts in their halcyon college days. He has higher standards than your average Joe Undergrad when it comes to beer, thank you very much. My firstborn uses terms that might as well be a foreign language to me, like "IPA's" and "stouts" and "pilsners" and "wheat beers" (wheat? I thought all beer came from barley and hops!), and he likes obscure microbrewery beers that his less discerning brothers have never even heard of.

To give you an idea of the kind of suds my son and his sweet bride prefer, look at the above picture of the beautiful beer bottles they opened up last night. These two flavor sensations, "Don de Dieu" ("Gift of God") and "La Fin du Monde" ("The End of the World"), are made by a company called Unibroue (pronounced "Unibrow"), which, if the names of the beers are any indication, is French. My son informed me that these particular beers taste best when served in wine glasses rather than your typical pint glasses. Ooh, la-dee-da! I can just hear what my fourth son would say about such a highfalutin' type of brewski, employing his best imitation of a pompous, nose-in-the-air, quasi-British accent: "Hmmm. Juilliard." (You must realize that for this funny son of mine, the very mention of Juilliard somehow conjures up images of snootiness and snobbery.) But my oldest son just chuckles at such jibes. They don't bother him a bit.

The Pearl family is filled with beer fans of all types. My husband's favorites are the Canadian ones, eh, like Labatt Blue and Molson Golden. All of my boys enjoy a cold one now and again, whether it be a Blue Moon or a Corona or whatever you happen to have in the fridge. And pretty much all of my husband's siblings know their way around a keg or an Irish pub. I've never been much of a beer drinker myself; in my old age, however, I am shocked to discover that I've learned to like the occasional dark brown Guinness--maybe because it reminds me of two of my greatest loves, chocolate and coffee. But my oldest son has taken beer appreciation to a whole new level: for him, it's a passion, a hobby--a science, even. He's a frugal guy, loath to spend a penny more than he has to on any new article of clothing for himself. I mean, he's still wearing a pair of shoes that he had in high school, and he graduated in 2002! But he doesn't like to scrimp when it comes to beer. He and his wife are self-avowed hoity-toity beer snobs, after all.

Hmmm. Juilliard.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Happy Campers

Here is a picture of the twins, lounging on the rug in their new townhouse. This was one of the times the little campers were their happy selves, during a day filled with maybe a little TOO much excitement and disruption. The movers came this morning not long after this picture was taken, and now there are boxes, boxes...everywhere! Both of the girls seemed to need their mommy a lot today, and at the same time, of course. So it's been a bit crazy around here. But tonight, Mommy, Daddy, and Grammy don't have to sleep on air mattresses on the floor--we have beds! So I think the big people are going to be happy campers when we turn in for the night.

Among the many sacrifices that military families make, they have to move a lot more than most of us do. My son and his wife are busy tearing through boxes and setting up this house, knowing that it's possible they'll be moving to a new duty station when he finishes the six-month Army school he came here to attend. They hope he'll be able to stay on at this post for an added two years, but they have no guarantees. All I can say is God bless them both, and God bless all those who serve us as they do.

And while I'm at it, let me add: God bless mothers--and fathers--of multiples! I didn't know how easy I had it having only one baby at a time!

I'm just so proud of my son and his wife for the way they handle everything that's thrown at them, from deployment separations to cross-country moves to the exhausting demands of twin baby girls--and they do it with grace and humor. No wonder these little girls have smiles that would light up a room!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Love...

Once again, I'm iBlogging from my iPhone, because I can't seem to get the internet up and running on my laptop. What I'm doing here is totally lifting a cool idea from one of my favorite bloggers, Ree Drummond (of "Pioneer Woman" fame). She did a post recently titled "I Love," where she made a list, in random order, of her favorite people and things. It got me thinking about everything I love, and I decided to make my own list. Sue me--I'm a big time copycat. Oh no, do you think Ree Drummond might sue me? I mean, isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery and all that jazz?

Anyway, here goes. These are not necessarily in order, mind you, but I love...

My boyfriend/Snooks/hero--that is, my husband
My five sons (all equally favorites)
My sweet daughter-in-law (the very daughter I would have chosen for myself)
My twin granddaughters (two wee angels!)
My Catholic Faith
Beautiful, ornate churches
Our Blessed Mother
The Rosary
Statues of the saints
My sibs
My husband's sibs
My parents
My husband's late parents
St. Therese the Little Flower
St. Joseph
Sitting by a roaring fire, while it snows outside
Curling up with a good book
Gone with the Wind
To Kill a Mockingbird
Pride and Prejudice
Wuthering Heights
Movie nights with my husband/family
"Groundhog Day"
"It's a Wonderful Life"
"A Christmas Story"
"Christmas Vacation"
"Tommy Boy"
"Dumb and Dumber"
Sweater twin-sets
My twin granddaughters (did I say that already?)
Peanut butter
Nativity sets
Christmas trees
Christmas stockings
Easter baskets
Balsamic vinegar dressing
Bacon and eggs
Cinnamon coffee cake
Doughnuts (Dunkin', that is)
Cafe au lait, en France
Boston Red Sox
New England Patriots
Notre Dame
Notre Dame football
The grotto at Notre Dame
Football tailgaters
Ballet flats
Pearl necklaces and earrings
My Miraculous Medal
The 10 Commandments
50's fashions
Anything old, antique, or "vintage"
Soft-serve vanilla ice cream cones
Cake (with lots of buttercream frosting)
Warm chocolate chip cookies
Grilled chicken breasts
Baked potatoes
Sea salt
Bailey's Irish Cream
Irish humor
Having my whole family together (tough to achieve these days!)
Laughing 'til I cry
Comedian Jim Gaffigan
Comedian Brian Regan
Flying business class (but not flying)
Turbo Jam work-outs
Family weddings (and receptions)
Country music
Michael Buble
Zac Brown Band
Phil Vassar
The Cars (80's music at its finest)
Pro-life politicians (that rarest of breeds)
Sheath dresses
Trench coats
Jackets and coats of all kinds
Taking photos
Photo albums
Baby books
Rowdy, rambunctious little boys
T.V. that makes you laugh
"Arrested Development" (eminently quotable!)
"Seinfeld" re-runs
Downhill skiing
Whiteface Mt.
Lake Champlain
Chips and salsa
Babies (guess I already said that)
My sons' dry humor
The gap between my husband's front teeth
My husband's dreamy blue eyes
The fact that my boys are groaning because of that last one
Being married to my best friend
Being a mother--and now a grandmother
Garden tomatoes
Historical fiction
Great love stories

...Okay, I believe I have begun to repeat myself; I' d better end here. I could go on and on...and on. Oh, sorry: I already did that. Well, how about you? What do you love?


This is a first for me: attempting to do a blog post using the most marvelous gadget I've ever owned--the iPhone4 my wonderful hubby got me for Christmas. (I didn't think I really needed one or would use it that much--but oh, how wrong I was!)

I can't seem to get internet service on my laptop right now, so I'm using my iPhone as a mini-computer. I haven't figured out how to get pictures off the camera roll of this iPhone to add them to a post (I'm still pretty n00bish when it comes to technology), so I can't show you the latest shots of my little sweeties, my twin granddaughters Bonny Babe and Cutie Pie. Sorry 'bout that! They're being particularly adorable these days, too. Oh well, the movers come tomorrow, and with them, my son's wireless modem; so perhaps I'll be blogging from my laptop in the days to come, complete with pictures.

But in the meantime, here's a shout-out to my husband, the iMan extraordinaire (who's back home in New England, getting ready to go back to work): thanks for this amazing iPhone. And as always, you're my hero.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sister Act

Literally moments before I snapped these two pictures this morning, the twins were face-to-face on the carpet, propped up in a crawling position, looking right at each other--and they began to smile and laugh and "talk" to each other (make that screech with excitement at each other). It would remind you in a way of that hilarious YouTube video that went viral not that long ago--the one of the twins in diapers having a long "conversation," going back and forth in a language that only the two of them could understand. Unfortunately, I didn't have either my iPhone or my camera handy, and my wee granddaughters' conversation was a brief one; so I missed capturing this adorable sister act on film for posterity. But Papa and I were thrilled to be there to witness it. Apparently this is the first time they have really done this. Up until this point, they've been mostly sort of ignoring each other and going their own ways; but this morning they suddenly discovered that they each have a sister friend! How exciting!

The twins seem to like their new townhouse in AL--especially since there isn't any furniture in it yet (the moving van is on the way), and they can roll all around on the carpet to their hearts' content without bumping into anything. And let me tell you, these two are a couple of rolling machines these days! They haven't perfected the art of crawling yet; but they hardly need to, since they've become so adept at rolling.

This house is actually more baby- and toddler-friendly than the one they left in NY, so we think they're going to be very happy in their new home sweet home (Alabama). The bottom line, though, is that they could probably be happy almost anywhere: after all, no matter where life takes them, they'll both always have a built-in playmate. And friends will come and go, but sisters are forever.

(Oh, and by the way: HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!)

Monday, February 13, 2012

From Atlanta, with Love

Apparently, all the cuteness to be found in Atlanta today is in a hotel room at a Courtyard Marriott, right across the hall from the room that Papa and Grammy are occupying.

What makes me say this, you ask? How can every single bit of cuteness in the entire city of Atlanta be located in one place? If it's proof you need, I give you these two pictures, snapped this morning as my twin granddaughters played in their Pack 'n Plays while their mommy and daddy were packing up their bags and getting ready to go:

That's Bonny Babe on the top, and her equally adorable and irresistible sister Cutie Pie on the bottom. Yep, they're the two cutest things you'll see in Atlanta today, the two cutest babies this side of the Mississippi (or the other side, for that matter). They're Southern belles now, Alabama-bound.

Once we get on the road, it's only a four-hour drive until we reach their new home. But for now, I send you greetings (and incomparable cuteness) from Atlanta, with love.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Our Lady of Lourdes (Continued)

After we got back on the road today, I realized that I'd forgotten to add a little prayer to this morning's blog post about Our Lady of Lourdes.

My husband and I, our son and his wife, and our twin granddaughters are now settled in for the night at our hotel outside Atlanta, so I thought I'd quickly post the prayer. About four hours after we leave here tomorrow morning, we will arrive at our destination: our oldest son's condo in Alabama. I'm not quite sure when I will have internet access again, as he's going to have to arrange to have that hooked up after he and his family move into their new place. So just in case this is my last post for a few days, I thought there was no better way to sign off for awhile than with a prayer to Our Lady.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
You are the hope of sinners and the comforter of the afflicted. Through your intercession I ask for health and strength of body. Bless me with peace of mind so that I can grow in wisdom and remain open to God's will. Grant your motherly intercession to all who are sick in body, mind, or spirit. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes

I don't want to spend too much time blogging this morning, since we are visiting with my sister-in-law and her family and we'll be getting on the road soon to complete another four-hour leg of our trip. But I did want to post a prayer in honor of the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, which was celebrated in the Catholic Church yesterday.

In 1858, Our Lady appeared to a poor, humble peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous--who of course was later canonized and is known today as Saint Bernadette. This was the first and most widely recognized Marian apparition of modern times. Our Lady, calling herself the "Immaculate Conception," spoke to young Bernadette in the girl's native Basque, delivering a message for the world about the merits of prayer, penance, poverty, and church. She also told the future saint that she would not "find happiness in this world, but only in the next."

This story, as well as the story of Mary's apparitions to the three shepherd children at Fatima in 1917, touched me deeply as a child. I always thought that it would be so wonderful to have Mary appear to me and speak to me, and I sometimes stared at the statue of Her at my parish church, willing Her to come to life. But of course only a chosen few very special and holy souls have been afforded this supreme gift--and those who receive it are also usually required to bear the sorts of sufferings that most of us could not bear. Far from saintlike myself, I must rely on prayers to Saint Bernadette, along with Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother, and all the other holy saints in Heaven, to help me as I struggle here--so that hopefully, I too might find happiness in the next world.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us! Saint Bernadette, pray for us!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Road Trip: Third Leg

Well, we did another four-hour leg of our road trip today, and we've arrived safely at my sister-in-law's house in North Carolina. (She--along with her wonderful family--is the latest Pearl on the long family string who just happens to be right on our route as we travel south towards my oldest son's new duty station in Alabama.)

Just after we passed over the border into NC, we pulled off at a visitor's information center so that my son and his wife could feed the twins. This was no average highway rest area; it was more like your grandma's cozy living room, furnished with a comfy couch and a pair of club chairs, an Oriental rug, an electric fireplace, a T.V.--and to top it off, there was a jumbled collection of country decorations, paintings, and antiques scattered about. (The rest area doubled as a gift shop, actually; all those cute, homespun objects d'art were for sale. I almost bought some rooster-themed gifts for my VA sister-in-law, whose house we just left this morning, but then realized I'd have no room in my suitcase for them when I fly back home in a couple of weeks.)This adorable rest area just screamed "Southern hospitality." I'd never seen anything like it, and I've been on a lot of cross-country road trips in my day. It was the most welcoming visitors/welcome center you could possible imagine--right down to the two grandmotherly old ladies (with the cutest Southern accents) behind the desk who oohed and aahed over the twins and made all of us feel right at home. If they'd offered us homemade apple pie, that would have completed the whole "this is just too good to be true" experience.

We have been truly blessed on this trip, and we're down to just two more four-hour legs before we reach our final destination. The babies have been a couple of troopers, despite being cooped up in their car seats for long stretches; we've been able to have some great visiting time with family; and the weather has been cooperative. Life is good! But keep those prayers coming, if you don't mind.

(By the way, today is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. More on that tomorrow.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Road Trip: Second Leg

The twins, playing on a blanket in their  great-aunt's basement--with
their two best guys, Daddy and Papa.
Well, yesterday we left PA in the morning and drove another four hours before arriving safely in Charlottesville, VA--the second stop on our road trip south with our oldest son, his wife, and his eight-month-old twin girls. Being in the car for two days in a row was getting pretty old by that point, and the babies were more than ready to get out of their car seats by the time we reached our destination; so it's nice that today, we're planning to hang out here and give them a break before we hit the old dusty trail again tomorrow.

I can't imagine a more perfect place to give the twins a nice, long respite than right where we are now, at my husband's sister's house. Her entire basement is set up as a "mother-in-law apartment," complete with a huge bedroom, two baths, a living room/T.V. watching area, and a fully functional kitchen. My son and his little family are very comfortably settled in down there, where there is plenty of floor space for the babies' pack 'n play cribs--and for playing (as you can see in the above picture).

We had a wonderful dinner last night at the home of sons #3 and 4, who live in a condo a stone's throw from their aunt. The two bachelors made marinated roasted chicken breasts and salad, their cousin brought asparagus, and all my husband and I had to contribute was the bread. The food was delightful, and the boys had their dining area set up so that all eight adults could sit down and enjoy the meal together. There was wine, there was laughter; it was entertaining at its finest. (It was really quite impressive. Like they'd taken a page right out of Martha Stewart's Living.) We're going to see our two VA sons again at lunchtime, and then they're headed out of town tonight for their Army Reserve drill weekend.

Tomorrow morning, we're on the road again...we just can't wait to get on the road again...

Actually, that's not true. I think the babies could wait here indefinitely. But at least we only have to do another four-hour leg and then at the next stop, we'll be staying with family once again (at another one of my husband's sister's homes, in NC). At that house, there are still little people around, and lots of toys--and a young second cousin who loves nothing better than to play mommy and dote on babies. How lucky we are that there is such a long string of Pearls across this country--and no matter where you go, it seems, there are always warm Pearl arms ready to welcome weary travelers into their homes!

The trip's been going great so far, but keep us in your prayers!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happy Birthday to My #2 Son!

My second oldest son turns 27 today. That's him on the left at about two, looking a lot more clean-shaven than he does at present. He likes to sport the Grizzly Adams look these days, and let his hair and beard get as long and scraggly as possible. When he was hired as an algebra teacher for the 2011-2012 school year, at a high school about an hour south of where we live, I thought for sure there would be a strict dress code for faculty--and that I would once again see those smooth cheeks he had as a little guy; but no luck there. In fact, at the school where he teaches, they have "No Shave November," when all the male teachers compete for the month to see who can grow the longest facial hair. And this school has absolutely no problem with "No Shave September Through June," which is just the way my boy likes it.

Oh well, I absolutely love this guy--a big, old, squeezable teddy bear of a man--to pieces, clean-shaven or not. In fact, he would tell you that he's my favorite, although I really don't have a favorite among my five sons. They're ALL favorites. But since it's his birthday today, and I'm on a road trip (with my husband, our oldest son and his wife, and our twin baby granddaugthers), so I can't see him in person and kiss those irresistible, scratchy cheeks of his, I'm going to give my boy this little birthday gift: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TO MY FAVORITE! (Hopefully, none of his brothers will read this post. But if they do, remember, guys: you're my favorites, too.)

My second oldest son is a funny person with a real gift for storytelling. He has me in stitches whenever he's around, and I think the kids in his classes are incredibly lucky to have a teacher who has the ability to make even math seem fun. He has a big, booming laugh, and an even bigger heart. He is an unapologetic mama's boy, and just the most loving son to both his father and me. If I didn't have to pack up soon and start getting ready to get back on the road, I'd tell you some stories about some sweet things he did as a little boy that would just melt your heart. But I don't have the time to do them justice right now, so I'll just sign off with a wish that my boy has a happy, happy birthday and that he knows just how much he's loved.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Road Trip: First Leg

Here are the twins, all settled in for the night and playing on the floor of our "penthouse suite," at a Residence Inn near Harrisburg, PA. We got the first six-hour leg of our road trip behind us today, and it was a huge success. We only had to stop once to feed and change the babies, and once for gas--and other than that, our angelic little granddaughters slept the whole way.

It was just a tad sad for our son and his wife to say good-bye this morning to the first house that their family ever called home; but it's also kind of exciting for them to be off on a new adventure and heading to a brand new home down South (where you can go on nice, long stroller walks, even in February!).

Tomorrow, we only have to do a four-hour leg until we reach the next stop on our trip itinerary: Charlottesville, VA. We're going to be visiting with two of the babies' uncles, one great-aunt, and a couple of second cousins. I'll keep you posted on our progress. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Off on Another Excellent Adventure

Well, my husband and I are leaving on a jet plane this morning, off on another globetrotting adventure. Off, again, into that wild blue yonder of which I am so fond. This time, however, he won't be piloting the plane; we'll be sitting in the back together. And this time, our destination is not some exotic European city; it's a small town north of Syracuse, NY, right here in the good old U S of A.

But we'd rather go sightseeing in this small town than in any other city in the whole, wide world, for it's the home of the two cutest little girls east of the Mississippi River: our eight-month-old identical twin granddaughters.

In October of last year, Papa and I went on a great adventure: we did a cross-country road trip with our daughter-in-law and the babies (who were four months old at the time). We drove them from the Midwest--where they'd been living with Nonna and Grandpa while our son was on deployment in Afghanistan--to their little house in Upstate NY, and then we stayed to celebrate our boy's joyful homecoming and reunion with his family.

Well, now it's time for these kids to move again (ah, the joys of Army life!), so Papa and Grammy are going on another road trip--this time caravaning with them, driving their second car down to their new Southern home. The trip will be split up into four six-hour legs, to make it easier on the babies, and two of our stops along the way will be at the homes of my husband's sisters. It should be an excellent adventure! And once our son's family takes up residence down there, those granddaughters of ours will still be the cutest little girls east of the Mississippi--but they'll be a lot closer to it than they are now.

I'm looking forward to the road trip itself, but the two-leg flight today and then the flights back home a week or so from now? Not so much. But the more I do this newfangled flying thing, the less scary it is. And if this is what I have to do to see my babies, then by golly, I'm going to do it!

(I just found a treasure trove of images of vintage Good Housekeeping covers on-line, and I love the artwork on them so much. Look at the little pilot in this one: isn't he just the cutest thing? I'm probably going to be working these covers into a lot of posts in the near future, so bear with me.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Eating Humble Pie

I'm feeling a bit sheepish this morning, after what I wrote in my post yesterday. Yep, I'm having myself a big old slice of humble pie for breakfast. Because, as I'm sure you know, this is how things turned out last night:It was Eli Manning (Super Bowl XLVI MVP) holding that Lombardi Trophy aloft, not Tom Brady--despite Gisele Bundchen's widespread appeal for prayers for her hubby. I don't really want to talk about the game (it's too soon, and too raw); but I do want to admit my guilty little secret, which I can say aloud now that the game is over: I like the Manning brothers. There, I said it. Patriots fans, don't be too mad at me; I just can't help it. When I see those Mannings--such nice, well-bred Southern boys!--I always think, "Awwww, I bet their mother is so proud of them." And I know their father, Archie--a former NFL quarterback himself--must be, too. In fact, last night when they showed Archie Manning right at the end of the game (up in the box where all the special people get to sit), I believe there were tears in his eyes. What must that be like, watching your son win the Super Bowl? He would certainly be a good person to ask, since this is his third time around.

Peyton Manning was always so funny in his television commercials; he was easy to love--I've loved him for ye-ahs.* (Please note, however, that my boys insisted that it was necessary to detest him when he was on the field, particularly when he was going head-to-head with Tom Brady.) It's taken me a little longer with Eli, but he's grown on me over time. The habitual Eeyore expression that he sported back in the days when he lived mostly in his older brother's shadow used to bother me, and I thought he lacked Peyton's charm. But Eli smiles a lot more these days (I wonder why?). And the Mannings appear to be a fine family, a family that really seems to value the importance of its family ties. I like that about them.

And did you see Eli with his pretty wife and baby daughter (a cute little angel with a little red bow in her hair!) after the awards ceremony? It made me think, "Awwww, his wife must be so proud of him." A big, strong athlete celebrating a big, emotional victory with his tiny, sweet baby girl: that, sports fans, is a winning combination.

*ye-ahs: years (in New England dialect)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI

Well, it's deja vu, all over again. It's Super Bowl Sunday, and for the second time in five seasons, the Giants and the Patriots are going to be duking it out for the Lombardi Trophy. But forget 2008, when the Giants took away the prize in Super Bowl XLII. This time around, things are going to be different--wicked different.

My husband was born and raised in New York and was a Giants fan as a youngster. But that little boy has grown up, and he's a New England native now. His loyalties have changed. He's a Pats fan all the way (and his sons would not be pleased if he wasn't!). I feel confident that after today's game, we'll be able to call Tom Brady "the Avenger." (That's a superhero name, isn't it? Perfect!) And I think we'll be seeing Eli Manning wearing that mopey, hangdog expression that he wears so well. That's right, I'm saying it here: the Giants are going down today!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Good, Old-Fashioned Coffee Klatsch

There's nothing like a good, old-fashioned coffee klatsch, is there? (Or, to use the official definition of the term, a "casual social gathering for coffee and conversation.") We gals love this sort of thing. The guys might call such get-togethers "hen parties," but what do they know? I mean, just give them some nachos and beer and a football game on the T.V., and they're happy...

Well, actually, I must admit that those man-fueled gatherings are a lot of fun, too. Anyhoo...

The term coffee klatsch comes from the German kaffeeklatsch, meaning "coffee chat." The anglicized spellings are "coffee clatch" or "coffee klatch," but it's more sophisitcated to stay closer to the spelling of the original German term, so that's what I did here. (Sophistication is very important to me, you understand. I just paused to take a sip of my morning kaffee, and I assure you, my pinky was raised.)

Last night, my husband was out of town on a trip, and I attended a "ladies night out" potluck dinner get-together with five friends at one of their homes. The only thing that kept this gathering from being a true coffee klatsch was the absence of coffee. (NOOoooooo!) Instead, there was wine, along with some great hors d'oeuvres, a green salad, a delectable four-bean chili, cornbread, the moistest rum cake ever, and decadent chocolate-frosted brownies. (I rolled home.) It was wonderful to sit around a beautifully-set dining room table and just TALK. The six of us women met because of our children: some of us got to know each other way back in the grade school days, and some by watching our boys play high school sports together. In the old days, we always talked about our children. Now, we're all empty-nesters--some of us are even grandparents (one of us, anyway, and that would be me!! Woo hoo!!); but guess what? We're still talking about our children!

It was just so much fun to catch up with these nice women whom I don't see that often anymore; it made me motivated to host a similar gathering at my house one of these days. However, I think I'll do a breakfast get-together. Because at MY kaffeeklatsch, there is definitely going to be COFFEE!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Feast of St. Blaise

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Blaise. Very few facts are known about this 4th century saint's life, but it is believed that he was the bishop of Sebastea in Armenia and was martyred for the Faith.

Many Catholics might remember St. Blaise because of the "Blessing of the Throats" that takes place on this day, in commemoration of the holy man who is known as the patron saint of those who suffer from illnesses of the throat. This protection apprarently comes from a legend that a boy was brought to him with a fishbone stuck in his throat, and he was about to die when St. Blaise healed him.

I don't know about you, but I love to learn about the saints. I feel like I can use all the help I can get--so the more Heavenly helpers I can find, the better! Here is a prayer to St. Blaise: O glorious St. Blaise, who by thy martyrdom didst leave to the Church a precious witness to the Faith, obtain for us the grace to preserve within ourselves this divine gift, and to defend, without human respect, both by word and example, the truth of that same Faith, which is so wickedly attacked and slandered in these our times. Thou who didst miraculously restore a little child when he was at the point of death by reason of an affliction of the throat, grant us thy mighty protection in like misfortunes; and above all, obtain for us the grace of Christian mortification, together with a faithful observance of the precepts of the Church, which may keep us from offending Almighty God. Amen.

God bless you with health and happiness on this glorious, sunshiny winter day! (I must say, this mild winter we're having here in New England has been nothing short of miraculous!)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The San Remo's Cat

Apparently, February is "Cat Appreciation Month," a fact of which I was completely unaware until I saw it on-line yesterday. (And if it's on the internet, you know it must be true.) I find it utterly amazing that mothers and fathers have been allotted only one day a year to be appreciated, but an entire MONTH has been dedicated to CATS! However, in the spirit of February's feline focus, I decided to use today's post to tell you about an interesting cat that my husband and I met in Amsterdam back on January 21.

We capped off a whirlwind day of sightseeing that Sunday (touring the canals and the Anne Frank House) by going out to dinner at a charming little Italian restaurant called San Remo's. We were escorted to our romantic little table-for-two by the window; and as we were getting settled, we realized that there was a cat on the windowsill, lying there warming himself behind the neon "Open" sign. Okay, first of all, have you ever seen a cat hanging out in a restaurant in this country? And secondly, if you did see one, wouldn't you expect the proprietors to shoo it off the premises? It's different in Europe, I guess. This cat was obviously a pet of the owners or something--and he obviously had no intention of leaving his cozy perch on the windowsill. He looked pretty comfortable there, as if sitting and watching diners eat was something he did every night of his life.

I have to say that this cat was very polite: he didn't jump on our laps, or up onto the table; he didn't try to get at our food or pester us for a hand-out, the way any dog would undoubtedly do. But he did spend much of the time we were eating just sitting near the table, quietly staring at us. You know, in that cold, calculating, cat-like way--which is so different from the way a big, slobbery dog stares at you, with his eyes full of unconditional love and devotion. This cat's eyes looked anything but love-filled; I tell you, if looks could kill, we'd have been dead. I kept thinking, "Shouldn't someone make this cat go away and leave us alone?" And yet at the same time, my husband and I both found the whole situation quite amusing.

Although the San Remo's cat grew on me after awhile (I mean, he really was kind of cute, and he didn't bother us at all during our meal), I didn't want to pay too much attention to him while we were eating, because I was afraid he'd get too friendly with us. I needn't have worried about that, as you'll see. As we were putting on our coats and getting ready to leave, I leaned down to pet him. He didn't purr contentedly and become my best buddy for life--no, far from it; in fact, he wouldn't let me pet him at all. That cat's claws came out and he hissed at me! Message received, spawn of Satan!

That, to me, is typical cat behavior (whether here or abroad). It gave me flashbacks to a terrifying incident in the 70's, when I was stalked and attacked by our family pet, a psychotic black cat named Harvey. (And that's why I'll always be a dog person!) But I'm supposed to spend the whole month of February appreciating cats? Sorry, but I don't think that's going to happen.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Doll Whisperer

Sometimes when my husband is out of town on a trip and I'm here in my big old house all by my lonesome (I'd accompany him every time, but that's not always possible!), I find myself yearning for a little human companionship--especially after the sun goes down. Knowing that I'm the only one sleeping in the house--that there are dark empty bedrooms with cold empty beds in them all around me--can make me feel really lonely at times. Thank goodness for the twin porcelain baby dolls who have taken up residence in what we've always called the "guest room."

You know how they say that some people talk to plants? Well, I'm embarrassed to admit that I've found myself talking to these dolls! They are newborn-sized, with wobbly heads and weighted bottoms, and they look amazingly life-like, lying there asleep together, wearing their matching christening gowns (which would fit real newborn babies). I experiment with posing these wee ones a number of ways, so that they are nestled into one another or their arms become intertwined. "Hello, you cute little things," I'll say.

Holy mackerel, I sound like a nut job! I'm...the Doll Whisperer. It would be more normal to be one of those crazy old cat ladies; at least they talk to living, breathing creatures!

I do love these darling baby dolls, though. I made them years ago, when I was taking a weekly porcelain doll-making class. The mold for the head and hands is the work of a doll artist named Boots Tyner, and she called her creation "Sugar Britches." The first doll I ever made in my class was the blond Sugar Britches on the left, who came home with me in 1994. My dear late mother-in-law, a fellow doll enthusiast, was very interested in the whole doll-making business (she had a kiln of her own and produced beautiful ceramic angels, which now grace the homes of her children), so I made the brunette one on the right for her in 1995. I recently brought that sweet dark-haired beauty home to join her fraternal twin sister, in order to help my siblings-in-law with the task of clearing out some of the excess bric-a-brac in the family homestead.

Obviously, I like real babies a whole lot better than these porcelain imposters. Lucky for me, I get to see my eight-month-old identical twin granddaughters--living dolls if you ever saw them--in about a week!