Saturday, February 28, 2009

Break From Retreat News

A little break here in retreat news. My cousin, Darrell, writes beautifully on every day things in his life and the life of his wife, Mary, and his children, Jake, Sammy, Avery, and Elliott. His writing touches my heart and makes me laugh and cry and feel every emotion I think. He is a writer but busy now with the every day wonders and care of raising a family. I have tried to persuade him to do a blog of his own but I know how busy he is and that it might be retirement years before he writes.
Today I received this bit in my email and I wanted to share this snippet of family life and the wonders of raising a family. I just love this and hope you will enjoy it too.

Hello All:
This is actually "old news", seeing that it happened over
two weeks ago. However, we just got the picture yesterday, so I
waited until now to write this.

What a night we had. This was Avery's first dance, and my first dance
with my only daughter. It doesn't get much more special than that.
Mary "did Avery up right", as you can see from the picture. My God,
how beautiful! My little 7-year old girl looked like a little lady.
And I dressed up too, as you can see. They said to wear your Sunday
best, so I obeyed. Some of the Dads didn't. There was even one Dad
who had the audacity to show up in one of those T-shirts that had a
screen printed tuxedo on it. Oh yeah, did I mention we live in Jones,
Oklahoma? There were several cowboy hats. But I digress. This was
about me and Avery, and I was determined to not let anyone else
interfere with our night.

When we arrived, there was a table set up where you could choose
flowers. Avery chose a bouquet with a rose, and some carnations. Of
course, it was the one bouquet that had some pink in it, and Avery is
all about pink. That is why we call her Miss Pinky. After she chose
her flowers, we got in line to get this picture taken. And what a
long line it was! The PTA sponsored this dance, and they were tickled
pink at the turnout. A lot of money was made for the school that

After getting our picture taken, we got some refreshments, and then we
hit the dance floor. We had so much fun. First a couple of fast
dances, then a slow dance, then one where Avery stood on my shoes as
we danced. Then more fast dances, then, mercifully to me, a couple of
Avery's girlfriends wanted to dance together with her, and I got a
much needed rest. Dancing is tiring, for those of you old folks like
me, who forgot. WOW!! But, I was determined to never remove my
blazer. I stayed in full dress all night, trooper that I was.

The Hokey-Pokey was a hoot, and I soon realized what a workout it was.

As the night progressed, the dances seemed to get more energetic.
There were only a few Dads left who were brave enough to keep up with
the pace. I decided early on that this was one of those moments to
not pass up, so I danced almost every dance with my beautiful little
girl, and some of the dances were with Avery, and two of her best
buds. With each beat from the speakers, I got more and more
exhausted. Did I mention that I'm old and fat? I didn't care if I
broke something, life's too short.

Finally, things started to wind down. That's when they decided to
throw in the "limbo"--you know--"how low can you go?". Well, like I
said, I had decided early on to take part in everything because this
was a one of a kind moment. And I quickly discovered that I can go
pretty low. BUT I CAN'T GET UP FROM MY LOWNESS!!! I actually had to
have the help of a couple of other brave dads to get up! I'm serious
here! I now know that knee surgery is probably in the future for me.
And even now, two weeks later, I'm sad to say, my knees are still

But the funnest dance of all, was the last one, and I can guarantee
you that Avery and I both will remember it for the rest of our lives.
It was just so much fun. The basic repetition went like this: To the
left, to the left, to the left, to the left, to the left, to the
right, to the right, to the right, to the right, then we spun around
and around and around and around, then we went down, and down , and
down , and down. And then again, I couldn't get up! Seriously! I
couldn't! My knees are so bad in that department! I tried and tried,
but again had to have help. But it was so worth it. I felt so alive,
and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Fast forward to today. I am putting new brakes on Mary's car, and
that requires a lot of knee bending and squatting. And all the while,
as I'm grunting and groaning, and trying to make my knees work the
right way, all I hear in my ears is "TO THE LEFT, TO THE LEFT, TO THE
RIGHT," and I remember why my knees hurt so bad, and I say, "COOL".

Here's to life. Seize the day. Live for the moment. Don't let
anything pass you by. Don't die with a bunch of regrets. Just get in
there and do it. There were a bunch of Dads at that dance who stood
by the sidelines that night, and watched the rest of us have all the
fun. I'll bet their knees feel fine tonight. But I'd rather have my
sore knees and priceless memories, thank you very much. And the
greatest gift of all is hearing Avery say how much fun she had.

Oh yeah, here's a little something we learned. Avery wanted to save
her flowers from the dance. So we went online and found a good way to
dry flowers. Go to Wal-Mart and get some Borax in the Laundry
section. Put some of it in a box, submerge your flowers in it for
several days, and the Borax will suck all of the moisture out, forever
preserving your flowers. We did it, and it works! Very cool!

We may not have a lot of money, but these types of memories make me
feel like a rich man. In particular, for those of you Dads who never
had a daughter, I say "I'm a rich man indeed". But, whatever your lot
in life, I hope that you will look for whatever those moments are that
make you feel, if even for a moment, that you are very very rich.
This was one of those moments.

Oh yeah, did I say how beautiful Avery is in this picture?

Warm Fuzzies to all of you....

Love, Darrell

Friday, February 27, 2009

Retreat Day 2

This is our moon and venus showing up on our second night of the retreat. :)
We had another beautiful and productive day: Sunshine and morning walks, coffee and breakfast and writing that brought us to laughter and tears and awe from the ability to create.
The process was the same as day 1: Morning pages(writing), breakfast,sharing, lunch, talk on and samples of chapbooks by Peggy and Diane, the assignment given by Lynne, writing, sharing. Tonight Bill made dinner for us: garbanza bean soup, salad, and cuban bread while we slaved away at our craft. Our chef AND the dinner was great. :)

We went on a tour of our property in the golf cart. Peggy found an old golf club of my brother, Bob's, that he used to practice his swing with in the back yard when he was here. So, that's a precious find for us. Poor Lexi suffered through another day of neglect and inattention.

Dessert was at the bon fire Bill made for us. We made smores and talked and talked and talked some more. We went into the hot tub, and talked more. Some might think we'd run out of things to say but, truthfully, there just isn't enough hours in the day to say all that needs saying. LOL
We just finished gathering around as those who wanted to read from some of the chapbooks Diane and Peggy brought to share. One of the poems was from the viewpoint of a dog. One about buttholes and danglies we are still laughing about. These readings gave us lots of ideas for further writings or chapbooks of our own.

What a wonderful day. This has been another day of great writing as well. We are all really pleased by the progress we are making and the bonding of these women who are Skywriters.

My poem written from Dolly's prompt of memorable meetings or moments:

I know what they say about love at first sight
that it doesn’t happen in real life, it’s a wive’s
tale or some woman’s dream. That’s when I
say, have I got a story for you.

His hair was sandy red, he’d later tell me brown
I saw him that first day at Zayre’s Discount Store
as I was introduced to the man kneeling in the toy
aisle sorting and stacking products for sale.

His corduroy slacks were a tawny color, he’d later
tell me they were his favorite pair, they were stretched
at the knees and made a contrast on that cold slate
tile of the aisle where I found him that first day.

His shirt was an awful mustard color, he’d tell me later
it was a beige polo, some girl told him looked good
with his eyes. That shirt was well worn but clean, it fit
his body well, a body I sensed more than I saw.

His eyes were illuminating, brown with gold flecks, he’d later
tell me they were hazel and deny their appeal. When he
looked up at me, and I down at him, I thought my heart
would explode, I’d never felt such a blow.

His smile ambushed me; he’d later tell me it was crooked
I didn’t expect the results of that smile. My body felt
the sensations of a roller coaster when I was afraid
of speed and the dizzying heights.

He stood at the introduction, took my hand in his, he’d say
he had to touch me right then. The moment my hand
touched his huge callused one, I heard it as clear
as day. This is the man I’m going to marry floated
into consciousness, then became a tidal wave.

He asked me for a date several days later, he’d say it was
right away. I said no so many times but he was the persistent
kind. I was in a relationship, I’d tell him without conviction,
he’d say if you’re not married, I’ll keep trying.

He did stop asking, he’d say he thought I was a snob
so I had to make the next move.
I broke if off with Phil, told Bill I’d go out
we went to the Florida State Fair.

He’s changed in thirty-nine years; he’d say I have too
but the love it just grows and grows. I’m fatter, he’s
wrinkled, we don’t have the same energy, our minds
aren’t what they used to be.

But if I have the choice; if the past has anything to do
with now, I’ll hang on for thirty- nine more.
Holding hands and sitting close, sharing stories of our day
thinking about what new adventure we’ll try.

Judy Roney
February 26, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Retreat Day 1

Thursday, February 26, 2009, began the second annual Skywriters Retreat held at our house. We had a great day and accomplished a lot.

We were given the first assignment last night and this morning we had "morning pages" and wrote until everyone was finished.

Diane started the retreat with an opening ceremony. She lit a candle and read from her work she had written just for us and this occasion. It was amazing. I even got some tears in my eyes because it was so poignant and so true! J She did an amazing job and got retreat day started off right.

We wrote an opening "hook" poem (an idea taken from Robert's Poetry blog on Writer's Digest for the November poem a day contest), for our themed chapbooks and then read them aloud. I was blown away by the level of work that was completed today. After that we had lunch and Ann showed us how to bind books made from paper bags. It's a great idea and one I intend to show Hanna (Little Sister) how to do so she can make them for her Aunts for Mother's Day.

We had discussions about chapbooks with themes and the value of them and then Dolly gave us the afternoon prompt which was taken from Natalie Goldberg's newest book. The prompt was to capture our most memorable moment and to be very detailed. I wrote about the time I met Bill for the first time and how that felt etc. The others wrote poems relating to their theme and, again, it was incredible work. I guess I'm amazed because I didn't think we would have the level of focus here at this house as we did at Big Bear, California. That has not been true at all though. Everyone is very serious about producing this week and produce they do.

It was Peggy and my turn to cook. We grilled salmon (with Myers lemon taken from our tree), had asparagus and Peggy made an incredible, colorful and yummy salad. We made Strawberry Shortcake for dessert.

Then it was time for a nice soak in the hot tub and a glass of wine. It was so relaxing after that big dinner so I think I could go to sleep very easily right now. The others are out on the patio talking and I thought I'd try to provide something on my blog each day.

We had a great day and Lexi is really enjoying all this attention.

Tomorrow morning we will be writing again from Robert's prompt from the Nov PAD, Day 2. We will be writing a Declarative Poem. We will try to write it from someone else's opinion.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Skywriters Writing Retreat 2009

It has begun. :) Peggy and Lynne arrived last night. You'd think I hadn't seen them in a year the way I acted. Wait, it HAS been a year. LOL Bill asked me if I was nervous about my friends coming here for the retreat. No, not at all. Nice to have friends with this kind of comfort level. I suppose we should have after 10 years of being a Skywriter. I feel the same way about seeing and being with any of my HCC friends, just delight, no angst. :)
Bill treated us to an evening at Columbia Restaurant. We had a wonderful meal and floor show of the flamenco dancers. What a nice introduction to Tampa, Ybor City, and Florida. Neither of these women have been to Florida before. I find that amazing and fun for us to show them our little capsule of Florida here

Peggy and Lynne are still on California time. We were up at 1 talking this morning and they are still asleep this a.m.
Diane and Dolly arrive today and then Ann will be here tonight to round out our group of six for the retreat.
We sure will miss Victoria, Diane and Mary but hope to see them next year.
Positive vibes here. We are hoping our muse is at work and we crank out some stellar works here this week. We will be a sequestered group from Thursday until Monday, working away at our art. See, I'm already waxing poetic, donchathink? LOL

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jeni’s Wedding and Such

Jeni's Wedding: I'm upset with myself for not getting a photo of Jeni and her friends, JoJo and Charlene. Her friends are organizing the wedding party we will have for Jeni here on April 18, 2009. They are going to do such a good job. JoJo is SOOOOOOOOOO organized, I need for her to move in with me and organize my life! So, things are on their way to begin the party. Jeni and Tom are married on the 11th of April and this will be perfect for them and all their friends who aren't able to go to Antiqua for the wedding. We are going to have a DJ, wedding cake, photographer, bartender, and the works. We will pray for a beautiful day, much like the one today. Here's a photo of JoJo and Jeni. I'll try to find one of Charlene, too. :)

It was nice seeing these girls again and it was especially nice to hand over the planning and all the works to them. They know people, or know people who know people in the catering world, etc, so I will just leave it to them. A few fun (or funny) things: We will have illuminated volley ball, and lights all over the place (meaning over our whole back and front yards). This will be fun! Oh, and they saw the painting of the chair (for two) on the beach over the fireplace and said they would like to use that to draw their ideas from…colors, theme, etc. How cool is that! Jeni said she wanted a whimsical wedding cake rather than a traditional one. When questioned she said she wanted one like the one we got her and Tom for their engagement. So,, they are using that one and just having it as the top of the cake. Looks like I was able to help after all. J
Jeni and Tom's song that they will play at their wedding is Mary J Blige's "What Love Is". I had never heard of her before but I'm catching up fast. We will play it here as well and try to work it into the party, maybe in the invitations I think. What love and pain, sunshine and rain. etc. I do like the song a lot now. They are also getting married on 4-11 (information) and that is one of MJB's songs also. Quinkydink, huh?

Such: Next in my life is the arrival starting Tuesday of my friends in my writing group (online) that are coming in from California, Costa Rica, Florida. Half of the group will be here. Two in Wisconsin and one in Texas aren't able to come this year but we will have fun. I'm getting really excited about that right now and the prospect of doing some really good writing on all our behalves. This is our second annual retreat after being together about 10 years. I keep thinking there is more I need to be doing but …I'm ready. Pen and pencil in hand and ideas, too. I hope to come out of this with another chapbook at least in the works. This is a photo of last years retreat at Big Bear.

My Little Sister, Hanna, finished her butterfly painting now for the Strawberry Festival and I'm finished with mine also so we are ready to enter them on Monday. I think I will put the one with Jeni and Me, my leaf one, and my window in Venice.

A copy of my article from the Focus is now hanging in Starbucks and also at the YMCA (They even laminated it!). So cool. I am getting in touch with old friends who call about the article and one person at the hair salon where I went asked me if I wasn't the woman in the Focus. Kewl.

Speaking of Starbucks, I love their oatmeal and now they have breakfast sandwiches. They have to keep up with competition I guess. I haven't tried them yet but probably will eventually. When I'm in NC I go to Joey's Pancake house and there is no one any where that makes oatmeal like they do. I order bananas, nuts, brown sugar, milk, and raisins to go in my oatmeal. It ends up being dessert I think but so yummy. Starbucks offers a fast food variety of that. I do look forward to getting back to Joey's though.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Focus Artist of the Month

I'm in the Focus! I'm the artist of the month. It's pretty neat to see myself in there, especially because this is the March Strawberry Festival issue. I'll have lots of exposure for sure. I feel there is something I need to do to take advantage of this but not sure what. One of the paintings in the article, the window, is one that I am entering in the Strawberry Festival so I thought that was cool. I took photos of dozens of windows in Italy when Bill and I were there for our 38th wedding anniversary. I told him if he takes me somewhere exciting for our 40th, I would do doors. He wasn't as excited as you might think.

People were coming up to me at the Y this morning with copies in hand and I've received two phone calls from old friends who saw the article.

The woman who wrote the story did a nice job of making sense of part of what I said in over two hours! I am so thankful that everything was handled in a way that I'm not ashamed of, or, better than that; I'm proud of the article.

I will put a bad copy of it on here for now and pick up a clean copy at the Focus that can be reproduced for my blog..and copies for all my friends, my family, neighbors, HCC, Skywriters, Women's Club, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, newsletters, all my old classmates, those on my Christmas card lists, all of our foster children, church friends both here and in North Carolina, my knitting group, my painting group, my NC friends and neighbors, Jeni's friends, Bill's friends, employees, past writing groups, frame one for my studio, other bloggers, book group, friend's who have mentioned me to friend's of theirs, Lexi's kennel and groomers, company that might drop by in the next year, others that I can't even think of right now. But I'll have a copy for them. J

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bill and I just had dinner at Jeni's house. Tom cooked ribs and hamburgers and chicken wings..yum! Tom's mom, Kay, and step-dad, Alan, were there and so were Jeni and Tom's good friends, Karla and Bob. It was nice meeting Karla's mom and step-dad who just moved here from upstate New York, Saratoga Springs. They are so enthusiastic about all things Florida and fun to talk to. Karla is one of the women giving Jeni her bridal shower/bachelorette party in March. She is such a sweetheart and now I know where she gets it from. We wo;; be seeing more of them in the coming months. Greg,Tom's brother- in –law, came with two of his kids(Marc and Leah), while Pam, Tom's sister, was in Atlanta to get treatments for their other son, Sean. Anyway, it was a wonderful time and lots of good food.

Kay and Alan will be going on a cruise to Amsterdam, Russia, and many other places in June and they brought over the brochure and we are considering going even though we are reluctant to say yes. We took the one "cruise from h—" about 15 years ago and we still aren't over it. It sure sounds interesting though, and even more so because Kay and Alan will be there AND they will be teaching ball room dancing. Dance lessons, new sights and places we haven't been to is tempting! We have until June to decide so we'll think some more on it. Well, actually the ship leaves in June so perhaps we'd best decide sooner. We hear so many wonderful cruise stories but ..oh, my. I think of being force fed and 50 foot waves and it takes the enthusiasm away again.

Jeni and Tom's new hardwood floors are beautiful. The reason for the gathering was so we could see their new floors. They are remodeling their home bit by bit. They were going to sell it because Jeni had already sold her home and then get one together but when they started looking around I think they realized how lucky there were that Tom purchased that home several years ago at a good price. It looks like they are staying there. It sure is a good location for them, too. Just about five minutes from Jeni's job and maybe 20 to Tom's.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Kevin, our nephew from CA (Bill's sister's son), came to spend a week with us. What a joy it has been. Kevin is married to a beautiful woman and has three beautiful girls now. His life obviously suits him very well because he looks so good and is all grown up. :)

Kevin stayed with us for a year about three years ago. I can't believe it's been that long. We sure did miss him and still do. We were able to travel to CA last year to spend time with him and his family. It's such a joy having him back here again for a visit.

When he was here before, Bill and he got into all kinds of things like a couple of kids. (Building zip lines through the trees, etc.) Bill was in 7th heaven. They rode their motorcycles all day long some times. I think Kevin is the only one that can keep up with my husband in his love for riding and it's such a joy to see them laughing and carrying on as if Kevin had never left. I wrote this poem this morning about seeing them ride out our gate.


I smile as you ride away on your Harley
behind your uncle and wave at me.
Is this what it would be like to have
a son alive and follow his day
out the gate behind his father. You
look back and salute with that

smile on your face that makes me laugh.

When you are out of sight I freeze.

The tears fall freely. Yet again
I have mixed the two of you.

Judy Roney

Bill goes through these times with Kevin and thoughts about our son, but we know what it is and just keep going. It's such a joy having him here.

We met Jeni and Tom at Sinigual (or something like that). It's a new Mexican Restaurant that we've been wanting to try. The food was dissappointing to me but the company was wonderful. We always seem to be celebrating something when we get together (sometimes even if we can't decide exactly what we are celebrating. LOL Last night we celebrated Tom's Birthday, Kevin being there with us, and life as it is. It was so nice being together and we made some more plans for Jeni and Tom's wedding. I love seeing them together. They are excited about their wedding and the Bridal party is next month, then when they return from Antiqua, we will have a party for them here (in May). Things are coming together.
Life is good.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Costa Rica

I'm home.

My three brothers, their spouses, and Bill and I went to Costa Rica for a week. We had the most wonderful time. Biggest announcement about the trip, besides the wonderful camaraderie and bonding we all had with each other, is that we went on the zip line.

Yep, me too; bent up like a pretzel, sailing away on a zip line across the rain forest thousands of feet up and thousands long. We went on seven separate zips and most you couldn't even see the end of the line. After the first test one you could get off but after that you had no choice but to go on. The wind would plummel me a bit and I'd freak thinking I was going to start swinging and get off track. I feel so good that I could do it and so proud of everyone. Bill and David were the only ones going at first but they had a domino affect when Rita said she would go too. It was rainy and windy that day and not the best day I don't imagine. I was glad to get off that thing for sure but what an adventure. I would recommend it to anyone because if I can do it, I think anyone can. LOL

We stayed at my friend, Dolly's B&B, Alegria, there when we got into San Jose. She is on the outskirts in Alajuela.

We also spent several nights at the Arenal Volcano and saw lava spilling over the side as it erupted about 3a.m. We stayed at the lodge there and had a wall size view through glass at the volcano. Just heavenly. It was overcast and rainy (in the rain forest...imagine that) but we had a great time just the same. We were in the same lodge and had balconies so got to enjoy life there surrounded by the rain forest, Arenal Lake and overlooking the volcano. The Howler monkeys and frogs serenaded us while we picnicked on the balcony. Such wonderful memories now. We ate breakfast at the lodge and would watch the colorful birds and coati mundi and even a squirrel monkey go for the fruit offered them there.
We saw a Quetzal, the cutest bird I think. This beautiful blue/green/red bird looks like he's got his hair all gelled up. We also saw my favorite butterfly in CR, the Blue Morpho. It's gorgeous irridescent blue on top but normal brown coloring on the bottom. We saw iguana and monkeys and birds oh, my. LOL

We toured San Jose and many little cities on the way there and back. Luis, our guide took us up to the tops of mountains and into valleys. There were banana, plantain, sugar cane, pineapple, and orange trees. I had coconut freshly off the tree and broken up for us to taste. Also coconuts pierced at the top for a straw to drink the juice out. We had fresh mangos, papayas and pineapple each day with our breakfast at Dolly's. We tried a few strange (different) fruits and decided we liked the more familiar ones. We had the Typical TICO dishes just about every time we ordered at a restaurant...rice and beans, French fries, chicken, and fruit drinks. Even their Coca Cola tastes different because they use their own natural resource, sugar cane, in it. Fruits and vegetables are plentiful and fresh out of the fields. We purchased fresh picked sweet strawberries from roadside vendors and they were yummy. I came home and wished I had some yellow rice and black beans cooked up. I don't think I would ever get tired of the food which is really like our Cuban food here.

The flowers were huge and full . We saw hydrangeas as big as our heads and bougainvillea in every color imaginable.This is such a colorful land. So many tropical flowers paved our way whether it was through the rainforest or through the Dako Coffee Tour. I don't think we will think of coffee in exactly the same way again after seeing what it takes to get that bean to us. J

Our driver and tour guide was Luis who stayed by our sides each day and showed us the Costa Rica he obviously loves. We met his lovely family and all of us were taken with this gentle man who was always there thinking about us and what we would enjoy seeing. His daughters made us (women) beaded necklaces to take home with us and that really touched us.

We saw some of the devastation from the Earthquake and the people now living in tents and metal buildings and school buildings(because the schools aren't opened yet). Roads were damaged and mountain sides tumbled we are told. We didn't see anything that drastic but seeing a road opening up was damage enough. It must have been terrifying. The earthquake was Jan 8 and the clean up is fast and people from all over have come to their aide. I know Luis had concerns over the displaced persons getting settled somewhere when the schools open. This was a 6.2 on the richter scale

We had an incredible adventure and now I'm back to the real world. I'm trying to catch up with Pura Vida in my thoughts.