Saturday, December 29, 2012


This Christmas season has been wonderful; a joyful and restorative sabbatical from a busy life. This year, I didn't let the season get lost in the shopping and decorating, but instead, savored the moments as each one came along, and then tucked them securely in my heart to treasure forever.  Our gifts to each other were not measured by quantity, but by the thoughtfulness that went into selecting them from the wishes or needs that we heard each other voice, at different times, throughout the year.   We did not prepare our meals with a frantic need for perfection and the accompanying anxiety that results from it, but rather, at a leisurely pace, as we shopped together for all the ingredients and then prepared them alongside of each other, in a kitchen that rang with conversation and laughter. My oldest daughter took charge of the Christmas Eve dinner, and did so, with a calm and quiet confidence, that put everyone else at ease.  As we ate our meal together, we took notice of how good everything tasted, and expressed our gratitude to each person for the contributions they had made.
This year I took the time to visit with friends; enjoying my conversations with them, as we remembered Christmases past, while making memories for Christmases in the future. We talked about cookies and children and life...and I made sure to hug each of them and to tell them how happy I was to be with them.  
I took a drive with my youngest daughter, along snowy back roads that were surrounded by farmland.  The pine trees and houses that we passed, were blanketed with freshly fallen snow which sparkled in the sunlight, like the glittering landscapes depicted on my Christmas cards.  We were even blessed to see some horses wearing woolly coverings on their backs, to keep them warm in the winter weather.  They looked so picturesque as they walked along the snowy fence line, that I regret not stopping to take a picture of them, so I could capture the memory forever. 
Today, I look forward to attending the winter wedding of a young woman very dear to our family. The bride grew up along with my own four girls, and is like a daughter to me herself.  She will walk down the aisle with the twins acting as two of her bridesmaids, and I know the moment will be very poignant to me, as they pass by where I am seated.  It will be a day filled with cherished memories of the past and joyful anticipation for the future, and I know that it too, will be a day that I will treasure always.
My winter break is an extended one this year, so I have several more days before I return to my regular routine.  I want to go back feeling refreshed and happy, so I am going to spend this precious time off doing the things that I enjoy.  I will visit a different church for mass on NewYears Day, and see another altar adorned in its Christmas splendor.  I will go for long walks and drives, and enjoy nature, in this snowy winter wonderland, so reflective of the season.  I will spend my time with those I love and more friends I want to visit with, while I ignore a bit of holiday dust and clutter...making sure to appreciate all that I hold dear and all that I am blessed with.  
Gina, Matt and Jamie

Jamie, Dave and Gina
Jamie and Gina
Holly and Suzanne

Mike and Olivia
Aaron and Jamie

Dave and Amycita
Blessings  ~Amycita~ *My daughters are Holly, Gina, Jamie and Oliva....and Dave is my husband.*

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This Christmas...

It is snowing outside this morning.  It is still very early and everything is quiet and serene. The Christmas tree is twinkling in my family room, and two pups and one cat rest near it sleeping peacefully. The first coffee of the morning is brewing in the pot, and, for the moment, everything seems right with the world.  It feels unhurried to me; the way that the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are meant to feel.  Peaceful...tranquil...and full of happy promise.  I want to capture this moment and hold on to it throughout the season. I want to make this year a special one, that I will always cherish and remember.
I don't want to let this feeling slip away as I shop for all my presents.  I want to savor the moments spent finding just the right gifts, as well as the time I spend wrapping each one of them up, in lots of Christmas love and ribbons.  I want to remember to really be present as I attend mass on each Sunday, and to let the peacefulness of the ritual wash over me and then remain with me the whole week through.  I want to know that I was mindful of the things that really mattered...and that I didn't waste a minute of the gift that is this sacred season.
Blessings ~ Amycita~   

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Since God expected that the relationships with our own children would sometimes be contentious in nature, He mercifully gave us our nieces and nephews, to make up for it.  This way, at any given time, we could be comforted with the knowledge that there were at least SOME children in the family that actually liked us.  The relationships we have with our nieces and nephews are always delightful ones; unfettered by the usual constraints one is bound by as good parents.  We have no need to discipline them, because that is what God gave you brothers and sisters for, thus, enabling you to appear much nicer than them, by comparison.  Plus, it can be viewed as a form of penance that your siblings have been given for all the mean things they did to you as children, when, on occasion, it appears that their children are more fond of you, than they are of their parents...It is satisfying relationship on so many different levels.
I have always enjoyed the time that I spent with my nieces and nephews, and regret, that in recent years, that time is never often enough.  I have savored all their moments of triumph; in academics and sports as children, and in career and parenting choices as adults. Perhaps, most of all though, I cherish the moments spent with them, just listening, as I catch up on everything that is going on in their worlds, told from their unfailingly, humorous perspectives. On a few occasions I have listened to them share their sorrows too, and when I go to bed at night I pray that their burdens might be lessened and that future sorrows will be few.
I feel a deep and abiding love for each of my nieces and nephews; these remarkable children of my siblings and their spouses.  At times I look at them, and, for a moment, a long-forgotten memory from childhood is rekindled, as I catch a fleeting glimpse of my brothers or sister, or of Dave's, in one of their gestures or expressions.  I look at them and see the best of all of our siblings, passed on to this next generation, and I recognize that they are both the links to my future, as well as my past.
This weekend I will be attending the baby shower for my nephew Andrew, and his lovely wife Kyle.   Just as I have with each new addition to our ever-expanding family, I am filled with a sense of contentment that our family endures and grows.  So, congratulations to Andrew and Kyle, and to all my wonderful nieces and nephews and their life is better, because each of you are a part of it.
 ~ Blessings-"aunt" amycita~ xoxo

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I have an artfully-arranged, decorative display on my kitchen counter.  For the last 30 years, it has become my habit to remind my husband of this fact, on a weekly basis.  This is because, for the last 30 years, my husband keeps adding an assortment of items, such as batteries, keys, receipts or mail, in or on the decorative display for safekeeping purposes; thus, ruining the display.
"Dave!" I say, in an authoritative voice developed especially for this situation. "Do you see this artfully-arranged decorative display that I have placed on this counter?"  After waiting the sufficient amount of time necessary to determine that Dave is not listening to me, I continue. "Well, I found these stuffed in the display, again.  Do you know what they are?"  I ask, while holding up some of his Speedy Rewards receipts that he has acquired from the gas station, and gently waving them back and forth to attract his attention.
"HEY, what are those?" Dave replies, with alarm.
"They are your stupid Speedy Reward receipts and you put them in my display, again!"
"Well, don't touch them!  I put them there, because I don't want to lose them!" Dave says, each time.
"Do these look decorative to you, because they are not.  I am putting them under the counter for you, in the drawer where they belong."  Then I add them to the 10,000 other Speedy Reward receipts that Dave has collected over the years, and then never looked at again, even once.
This is why I found it so amusing when Dave interrupted a conversation I was having with one of my daughters recently, about some white wine that she enjoys, and that I had purchased for her.
"Don't EVER buy that wine again!"  Dave said, emphatically. "It is the worst wine I have ever tasted.  It was horrible."
Puzzled, we both looked at Dave, and Jamie asked, "Was it a white wine?  The wine that I like is a Riesling wine and it is white."
"YES, it was white, and it tasted terrible; like water or something!"
It was with this revelation, that it tasted like water, that a smile crossed my face.
"Where did you get this wine from?" I asked. "Was the wine bottle green?"
"Yes," He said, and pointed to the green bottle in my decorative display. "There is still some left, right here."
"Well," I answered, with great amusement. "It tasted like water, because it WAS water.  That bottle is in my decorative display, and, after the wine was gone, I refilled it with water because I liked how the bottle looked there."
I was so delighted that Dave, who had received countless warnings about my decorative display in the past, had finally been punished by drinking water that, unlike the biblical story of old, had NOT turned into wine that I decided to blog about it. The next day I told Dave of my intentions to write about the incident with my decorative display, and, much to my surprise, he said, "What decorative display?  You mean some kind of display you put up for Halloween?"
"No," I answered, with great shock and disbelief...not to mention a fair amount of irritation. "I am talking about the artfully-arranged, decorative display on the kitchen counter!!!!"
Puzzled, he got up from his chair in the dining room to look around the kitchen. Finally, after scanning the room for several seconds he said, "Oh, you meant that thing that I put my receipts in."
I have decided to give up.  This morning when I passed the counter, yesterday's mail was once again, resting in my decorative display... for safekeeping. I guess, as they say, "Art is in the eye of the beholder."   Blessings. ~ Amycita~

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


For many years now, the pups and I choose to take our daily walks along the gently sloping paths of the historic cemetery, in our little town of Romeo. I am always mindful, that while this place feels much like a sanctuary to me it is first and foremost, the final resting place for the loved ones of the families in my little community.  I am careful then, that the pups and I always keep a quiet and respectful distance from those we pass, who are there to mourn. I have discovered though, that often, even the pain of a broken heart is no match for the power of a pup's wagging tail, as frequently, those individuals will call to us to come closer, so that they can give the pups a gentle pat on their heads.  Later, when we have walked out of hearing distance, I will pause to pat the pups myself, and to tell them that I am happy that they were able to give someone a moment's reprieve from their difficult job of grieving.
This is always a place of great tranquility, and, no matter what the season, there is great beauty to behold on every walk that we take. I love it because it is a place ideal for thinking and for pondering things that might otherwise go unnoticed. My favorite time to do so though is autumn, when colorful leaves twirl down to the earth to blanket the paths and the landscape beyond them.  Throughout the grounds, massive oak trees grow; some which have rested here for over a century. The acorns from them scatter on the ground providing sustenance to the squirrels that scurry to and fro before us, as they carefully acquire the store that will sustain them for the winter.  I think to myself, that this is a fine place to be a squirrel, for the trees provide food and shelter and even some water from the early morning dew that collects on their leaves.
Sometimes as I walk along, I think about the headstones that mark the graves, and how they are much like the grief that is felt for those who rest there. The old tombstones, weathered and crumbling, mark grief that was visited upon those graves in years past. The new stones carved from shiny granite or marble, mark grief that is still fresh, and it is by these graves that one is most likely to see mourners with tears upon their cheeks.  Those tears reflect the sunlight off of them, much like the stones those loved ones stand beside.
At other times I read the names and dates as we meander by, and I find myself wondering about the stories behind the stones. There are two young people, not yet in their twenties and with different last names, whose graves lay side by side; almost touching. They died on the same day, and so I wonder if they were killed together in a tragic accident, and if their families found comfort by keeping them close, even in death.  I ponder about the young toddler who died, and whose young father now rests beside him, after passing a few years later.  I think to myself that he must have died of a broken heart, and it always makes me sad.  I see the babies' graves; graves that are visited and tended to it would seem, no matter how many years have passed since the time of the child's death.  Perhaps, it is true then, that the hardest deaths are those of a child, for they are always remembered by the families who loved them, even if their time together was for no more than a day.
I also remember the man that I noticed a few years ago, who stood at the far end of the cemetery looking oddly out of place.  On his third day there, I realized that he was wearing the same clothes and I suspected he must be homeless.  The pups and I hurried home and packed a hearty lunch, which we brought back to the cemetery and left on a bench where I knew he would see it.  I returned a few hours later and it was gone, so, in the days that followed, the dogs and I walked elsewhere but returned every day to drop off a meal at the bench.  I would see him watch the car as we drove up and wait until we pulled away before approaching the bench to retrieve it, and it always made me happy.  Finally, after two weeks had passed, I walked up and noticed something sitting on the bench.  It was all my Tupperware containers, cleaned and stacked, and waiting for me to take back home.  I suspected that it was his way of saying goodbye, and although I left one last meal it remained there, in the same spot, when I returned to check the following day. I think of him often, as the pups and I pass by the bench, and I always say a little prayer that he is warm and safe; living a happy life, in a house of his own.
Some people think it odd that the dogs and I walk in this place, and they often tell me that they would find it scary or frightening to do so.  Perhaps, I view it differently, because, as a young child, I so often accompanied my mother and siblings on trips to the cemetery to visit my father's grave. I remember my mother telling me how the first spring that followed my dad’s November death, her children would bring their little toy watering cans to assist her as she watered the seeds of grass on his grave site.  I was just a newborn in her arms, when one of my brothers asked her a question that had troubled him.  He wondered if she thought that his daddy minded that they watered him every day.  She answered him with a gentle smile, and, as time went by, just as the barren ground on his grave began to heal when the seeds they had planted began to grow upon it, so, too, did their hearts, I think, right along with that green grass.
For me and my sweet pups, the cemetery will remain a place of beauty and tranquility.  It will always be a place of healing and comfort, as well as a place for pondering things; such as how answering a young child's questions about death, often provides us with answers about life. And, of course, it will always be a place to think about the stories behind the stones.      Blessings ~ Amycita~

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


One of my sweetest memories from childhood was my Saturday morning ritual.  My mom would let us sleep in a little later, and, of course, we knew we would have to get all our chores done before we could go out anywhere, but first we could sit around leisurely to watch our favorite Saturday shows; the cartoons!  I would get up and make myself some breakfast, consisting of lightly toasted bread, buttered first and then slathered with grape jelly, accompanied by a nice cold glass of milk. Naturally, I would eat this in the kitchen because my mom did not allow us to have food or drinks on the carpeting.  In hindsight, I realize she had good reason for this particular rule, because I always put an awful lot of jelly on that toast.  After breakfast though, it was time to plunk down in front of the television to watch my favorite shows of the week.  I let our children do the same, but, even by the time they were growing up, the offerings were never as entertaining as the ones that I viewed as a child.
Today's cartoons truly fall short, in my opinion, compared to the ones that I watched back in the days when I was young.  "The Flintstones, "Mighty Mouse" and "The Jetsons," made such an impression on me, that I can still sing the theme songs from every single one of them, along with a bevy of others! I liked the way they were animated and I liked the lighthearted stories that they told. They were silly and fun, and I relished every moment of them.  Sadly, I can never find any reruns of those classics, because, if I did, I would be willing to put off all my "grown-up" Saturday morning chores, make some butter and jelly-bread toast, and watch them all over again with the same enthusiasm I had as a child.
Another ritual that I sorely miss is watching all the animated Christmas cartoons, along with the family, when they were aired right before the holiday.  "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Magoo's Christmas Carol" were shows I looked forward to every year, and knowing that if you didn't allot time for them in your schedule you wouldn't be seeing them for another whole year made them all the more precious and important to watch.  I even treasured the "Dolly Madison" commercials that were always shown during "A Charlie Brown Christmas, but not at any other time of the year in my area. Those commercials, somehow, made the shows more memorable to me because Charlie Brown specials were the only times when I saw them.
Today, of course, those shows are still aired but they are shown multiple times; somehow making them feel less special than they did in the past.  Also, with the advent of videos and the DVD, the need to set aside time to watch the shows together was no longer necessary.  I remember a time when I was watching a video with my daughters when they were small, and, as was their usual custom, they asked me to play it over again after it had finished. I mentioned that when I was a child we didn't have videos, so they asked me how it was possible to rewind them that way.   I explained that we couldn't, and, not only that, we could only watch the shows when they happened to be on television; they were not available whenever we wanted!  Their faces showed the evidence of both their pity and astonishment.
In retrospect, I think maybe our way was better.  Not having something whenever we wanted it made it all the more precious and exciting to us those times when we did. I think the fact that today that is no longer the case, leads children to continuously expect instant gratification, because more often than not, that is exactly what they get! In any case, I miss those shows shown once before the holidays, and, of course, those delightful Saturday morning cartoons.  Sponge Bob is alright...but he will never compare to Fred Flintstone....sigh.  Blessings, Amycita 

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Last year, my husband and I decided we needed to have some work done on our house.  With the three oldest daughters out on their own now, and Olivia at college for most of the year, it seemed like an ideal time to give our house a little update.  Olivia was just four when we first moved out here, the twins were 10 and Holly was 13, so the fifteen years that ensued were busy ones, that were filled with a parade of friends, pups, cats, fish, parties, sleepovers and school projects, (not to mention a few of my cooking disasters or the couple of floods in the basement) so the house was in definite need of a "little sprucing up." Since Dave was exhausted from having been working six days a week to pay for all of the aforementioned, as well as the groceries, clothes, mortgage, vacations and college fees, too, we decided to hire a contractor to help us with the job. The plan was to have the whole house painted, an upstairs bathroom remodeled and new flooring to be put in throughout the house, but, somehow, along the way, two more bathrooms, the laundry room and the kitchen ended up being remodeled, as well. The project took many months, and the fact that our marriage survived intact speaks volumes about our tenacity.
Each day I would return from work, excited to see what new transformation would greet me, beyond the dust and mess.  My unabashed enthusiasm often amused the workers, as I would expound, at great length, about the beauty of drywall or hug the new laundry tub, which came with a retractable hose AND towel rack!  We muddled through our absence of a working sink in the kitchen, and the loss of my favorite curling iron (which I still haven't located amongst the many items that remain in the 10,000 boxes, still unpacked, in the basement) until, finally, after months of work, the job was completed. The house looked more lovely than I could have ever imagined and the only thing left to be done (other than unpacking those pesky boxes) was to buy a new kitchen table and some furniture for the family room...that was almost two months ago and I still have not completed these tasks.
Since July we have been without a kitchen table, which one would think would spur me on to make a quicker decision, but, not only do I hate shopping, the ability to go online offers far too many choices.  One site alone brags that it has over 7400 tables to choose from!!  Are these people crazy??  I get exhausted just thinking about looking at 7400 tables, much less choosing one!! And what if I choose one and then see it cheaper on a different site that offers 7400 tables??  Not only will I hate myself, but, more importantly,  I will have been forced to have looked at 14,800 tables!!!!!  So, I am left with the only sensible thing to off of my brand new kitchen counter for the remainder of my life, or until they offer me less choices.
Blessings, Amycita...and here are a few pics of the project. :]

Monday, September 3, 2012


As a child growing up in Detroit a staple of my youth was our annual trip to the small town of Romeo each fall. Surrounded by an abundance of orchards, it provided an opportunity for one to pick their own apples or peaches, purchase fruit pies still warm from the oven, or savor the taste of some freshly made apple cider.  It was an event I always anticipated, even though as a child, the trip seemed to take so long that I always felt as if we were driving to the end of the earth. Fifteen years ago, my husband and I were looking for a new home and we decided that "the end of the earth" would be a charming place to raise our four beautiful daughters. It turned out we were right, but making the transition from city life to country life has brought us countless surprises.
One thing I discovered early on, but somehow, always seem to forget each year, is that our small town loves a parade!  Annually, on Labor Day weekend, our town hosts the "Romeo Peach Festival"; paying homage to all those orchards that so many of  us as young Detroiters, visited as children.  The festival runs from Thursday afternoon until Monday evening, and along with craft shows, Bed Races, a carnival midway, and the very popular "Beers Around the World" attraction, it also provides, not one, but FOUR parades for the literally thousands of visitors that grace our town that weekend.  On Sunday evening following the bed races, the "Festival of Cars" begins. This is a parade for anyone who happens to be a classic car aficionado; providing a plethora of beautifully restored vehicles for viewers to admire.   (This is also an event, which my friend, Lori Lemanski Cetlinski, was a proud participant of this year!)  Immediately afterwards is the "Night Parade," in which participants decorate their trucks or floats with Christmas lights, illuminating the night's sky, and lending a feeling of enchantment to the evening's festivities. Bright and early Monday morning is the "Children's Parade,"  which is the precursor to the main attraction, "The Peach Festival Floral Parade."  All of the parades provide wonderful entertainment and fun for all ages to enjoy... except if you are not attending them, and are merely trying to get to your house which happens to be on the other-side of the parade route.
My first summer as a resident I took my family with me when I ran to the store, unknowingly doing so, right before the Floral Parade was about to begin.  A few minutes later, when attempting to return to our house which is just off of 32 mile road and west of Van Dyke, I quickly ascertained that every avenue that I normally utilized to take home was now blocked by a parade of enormous proportions, and I was not familiar enough with the area to figure out a way around it.  With no other option available, I did what any sensible person would do; I parked the car and asked the family if they wanted to watch a parade!  We did so... for the next two and a half hours.
Last night, fifteen summers later, I did the same thing.  I was returning from visiting my daughters and quickly realized I had not factored in the evening parades.  I know my way around town now though, so I decided upon a little more circuitous route, one that would help me to bypass the festivities.  As I waited at the stop sign that would allow me to cross over Van Dyke and provide me access back to my  house, I was entertained by a large group of townsfolk who had been walking-participants in the parade and were sporting Sumo Wrestling costumes as they waddled across the street, in front of me.
"Only in a small town," I thought to myself, with a delighted smile on my face.
Peach Festival is not the only occasion during which parades have forced me to take the time to pause to reflect upon one of life's "unexpected moments." The high school that I live across the street from has an annual homecoming parade, during which the street is closed off to allow students to march down it together, in anticipation of the big game.  I watch them wistfully, as I remember my own years of high school, at Osborn High, back in Detroit, recognizing that this special time of life is often, far too fleeting. Then there is the "Christmas Parade," which I happened upon last year on my way home from  a meeting at work.  This was one occasion when I was lucky enough to have had food in the car with me, which afforded me the pleasure of just sitting back and partaking of my repast, as I enjoyed the parade that was passing before me.
Small town life is always full of surprises; whether it is the high school band marching down my street while practicing for the fall's big games, or the deer outside my back window, making its way through my subdivision on its way to some unknown destination. Life in this place has a way of making you slow down to enjoy the journey a little bit more...which is something we all should do more frequently, regardless of where we may live.   Blessings, Amycita

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


While I really enjoyed watching the Summer Olympics this year, viewing it has left me with many questions.  For example, how is it possible for those gymnasts to complete so many twists and flips in succession, when they are performing on the floor mat???  Without propelling one's self off of a trampoline or something, it seems impossible that one could elevate the body high enough to be able to accomplish such amazing feats.  And how do their backs feel when they are finished?  Do they need to borrow my back brace?  Often, I feel the need to put my brace on just from having watched THEM perform.
Then, I was wondering why Ping-Pong was instead called Table Tennis, during the Olympics?  I asked my husband, but that only resulted in a discussion about how the name Ping-Pong was originally coined.  Was it because of the sound of the ball pinging and ponging off the table?  Following that deep discussion I decided that Table Tennis sounded more official, and I will refer to it as such, even when the Olympics are not on.
Next, I wondered why it was ever required that women wear tiny two-piece bathing suits, in order to compete in the Women's Beach Volleyball event?  I know they relaxed that rule this year, but I believe it was required, in years past.  Did the Olympic committee feel that women playing in bikinis would help the players' performances?  Or, perhaps, did they feel, more importantly, that women playing in bikinis would help the ratings performance?  I suspect it was men who decided on that particular requirement, in either case.
Then, I wondered why the men had to wear those ugly swim caps during their events?  I can understand why women wear is because, as any woman knows, if you have long hair and you come up from swimming underwater your hair is very unsightly, as it hangs in front of your face.  The men would not have this problem though, so I was puzzled.  It was Olivia who answered this question.  She said that she thought, that swimmers' ears, sticking out from their heads, could possibly result in their times being slower.  I am satisfied with that answer because some of those swimmers have very large ears, that do, in fact, protrude a bit from their heads.
I also wondered how people, especially the men, can compete in those running races that include jumping over hurdles???  That seems very challenging, and it appears that they are not even looking down to see where the hurdles are as they compete.  It is like the men are doing the splits in mid-air (and I thought it was very hard for men to do the splits, even when not in mid-air) while simultaneously running as fast as they can, and making sure not to look down at the hurdles that they are jumping over.  That one remains a puzzle.
And what about the horses?  Do they like racing around, and jumping over hurdles?  Or, maybe, do they wish they were out in some meadow grazing on some tasty grass instead?
Watching the Games also made me wonder what event that I could participate in?  Could I compete in the Trampoline Event perhaps?  I quickly ruled that out, and a multitude of other events, due to the fact that I have already undergone three spinal fusion surgeries. If I were to re-injure my back the only thing I would end up with is pain of Olympic-sized proportions.
I could probably compete in a running event, but then I remembered it would be necessary for me to run, which I prefer never to do, under any circumstances. All the swimming events are out, too, of course, because wearing one of those ugly swim caps would mess up my hair.  Also, it would be necessary for me to wear a bathing suit and I haven't worn one of those in years, because trying suits on, in order to buy a new one, is too traumatic for me and causes me to sink into a deep depression. Olivia has informed me that there is a site online, which will tell you what event you should compete in....but it requires one to supply their weight and height, so I will not be using that one, anytime soon. I guess I will just watch the Olympics instead, since, even if I had a good back, didn't mind wearing a bathing suit and an ugly swim cap, or didn't mind running, I still would not have the one thing necessary to compete in the Olympics....athletic ability of any kind. ;D

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Since last April we have been experiencing daily problems with the bundled services provided by our cable company.  Our phone and internet service would go out repeatedly throughout the day, requiring us to disconnect our cable line and then reconnect it again each time we experienced a loss of service.  Additionally, the "On Demand" feature on our televisions hardly ever worked or would go out in the middle of the programs you were watching. We experienced other issues, as well, but, to avoid increasing anyone else's level of frustration as much as my own, I will not belabor the point, any further.
Naturally, when we began experiencing these problems we contacted our friendly cable company. I am not being facetious when I say "our friendly cable company," because, for the most part, I have always been treated with courtesy, whenever I have called...which, obviously, was very frequently.  Because of this, I always overlooked how annoying it was to wait for lengthy periods of time before a representative was able to take my call, or how frustrating it was to repeat the same information, over and over and over and over and over, (see what I mean?) to each new individual I spoke with. Instead, I cheerfully cooperated with each representative, as they determined which day and time-frame would work best for the cable company to send someone out to take care of my problems. Unfortunately, despite numerous visits, our problems were not resolved, until last week... which brings me to my latest issue.
During the annoyingly, protracted time period required to determine that we needed a new cable line in our yard, in addition to a new modem, I had been repeatedly assured that my account would be adjusted for all the time I had been without service. It was suggested that I wait until I was positive the issues had been resolved though, to ensure that I was compensated for the entire amount.  This was to be separate from the several months of free premium channels that I had received already, after the repairmen arrived later than my scheduled appointment time, like the company "guarantees" on their commercials. Since they were so gracious about it, I didn't even mention the fact that those channels did me no good, as I couldn't ever watch them, since my service wasn't working.
Finally, after waiting several days to ensure that my service really did work, I called to request my refund.  I was asked how long I had been without service, and I replied that it had been over three months; since early in April.
I was told that I needed to be a little more specific, so I replied, "Okay...EVERYDAY, since early in April."
This was not specific enough either, so I was told that I had to provide the company with each and every time that my service wasn't working, or they would just compensate me for the times I had called them to send someone out.  I explained how great that would be, if only I had known about that system beforehand, so that I could have called them the 20 to 30 times each day that my service was interrupted, so that their assessment would be slightly more accurate.  I added that I would have had some difficulty doing that though, since I was unable to use my phone during those periods of time. I was finally asked just what sort of compensation I actually thought would be fair.
I thought about it for a minute and then said, " Well, originally I would have been happy with compensation for about one third of the time period involved, but now, after speaking with you, I have decided that I want ALL my money back, for the whole time period, instead."
He then explained to me that a decision like that was above his pay grade, so I would be hearing from his superiors, first thing in the morning.  I will let you know how that has been five days so far, and I still haven't received that call.  Blessings!!!  Amycita  :]

Monday, July 2, 2012


Throughout the years of my daughters' childhoods, the Fourth of July was always celebrated in the small town of Port Sanilac, Michigan. To me, the small town festivities, however humble they might be, somehow managed to capture best the true spirit of the holiday. Family traditions were born from those days spent together, and the memories that were made from them are ones to be cherished.
For many years, the holiday was ushered in with the unveiling of the pine tree that stood in the front of the lot which our RV rested on. With seasonal music playing softly in the background, I would decorate the pine with a different theme for each year. Twinkling lights of red, white and blue, accompanied by ribbons and tiny flags, or gold, sparkling pine cones with matching lights, emblazoned my offering of "Christmas in July." When the summer sky turned dark, I would plug in the lights to herald in the summer holiday for all to enjoy.
The next day we would attend the parade in the town; a parade so small, that the vehicles and floats that participated would, on occasion, pass twice to make the parade seem a little longer. Candy was always tossed out to all the children and sometimes, even to adults, if they could scramble quick enough to grab some. I never failed to shed a tear as I watched the parade pass by me; it always seemed to symbolize how much it meant to be born in this great country, and how appreciative we all were to be blessed to be an American.
As evening fell, we would ready the campfire and load it up with potatoes, wrapped carefully in tinfoil, for a late night snack.  Graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars were placed on the picnic table for later enjoyment, along with a roll of paper towels to clean the sticky fingers that resulted from them.  Finally, we would see our neighbors begin to pass by us, heading down towards the beach to secure the perfect spot from which to watch the fireworks.  We would grab a chair or two, but, more importantly, the blankets that were lovingly made by Grandma Maria, Dave's paternal grandma.  She crocheted them for all of us, and the fireworks were always best viewed when one was wrapped up in the warmth of those blankets.  Together with all our friends from the park, our family would sit beach-side and "ohhh and ahhh" at the magical display illuminating the night's sky.  The waves would gently wash up on the shore and nothing seemed so lovely as watching the fireworks in the harbor together, with each other.
Finally, Dave and I would watch as our girls and their friends would partake of baked potatoes and smores; laughter filling the air, along with the sparks from the campfire.  I remember telling Dave one year, to memorize the moment, for I recognized how special it was and how we would miss it when our girls were older. 
The big city's more extravagant firework displays and the crowds that attend them, mark the holiday for many, but, for me, a small town with its modest offerings, will always be remembered as the finest way to celebrate the holiday. Happy Fourth of July to you all, and, because of the freedom you have been blessed with as an American, may however you choose to celebrate it, be filled with those very special moments that you wish to memorize forever....Blessings to you all, Amycita.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pickle Barrel Houses and Dinosaur Parks

Today, while accompanying my husband on a visit to the doctor's, I decided that rather than waiting inside the office for him, I would sit and read in our car, instead.  I was about to grab the paper that I had brought along to peruse, when I was suddenly distracted by the distinctive sound of a Cardinal singing, somewhere nearby, hidden amidst the branches of the pine trees that outlined the lot. I rested my head on my arms, as I leaned out my opened car window, and contentedly searched the tree line until I glimpsed the bird's bright, red feathers, nestled cozily upon the swaying, green branches of the pines. The gentle breeze that tousled my hair, the sound of the cardinal singing and the  lovely sight of the pines, must have been reminiscent of something from my childhood, because I unexpectedly found myself transported back to the vacations of my youth. Since our budget was limited, we often went on mini-vacations; such as day trips that began early in the morning and that lasted late into the night, or one night stays at modest hotels; replete with picnic suppers, prepared the night before, and served on blankets that we spread out on the hotel room floor, so that we could avoid the added expense of eating dinner at a restaurant. Those memories are so dear to me, as I recall the four of us children and my mother, eating our sandwiches together as we sat on our blanket, savoring each sip of our cans of pop; a treat we looked forward to all day, and one that was only reserved for very special occasions.  I am struck, once again, by how such a humble meal remains so vivid in my memory, and how creative and resourceful my young mother was in providing her four children with such magical adventures, despite her limited means.
Our day trips were often to Irish Hills, and we would picnic along the beach and swim, or, every now or then, attend one of the tourist destinations that were touted upon the many billboards that lined the roadside.  One of my favorites was the dinosaur attraction that allowed visitors to view life-size statues of the prehistoric creatures, some of which provided stairs, so visitors could climb right up into the bellies of the beasts; all displayed in a wooded setting to give them that "prehistoric" feel.  Another was a tribute to the old west called "The Stagecoach Stop," which included a general store with penny candy, as well as the opportunity for visitors to witness one or two staged gunfights between disgruntled cowboys out on the dusty streets of town.  We often visited Saint Joseph's Shrine too, and walked along its 14 outdoor "Stations of the Cross," marveling at their craftsmanship, as well as the beauty of the setting.  I remember "Mystery Hill" and the enormous Paul Bunyan statue, and although they may seem hokey to some, they were the "Las Vegas- style" attractions of my youth.  Remembering them makes me want to see them again, and, for a moment I pause, and say a little prayer of gratitude that I was blessed with the mother that I have. She was fearless and fun, and she allowed no obstacle to stop her from giving us each, a childhood we could cherish. 
With the newspaper still unread beside me, I thought about my own attempts to provide some magical, vacation memories for my own four children. I remembered, how on a wonderful trip to Mackinac Island, we stopped, while enroute, at a beach-side park in  East Tawas, because we spotted a giant play castle in the sand, and, whenever one is fortunate enough to see a giant play castle in the sand, it is mandatory that one stop the car and get out and play in it.  On the island we rode in a horse-drawn carriage, ate fudge, visited a fort and, in a moment of temporary insanity, rented bikes to ride around the island on.  It only took us a few minutes to recognize that the six of us could not maneuver through the crowds, but we ended up paying for 2 hours rental on the bikes, because it took us that long to get back to the rental stand. I recall the laughter our misadventure evoked, and it makes me feel happy all over again. I thought about how we have climbed the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes together, and rolled down them on the way back. Together, we have toured the "Pickle Barrel House" in Grand Marais, and ascended the twisting staircase of the Au Sable Point Lighthouse at Pictured Rock National Lakeshore; enjoying the breath-taking, panoramic view that the observation deck provides one with. I smiled to myself, as I remembered that on these adventures I made my children adhere to the strict rule that one should eat ice-cream cones as often as possible...preferably for breakfast.  
Still, as I looked off into the distance, I thought about how I tried to follow in my own mother's be the kind of mother to my children, that my own was, to me.   I pondered if my girls have ever found themselves unexpectedly daydreaming about their childhood vacations, and savoring the happy memories of summers, well-spent....then, I wondered wistfully, if memories from those vacations ever made my daughters feel about me, the way I feel about my mother.
I was startled from my thoughts, as I heard Dave's footsteps approaching the car after finishing his appointment.  I set aside my unread newspaper and put the key in the ignition, as he got into the car. On the way home I told Dave about the Cardinal...and why I never got to read my paper.  For the rest of the ride home we shared our vacation memories with each other...and the hope that the future still provides us with the opportunity to make a few more vacation memories, together with our daughters.
...I hope all of you have a summer that allows you to make your own vacation memories to savor...and a future filled with the opportunities to make many, many more.  Blessings to you all....Amycita xoxox

Sunday, May 13, 2012


In all our lives, though we are blessed with the mothers that we live with, we are also blessed with our "adopted" ones, as well.  These are those women who, aside from our relatives, also play such an important role in "bringing us up" to be the individuals we are today.  They are the neighbors, the mothers of our friends and the teachers who impact us in such a significant way.  My daughters, most especially, have been loved by a great many "second" mothers, and their contribution to all of my daughters' childhoods will always be appreciated.
It may be because of Dave's diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, fifteen years ago this month, that so many women come to mind when I think of all the help I received with raising my girls.  These women treated my daughters as their own, and included them on vacations, outings and family activities throughout all the years, ever since. During those moments, when my life was filled by worries about Dave's health and stays at the hospital, these women stepped in, without ever having to be asked, to fill the role of comforting and reassuring my daughters, when I was unavailable to do so myself.
Some lived miles away and some lived across the backyard, but each was there for my girls...and by virtue of their generosity, was  also there for Dave and me.  They eased our minds, already burdened by other worries, from having to be concerned about the well-being of the girls, when times were hard.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the men that helped to parent them, as well.  Whether they carved their pumpkins, tossed baseballs with them, or helped them to overcome the terrible job I did teaching them to parallel park, they too, stepped in when times were tough.
So thank you to all of you whose hearts had enough room to love, not only your own children, but a few extras, as well.  You will always hold a cherished place within my heart...and the hearts of my children.  Many blessings to you all...and Happy Mother's Day to all the "other" mothers who have graced our lives. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I started my blog on December 27th, 2010, and the majority of my readers are from the United States.  The second country, from which I have the most return visitors, is Russia, followed next, by readers from Germany.  I just wanted to thank everyone, from all the many different countries that read "Fireflies and Tuna Cans," for taking the time to read my blog.  I am delighted that you would do so, and humbled to think that the stories I have posted would be of interest to you.  I like to think that it is because each of us, no matter what country we may reside in, share a common experience between us; the love for our families, and a sense of humor about  the little things in life.  Once again, thank you for visiting my is greatly appreciated.  Blessings to you all....Amycita 

Saturday, May 5, 2012


If given the choice, of parallel parking directly in front of the door of the establishment I am about to enter, or of parking 17 blocks away in a spot that forced me to walk barefoot, on glass, through alleys filled with knife-wielding masked bandits, I believe that my choice would be obvious; I would ask my husband to park the car instead.  The only way I am able to successfully parallel park is if there are no other cars in any of the spaces on the street, AND all other drivers have agreed, in writing, that they will not use any of those other spots, until I have finished my errand and driven my car back out. It is curious, I think, that knowing of these issues I was the one who was chosen to teach my daughters this particular aspect of driving.
When instructing Holly, I decided that a great opportunity to learn how to parallel park had presented itself, when I noticed that two of our vehicles were placed a car length apart on our hilly driveway, with just enough room for her to pull Dave's new car between them.
"This is great!"" I said to Holly.  "Just pull up next to the first car, and then we will carefully angle dad's new car in such a way, that we will easily glide into the empty-space between it and the second one in just 3 easy motions."
"Really, mom?"  asked Holly. (whose name should have been Thomas, due to her doubting nature)
"Yes!  I have been driving for years." I said, confidently. "Just follow my instructions. I am sitting right next to you. What could go wrong?"
Holly pulled up next to the first vehicle, and I instructed her to turn the steering wheel and begin to back in at a sharp angle, towards the imaginary curb, about a third of the way between the two other vehicles.  I had not even gotten to the next step when Holly and I, who were both looking out the back window to ensure that we DID NOT hit the vehicle behind us, suddenly heard a sound that was very similar to the sound of our car hitting another car... in FRONT of us.
"What the he#% was that?"  I said, as Holly and I turned back around to look.
"Oh," I said, answering my own question. "That WAS the sound of us hitting a car in front of us.  I forgot to watch that we didn't hit that one."
In a panicked voice Holly, who was still unfamiliar with all the rules of parallel parking, wisely asked me, the expert, what we should do next.
"We should somehow hide these cars, before dad arrives home."  I replied.
We successfully did this, without parallel parking any of them, and then ordered pizza as a nice treat for Dave.
Dave arrived home, and as we sat enjoying our pizza together, Holly said, "Boy, this sure is a great pizza Dad.  And, also, I wanted to tell you that I love you very much."
With that, Dave raised his head and gazed at us with his eyes narrowed, suspiciously. He then said, "Something has happened to my car, hasn't it?"  (and I am not even kidding...that is exactly how it happened)
"What kind of thing is that for a father to say to his child???"  I shouted...but, unfortunately, he didn't hear me since he had already begun running out into the driveway, where he sadly discovered the two vehicles we had damaged.
I must confess, Dave was remarkably kind about the incident, and explained to Holly that accidents happen when a child is learning how to drive...especially if I am the one teaching them.
For all future instruction, I utilized those orange parking cones, rather than actual cars, to teach my daughters the joys of parallel parking....let that be a lesson to you all.  Blessings, Amycita :D

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Last week my daughter Olivia was on Easter break from college, so I made the 6 hour round-trip to pick her up, and, a few days later, the 6 hour round-trip to take her back.  Each time on the way up, when we hit the city of Flint, which is about 50 minutes from our home in Romeo, I would feel elated because we had almost completed one third of our journey.  Each time on the way back, when we hit the city of Flint, which is about 50 minutes from our home in Romeo, I would feel despair, because we still had to complete about one third of our journey.  That is the spot at which I would begin to whine, repeating, over and over, my return-trip mantra, "We are never going to get home.  We are never going to get home.  Why can't she go to a school closer to home."
On one of the trips, my husband had driven along with me, so I lamented to him how much more fun it would be if we had taken a six hour drive that actually ended up with our final destination being somewhere other than our house; a vacation spot, for example. To pass the time, I asked him where we would be if we had gone north for six hours.
"Well," he said. "We would have crossed the Mackinac bridge, and would be somewhere in the Upper Peninsula."
"Oh, that would be great."  I replied, wistfully. "Where would we be if we had driven south?"
"Still in Ohio." he said.
"Oh, that would be hell." I replied, horrified.  Where would we be if we had continued on towards the West?"
"We would be in Chicago."
"Much better!" I said with enthusiasm.  "If we went east though, I think we would be in the middle of one of the Great Lakes, so we shouldn't go that way.  Then again, if we just continue on in the direction we are going we will end up in our house, that is presently being remodeled, and is covered with dust and in total disarray. I am just going to go east, after all; the middle of Lake Huron will be cleaner."
In just a few weeks, I will be making the trip again; this time with a Valente caravan, if I can coordinate one, so that we can bring Olivia home, along with all the furnishings and clothes that she has accumulated in the dorm room that she will be vacating for the summer. It is interesting to note how many possessions a student can fit into a room about the size of one's bathroom...the amount is considerable.   A couple of months later we will reverse the process, so that we can bring Olivia  back, along with all the furnishings and clothes that she will be needing again, in the NEW dorm room she will be occupying.  College administrators plan it this way, because they feel that paying tuition isn't memorable enough for parents of students; the additional work of moving a student in and out of dorm rooms on a regular basis will embed the college experience in parents' minds for eternity.  It is also helpful because it gives one an idea of what purgatory would be like, thus providing incentive to be a better person.
Ultimately though, it is, of course, worthwhile.  Olivia has had an exemplary first year, and, just like her sisters before her, Dave and I marvel at all that she has accomplished.  She is, also, the last of our daughters, so we understand that the next move we make with her, after her college years are finished, will be to somewhere other than her home with us.  It is enough to make me savor these long drives...and maybe wish they wouldn't be over, so soon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


For the past several years, our preschool class, along with the preschool class in the room next-door to us, teach a two-week segment introducing our students to some of the world's most famous artists, and their different styles of artwork.  Then, we pay tribute to the artists that we have studied, by creating an art project, that, in some way, reflects the style of each individual, or some element of their work.  Finally, we host a museum, housed in the school library, to showcase all the talent of our own young artists. Their work is always extraordinary.
The artists included this year are:
Van Gogh-impasto painting/sunflowers
Picasso-puzzle pieces/Cubism, one color painting/The Blue Period
Matisse-snail collage/The Snail
Chagall-stained glass vases
Louis Comfort Tiffany-Tiffany "hurricane" lamps
Rauschenberg-beach combine/driftwood collections
Monet-water-color painting
Pollock-action art
Seurat-dotted suns/Pointillism
Stratton-class mosaic/pewabic pottery
Mondrian-blocks with limited color palette
Arp-collage of happy accidents/random art
Cezanne-still life fruit/still life painting
To quote Picasso, "Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain one once he grows up."