Archive for the ‘growing up in 50’s’ Tag

It Was Not Walden Pond, But It Was Beautiful

Back in the day, growing up in the fifties, the Fourth of July was always filled with family and friends celebrating our national birthday, swimming, a backyard cookout, and going to the fireworks.

I grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, the home of important historical places, events and literary notables, such as; the start of the Revolutionary War, home of Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and his Walden Pond.   Growing up in Concord meant we learned all these things, and we even had the privilege of taking swimming lessons at Walden Pond.  However, Walden Pond’s notoriety was too much for most town  residence and was often very crowded with visitors.  So many ‘townies’ opted to swim in a lesser known,  smaller, but just as beautiful, pond called White’s Pond.

Just as beautiful as Walden Pond

To swim at Whites Pond, you needed a membership for the Whites Pond Association which cost about $15.00 for the season.   Our family had a membership and it was a life saver on many hot, humid summer days.   On Holidays, like the 4th of July, we would spend hours at the pond.  All the kids would go with my older sister supervising a troop of 7 or 8 kids.   We all knew the rules, and my sister was always willing to bend the rules a bit, and it was a great time.  Eventually, later in the afternoon, the adults will come along with possibly another couple of kids who came late, and for the next hour or so we played and swam with the adults before going home for our cookout.

Our cookouts were huge affairs, with lots of friends, family, and food.   There was the usual cookout staples; hot dogs, hamburgers, and corn on the cob, along with a wide array of salads, fruits, desserts, and watermelon!   There was, or so it seemed, enough to feed and army.   It’s funny, years later when looking through family photo’s the only photos of my Father were of him cooking at our cookouts, and he was always smiling and happy!

To go to the fireworks on the 4th of July we needed to leave town.   For whatever reason, the town father’s of Concord never permitted fireworks, no matter what occasion.    So after our fabulous cookout was all over and cleaned up, the gang all piled into various cars, and headed to the fireworks in neighboring towns.

I can remember the anticipation I felt, along the excitement and happiness I experienced during throughout day.    Along tired satisfaction I had as my Dad carried me up the stairs and put me into bed having fallen asleep on the ride home from the fireworks.

These special days and events left vivid, loving,  and lasting memories, which now cause me to smile and wipe away a happy tear or two for the good times long ago.

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Tea Calms The Soul!

Nana's teapot

Nana's Teapot

As a child when I was sick, upset, or generally out of sorts; my Irish Nana would brew a fresh pot of tea.  Then she would fix me a special cup, load with sugar and milk.  Whatever was wrong was quickly fixed and I always felt much better with my milky, sweet, Irish Tea!

As I grew older, the tea had much less sugar and milk, but Nana’s special tea was the best tea I ever had.  I still have Nana’s tea pot and on special occasions I make a pot of tea, but it is not the same!   Problems and solutions are not resolved as quickly these days, but a refreshing cup of tea always calms the soul and things do not seem so bad while sipping a nice cup of tea.

I knew Nana used a tea pot, but I really wasn’t too sure what made her tea so special.  When I looked on the Web, I found 189,000 links on how: To Make The Perfect Pot of Irish Tea.  Here is one I found on LollySmith.com.  Not sure if it will be like my Nana’s tea but I will give it a try.  Here is what they say to do:

  • Fill a kettle with freshly drawn water; reheating water already in the kettle will affect the taste.
  • Heat an earthenware or china tea pot. Put hot water in the pot for a few minutes this is called warming the pot.
  • Use 1 teaspoonful of tea per person plus 1 for the pot.
  • Take the pot to the kettle and pour freshly boiling water over the leaves.
  • Leave tea pot steep for a few minutes and stir, after another 2 minutes tea is ready to pour, but no more than 5 minutes after adding boiling water.

If you don’t have loose tea, you can use tea bags in place of loose tea; it is your choice.

Now to really move you from FRAZZLED TO DAZZLED, my tag line, I found a different variation of the tea above; by replacing milk and add Bailey’s® Irish Cream liquor!   I really feel that my Nana would have probably enjoyed this version for a special occassion.   

I tried making a pot of tea with the recipe above, without the Bailey’s® Irish Cream liquor, and it was good but not quite like Nana’s.  Why?  It’s hard to say but it is probably because I made it and not Nana!  She was the magic ingrediant that made the tea so special and it calmed my soul.

So if you are uptight and need to have a little calming of your soul brew yourself a cup of tea and just relax and enjoy!

No Fireplace To Hang Our Christmas Stockings!

Even though we lived in a wonderful old home, we had no fireplace.   This was a problem only at Christmas, because you need to hang your stocking on the fireplace mantle!   Well Dad and my Aunt Alice fixed this problem! They made a fireplace with a mantel, painted it brick red with white lines (the lines were not quite straight or in the proper spot but no one mentioned that!) it looked as “real” as possible.   They even painted logs and flames to further the illusion.  Christmas cards and evergreens decorated the mantle, and there were hooks for everyone’s Christmas stocking; 4 children, Mom and Dad, Grandma, and Aunt Alice.  The stockings were filled with small trinkets, toys and games but that was beside the point, it was all about the fireplace and the stockings and less about the small gifts – IT WAS FUN!   

 Around the holidays as we get older, we often look back and remember the way things were when we grew up.  We keep wishing that all those happy times could be relived.   I have said this before, we should honor the past traditions, create new ones, and bringing back the ones that have fallen by the wayside.   I am doing it, this year we are bringing back the Christmas Stockings! 

Even though I am now down to four people in our immediate family and we are all adults, we picked a name and we are filling a Christmas stocking for the chosen person.   There are new stockings, although I still have the old and tattered ones from years ago, and the stockings this year will be hung on the mantel of our wonderfully convenient gas fireplace that will be turned on as we sit around and open our stockings after breakfast on Christmas morning!

Is This Your Life? Three Suggestions Could Make A Difference!

There was an old TV show called This Is Your Life!  Is this your life?

Are you a Baby Boomer, with a spouse and children, work full-time, or have parents and older relatives you are care for?
Are you frustrated that you have too little time to spend with your family?
Are you afraid to take time off from work to deal with personal and family issues?
If these scenarios resemble parts of your life it does not have too!

Many of us of juggling many balls each and every day between work, family and trying to have a life.    When all the balls stay up in the air and in proper sequence then life is wonderful, and we feel invisible.  However, when one ball spins out of control and it drops to the floor, this is when the day starts in a downward spiral.   This is when you could use someone to run those errands that you were planning on doing, but now you have to work late on that special project.
  1. Investigate whether you could work from home 1 or 2 days a week.
  2. Many employers are amenable to 4 day work weeks.
  3. If all else fails investigate Concierge Services in your area, the cost of the service could be less than you think and will relieve a good deal of stress you are feeling.

These three options could reduce some of the stress and frustration you are having.




Three Suggestions for Baby Boomer’s to Downsizing Parents Home.

For years, with both happiness and sadness, parents have sent their children off to college and the children leave a lot of their “STUFF” behind.  This “STUFF” has a tendency to “hang out” at the house for a long time.  Somehow this gives parents the feeling that “The children will be back because they want their “STUFF”
In a lot of cases, parents whose children left the family home years ago – for college, pursuing a career, or for marriage, left behind “STUFF” that is still hanging around in the basement and attic.  When I work with clients I find and I am told; “Oh that belongs to Suzie (or Dick), I have it until they have room.”

Fall is when many of us are thinking of clearing out our gardens and preparing them for winter.  This would also be a perfect time to start weeding out all the stuff that has been hanging around your parent’s homes that you left behind when you moved on with your lives.

Three suggestions on how to begin to help your parents to organize and downsize and get rid of the trash you or your siblings left behind.

  1. Send a friendly little email to your siblings, telling them what you plan and when you are planning to do it.
  2. Give them a specific date that if they want anything they left behind to come and take it away.
  3. Stick to the plan.  When the deadline comes and goes, start the clean out process, and donate, sell, or throw out all items that you do not want or need.
You will feel so much better for having done this and so will your parents.  Remember this will need to be done sooner or later and NOW is a perfect time to start.

Preaching To The Choir

I am not bragging but every week I attend Mass.   In between, I try to live by everything I learned from my parents, teachers, nuns and priests.   I live a good life and I am, I believe, a good person.

I hate to admit that sometimes I go to Mass on auto pilot.  I can rarely tell you what the readings were or what the priest said in his homily.   However today was an exception!   The reading and the homily were about vanity and placing more value on the material things we acquire in life, than we do placing value on building and acquiring our spiritual and moral compasses that guide us to what is important to keep us on track in life.    Is having a ton of money, a bigger and better car, going to make us happier, healthier, and more satisfied with our lives?   Everyone answers that question differently.

Of course, this really hit home for me because this is what I do!   I spend my days talking with people about all the “stuff” they have.   They have this stuff and they want to keep it, because it means a great deal to them.   They have reach a level of wealth that they aspired to or that they have more than their parents had at their same age.    For whatever reason it is important for them to have, keep, and acquire more stuff.   I am not  100% sure that having all these material things is or has made them happier and more satisfied.

By the time I work with my clients, they are at a point in their lives when they must downsize and make room for less clutter.    Some have even realized that having all the stuff is really not as important as it once was.   It is still very hard for them to give up the items that mean so much and it is extremely difficult to convince  them to let things go.   Letting go they might have less physical items, doesn’t mean that their status or stature is any less than it was with all these items.

My Dad always told me that there were no pockets in coffins, and he was right!  When you are laying in the coffin it really does not matter whether or not you have millions of dollars or not, we are all equal at that point.    He worked very hard for what we had and it was very good life.   My family was not rich, by any stretch of the imagination, with lots of material items, but we were rich with abundant love, with a strong upbringing from wonderful parents, family and friends.    My Father never owned a new car, boat, or a summer home.   However, he made sure his family had a nice home, good food, nice clothes, good education, and plenty of love and happiness.

So today while listening to the readings and the homily, I realized I am preaching the same sermon to my clients.   It is not necessary to have all this stuff in your life, it does not make you any better person.   We are who we are, and we need to work on acquiring less material stuff and concentrate on what makes us the truly wonderful person we should be — loving, kind, giving.

So today Father Marc was preaching to the choir!

Life Was Simpler Or So It Seemed!

I love summer time!   As long as I can remember summer was my favorite season.   I’m not sure if it was because there was no school – as I really, really did not like school – but summer was always a very relaxing and carefree time for me.

Swimming at Walden Pond

I lived in, Concord MA, and it had a great recreation program that provided an organized summer playground (like a day camp) program.  There was staff and supervision for all the children along with organized activities – sports, crafts, and field trips– as well as plenty of free time to just play.   In addition, we were bused to the local pond (Thoreau’sWalden Pond) for swimming lessons.   It was great fun!

Every week day morning, off my sister and I would go to playground.   We would either walk or ride our bikes – it was about a mile.   Can you imagine letting kids do that today!    We walked or rode our bikes 4 times a day to and from playground – morning and afternoon.   Once a week, usually on Friday afternoon, we would each get dime, so we could stop at the store and buy a Popsicle on the way home.  

My family lived on Main Street, and had a huge, screened in front porch.   Very often my Mother would serve lunch and dinner on the porch.   It was cooler and there was no central air conditioning.   My Dad worked in a grocery store and would get home around 6 or 6:30 in the evening and when he got home; he would pile us in the car and take us for a swim at the local pond.   It was great fun on a hot, sticky night to go swimming and have this one to one time with my Dad.   Very often this swimming trip also included a stop at the local ice cream stand.   By the time we got home we were all cooled off and ready for bed!

My parents did not spend time chauffeuring us around to various places to keep us amused as the parents today seem to do.  Looking back on those years life seemed simpler than it is today, I was not pre-programmed or scheduled to do things throughout the day or week.   My time was pretty loosely put together.  I played, had fun, but nothing was overly expensive or organized.

Looking back on my summer’s as a kid it is no wonder that I fondly remember those times.   I still enjoy an occasional Popsicle, sitting on the front porch in the evening, going for a swim in a pond in the early evenings (particular on a very warm summer evening) and then stopping for an ice cream!   A great way to end a perfect summer day.

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