Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nun today, Nun tomorrow?

    My parents thought it was important to have a Catholic school education, so they sacrificed to send all 12 of us to St. Mary's School in Canandaigua.  You hear this a lot, but it was truly a simpler time back then.  At that time we had something that the school doesn't have now, teaching nuns, and a friend from that time asked me to write about one in particular. I would have struggled with that so I made this blog more general and included my thoughts on several of them. 

     If you never had a nun teach you, then you'll want to know the difference, right up front. Misbehave with a teacher and you get sent to the Principal's office, misbehave with a nun, and you get sent to Hell.  That's it in a nutshell.  Even when a nun turns away from the class and all you can see is the back of her habit, she's still got God looking out for her, so you tend to behave better with a nun teaching you.  I can't remember each of my elementary school teachers anymore, but I know that I had at least 6 nuns teach me back then, Sr Mary Alma, Sr Theresa, Sr Patricia, Sr Diane, Sr Deanna, and Sr Benedicta and of those, I have lasting memories of 5. 

     Sr. Mary Alma was the principal of the school when I started and the kids all called her "Bubbles".  I didn't make the nickname up, and I don't recall any of the kids using it in front of her, but I can see where it was likely derived from.  She had cherub-like cheeks that were perpetually puffed out, as if she were blowing a
bubble, so I think that nickname stuck for that reason.  I didn't get sent to her office very often but when I did it was usually for doing something exceptional like winning a spelling bee or something like that.  I have no stories of being corporally punished by the nuns, not because I behaved all the time, but because I didn't get caught often, and besides, like most kids those days, you had more to fear at home than from the nice nuns.  I think she was there for a while, and she was replaced by Sr Diane around 1973.  That school year we had a fire in the school and we spent the winter of 1974 in make-shift classrooms thrown up with drywall sheets in the school gym.  That's a tough way to take over a school, with a fire the first year that you run the place, but Sr. Diane managed it well, and I suspect had learned a little from Sr. Bubbles. 

     I'm going to batch the next 2 nuns together as I remember less about each of them.  I think Sr Theresa was really pretty for a woman, much less a nun, but I can't really picture her, except for remembering that she was exceptionally pretty.  When I was in school, I often thought of her as a candidate for giving up the
habit, but as far as I know, she remained a nun.  Sr. Patricia, on the other hand,  did not.  I'm pretty sure she taught me in 2nd grade, and after I left St. Mary's I didn't see her very often except for the occasional sighting at church.  Years later, however, I ordered lunch at a drive thru at a Wendy's restaurant in Rochester and when I pulled around to pick it up, it was the nun formerly known as Sr. Patricia, that handed me my order.  It flustered me a bit and later, on my drive home, I thought of 2 things.  1. Did that make my 2nd grade education invalid (Back then it was probably finger painting, not Algebra like today)?  2.  How do you give up being married to God, to being married to a deep fryer? I don't mean to make light of what was likely an agonizing decision, but I was young and it was something I hadn't seen before, heck, I didn't know any divorced parents at that 
point, so why would I even think of that possibility? As I had said earlier, it was a different time, to illustrate that, I'll post a picture next of a tool that my nuns used to teach me, and I'll bet the younger folks in the blog  

audience can't even fathom what it would be used for.  Bring back any memories?  A lot of folks seem to remember having their knuckles rapped with rulers for writing poorly, but if that happened to me, I can't recall it now.  I do picture the nuns walking with a stick in their hands, but if I had to place it, I'd say it was a single chalk holder.  My handwriting is atrocious, so if anyone deserved to have their hands slapped it was me.  I have heard that a lot of Catholic kids were forced to write with their right hands even if they had left hand tendencies, and I've heard of some anecdotal stories of it causing stuttering, which I find more interesting than abusive. Keeping it in context, women didn't wear pants then, and we sprayed DDT around anywhere we wanted, so we live and learn. 

     The last nun that I remember was my favorite and probably the one that most kids at St. Mary's think of when you think of nuns, Sr. Benedicta Redmond.  I'm pretty sure she was there when the school opened in 1849 and she was one of 2 nuns remaining in 1996 when the sisters stopped teaching at the school (I should have paid more attention in math class).  Actually, I'm pretty sure that she taught 50 plus years and she
passed on at 92 years of age.  She probably originated the "carrot and stick" method of teaching, because if you didn't try hard or do well, you were a "Dumb Bunny" or told to "Mortify Yourself", but a little extra effort would find her hand reaching into a drawer in her desk where she kept a candy stash.  Teachers stride around their classrooms, but I remember Sr Benedicta kind of "floating" or silently shuffling around hers. If you were doing something you weren't supposed to, you can be sure that when you turned your head, she would be beside your desk, she had that nun, sixth-sense to appear at that exact moment.  I'm not sure if everyone will share my impression of her, and I do invite you to share yours, but mine was a a quiet, reverent presence, not of a strict disciplinarian.  My last pictures here are of my report card from the year that Sr. Benedicta, taught me.  You'll see I was a B+ student, with poor handwriting, but Sr. Benedicta still calls me a "Good Boy" and not a Dumb Bunny.  Is it any wonder that she was my favorite? 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A primer for the next guy who marries my wife

      I'm not wishing that I won't be here to have and to hold, and to love and to cherish, but if heredity and genetics play out, then my wife will likely survive me by a good twenty years.  I would want her to remarry , if she wished, so that she could have a companion to share those years with too.  She is stubborn however and can be unforgiving, so that guy who comes along is going to have to have a fast learning curve.  I write this blog to give that guy or guys a peek inside what I have learned of her peculiarities and likes and dislikes. You'll thank me later, trust me.

     I'll start with doors.  At some point you are going to have to come into the house and you've got to know that there is only one correct way to come into this house.   It gets tricky, because you'll try to be helpful carrying groceries or something and approach the house from the back (Don't be silly, nobody comes in their front doors and if you thought that, you've got no shot with this girl, give up now)  and you will see two doors.  The closer one is a double sided French door with a curved handle that you can push down with your elbow and easily walk through the wide space and directly into our dining room. The further door is a smaller exterior door with a handle which sticks and turns as easily as opening a 10 year old jar of pickles.  When you do get it open, you are standing in a small, cramped, foyer, with no counter space to set anything down and inevitably you have to walk to the kitchen or circle back around to the dining room to set down what you are carrying.  You (and logic) would think that the better door to enter the home would be the closer, wider, and the easier to open door with convenient access to the rest of the house and counters, and you would be completely
wrong, the only "right" way to enter the house is door 2, which requires much more effort and inevitably puts you exactly where you wouldn't want to be, but there it is, my wife's first peculiarity, things get labeled "right" and "wrong" in her head pretty quickly, and you'd better learn which one is right.  This comes in handy when you are doing things like loading the dishwasher (dished pre-rinsed, but more like pre-washed, forks on the far right, facing towards you, not away, etc) or folding the bathroom towels (in thirds, not halves, so you have space between them). Scared away yet?  OK, I'll give you more.

     Wine.  You'll need this beverage if you are going to date this woman, and more of it, if you end up marrying her.  You'll start by asking her the classic question, Red or White?  She will politely reply that either is fine with her, but don't fall for it, it's a trap, the Answer is always Red.  The only reason we cellar some wine is for the white bottles that we buy or are given, as they have no shot of being enjoyed in this house, so we surround them with bottles of red, and if we get poor enough on the
Only one is correct
monthly budget, we drink them, but thankfully that doesn't happen often.  I know that we live in an area that produces better whites than reds, but she'd rather drink a bad bottle of red, than go near a bottle of white wine.   There's a perk to it though, she looks great with red wine-stained lips.  I hope you get close enough to find out.

     Cooking.  The great news here is that she loves food and derives pleasure from eating it, sometimes so much I blush when I watch her do it.   If you are a foodie, you are going to love to watch her eat a great meal.  The problem lies in her inability to realize that great food preparation requires great messes.  In 20 years of dating, I've not been able to serve her that rare steak with bernaise sauce and sauteed mushrooms, those roasted red potatoes with garlic and onion, Caesar Salad with homemade croutons, and that bundle of small asparagus spears, and make them come out of one pan, but she somehow thinks that it can happen.  She's a great cook in her own right, but either denies or forgets the fact that it takes time, space, and some cookware to make
Don't do this.
great meals.  If you do cook for her, don't be surprised when you place that gourmet meal in front of her, that it is rated by the number of pots and pans that you used (think golf, a low score here is good).  On the topic of cooking, never underestimate the time it will take you to put the food on the table.  You will be questioned unmercilessly during those few extra minutes on what you may have done to make sure dinner arrived on time.  What she truly likes for dinner, is reservations. 

     Family.  This woman lovers her family to death.  Her sisters and brothers mean the world to her, but like with any family, they have their moments when they frustrate you or create unnecessary drama.   At some point this will happen and she will come to you and vent about that minor issue, and you will think she is looking for you to agree with her, but do not do it.  Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!!  Only she is able to criticize her family, if you agree, she'll quickly come back with, "Well, your family is not perfect either!" and proceed to tell you why.  I have a large, imperfect family, so I try not to make this mistake anymore.  I've found the best way to reply to this initial situation is a non-committal grunt, but do not nod your head when you do it, it's the same as agreeing.  

     Coffee.  Strong, black, and ready when she first gets up.

    Smells.  You need to know and remember that she has a very sensitive nose and palate.  If she finds a smell offensive, and there are many that she does, and you can't even smell or taste it, this does not relieve you of your responsibility to find and eliminate it.  The garbage will start to stink, to her, as soon as you take your shoes off and sit in you recliner, every time.  When nature calls and you head to the bathroom, you've simply got no options, she doesn't like the smells that you create, nor the sprays that she purchases, to cover up the smells that you create, so I'd recommend going to the bathroom at the neighbors, no, not the close one, the one way down the street.  I happen to like a local beer that is brewed with black raspberries (Shout out to Naked Dove and their Berry Naked).  My wife, however, thinks it smells like dirty feet.  She reminds me of this each and every time I order one and drink it.  I have considered, calling the brewmaster and asking if he could somehow remove the dirty feet smell, as it would be easier than to try and change my wife's mind about it.  If I had a picture of her with a wrinkled nose, smelling something offensive, I would post it right here now, but you won't need the picture, you'll see that face often. 
     Corn.  What? Yes, corn, and yes it deserves it's own paragraph. It's a straight food, but can never be an ingredient in food.  Do not over-think this one, just go with it.  Bread good, corn bread Bad.  Salsa good,
Corn Salsa, Bad.  Chicken soup good, Chicken and corn soup Bad.  Summer Salad good, Summer Salad with roasted corn, Bad.  I am convinced that she must have had a really bad experience with corn as a kid, because how can you like the taste of something, but not like it as ingredient, major or minor, in other dishes?  It's weird, right?  You'll inevitably come across a really great looking recipe that uses corn in it, and want to try it out.  Don't bother, been there, done that, got the wrinkled nose, and the comment "How many dishes did you use to make that Corn Dish?" Save yourself the hassle and have these meals out, when you are dining alone. 

     So this was 7 paragraphs on the quirks and dislikes of my wife.  If I've given the impression that she isn't worth putting up with these small things, I apologize.  The truth is, she'd be worth it, if it were a hundred paragraphs, and after I'm gone, you might get the chance to find out for yourself and reading this blog might get you far enough in the game, that she'll see the best in you too.  Good Luck!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Remind me again? (or the funny cancer story).

     I know that cancer isn't funny.  It's a heartbreaking illness that claims too many people, too early in their lives, and the treatments for this awful disease can be worse than the illness itself.  With that being said, I also understand that you don't pick the humorous moments in your life, the best ones simply happen and I have one of those that is tied to my Mom's probable diagnosis of cancer.  Please don't read this blog if you aren't at a point in your life, where you can see the humor in this.  I don't wish to offend or diminish any one's life who has battled this illness, only to share this funny story about my Mom and her diagnosis.

An early ad for Chesterfields
     My Mom passed away last year, a few years after the doctors thought that she would.  She spent the last years of her life living in my sister Teary's home, which was our home from childhood, and being cared for by wonderful aides and by family members.  During that time she had several medical conditions that were competing to be the first to take her including, COPD, diabetes, a mental aphasia similar to Alzheimer's, an aneurysm in her back, and finally a cancer diagnosis that loomed over her. My Mom had smoked Chesterfield unfiltered cigarettes for over 50 years, so when he was hospitalized a few years prior to her death, and an X-Ray of her lungs showed a spot there, no one was surprised when the probable diagnosis came back as cancer.  My Mom had designated two of my sisters, Nightingale, and She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named as her health care proxy's, so after discussions between Mom, her proxy's, and her doctors, it was decided that no action would be taken to deal with the cancer, so they patched her up and sent her home with that diagnosis, oh and don't forget... the aphasia.

Chirp, Chirp.
     In many way's Mom's aphasia was a blessing.  The aneurysm in her back should have given her constant pain, except for the fact she forgot it was there each day.  I figured that it was God given so that my Mom wouldn't have to live out the rest of her days in pain, and truth be told, it allowed her to discover "new" things on a daily, if not hourly basis.  To my knowledge Mom retained the knowledge of all of her children and grandchildren and a lot of small details of her childhood and adult life, but her short term memory was just plain shot.  An hour after eating breakfast she wouldn't remember if she had eaten, much less what she had eaten, and a greeting card set in front of her, would become new again, after only a few hours passing.  One of my siblings gave Mom a gift of small stuffed birds that would chirp or tweet in different bird songs and she re-discovered these several times a day, casually picking them up and shaking them and being surprised each time they would start to chirp, so she'd work her way back through the basket of them, and shake each one.  It was a great gift for my Mom, but I'm not sure that the caretakers that were with her each day, would agree.  In front of her at the same table where she sat, also was a notebook where she had asked that some more important things be written down, so that she would "remember" them on a regular basis.  I'm not sure now if it was a composition type notebook or a spiral bound smaller one, but the point is, it sat near her each day and she thumbed through it and read the notes inside as the mood struck her.

     I never read Mom's notebook, but in my world it was filled with notes reminding her to praise her other
The "Cancer" Diary
kids as much as her favorite son, the Ongion (Well, she raised me from a small shallot, so we've always been close.)  More likely it was filled with reminders of people that she wanted to remember to pray for, or reminders about people's families,, but she would ask for things to be put in there, and one of those things was a small statement about her trip to the hospital and her cancer diagnosis.  I wasn't there for the discussion but I could have agreed with putting the note in there, just like my siblings who did, it was the right thing to do.  It was a life altering event and at that point we were just trying to give Mom the best possible care and trying and fulfill her wishes as best we could.  So in, it went, mixed among the other notes and prayer requests.  Here's where the story starts to get funny.

     Mom's routine didn't change after that day, with one small exception.  She'd still sit at the table drinking her coffee or water, and casually rediscover her chirping stuffed birds and the new cards and letters that
were on the table and of course then pick up her notebook.  She would peruse the news and reminders of family situations and of those who needed prayer and then she would see the Cancer note.  "What"?  She would exclaim? " I Have Cancer !!"   The caregiver that was there would then come out to find a very startled Mom and have to sit with her and explain how she had gone to the hospital, had the X-ray, gotten the probable diagnosis, and had decided that she didn't want to treat it.  Each time, by the end of the discussion, Mom would be shaking her head in agreement, and say things like, "Oh, that sounds like me", or "That makes sense" or more probably, "I'd let God handle that one" and things in the house would go back to normal.  On a side note, I'd always respected my Mother's steadfast decision skills, she thought logically, made firm decisions and she stuck with them.  If your bedtime was 8:30, it was 8:30 Mister and it wasn't her fault that the football game ran late and the Wonderful World of Disney was only halfway through "Old Yeller", if 8:30 came, you'd be in bed, period.  This was a great blessing when she would hit the "Cancer Line" in the book, as she always came to the same decision as to the treatment, given the time to work through it, but every time it came to her with the same shock as it did the first time.  The reminder notebook, therefore, became a ticking time bomb set in front of her.   You'd be at the stove making something for her and you'd glance over and see the notebook in her hand, and pray "Dear God, please
Reminding people of things can be painful
don't let her get to page 6 "(or whichever page it was on).  You could distract and delay but it played out like a game of "Keep Away" on a school playground, eventually everyone gets their stuff back and Mom would read her notebook and exclaim "What?  I Have Cancer !!", and you knew how your next hour would be spent.  It would happen just before church, lunch, the nurse's visit, and at any other inopportune time.  There was a movie made about short-term memory loss a few years ago called "50 First Dates", I'm hoping you are finding this blog funny, but if not, rent that, and you'll surely get a chuckle.  That's was Mom's life at that point, always interesting but with the impending threat of tragic news on the horizon each day.  We thought we were doing the right thing, trying to respect her wishes and letting her keep some semblance of control in her life, but this meant, that at any given moment, on any given day, Mom would get the news that she had cancer and as far as she knew, it was the first time she'd heard it.

     At some point, it may have been weeks, or days, I don't remember (FYI, that's why I write blogs, I have a spot for all my memories), it was decided that ultimately it was cruel to remind Mom each day that she might have cancer. That page from her notebook disappeared and the chirping of the stuffed birds stopped being interrupted by gasps and shocked exclamations.  Things became routine in the house once again.  The ultimate irony came a year or two later when, just prior to her death, Mom had another chest X-Ray and the spot on her lungs had not grown at all and the cancer diagnosis was removed.  This reaffirmed our decision to remove the page from the memory notebook, but could you imagine how we would have felt if we hadn't?  Elder care is not that different from parenting, you try to get it right all the time, but you rarely do, so you settle for "close enough"  (A quick shout out to my 10th grade Geometry teacher Mr. Weinel, who taught me that "Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and sometimes, dancing")  That's my funny "cancer story", and if we meet on the street and I try and tell it again, feel free to remind me that you've heard it. 

The chirpy birds with their new owner Oretta

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sometimes I see Jesus as I sit at Wally's Pub

     Tucked back in the middle of a one way street, in the town of Canandaigua where I grew up, sits a jewel of a bar, nondescript both outside and in.  The street it sits on is named for a mythical bird that rose from the ashes, but the nickname by the locals is far more colorful, Blood Alley.  I have a brother who says that the name comes from the large number of butcher shops that used to be on the street, but I suspect that it has more to do with a seedier time in that city's past and the opportunities for nefarious activities that might have gone on there.  The bar is called Wally's, and yes, sometimes I see Jesus there. 

     It's a dive bar, plain and simple.  What's a dive bar?  I can't describe it better than a quote I pulled from a 2010 Playboy article (I told you I read it for the articles), which said a dive bar is "A church for down-and-outers and those who romanticize them, a rare place where high and low rub elbows — bums and poets, thieves and slumming celebrities. It’s a place that wears its history proudly."  I met a guy in a bar one night and he wrote a book on the drinking history of another western NY town, Buffalo, and he swears that the term "Dive Bar" originated in Buffalo.  If either the topic of drinking or Buffalo interest you, you should pick up his book "Nickel City Drafts" by Dan Murphy.  It's a short but interesting read, but I digress, back to Wally's, it's a dive, but what a dive it is.  Most folks, when asked what makes this place special, would probably mention the food and I wouldn't argue the point that they have fantastic food.  Well before they were a finalist in the NY State Fair Burger competition last year, I was a fan of the Wally Burger and in that town, they serve up the best wings, but I'd still put the food second to the people that I see there, especially since one of them is Jesus. 

     I first saw Jesus at Wally's in the face and the acts of friends of mine who used to play there, once a month on Saturday nights, Meyer and McGuire (see My friend Frank). I'd try and talk with them between sets and while waiting for the regulars to clear out, I'd overhear snippets of conversation where these simple folk would catch Frank and Siobhan up on their lives since the last month that they had been there.  Honestly, there didn't seem to be much progress in some of those people's lives and stories (Surely weren't my stories of travel and dining more interesting?), that's the nature of some of the people in dive bars, but my friends sat and listened intently to these folks, like they were being pitched a million dollar idea.  I used to get impatient while waiting for my turn to talk to them, until I had a cathartic moment one time and realized, I didn't need the face time nearly as much as the others.  I'd then sit back and watch the parade that would play out, and how could I not see Jesus in the way that these musicians would listen and counsel this wide variety of people that came to chat with them? No one was turned away, and Meyer and McGuire even immortalized some of them in song (See At Wally's on Blood Alley).  That song is from their "Road Less Traveled CD" and one of my favorites.  Point is, Jesus spent his time among those that some might call "The Great Unwashed", and so I saw him at Wally's on some Saturday nights when Meyer and McGuire played and did the same.

     I next saw Jesus in the interactions of the patrons at Wally's. I have a couple of family traditions that bring me to Wally's and over time I realized that other families and friends do the same thing.  They take the time to get together with their siblings and acquaintances in this low pressure place huddled over a beer and a Wally Burger. I'd bet that more confessions may have been heard on the stools of that bar, than a few blocks up at the Catholic Church and I'd bet that reconciliations happen there all the time.  My sister, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, meets a high school friend of hers there regularly and she claims to have seen Jesus there too, during these discussions.  My sister, Peppermint, found herself a couple of friends there, and they have become almost family to her.  The walls of Wally's are lined with flyers for a variety of charitable events, and even though the patrons are amongst those who have less to give, they open their wallets regularly to buy chances on raffles, to fill cans with coins for the less fortunate and those in need, and they take care of their own.  I see a living example of two bible verses in these acts, the widow who drops two mites in the temple plate, and the story of the Good Samaritan.  You can pick the one you see, but I see Jesus across the bar regularly as I witness these acts.

     Finally, I saw Jesus at Wally's just last Friday night.  I had a "night off", my wife was out of town, my son Nolan slept over at a friend's, and my siblings were all attending a Chocolate Gala for a local charity.  I was looking forward to misbehaving in town as my witnesses and my back-up consciences were all busy that night, but God had other plans.  I met some friends as soon as I arrived at Wally's and promised to join them at their table as soon as a grabbed a beer, but as I turned, I saw someone I hadn't seen in a while.  I'm friends with this man on Facebook, but our relationship goes back to my childhood.  He sat huddled over a beer with a whiskey chaser and I almost ignored him, as we aren't that close, and I had friends waiting, but for some reason, I stopped and acknowledged him.  I remembered that some of this status updates of late had talked of a divorce, and moving to smaller place, but that also they spoke frequently of his blessings given by God.  I mentioned sincerely, how I found them to be inspirational and that on days that they helped me keep my life in perspective.  I then recalled how I had mistreated him when we knew each other in youth and I apologized for that behavior and let him know that I aspired to be better and that he motivated me to be better.  He paused for a minute and he picked his head up and looked over the beer and simply stated that he really needed to hear that, that evening.  He was once again moving, and he had suffered some setbacks at work and in his life and he was questioning his direction in life when I stumbled upon him.  We talked for barely 20 minutes but both of us came away from the conversation more enlightened.  The funny thing is, is that he thought he saw Jesus that night sitting next to him at the bar, but really it was me who ran into Jesus, once again at Wally's Pub. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Incense and Waffles

     We all like routine and traveling salesmen like it too.  I do have to travel for a living, but most weeks I get to go out mid-week, which means I get to fully enjoy my weekends with my family. This, week, however, my trip started at O' Dark Hundred on Sunday morning, and none of us likes that as a routine.

     The cat was confused this am.  She is used to me getting up at 4:30 most mornings, and enjoying my coffee as I peruse the Internet for the latest happenings.  We have our game where she leaps up, and blocks the screen with her body until I pet her, and then I move the keyboard back as she sprawls across the desk to get her early morning attention.  Sometimes her purring gets so loud she sounds like an boat motor, and I worry she will wake the house.  So, she's used to this game, but not on Sunday mornings.  Sundays I normally sleep in until 7ish, and the family and I get ready and depart fairly quickly afterwards for Mass.  We occasionally stop for breakfast on the way home, so this postpones Nibbler's and my game until I get back and changed, so as I said, the cat was confused this am when the day seemed right but the routine was not. You see, this Sunday am, I had to get up to work at 4:30. 

The Thurible (Really read the other blog, it is worth it)
     She took a while to even come around this am, but when she did, she leaped up, rubbed her face against mine, as if she were searching for something, and then jumped back down and disappeared into the dark house.  She repeated her actions several times, and I imagined her going back under the couch or behind her chair where she must keep her cat calendar and double checking it.  The face rubs were searching for something, and that was the smell that is usually on me on Sunday mornings when I return, which is incense and waffles. It's not like the church uses incense each week, in fact it's quite rare when they do, but I think it's one of those smells that you associate with a place, so when I go into church each week, I think it smells like incense (There may be another reason that this particular church smells like incense, you can read about it here  Time served - adventures-on the altar)  Since we like to sleep in on the weekends, we frequently don't have time for breakfast prior to mass, so we end up stopping a lot in Canandaigua and we normally head to the brunch at the Steamboat Landing where we can enjoy a nice view of a lake, that we can't afford to live on, while eating a breakfast that neither our budgets nor our waistlines need.  And they have waffles.  I like this kind of a lazy start to each Sunday, and it speaks to the freedom that we have to go off and do many things, or go back to our homes and do nothing.  Again, however, that wasn't the case, this particular Sunday.

     This Sunday, I had a work trip that started in Toronto on Sunday mid-day which necessitated an early morning departure.  I would rather have attended the Bills/Patriots game that day, than plan ahead of time to drive around the tailgating traffic, but that wasn't my job that morning.  It was to bypass my family and friends there and to head off to schmooze with some customers.  Do I regret it?  Sure, but only to a certain extent, like getting a Lime Life Saver when you really wanted a Cherry one.  Both are good, but when you are expecting one, the other is a poor substitute.  Given my druthers, I'll always spend my time around my family, which God and my parents chose for me, and my friends, that I chose, but I don't have to go to church to realize how blessed I am to have my job, my ability to create an income to support my family and yes, have a little fun along the way.  I'm not sure if I'm leaving you, expecting more detail on the days I did spend away, but let that void be a reminder of what I do miss sometimes when I am traveling and would rather be home playing with my cat, smelling like incense and waffles.