Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Song Revision

"It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"
                                                               by Meredith Willson  
       with updates by Janet Sobczyk, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev'rywhere we go;
Take a look at the shopping malls, with signs so shiny and tall
and shoppers with enormous bags in tow.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
Stuff in ev'ry store,
But the happiest sight to see is the fam’ly that will be
On your own front porch.

A pair of tall fashion boots and a basketball hoop
Is the wish of Carol and Joe;
Movies to show and piles of snow
Are the hopes of Moni and Pete;
And Mom and Dad enjoy a chat with ev’ry friend they meet.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev'rywhere you go;
There's a tree in the Durham Museum, Andrea wants to see ‘im,
The sturdy kind with tinsel and lights aglow.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the Mass will start,
As the choir begins to sing, peace is the grandest thing
Right within your heart. 

       Merry Christmas to All!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Prank

About 3 years ago my boys decided they were too old for Trick-or-Treating and opted to stay home to give out the candy instead.

Joe slouched on the bench with a mannequin's arm sticking out of his jacket and newspaper stuffed in his pantlegs.  Peter hid in the yard waste can nearby. 

Only the older kids were willing to approach the porch. Maybe the screams tipped off the families with little ones; I noticed they avoided our yard entirely.  But the older ones had a great time daring each other to go up and get a piece of candy from the stuffed (?) figure on the bench.  They weren't sure he was alive until Joe moved... right when the brave dare-taker reached for the candy in the bowl!

As the dare-taker's friends laughed, Pete would jump out of the can and scare them!  Then they would all take off running to the next house, screaming the whole way.  We didn't seem to use much candy that year.  :)

 Note:  I do not recommend this type of Halloween fun, though, because that year in the news there were some kids who ran into the street scared and one got hurt.  I am grateful the boys' bit of "harmless fun" did not harm anyone.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Time Left Behind

After redecorating my bedroom, I spent some time enjoying the newness of it.  This poem is the result. The photo is my daughter, Carolyn, at a historic farmhouse.  The white curtains and her resemblance to my own blonde appearance at the same age of 3, inspired me to pair it with this poem.

Carolyn at Living History Farms in 1992
Time Left Behind
by Janet Sobczyk, 2014ⓒ

Freshly painted room
yellow and white
sweeps away old gloom
feels calm and bright.

Sprawled on bed
drinking in peace
my soul feels fed
                           my stress is released.                                                

House is quiet
here all alone
no more inner riot
no more ringing phone.

Lying and gazing
at window nearby
something quite amazing
snares my drowsy eye.

White cotton curtains
on summer’s breeze
dance like they’re flirtin’
pretty as you please.

This mesmerizing waltz
trips a memory
as present day halts
time floats free.

Fade to Gramma's room
on her big bed
slumber comes soon
for little sleepy head.

Sheets so cozy
fresh and clean
from dear Grandma's
ancient washing machine.

Lying and gazing
at window nearby
something quite amazing
snares my young eye.

Curtains, sheer white
                            dancing on breeze                             
swirling in the light
pretty as you please.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Why is there a nun in this picture?!"

My husband and I don't always see eye to eye.  It may just be that men and women are wired so differently, but this story taught me just how differently he sees things.

I recently purchased a new painting for our living room.  It was a bit brave of me because I didn't get my husband's opinion on it first.  But I loved it and knew it would go well with the furniture and colors in the room.

The picture is of an empty birdcage.  A singing bird sits on a nearby blossoming branch.  In the background there is a dragonfly and a butterfly.  It really spoke to my heart about freedom and empty nests and being joyful.

The trouble was, it had a small flaw in it, so if I took it home to try it out, I couldn't take it back.  It was sold "as is" and not returnable.  My interior design consultant (daughter Andrea) was with me and agreed it was a good find on clearance.  Better yet, the flaw garnered an extra discount on it!

So we bravely took it home and hung it up before hubby got home.  Let's just say he wasn't thrilled with it and asked, "Why birds?  Who likes birds?"  Andrea answered, "Mom does!"  He looked at me as if for the first time, so I pointed to the living room window... to the bird bath and feeder in our front yard.  "Yes, that's why I feed them," I answered him.

I think he might have continued the "discussion," but Andrea piped up, "And I like it, too."  He must have felt out-numbered because he dropped the subject and left the room.

But not for long.  He walked back in a few minutes later and looked at the painting again from across the room.  He stood there with a bewildered look on his face and asked, "But why is there a nun in this picture?!"  Andrea and I looked at him, then at each other.  Then we looked at the painting and back at him.  "Where?" we asked, perplexed.

He walked over and pointed to the blue and black and white butterfly.  As Andrea and I gazed at it we could slowly see the butterfly morph into a thin nun holding her skirt out slightly and her shadow stretching out behind her.  "Oh!  There!" we said in amazement.

Can you see the nun now?  It's as if she is far below the cage and branch.

It still amazes me that he saw an obscure figure before seeing the obvious butterfly.  But somehow it helps me understand our times of miscommunication.  That painting serves as a daily reminder that even though we may seldom see eye to eye, it truly helps to at least try to see the other person's viewpoint.

In my living room redecorating I also moved my grandmother's picture of Jesus of Nazareth (see "The Praying Savior" poem about it and photo that I posted on July 29, 2012). I still have it and may find a different place for it someday.  But I needed a change of scenery, so I put a simple floral wall sculpture in its place.  Tom complained that now we don't have enough religious art in that room.  I had to refrain from pointing out that at least we have the "nun picture."  :)

(See also "Summer Day" poem and photo posted on July 27, 2012 about the picture that I removed to hang this new one.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Happy Easter

The kids were all home for Easter.  We planned to go to the early Mass on Sunday.  Getting 7 people through 2 bathrooms by 7:15 am is quite a feat, but we did it!  Once there we could relax and enjoy the music, the flowers, and the golden light shining through colored glass.  

It was a nice Mass and a memorable homily.  Memorable to my grown children because the priest misused the word "selfie", so his message actually stuck in their minds.  Perhaps he was smarter than they thought.

But the highlight of that hour was the family seated in the row in front of us.  There were two calm parents and four young children, 2 girls and 2 boys.  Everyone was dressed in their best Easter outfits and looked happy. Watching them was such a flashback in time.  

I understand now the looks we used to get in church when we had 2 girls and 2 boys (before our fifth came along).  People would watch, with knowing smiles, the quiet antics of our little boys clutching toy cars.  They would compliment our girls in their floral dresses. We must have been a fun distraction for them.

Easter 1998 at Tom's parents' house.

Somehow the chaos of our large family always seemed contained during an hour at church. The kids truly tried to be on their best behavior.  Of course, on the way home all heck could break out, but for that one hour it usually seemed like a slice of heaven to me.

Watching that family in church brought back that feeling of young parenthood.  The memories that came flooding back are precious.  But truly, I cherish the now, with my "kids" so grown up and tall and self-sufficient.  I look forward someday to having grandchildren, but not just yet, because I am happy in this precious moment.  A moment that I know will speed forward as quickly as all the other precious years did. 

Easter 2014 -  I feel really short now!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Liver Trick (revisited)

My daughter suggested (in her brutally honest way) that I should write more of my family stories in prose instead of poetry.  I can see her point, so I gave it a try.  This is a rewrite of my poem, "The Liver Trick" which was posted on 6-28-12.

The Liver Trick      by Janet Sobczyk, 2014ⓒ

Bev was a busy homemaker, a loving wife and mother, and a good cook.  She enjoyed making nutritious meals for her family.  Her menus were balanced and the four children learned to eat what was put in front of them… Mexican, Italian, Oriental, or American cuisine.  It didn’t seem to matter much to the kids. 

Her husband, Bill, was a picky eater with a severe sweet tooth.  His favorite meals involved meat, potatoes, fruit, and dessert.  He barely tolerated casseroles, didn’t like many vegetables, and absolutely detested liver.  She did make liver a few times when the children were small because “it’s loaded with iron and good for you.” But it always turned out as tough as shoe leather.  Bill couldn’t choke it down.

As the kids grew up and moved away, Bev still kept liver in the freezer, but not for consumption.  She had discovered a much better use for it.

Bill usually came home for lunch.  He often worked late, so lunch together at home was not only cheaper, it was a way to “feed” their marriage.  At the end of the simple meal, while putting his dirty dishes by the sink he would always ask, “What’s for dinner tonight?”  

Bev usually had an idea or a menu to quote.  But once in a while she just wanted to eat out.  And for some unknown reason, she didn’t want to be the one to suggest it.  On those days, she had her answer to his question at the ready.  She would point to the frozen package sitting in the sink to thaw.  “Liver,” she replied.

Bill would sigh and say, “Ok, see you later, dear.”  Then he’d kiss her cheek and head out the door.  

As soon as his truck pulled away, Bev would put the rock-solid package back in the freezer and wait it out.  Before long the phone would ring and Bev would answer it with a smile, feigning surprise.  It was Bill, of course.  “Hey, let’s eat out tonight.  Where would you like to go?”

Bill was never told (and never seemed to guess) that Bev used the same package of liver for many years.  It never had a chance to defrost, doomed to a chronic case of freezer burn.  Yes, Bev was taking a calculated risk.  Bill could have decided not to call.  Who knows?  Maybe he was just playing along.  But from her viewpoint it was a fool-proof plan that worked.  Every time.