Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Haiku for Nancy

You wore a blue coat
That was handed down from me
Warm big sister love

I hear Nancy’s voice
As I stop by after school
Don’t let the cats out!

Inside Nancy’s house
The smell of cookies baking
Tells me she’s OK

We sit at the booth
And talk about the weather
Ignoring the beast

As long as we laugh
And tell our silly stories
Cancer is speechless

A long gray winter
Of sick days on a blue couch
Fades away to Spring

Still Life
One teal rose opens
On a winter windowsill
Fragrant remission

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Now Showing: Family Memories on DVD

Hank just went to the mailbox...first time since we returned from vacation...and there were two large packages from "cousin Kathy" Korzeb in Connecticut. Needless to say, I ripped those right open and couldn't believe what Kathy did...she had all three volumes of the "Smith family videos" put on DVD and sent a set for each of the cousins who got together for "girls' night" here in Maine last month (Yes, ladies, DVD deliveries begin this afternoon).
In her note, Kathy said she bought a program to make labels for the DVDs and now, on the front of each, it says, "Produced and Directed by Arthur W. Smith" . Although some of the footage was taken by our Dad, Fred, much of it came from Grampa, who, with his camera, would never miss a grandchild's birthday, communion, or graduation, In fact, if there was a party anywhere, Grampa Smith was there!

For those reading this who didn't know our grandfather, Art Smith was born in 1900 in North Andover, Mass. He used to tell us about how he would skip school as a boy to sneak backstage at the local vaudeville shows. As kids, we thought Grampa could do anything...he could sing (Remember Harrigan and In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree?), tap-dance, do voice impersonations, play the tambourine, tell amazing stories, and even make the best funny faces a kid ever saw. Grampa used to write and produce variety shows all around the Haverhill, Mass. area; anything to do with the stage was his real passion (much to Grammy Smith's dismay). He also had a great sense of humor and used it to entertain the family on Saturday nights during the Depression and War years when money was tight and times were tough. Nancy found these photos of Grampa doing what he did best; most were taken in the 1930's. The one on the bottom of this page REALLY IS Grampa Smith, dressed as Cupid, at a family wedding (any resemblance between Grampa's sense of humor and that of other family members, real or imagined, is strictly coincidental...right, Nancy???)
Grampa Smith passed away in 1977 but will always live on through his grandchildren...and now, through these DVD's. Thanks again to Kathy for doing this.
And, Grampa, tonight is the 2009 annual Academy Awards ceremony...if life were fair, you would have already won "Best Actor" and, this year, would be nominated for "Best Documentary" for your new DVD!

p.s. I hope those of you who knew Art Smith will add a Comment to this post and share some of your favorite memories of him for all of us to read. To Comment, just click on where it says "0 Comments" at the bottom of this post, or click on the icon of the pencil, and a comment box will pop up for you to write in. Then just hit "Post Comment" so we can all see what you wrote.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Better Late than Never~

Hi Everyone- It's been a few weeks since I've posted--just in a lazy funk I guess-BUT I want to share a few pictures of the best Christmas present I got this year (or maybe ever!) I know we're well past Christmas, but this is too nice not to share. My old laptop crashed and I had to wait to get it replaced in order to get some pictures of my gift to share.
This year (as reported in an earlier post) we had a name draw for our gift exchange. Cheryl was in charge of organizing this, and she said she needed to make sure somehow she drew my name. I figured she was up to something--some new project! Well, surprise surprise she drew my name! I never expected what she gave me. She made me a lap size quilt using ovarian cancer awareness fabrics in teal and white, and it is GORGEOUS! Not only did she hand make it , she quilted it by hand also! The detail is incredible. In the four corners she stitched the words "Hope", "Sisters", "Love" and "Cure". She also stitched hearts and the cancer awareness ribbon sign in various places. It's so beautiful that it took me a while to decide how best to display it. I finally decided to hang it in the foyer at our house so everyone who entered could enjoy it and see the detail. I know the details don't show up as well as I wished they would in the pictures so I guess that just means that you'll all have to make a trip to Maine to see it! I love it so much and know the love that went in to each stitch. I stop and stare at it every time I'm down there! Thank you again so much, Cheryl!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Back to Black Mountain!

It's school vacation week...time to read, relax...and see if we can still get down a mountain on skis. So, on Tuesday, Hank and I headed up to Jackson, NH, with our grandson, Brian, to enjoy the snow. The Jackson covered bridge is a local landmark and Hank has convinced all of the "kids" who have ever come to Jackson with us that there are trolls under the bridge...everyone has to pick their feet up when we drive over it so the trolls won't get them! (No one is ever too old to worry about Hank's trolls...). The bridge holds memories for all of us...maybe none more than Kit and Erin who got engaged on the Jackson bridge in 2002.
Just over the bridge is Nestlenook Farm, a beautiful Victorian wonderland where everyone goes to enjoy sleigh rides and ice-skating under the bridges and around the islands. On the big island is a gazebo where a fire is always going and hot chocolate is served all afternoon.
We decided to go ice-skating with Brian. Neither Hank nor I had been on skates in 40 years but off we went. After about 20 feet my ankles were burning and I wondered how I ever skated as much as I did as a child in Connecticut when we had a pond behind our house and skated every day in the winter. Andi, Nancy and I used to twirl and spin, skate backwards, and skate at the end of the "whip" without a care. Not anymore! (I refuse to accept the fact that the 40 years are what has made the difference...I'm sure I must just need a little more practice.) But, to prove to my sisters that I actually did this crazy thing, here is a picture of Hank and I on skates. Notice that neither of us is hanging on to the bridge for dear life!
It was a beautiful day...warm and sunny, but I think back on much colder days we have spent at Nestlenook. I especially remember the time I had invited a group of my "girlfriends" from the Epilepsy Foundation to fly to New England for a winter weekend in Jackson. The temperature never got above zero and two of the "girls" were from Atlanta and Baltimore...not used to that kind of cold. We had booked a special sleigh ride for the ladies and I still remember Jeannie and Diana yelling at the driver to stop with the historical narrative and just get the d**m horses moving! (I think Jeanne reads this blog and am sure she hasn't forgotten how cold it was on that sleigh!).
Ankles on fire from the skates, we finally made it up the mountain to Whitney's Inn. The Inn is named for Bill and Betty Whitney who first started Black Mountain ski area in the 1930's. At that time, a rope tow went up the mountain. Wooden shovels were attached at intervals along the rope and skiers would hold onto the shovel handles to be pulled up the hill. When Hank and I owned our "camp" on Whitney Hill behind the inn, Mrs. Whitney was our neighbor. We were sad to learn that she has passed away since our last visit to Whitney's but she lived over 100 years and skied into her 80's...an amazing woman. We were happy to see that the old sign with our name on it has not been painted over...it listed all of the families who had camps or homes on Whitney Hill. We had some wonderful years at that camp...everyone came for weekends, both winter and summer...and a lot of people learned to ski at Black while we were there. Nancy's son, Kit, was one of the people who loved our camp and he is now a volunteer on the Ski Patrol at Black. I remember how much my Mom and Dad enjoyed the camp...we would always have campfires when they came up and in my mind I can still see Daddy sitting by the campfire cooking marshmallows with Robert and Kristen. When Andi's children were little, they came to Black from Arizona and Hank would make each of them sit on the "story stump" by the campfire to tell a ghost story. (Katy always told the very best ghost stories!)
One of our neighbors on Whitney Hill was our old friend, Tom Franco, who taught Hank and I how to ski. Tom certainly was patient with the two of us...he would ski backwards down the mountain while we snowplowed our way down behind him. We thought of Tom this week while we enjoyed Black...I think he'd be proud of the progress we've made since he first helped us down.

The photo above is of Hank and Brian on the triple chair lift and the one to the right is of the three of us at the top getting ready to ski down. It was another beautiful day, sunny with no wind, temperatures in the high 20's and perfect snow. This morning, Brian and I skied while Hank checked out, loaded the car, and played the role of photographer. Here are Brian and I heading up on the double chair.
We started Brian and Robert on skis last year and they have really gotten good. Robert was sick with a sinus infection this week and couldn't ski, but Brian is already doing intermediate trails with "Nanny" (no black diamonds for me) and even tried the mogul hill today. Now Hank and I can't wait to teach Taka and Toshi to ski at Black!

The views are beautiful from the lift...you can see Attitash across the valley and the town of Jackson looks like Lilliput far below.

After a full day of skiing we packed the car and headed back to Maine. As we drove, I turned around to see Brian sound asleep with his head on the cooler. Think it's safe to say that he had a good time!

Later: Just a few more photos to add to this post...
Horses in the snow at the base of the mountain...
Whitney's barn, aka the "Shovel Handle Pub"...
View heading up the mountain...and the last one...the ride up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Update from Nancy

Hi Everyone-
First an update-I brought Mom home about 11:30 this morning (Tuesday). She looks much better than she did over the weekend-tired and glad to be able to get back in her own bed and see her beloved Tabby-I left them both curled up together on Mom's bed-hopefully being back in her own place with rest she'll be feeling better soon.

I've attached some pictures of the RV and Camping show Kit and Erin displayed at over the weekend. It was fun-a nice break from the freezing winter weather we've been having. You can read the details in Cheryl's post below. More soon-Nancy

Monday, February 9, 2009

Yup...it's always something!

I finally have a few minutes to update this blog...time seems to get away from me. Wanted to let everyone know that Mom has been at Maine Medical Center since Thursday recovering from an episode of chest pain and shortness of breath. I didn't post sooner because we didn't have a diagnosis yet. Mom called 911 early Thursday morning after a very difficult night. Talk about being thoughtful...she waited to call until 6:30 a.m. so she wouldn't wake us girls up! (Yes...we already told her NOT to be so thoughtful if this happens again...call right away!) The heart and lung doctors consulted and ran a number of tests on Thursday and Friday and decided to keep her for the weekend so that she would be more stable should they have to do a procedure this week. As it turns out, they do not think that she had a heart attack but are keeping her there to be sure she is well enough to go home...maybe tomorrow. Hopefully she will get some rest and they can prevent this from happening again. I know Mom is anxious to get home and see Tabby (her cat) again...they miss each other. I'll update the blog when she is discharged and we know more.

In "other news"...Andi and Katy, her youngest daughter, just returned from a week in Arizona visiting Kelly, Kevin and Andi's new grandson, James. The early report is that Andi looks great after a week in the sun and that the baby is big and beautiful. I'm sure she will be posting photos soon.

Nancy is feeling well and had a busy weekend helping her son, Kit, and his wife, Erin with their booth at the Portland RV Show this weekend. Kit has his own RV rental business, Destinations RV Rentals. You can find their site on the web at http://www.destinationsrentals.com/ . Nancy's job was to "stage" the RVs and what a job she did! Outside the RVs, there was a campfire surrounded by everything you would need to make S'mores (Hank tried to eat a marshmallow from the display but I wouldn't let him...too much like George in a bad Seinfeld episode), camp chairs, coolers, a bicycle, pails and shovels, and even a boat. Nancy had strung a clothesline between the two RVs and hung bathing suits on it...just like a real campsite...really cute...even with Nancy's old WalMart bathing suit hanging there:-) Inside the RVs, Nancy had placed family photos, baskets of food, table settings and comfy pillows to make the RVs look like home...a great job. There were even books open next to the beds. Kit and Erin report that the show was great for their business - they even sold one RV - so guess all of the staging helped!

And last of all, today is Takanori's 5th birthday. He had a big party yesterday for 30 people and this morning his Mom got up at 5:30 a.m. to make cupcakes for his class at school. Taka was very excited when Mom, Dad and Toshi came to school for his birthday too. When we called tonight and asked Taka what he got for his birthday, he told us that he "can't tell us until we come to Brooklyn"...so I guess we'll have to wait to find out. Tomo did say that our package arrived during the week but she told Taka that he would have to wait until his birthday to open it...so he kissed the carton!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Ode to Winter

I got this yesterday from my friend, Karen Westerberg, the librarian at school. This says it all for me! I've had enough of this winter-anyone agree?

An ode to Winter

It is winter.
It has always been winter.
It will always be winter.
Spring will never come.
Spring is not for us.
Spring is for the privileged.

It has just snowed.
It has always just snowed.
If it has not snowed, it is going to snow.
Snow is evil.

It is cold.
It will always be cold.
It has always been cold.
Warmth will never visit here.
Warmth fears cold.

It is gloomy.
It will always be gloomy.
It has always been gloomy.
Warmth will never visit here.
When skies are not gloomy, it is cold.
And cold begets snow.

It is depressing.
It will always be depressing.
It has always been depressing.
We are trapped in a Russian novel.
There is only dark mood.

It is winter.
It has always been winter.
It will always be winter.
Will it never concede?
Will it never end?


--Jim Shea