Happy New Year!

December 31, 2015 — It’s time to ring out the old and ring in the new! Wishing you a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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Visions of hotcakes danced in our heads

f1b888ad9fd1f4971fed3a08b11b799bDecember 21, 2015It wouldn’t be Christmas without thinking about my grandfather. As I’ve done since this blog began in 2010, I’ll retell the story of his famous Christmas Hotcakes because it is worth repeating…

When I think of my grandfather – known lovingly as Pop Pop throughout our large extended family – lots of warm and comforting memories come to mind.

Most often, he’s standing in front of a microphone at a family party singing a favorite song from 1919 that begs, “Don’t put a tax on the beautiful girls, I won’t last a day without love…”

Or, he’s sitting at our dining room table playing Scrabble with my parents after one of our Thursday night dinners.

I also vividly see him standing in the kitchen preparing his famous hotcakes.

Pop Pop made hotcakes every Sunday for his kids before church. Then, he’d make them for us during our summer vacation at the beach because he usually came with us. He’d love to get up early, walk to the grocery store and buy what he needed to whip up a fresh batch. We’d wake to the sound of him whistling in the kitchen with the griddle sizzling.

“Who wants hotcakes?” he’d ask as soon as he saw our sleepy faces.

We all did. They were one of the things we looked forward to while on vacation. And we loved them the next day, too, and maybe even the day after that. By day four, we’d have rather eaten a simple bowl of corn flakes or a Pop Tart, but we never had the heart to say so, and we ate them anyway. It was a small price to pay to please a man who brought so much joy into our lives.

He also made hotcakes for us on Christmas mornings, and we’d eat them like we never had them before, then he’d fall asleep on the sofa while we opened presents.

Pop Pop passed away in 1977, and I still think of him and his hotcakes every Christmas. Gone but not forgotten, poured but never duplicated, Pop Pop’s hotcakes were the centerpiece of our Christmas morning and our summer vacations. Those memories will be with me always.

The day the music died

thDecember 16, 2015 – It was eight years ago today, on a cold Sunday morning in Maine, that one of my favorite singer/songwriters passed away.

I wasn’t born yet that original “day the music died” in February 1959 when Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper perished in the plane crash. For me those sad American Pie moments came when John Lennon and George Harrison passed, and most recently on December 16, 1997, when Dan Fogelberg left us.

And yes, all of those moments made me shiver. (How ironic that today is also the 44th anniversary of the single “American Pie”. Don McLean released the song on December 16, 1971.)

Fogelberg hit the music scene in Nashville in 1972 with the classic album “Home Free.” He went on to record 22 albums in all, and reached the Top 10 Billboard Charts with hits like “Longer”, “Leader of the Band”, “Hard to Say”, “Run for the Roses”, and  “Same Old Lang Syne”. While these are great songs, many of his best and my personal favorites were the deeper cuts on his albums.

His fans keep his legacy alive by listening to his wonderful music, and the Fogelberg Foundation of Peoria, the city in Illinois where he was born, also honors the memory of their native son with this tribute. There’s also a campaign on Facebook to get Dan inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

There are many of us “Fogelheads” who miss you, Dan, and we’re glad your music lives on.

Birthdays

cupcakeDecember 9, 2015 – I was 21 when my parents helped me buy my first (used) car by giving me a small loan. I promised to pay them back with a portion of my mediocre paycheck each week.

On my birthday that year, with a good amount of that debt still owed, they gave me a card and inside it my Mom wrote, “Your debt is forgiven. Love, Mom and Dad.”

My parents have always been generous with birthday and Christmas gifts through the years, and it was just like them to do something like that. Still, that particular birthday card has always been the most memorable.

Fast forward more than 30 years later, and upon celebrating my birthday with family over the weekend, I received another memorable card. This time it was signed simply, “Happy birthday. Love, Dad.”

It was a beautiful card addressed to “A Special Daughter” and in many ways, similar to cards I had received in the past – with one huge exception. It was the first card I received that wasn’t from Mom, too.

My Mom passed away a year ago in January, so there have been a lot of firsts without her in 2015, for my family and me. It’s fitting that today I think of her because she had a leading role in my first birthday and each thereafter.

This is long over due, but thanks for the birthday, Mom. This is your celebration too.

 

 

The first photos: Inspired by color

December 7, 2015 – I’m not sure I consider myself an amateur photographer, but as I hobby, I love to take photos. It’s more of a hobby because I never took the time to learn all the bells and whistles of the Canon Power Shot I purchased a few years back. I simply got lucky and took a few good shots, but the camera never made it off auto mode.

So, what’s the next step in my desire to become an amateur photographer? Upgrade to a more complicated Canon DSLR that I purchased on Black Friday, of course, and learn how to use it properly.

Here are the first three inside photos I took while visiting a Christmas Festival at Peddler’s Village over the weekend. The best part, I used the different functions on the camera without depending on auto mode!

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