What the Catnip, Santa??



Georgia here:

I have been so bad, I have forced Mom to write a blog which she hasn’t done for a very long time!  She said the story is too long for FaceBook.  She’s going to let me tell it myself though.  Mom said it may be cathartic.  I don’t know what that means, but I’ll take her word for it!

I was having a hard time sleeping last night, Mom and the dogs weren’t ~ they were sacked out.  I just love the laundry basket.  Mom was really tired, before she went to bed she went to the basement, folded the last load of wash, carried the laundry basket upstairs to the bedroom but decided to wait until morning to put the clean clothes away.  Did I mention I just LOVE the laundry basket?

Well, I couldn’t control myself!  I jumped into the laundry basket, ran around in circles, rolled in her clean undies, unpaired the socks and jumped against the sides of the basket until I knocked it over.  Then, piece by piece, quiet as a mouse, I ran off with the laundry!

Let’s just say Mom was not pleased that she tripped over the laundry basket on her way to the bathroom this morning and realized what I had done.  Then she had to have a scavenger hunt to collect her laundry before she even had her coffee this morning!  She is not pleasant when things disrupt her routine ~ and this is a woman who was a middle school administrator who was forever moving her daily Steven Covey “To Do” list to the next day before 8:30 AM!  I will admit, I left some of the laundry downstairs and by the back door, under the dining room table, and under the bed.  This is aside from the fact it all has to be rewashed.  I guess I was a little out of control!

Yesterday was my birthday.  I was 9 months old!  Don’t you love that sweet baby-face?  The dogs, my sisters, Emma and Sara, pulled me aside while Mom was crawling under the bed and tables gathering her now re-dirty laundry to tell me that Christmas is coming soon and I better get my act together or I will get coal instead of catnip in my stocking!  You see there is this guy called Santa Paws who brings treats to good animals.  They are good sisters to explain things to me since I’m still a baby.  Emma is 5 and Sara is 9 so they know a lot.  Mom says Sara knows a little too much, she gets into trouble, Trouble with a capital T, Mom says!  These are my sisters…  Emma is on the left, Sara is on the right.Header

They suggested I hang up my Christmas stocking and be extra sweet for the next few weeks.  I have to control myself until December 26th since Santa Paws is watching and if I am not good, he will not leave me toys and treats for Christmas.  So, I took their suggestion and hung up my stocking.  As soon as Mom saw it she was so happy again.  Then things started to fall apart.


Mom decided it was time to take my Christmas picture.  She went upstairs and returned with these red and green frilly collars with sequins and bells on them.  Can you imagine!  I am a dignified member of the feline species, not a frou-frou cat.  I think not on these collars!

She slipped two, not one, TWO of them over my head.  She started to tell me how cute I looked, but before she got it out of her mouth, I shook my regal feline head and they flew in two different directions!  Whoo-Hoo!!  As Martin Luther King, Jr. so appropriately said, “Free at last, free at last.  Thank God Almighty I am free at last!”

I chased the frilly little garments around the living room, caught one, and treated it like an overdressed Christmas mouse from The Nutcracker.  This is what I think of Mom’s Christmas costume…

20151208_114224_resizedThis is an extravagant ball of decorated organza that needs to be destroyed, and I’m just the cat to do it!

Life did eventually calm down.  I was afraid coal wouldn’t be as much fun to roll in as catnip ~ and the girls said Santa Paws was watching.  So I will be a good kitty.  Sit on my perch.  Keep my teeth off of the Holiday Finery and watch my birds.  For now…..


Merry Christmas, Georgia

Autumnal Equinox

I picked up a snack pack of pretzels at the grocery store the other day for my low cal break snack at work.  I opened the little bag to find all of the little pretzels were in the shape of either jack-o-lanterns or bats.  My hand froze on it’s way to my mouth…wasn’t it last week I was making potato salad for the Labor Day bar-be-que? The salt water taffy in the “seasonal candy” aisle has been replaced by candy corn, mini candy bars and pumpkin peeps.  Shorts and sandals have been replaced by long pants and (gasp!) sweaters and fleece.  The flannel sheets have crept back onto the bed and, it seems, everything passing my lips seems to taste like apple and cinnamon or pumpkin.

Neighbors are counting acorns and searching for wooly bears trying to anticipate the severity of the upcoming winter.  A friend from Delaware just told me about a crab named Baltimore Billy who will be taking a dive in the Chesapeake  Bay.  Depending on whether he turns right or left when he hits the water will indicate the severity of winter in that area.  Who, or what, is predicting winter in your neck of the woods??

Most seasonal changes seem to me to gradually approach and settle in, except the autumnal equinox.  It seems that overnight a day filled with light becomes a day in which the sun and the moon are having a tug of war, and right now it’s a draw.  Let’s look at some of those “overnight” changes as we attempt to embrace the change of seasons…

Summer                                                                                   …becomes Autumn

All in all, there are advantages and disadvantages to summer and autumn.  I am grateful I live in an area that provides changes in seasons to provide a new environment and new activities several times a year.  Having grown up in an area with four distinct seasons, I don’t think I could ever be content with living in a geographic area with a constant singular climate.

I hope you are able to gently let go of summer and move forward to the color and excitement autumn has to offer…  What is your favorite season?  Why??

I’ve Got Moxie, Do You??

Meet Frank Anicetti, arguably the best known person in Lisbon Falls, Maine.  He also answers to  “Mr. Moxie” or “Mayor of Moxieland.”  Frank is the third generation owner of Kennebec Fruit Company on the corner of Rt. 196 and Main Street in Lisbon Falls.

Lisbon Reporter

Back in the day, when a destined to be famous local high school student named Stephen King frequented Kennebec Fruit, they actually sold things like oranges and apples!  If you have read King’s recent time travel novel 11-22-63, then you have met Frank, at least in the

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

literary sense.  You have also visited Kennebec Fruit.  Nowadays, Kennebec Fruit is where you travel to find all things Moxie.  Kennebec Fruit Company is a synonym for The Moxie Museum.   If you are lucky, you will venture in that direction during the weekend of the second Saturday in July where you will find community living in Maine at it’s best ~ the Moxie Festival.  Last weekend I fulfilled an item on my bucket list and aimed the old Subaru north on I-95 toward Lisbon Falls early in the morning to arrive in time for the Moxie Festival Parade.

Residents of the New England states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont are known for their strong-willed, independent spirits.  It is a natural fit that Moxie was invented by Dr. Austin Thompson of Unity, Maine, who was working in Massachusetts at

the time, and is now produced in New Hampshire.  Moxie is the official soft drink of Maine (the only state to have an official soft drink).  Moxie was originally known as “Beverage Moxie Nerve Food” a patented nostrum which had to be dispensed a spoonful at a time.  To take advantage of the new and growing soft drink market Thompson put it on the soft drink market in 1884.  Moxie became the nation’s first mass-marketed soft drink.  It actually outsold Coca-Cola in 1920.

The taste of Moxie is as strong-willed and independent as the New Englanders who savor every bottle and can they can get their hands on, and celebrate the “distinctively different” beverage each year with it’s own festival.  Early advertising slogans included “Learn to drink Moxie.”  Tom Watman remembers, “when I was a kid, they’d give me Moxie mixed with milk, and they’d tell me, when I was older, I could have the real stuff.” (Yankee May/June 2011)

Thanks to successful marketing in the early years by Frank Archer the word “moxie” took on a life of it’s own.  Having “moxie” is similar to having “chutzpah.”  It means having an uncommon degree of spirit or nerve.  If you have the nerve and strength to get the job done, you’ve got “Moxie!”

The “other Frank” Anicetti, as a local businessman, initiated the concept of the “Moxie Festival” thirty years ago to inject new life into the local community’s summer festival.  The annual Moxie Festival grows larger every year.  It has been estimated to draw up to 40,000 people seeking “moxie” in their Halloween orange shirts each year.  Kennebec Fruit Company/The Moxie Museum is the hub of Moxie Festival T-shirts and memorabilia, Moxie tasting and best of all partaking of Frank Anicetti’s Moxie ice cream.  The ice cream alone is worth a trip to Lisbon Falls, Maine!!


There were a lot of November 2012 Election Day “Wanna-Be’s” in the Moxie Festival Parade.



The “I’ve Got Moxie” Award for 2012 is awarded to United States Senator Olympia Snowe.  If “moxie” is the “nerve and strength to get the job done,” then Senator Snowe ~ you’ve definitely got Moxie!!!  Thank you for your years of unfailing service to the residents of Maine and the United States Senate.  You have demonstrated time and again that you have the MOXIE and the courage to always do the right thing.  






I ask again, Do You Have Moxie???

July 4th in Ocean Park, Maine

One of the best days of the year, when you live by the sea in a town that originated as a Chautauqua in 1881 is July 4th.  Ocean Park, Maine is one of more than 350 assembly centers generated from the camp meeting movement in the late nineteenth century.  These assemblies were dedicated to self-improvement through religion, education, cultural enlightenment and entertainment and recreation. A few of these communities still exist across America.  While many of the original Chautauquas originated with a link to a specific religious group, those remaining are now non-denominational. One thing most of these assemblies have in common is that they were created near water, sitting within groves of trees and located along the railroad for ease in transportation.

The history of the Chautauqua Movement in America, and the story of those communities that have survived is fascinating.  Take a few minutes to explore this piece of Americana.  The mission of self-improvement and family values is still strong.  In Ocean Park generations come from all across America, Canada and Europe to spend time within the comfort of a town that seems, in many aspects, to be frozen in time.  It is a place that is still guided by a mission and by-laws that were created by a community dedicated to individual growth in education, culture and the examination of moral and ethical beliefs within a recreational environment.  Enjoy some scenes from our traditional Independence Day Parade!!  I hope you had a day full of community as well…

Photos courtesy of the Ocean Park Association.

Sweet 16

Good Morning Peoples, especially those who love their felines!  Monhegan Mist here, aka Miss Misty.  This is the morning after…and I am a bit weary!    Yesterday was my birthday.  Mom had a Sweet 16 birthday dinner for me.  Before you start picturing wild cats running around and bouncing off the walls, I was only 16 in human years… in cat years I was 84!  The advantage I have over Mom is, I was born with grey hair so I can do a better job of hiding my age! Mom promised me I could be a guest blogger for my birthday, so here it goes…

I had a rather unusual beginning in my family.  My Mom had gone back to graduate school and was very busy.  She had a golden retriever named Maggie who was well taken care of by Mom’s friend, but was lonely.  Mom was thinking maybe a kitty would fit the bill.  Problem, Mom hated cats.  One Saturday Mom went to the pet store to get Maggie some food.  I was there with a group of cat rescuers who were trying to find forever homes for kitties.  Long story short, Mom saw me with my grey velvet fur and took me home.

When we got home we had a long talk.  She introduced me to Maggie and told me she realized God made me a cat, not a dog, and while she respected that she had always found cats a bit aloof and independent.  She said if I could be like a small grey golden retriever who used a litter box that life would be perfect!  I really wanted things to work out at my new “forever” home, but that was a lot to ask!  Mom sealed the deal by naming me after her favorite place on earth ~ Monhegan Island, Maine.  She said my fur was the color of the mist in the harbor in the early morning.  Add to that, I am a perfect lady who always lays with my legs gracefully crossed!

I took our little talk to heart.  Fact is, I wasn’t ready to be separated from my feline mother when I was and needed something with 4 legs to be my Mom.  That wound up being Maggie.  When your foster mother is a golden retriever it is almost impossible to be independent and aloof.  So, Mom got her wish and within 24 hours she loved me unconditionally and decided kitties were an individual decision and that she had been wrong to write off an entire breed.  I am a great cuddler!

Some of Mom’s other “quirks” I have an issue with.  She loves to dress up her animals for holiday pictures.  That behavior moves into territory I cannot abide!  I call it animal abuse!  I have to draw the line somewhere!!  I have beautiful green eyes that in pictures always look like some wild beast that belongs in a scarey movie.  She just doesn’t get it!  I HATE to have my picture taken!  I’m so much cuter in person.

One of my greatest challenges was when Mom brought home a golden retriever puppy two years after Maggie died.  Maggie was older when I came to live with her, I was not prepared for the challenges of a puppy.  Her name is Gracie.  I did a good job raising Gracie!  I was the mother this time!  People think we should be enemies because we are different species ~ why?  We aren’t enemies, we are sisters.  I wag my tail like a dog, and I taught Gracie to be the only dog who can cup her paws to scoop like a cat!  She is able to gather all of the edible treasures from the kitchen sink that Mom forgets to immediately send down the garbage disposal thanks to me!  And…did I mention that I do an awesome job of keeping my canine siblings clean and well groomed?

I’m sorry to interrupt Father’s Day to send my belated birthday message, but Mom was chasing me all day yesterday trying to get a Sweet 16 picture of me (the one at the top of the page).  By then, we were both too tired to write!

I am a very important member of the family.  I have been with Mom through a lot of life over 16 human years.  You too can have a special kitty in your life.  We can be independent or cuddly, your choice.  We can be entertaining.  We are playful.  We can keep the dog clean.  We can be your faithful companion.  We are low maintenance.

I would be remiss if I did not remind you that this is “Kitten Season.”  There are many kitties that do not have a forever home ~ young and old.  Please consider bringing a furry new friend into your home by adopting a rescue.  We are really special balls of fur… That’s my Sweet 16 message for you…

Love, Miss Misty (Monhegan Mist)

P.S. Special kitty hugs to my look alike blog friend… Teddy!

Ah-a-a-a-a Cho-o-o-o-o

I don’t know about you, but following a rather mild winter it seems to be an especially miserable season for those who suffer from seasonal pollen allergies.  That being said, it is a banner year for those who sell allergy medications and tissues.  Those of us who suffer are buying more and more over the counter medications, feeling buried in mountains of soggy mucus laden tissues, are feeling wretched and at the mercy of Mother Nature through a foggy brain that we are sure has an ax buried in it!  Amongst the blooms of the season the quality of life is diminished.  I keep getting a mental picture of my friend above reciting Katharine Hepburn’s famous line, “the calla lilly’s are in bloom” in a very nasally voice and with red, swollen teary eyes.

All of that being said, my fair readers, I am angry!  No, not at Mother Nature, I’ve learned in my 62 years that it is self defeating to get angry with Mother Nature (she always wins).  I am


angry with those who manufacture tissues.  What were they thinking?  They have chosen the time of year in which they must be making more money on tissues than any other, with the possible exception of winter cold season, to change the design of their tissue boxes.  On a scale from aesthetically beautiful (10) to downright ugly (1) the latest offerings are a minus 10!

Judging by the picture at left, even Abe Lincoln had to resort to a neti pot during allergy season!  They must have had a bad season of tissue box designs even in his day.

If you read my mother’s day post, you know that I was raised by a mother who would not allow even a ketchup bottle on the dinner table.  While from that standpoint I was a major disappointment in that department, I am finicky about my tissue boxes.  They need to be of coordinating colors to my decor, and have an artistically pleasing design.

While in one of the big box stores today I surveyed five different brands of tissues.  Puffs advertises the new designs with “The same great tissues you love… with a prettier wardrobe.”  I was left wondering where they are buying their clothes!!  I found that tissues come in many varieties: basic, with lotion, ultra soft, cool touch, with Vicks, auto pack, and anti-viral.  Some brands only came in basic, some had “purse-pack” gifts included.  What they all had in common was that they have new UGLY designs on their boxes.

So, for someone who is visually distracted by an un-visually pleasing box of tissues in a room, what is one to do?  Tissue box covers, and there are many types to choose from.  I found basic stainless steel, bunnies, strawberry shortcake, Hello Kitty and King Tut’s mask with tissues popping out of his nose.

One company offers to print your own photographs on each side of a tissue box cover.  I was thinking maybe you could pick your favorite painting to have on your tissue box.  How would it look to have tissues coming out of Mona Lisa’s nose or mouth?

I should probably be grateful that I’m having a bad allergy season.  When the eyes get red and puffy and tearing, and the ear canals get itchy, and the head hurts because the sinuses are swollen, and I am sneezing repeatedly I reach for my allergy pills and nasal spray.  At that point I either take a nap or get myself wound up over something as important as the new designs on the boxes my tissues come in.   The real issues of the world get lost in the fog that has taken over my brain.

One important warning, if you feel a sneeze coming on while driving… pull over!


So, what’s bugging you today???

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait…

Photo by Carol R. Craley

Although the calendar has said it is spring for quite some time, I still seem to visually judge the arrival of spring by Philadelphia standards ~ developed during the first five decades of my life.  Despite living in Maine for almost 10 years now, I have learned to use the term “wicked good,” but have not adopted Maine standards for “spring.”  It visually arrives about a month later than Philadelphia.  Well folks, now that it’s almost “summer” by the calendar, it is finally visually spring and time to plant!  Are you following this???

I haven’t used my photographer’s eye for quite a while so I ventured out yesterday to record the arrival of spring before it turns into summer.  Forget my inept explanation and take a tour outside of my door right now…

Photo by Carol R. Craley

Georgia O’Keefe’s version of a rhododendron.

NOTE:  (I am not a gardener.  Playing in the dirt wasn’t even fun for me as a child.  Please don’t anticipate that I will ever be as good as many of my readers who can give the botanical names of flowers and trees or the Latin names for the birds who visit them without a pictorial guide.  I am content with the American name of the bush they grow on… or more practical names like “pink flowers that grow on the bush next to the porch out front”)

Photo by Carol R. Craley

Photo by Carol R. Craley

Mothers ~ What We Keep ~ Images and Things

No, that is not my mother in the photo.  It is Loretta Young from her TV show, The Loretta Young Show.  The image isn’t too far off from Mom though.  My mother never owned “casual clothes” until late in life and then “casual” was a pair of fully lined wool slacks, phoufy blouse with either ruffles or a tie bow, and matching or coordinated wool blazer.  Mom owned work clothes and “dressing gowns.”  After the dishes were cleared and washed she would disappear long enough to get her Loretta Young persona going and “float” into the living room much like Loretta Young’s appearance through the French doors at the beginning of her show.

I attended a dinner party last weekend to celebrate: an 80th birthday, a 70th birthday, a happy retirement and a welcome back from your winter home.  I wound up in a “girls” conversation with several friends two of whom have lost their mothers (and 2nd parent) within the last 6 months.  The conversation turned to the difficulty in going through “stuff” those mothers had accumulated in the course of long and productive lives.  What started as an uncomfortable and difficult conversation eventually left us with tears running down our faces in laughter.

One friend discussed her unwillingness to part with an ironing board because it so reminded her of her mother, that there were so many memories and comfort feelings embedded in that ironing board and the struggle to let go.  I chimed in with the fact that an ironing board would have been the first in the dumpster for me.  I do, however, have a wooden rolling pin in my kitchen that looks like it’s been through a few wars.  It probably has enough bacteria absorbed into that wood that I dare not actually roll out a pie crust with it.  My mother taught me to cook using that rolling pin.  As long as I am alive it will be with me.  Along with that my nieces and myself have spent hours around the kitchen table going through Mom-Mom’s (Mom to me) recipe box filled with brown edged pieces of paper and index cards with food stains and grease spots savoring memories of the foods that meant comfort to each of us, especially those recipes that were connected to the BIG holiday celebrations.

Women are the ones who are most likely to go through every item, handle it, smell it and ponder it’s origin.  We construct stories from those items in an attempt to make sense of our own lives.  Men, for the most part, are better at filling the dumpster faster without reliving the significance of  every item.

Stories are the other “Mom Things” we hold onto whether our mothers have passed on or are sitting across from us at the dining table this Sunday.  My favorite “Mom Story” goes back to a particular Thanksgiving dinner.  As you can probably guess, my mother had a need to be perceived as a “Hallmark Mother.”  She dressed as a lady, she spoke with ladylike language, her nails were always perfectly manicured, her hair was always perfect (even if, as in later life, it “slept” on a Styrofoam head behind the shower curtain in the bathtub), she didn’t chew gum, she never put a bottle on the dining table (even a bottle of ketchup).  You get the drift…  And to answer the question you are now pondering, yes I was a major disappointment as I protested all of these “rules.”

Mom was redecorating the dining room.  One of the dining room walls had been paneled when that was the “in” thing in decorating.  Those years had long passed; however, the paneled wall had been redone with several different colors of paint.  Mom decided she wanted that wall wallpapered.  To remove the paneling would have caused a lot of damage to the wall.  What to do?

My brother was working at a home supply store.  He suggested she put one layer of wallpaper horizontally, then the paper she wanted vertically.  He showed up with rolls of wallpaper that had not sold in the store and were going to be discarded.  The two layers of wallpaper were applied and the strategy appeared to work.

I did say this was about Thanksgiving.  We were sitting around the dining room table with the linen tablecloth and napkins, good china, crystal and silver in place.  Our plates were far too full and our bellies were getting far too full.  The conversation was loud bouncing across three generations of family.  There was an odd sound creating a background din to the conversations.  We all jumped in our seats as the conversations were drowned out by the sound of paper rolling like a window shade.  The beautiful colonial mini-floral design that had been so carefully selected by my mother to complete her “Williamsburg” dining room rolled off the wall to reveal reclining nudes.  We could have served hot dogs and beans that Thanksgiving and no one would have noticed.  We managed to forget the food as we laughed for hours that day… and continue to chuckle every time something reminds us of that day.  It was so anti-Mom I will carry that story with me forever!

Take a few minutes this weekend to remember your Mom-stories that touch a warm spot in your heart for whatever reason.  Think about the connections represented by the symbolism of simple household objects.  Remember the images and stories that brought you joy and laughter.  Give Mom a hug and an “I Love You” even if it can only be felt and spoken in your heart.

What stories and objects are in your treasure box?

What if Scarlet O’Hara Decided to Write a Book?

Since I retired 10 years ago I have managed to become afflicted with Scarlett O’Hara Syndrome.  While I’d like to tell you that refers to her 18 inch waist, it doesn’t.  It refers to the quote, “Tomorrow is another day.”  Read that, I now live totally in my right brain and all of the years of living with my Stephen Covey organizational methods that made me a highly successful person have been traded for a red dress and I’ve gone to the ball!

Meeting self imposed deadlines has become a thing of the past.  It took me 2 years to paint my kitchen and dining area.  First I had to find the right color, decide how I was going to organize colors and decorating, then I had to motivate myself to go buy the paint and architectural details, then there was the motivation to get up and decide “today is the day” rather than “tomorrow is another day.”  Finally, I had to gather the ladder, the cans of paint, the brushes, the edgers, the paint tape, and the wet and dry paper towels for when I start painting the floor or myself.  I’ve had no problem going from someone who had every minute of the day organized and working a 60 hour week to sending the left/organizational side of my brain on permanent vacation.

I have been researching and mentally organizing and processing a YA book for about 20 years now.  I have tons of research, but keep running into stone walls.  Each time I hit a wall, I sit back with frustration and say, “Tomorrow is another day.”  In an attempt to kick start this project again, I attended a Women’s History Month program in Washington tracing African American women from the Civil War to Civil Rights.  Fascinating workshop.  Got me motivated.

I also registered for a workshop on Writing Children’s Books which requires me to produce at least one chapter.  I created the annotated chapter outline.  I then did a first draft (which was actually about 53 drafts) of Chapter 1.  Parts are good, parts are very good, parts have no right to be on paper.  “Tomorrow is another day.”  Well, I’m running out of tomorrows (deadline for submission is June 1st) and I feel like I am throwing darts at a dartboard while blindfolded to find an approach to the story that is natural and flowing, not painful and contrived.  There is a correct framework for this story, all I need to do is to find it, then rewrite Chapter 1 by June 1st.

While this post (blast of frustration) will never be my best work… I am a good writer.  That being said, writing a book for publication is a far different thing than my professional writing or writing the results of research, writing a report, or writing a blog, or writing a letter, or writing a note on a card.

Writing a book requires just the right narrator, just the right concept, just the right dialect in dialogue, just the right pacing in unfolding the story, enough information yet not too much information, enough description so that the reader feels like they are there involving all of their senses, and do all of this while stimulating a reader to keep turning the page…

Before Miss Scarlett lets loose with another “Tomorrow is another day”  and I lose all chance of meeting my deadline, could some of my writer friends out there offer some suggestions to slow down this overactive brain and tell it to shut up so that I can write…

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Memories of Easter Sundays Gone By

In the northeastern United States we are still awaiting the first leaves on the trees and the trees and bushes to flower.  Planting season is weeks away and the visual and aromatic signs of spring are not yet evident.  This is the time of year this Philadelphia girl turned Mainer relearns the lessons of patience as we sit and wait for nature to come alive again.  One location in which spring is in full bloom is the floral department at the grocery store.

As I went through the door yesterday to pick up the last few items for Easter dinner I was immediately consumed by the smell of lilies.  I always associate the smell of lilies with Easter.  I used to teach a graduate level course for teachers on designing and delivering instruction for brain-based learning.  Scent is the strongest of all senses in producing imprints on the brain leading to retained memory.  Years of Easter memories came flooding back from childhood as I stood next to the heads of lettuce and clementines and was taken away, not by calgon, but rather by the scent of lilies.  I looked next to the lilies at the tulips and other spring flowers.  My eyes followed to a display I don’t remember seeing for years and years…small square boxes containing an orchid corsage.  Wow!!  That sight brought a tsunami of memories!  An orchid corsage, growing up, was always a part of my Easter tradition.

Easter was a benchmark.  It was an annual “graduation” of sorts leading to first perfumes, first lipsticks, first kitten heels.  Easter Sunday required a complete new outfit for church.  There was to be a new suit or dress with a coordinating hat.  If Easter fell too early in the year a coat was required to go with the dress.  Just before the big day a package would arrive from Gimbel Brothers from my Great-Aunt Margaret which would contain everything that went under the dress ~ it was time for new underwear and slips.  I got my first pair of stockings for Easter Sunday which meant Aunt Margaret would have to throw a garter belt in that box with the undies.

Shoes were always an issue since Mom was a stickler for fashion rules.  I knew these would be my only dress shoes for quite a while.  Some years I wanted white patent leather rather than the usual black… but Easter was before Memorial Day… a no-no.  The purse would match the shoes and the hat was always a struggle.  I’ve never liked hats, they squashed and messed up my hair forcing me to either leave it on all day or take it off and look like squirrels had been nesting on my head… yet, a lady always wears a hat to church.  The only year I actually looked forward to wearing my hat was the year I had picked a Jackie Kennedy pillbox number to go with my suit.  I even had the Jackie voice down to make it a complete package.  And… bless me, I always had my white gloves for Easter Sunday.  Soon after Easter, I would manage to lose ONE somewhere and couldn’t wear gloves until next Easter.  Funny how that happens!

Before that glove was lost and my new shiny shoes scuffed, Easter Sunday was photo day.  Pictures in our family were always taken on the front step walking out of the front door of the house.  We have DVD’s going back to the era of super 8 Kodak movies of the front door opening and people walking out of the door, pausing, then walking to the car, starting the engine and waving as they pulled out of the driveway.  The other standard spot was by the lamp post in the front yard.  It was the only spot where daffodils were planted.  I guess that means I spent my Easter Sundays as a child all decked out tiptoeing through the daffodils.

In addition to the religious celebration of Easter, it was a family celebration.  The Easter basket contained only Zitners (of Philadelphia) cocoanut cream eggs.  I still have them mailed to me in Maine every year!  The dying of the Easter eggs has always been a big deal.  Mine is a family of creative people.  It would be blasphemous to either just dye eggs a solid color and call it a day, or to repeat a method of decoration for more than one year…new year, new creative challenge.

As my brother and his family moved to MD in the DC suburbs, we began to take my youngest nieces to the Easter Egg Roll  at the White House on Easter Monday  .  Can you believe that some adults actually taught children to lie and say they had not received their souvenir wooden Presidential egg so they could have one of their own (being way above the cut-off age for receiving the souvenir children’s eggs)?  As my nieces got too old to participate we considered renting children to take to the Easter Egg Roll to continue the set of eggs.  I fortunately found out you can purchase the souvenir eggs and support the National Park Service all at the same time.  I was so excited that when I came back from sniffing the lilies at the grocery store yesterday I found that the Easter Bunny had come to my house to deliver my 2012 set of eggs.  Note the fuchsia egg front and center… it is the first White House pet to have its own egg.  Ta-da… the Bo Obama egg which he signed on the back and left a paw print (such a talented puppy!).

May all of you reading this post have a blessed Easter filled with your own traditions and benchmarks!