Saturday, December 29, 2012

Note about Rose and Claire's photo

First of all, the interesting thing about sisters Rose and Claire is that they married brothers (not their own brothers, of course.)

The photo shown in my post about them did not have a caption.  But what I tried to add was that it was taken in 1958 before I was born.  What strikes me about the photo is that the sisters and brothers looked much more similar in 1958 (left to right:  Clarence and Claire, Rose and Elsmer, with the girls' parents seated in front).

I decided to post this poem now because during the holiday season I tend to think about family members I miss...  those far away and those who are gone.  
With love to my own siblings, who all live out of town.  :)

Similar But Opposites

Similar But Opposites
A grand-daughter’s memories
By Janet Sobczyk, 2011ⓒ

My sweet Grandmother Rose
had a sister named Claire.
They both worked as nurses.
They both were good bakers.
They both raised small fam'lies.
They both were religious.
But they were opposites
in very many ways.

Rose was short and quite stout.
Claire was petite and thin.

Rose’s hair turned light grey.
Claire’s was dyed a soft red.

Rose was rather quiet.
Claire enjoyed telling jokes.

Rose baked delicious rolls.
Claire baked cookies galore.

Rose never learned to drive.
Claire had an orange Mustang.

Rose lived in a small town.
Claire moved to a city.

Rose married glib salesman Elsmer.
Claire married laborer Clarence.

Elsmer and Clarence were brothers
and opposites in many ways.

Elsmer was tall and round.
Clarence was thin and stooped.

Elsmer was a big talker.
Clarence was very quiet.

Elsmer enjoyed good health.
Clarence suffered back pain.

Rose and Elsmer had a boy and girl.
Claire and Clarence had only one girl.

Rose and Elsmer had six grandchildren.
Claire and Clarence had just one grandson.

Rose passed away before Elsmer.
Claire was a widow many years.

Life was hard for Rose and Claire.
They both had crosses to bear.
They both taught me so much,
like baking and loving,
praying and forgiving.
They remain in my heart.
 I sorely miss Rose and Claire.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

This one was made by Carolyn a few years ago.

When my kids were little I started a family tradition of making a cake for Jesus as dessert for Christmas dinner. We light the candles and sing the song and the kids blow.  No wishes, just smiles.  It's a good way to end an exciting day of presents and feasting... with a little reminder about the "reason for the season."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Tree Goes on a Diet

When Tom and I first got married we bought a big, white pine for our first tree.  He loved the soft needles and scent.  I enjoyed decorating it.  So every year, that's the type of tree we got... for 16 years. 

As time went on I tired of hunting for the perfect tree, wrestling it into the stand, and vacuuming up dry needles.  So I surprised Tom with an artificial tree.  It was so easy to assemble, the kids could do it, which was a great help.  That tree graced our Christmas day photos for ten years.  But the top branch (the angel's perch) broke.  And that tree, though it's never changed, had seemed to outgrow our living room.  Maybe it's because the kids are growing up and their long legs take up more room. 

So this year I asked for a new, thinner Christmas tree.  When Tom brought it home, I was amazed at how much smaller the box was and couldn't wait to see it assembled.  Seeing how much different it looks made me think of different human body shapes, which inspired this poem.

Our old "fat" tree

 Christmas Tree Goes on a Diet 

by Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

There it stands, dressed in green
but bedecked 
with red and white,
or blue and gold.

One year we even tried
new colors:
purple and pink
for this Advent time.

But white lights always seem
the best choice
no matter which
color scheme we choose.

With carols in the air
and eggnog
for sweet sipping
we add the garland.

Soon presents grace the skirt
with color
which children shake
and want to open.

This tree's so full and fat
and tall that
it barely fits
the room anymore.

For next year we must find

a thin one
to grace our home
with its own new style.

We bring it to our house
in a box
wanting to know
will it look just right?

We put it together
the first time
then we stand back
to admire the job.

Our new tree is so tall
and so thin
we all have room
to enjoy the view.

It almost seems that our
dear old tree
has gone on a 
holiday diet!

Our new "thin" tree

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Virtues

Advent started last Sunday and I wanted to share these 4-line poems about virtues.
I wrote these in the summertime, but they seem to fit during Advent when we are
"preparing the way of the Lord."

The tea light candle holder in the middle of our Advent Wreath
 is wooden and has angels carved around the sides.
 It was a gift from friends in Germany and I like to light it
 on Christmas Day as a reminder of the angels heralding Christ's birth.
Virtues by Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

Loyal and true,
with strength of conviction,
steadfast all through,
our life's greatest mission.

not uptight,
easily shares,
is always fair.

It's an elusive thing
that may come and go,
lighting up a face.
It  can be contagious!

A thoughtful gift,
a kind gesture,
a gentle word,
can melt a heart.

"God, grant me patience"
is a dangerous prayer
because He may send
 trials to test it. Beware!

It's more than a stillness,
or absence of conflict.
It wraps around our hearts
like an angel's embrace.

The tongue needs a bridle,
the mind needs a map,
the heart needs compassion,
to keep on the right track.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This is a cinquain poem about one of my favorite holidays. Cinquains, are 5-line poems. This one is made up of 1 noun, 2 adjectives, 3 verbs, 1 phrase, and 1 noun.  I like that format - short and sweet!

The picture is a large counted cross-stitch that I did many years ago. (It kind of reminds me of the poem "Needlework Pleasure" and photo that I posted on 7-26-12.)

by Janet Sobczyk 2012ⓒ

Grateful, Delicious
Cooking, Praying, Eating
All Together

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What I've Learned... from my dog

My mother raised Miniature Schnauzers when I was young, so the family dog we chose 8 years ago for my own kids is a Schnauzer-Terrier mix that we found at the Humane Society.  I took her to obedience classes and she learned commands (like "come", "down", "sit", "stand", "roll over", "settle") very quickly.  I just didn't expect that I would learn so much from her!

Sophie dancing for a treat from Andrea.

What I’ve Learned… from my dog
by Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

  • Meals can be the highlight of the day and don’t have to be eaten slowly to be enjoyed. 
  • There is a daily minimum requirement for physical affection. 
  • To be most content when everyone is home.  
  • That being well-groomed (brushed and trimmed) feels better than being shaggy. 
  • A walk around the block can be an adventure. 
  • It’s important to greet everyone who comes to our house or passes us on the street. 
  • Watching birds and squirrels is great entertainment. 
  • A sunny spot to rest does the body good.  Under a shady tree is the best spot in summer. 
  • Emotions can be effectively expressed through body language. 
  • It helps to listen and snuggle close when someone is sad or sick. 
  • To follow the master's voice.  (I didn't expect to learn spirituality from a dog!)
  • That requests (begging) are more often granted through quiet communication (wagging) than through loud demands (barking.)  So.... wag more and bark less! 

My family's first dog, Jewell.  She sure was
a jewel for putting up with me sitting on her!
My family's first Schnauzer, Abby, dances for a treat from me.
I love the resemblance to the top photo.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Unusual Jack-o-Lanterns

In 1999 we had our best batch of painted pumpkins ever. 
 The Sesame Street theme turned out so cute
 that they were all stolen off our porch Halloween night!!

If memory serves, the artists were (from left)
 Andrea (age 8), Joe (age 5), me, Carolyn (age 10), Pete (age 3)

And here are some other unusual Jack-o-Lanterns...

Carolyn as crayon and Andrea as pumpkin in 1991

Joe as crayon and Peter as pumpkin in 1996

Sunday, October 28, 2012

All Hallow's Eve

Soon it will be Halloween and I was thinking about how it is currently celebrated in the U.S. versus the Mexican version of El Dia del Muerte.  

The U.S. version evolved from All Hallow's Eve, which was the night (eve) before All Saints and All Souls days on Nov. 1st and 2nd.  (Hallows means holy ones.) Way back then it was a remembrance of our deceased loved ones and of the saints of the Catholic church.  Now there is still All Saints and All Souls days on which Catholics go to church, but over time the eve has morphed into something else entirely.

El Dia del Muerte (the Day of the Dead), as I understand it, is celebrated from Oct. 31st through Nov. 2nd and is a fond remembrance of loved ones who have died  The decorations do include skeletons, but the families celebrate with the foods and items their loved ones enjoyed.  Instead of celebrating at home, they may choose to have a picnic at the grave site of a loved one.  Sounds a bit creepy at night,  but during the day might be quite enjoyable.

When I look at current Halloween decorations of bloody dismembered bodies and witches and gory masks, I cringe.  I'm not suggesting that my family start boycotting Halloween, although I can see why families would choose to have nothing to do with it. But I do think it's good to know the origins of the holiday and pass that on to our children (and grandchildren someday).

In raising my children I have tried to focus on fall harvest decorations and mild-mannered costumes.  (See my post on Oct. 10th, Halloween Costumes, for photos.)  I admit we have ventured among the scary costumes at night to trick-or-treat because that's what Tom and I did as kids, and it's really hard to say no to all that candy.  My sons would actually weigh their haul when they got home!  Boys can make a competition out of anything.

Below are photos of some of the loved ones I think about on All Souls Day.  They enjoyed seeing the grandchildren's Halloween costumes and were part of trick-or-treating fun in their own neighborhoods.  I miss them so much!

Happy All Hallow's Eve!

Tom's parents in 1997
My dad in 2001

Thursday, October 25, 2012


   Recently I watched the 2012 version of Steel Magnolia's (with a cast of wonderful African-American actresses) which is about a group of women who are best friends through all the seasons of their lives.

   The next morning I went to an early morning Mass at a convent chapel and enjoyed worshiping with the nuns.  As I drove home I thought about nuns I have known and how in 6th grade I had wanted to be one.  I also thought about my own two sisters and how far apart we live, which makes me sad.

   When I got home I wrote this poem about the three meanings of "sisters".  I chose this photo because it just shouts "sisterhood." 

            Sisters  by Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

Sisters are we
and forever will be,
joined at the heart
whether near or apart,
good times and bad          
during happy and sad.
Sisters are we
and forever will be.

“Sisters” can also mean
those who come clean
and speak truth together
knowing weather          
will change, but they remain
friends just the same,
growing closer each year
through fun and tears.

“Sisters” are those
who wear black and white clothes.
Together they
work, minister, and pray.
In peace and calm,
their lives a healing balm,
seeking to live
in God’s will as they give.

Three meanings of
a word that portrays love.
Sisters by blood,
or through friendship and love,
even by vow,
all are truly blessed now.
Sisters are we
and forever will be.

1960 photo of Sr. Clarice and friends