Sunday, April 10, 2016

Flame Of Love

My inner self has been wandering in the desert for an extended period of time.  My prayers are tepid, I'm mentally inert, I am tired. I wouldn't be surprised to find that this is a light form of depression.

I self medicate with sleep.  Food.  Exercise.  Reading.  Facebook.  I hate that I'm doing this, but I don't have enough drive to stop.

When I work, it takes more energy than it should to do half the work I need to get done.  When I try to focus on something, I give up after a few minutes because my mind is filled with distractions. When I pray, I feel...nothing.  

I hate being lukewarm.  I hate it even more when I can't make myself feel "hate".  I can't seem to feel. 

Who is this stranger inside my skin?

It could be that I have had to face an overload of worries and troubles, and this new "me" could be a sort of self preservation mode.  Although this makes some sense, I don't really believe that it is the sole answer.

Whatever it is, today at Mass, the Lord drew me near for an instant.  In this brief encounter, He fed my soul a tidbit, for which I am eternally grateful.

I was cantor at Mass.  At the consecration, I was kneeling towards the altar.  My eyes fell upon the numerous candles that flickered behind Father's back.  Being that we are still in the Easter Season, the church is dressed in her full regalia--abundant flower arrangements, silken fabric swags, and candelabras galore.  

The tiny flames danced wildly.  

These flames are contained by their wick.  If they were allowed to be released, the fire would grow and spread.  Fire is energy, light, and warmth.  This is how love is.  Your love is small because you keep it contained.  You selfishly keep it contained at the wick, instead of letting it go.  You should permit your love to be unleashed, and it would magnify and spread.  Learn this lesson from the flame.  Each time you see the flames, recall this.

My face softened into a smile.  I have carried this precious inspiration in my heart today and wanted to share it.  God, help me to love without reserve.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Christmas Memoir

One Christmas, I decided we should make a video and send it to my aunt and uncle in California.  They had never seen my kids in person, and I thought they'd get a kick out of seeing us all on their TV.

I shared the idea with my mom, as well as my local aunts and uncles.  They all agreed to meet at my house one December evening.

We decided we would dress in Pennsylvania winter attire (sweaters, scarves, hats) for the video, and to use some accessories.  (Rudolf antlers, Santa hats, etc.)

We set the camera on the tripod, and got started.  We practiced our number a few times before taping it, so we could get organized.  We chose to lip sync to The Chipmunk's version of Jingle Bells.  

Chipmunk's Jingle Bells

I'd really appreciate it if you would click on that link and take a listen before you read the rest of this.  It sets the mood...

So, picture this: my parents, aunts, uncles, me, John, and the four oldest of my children, circa mid 1990's, lip synching and swaying to this silly little song.

Now and then, John would move behind the camera to pan the room and get close ups of each of us.

The children were all quite small, ranging in age from about 1 year old to about 9, so they were busy frantically running in circles and dancing.

One must imagine how ludicrous this scene was, a couple of grandmas and grandpas, along with adults in their early 30's on up into their 50's and 60's, moving their mouths to the sound of chipmunk voices.  Add in four energetic little kids jumping and dancing at our feet.

It was a funny and loony night, with everyone laughing and making noise.  

Now, to tell the rest of the story.  There are several men in my family who I suspect of having narcolepsy, including my dad.  These guys are infamous for falling asleep while visiting, no matter who's talking, or what's going on.

My uncle Bill is one of those men, too.  While we were all busying ourselves with our chipmunk fun, no one realized Bill had sat down in the corner recliner and drifted off.

Only when we sat down and turned the tape to "play" so we could review it, did we see what had happened.

As the song slowed down, and played out its last hurrah, John panned across the room, showing each of us as we bopped, sang, laughed, jumped, and pranced about.

The camera moved to the corner, and there was Uncle Bill, his elbow resting on the chair's arm, and his chin resting in his hand. His eyes were shut, and his mouth was wide open.  John zoomed in on this sight, while the last notes of Jingle Bells played and then went silent.  

It was a completely hilarious ending to our raucous video.  I wish I knew what happened to the video--how I would love to see it now!

XXXooo Annie

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gobble, Gobble Adventures

It's clichĂ©, but "never a dull moment" in my reality really is never a dull moment.  And, sometimes a dull moment would be most welcome!

On Thursday, my Thanksgiving started out fairly mundane.  With dinner scheduled for 3:00, I felt comfortable that I had plenty of time to get the food prepared. 

I put the bird in the oven around 10:00, knowing it would take four to five hours to roast, and would need a good half hour to forty five minutes to rest before carving.

The veggie tray was all ready, covered with foil in the fridge, as well as the pies that I had baked the day before. 

I caught bits and pieces of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Thanksgiving just wouldn't feel right without that little tradition), and I read the thick stack of Black Friday ads, knowing I had a zero chance of shopping on Black Friday.  Still, I liked to see what I was missing out on!

Around 1:00, I pulled out the bags of potatoes.  Maria had requested to make the mashed potatoes, but I decided to get a start on peeling them while she showered.  Every single potato I picked up and began to peel was rotten!  After I tried to find some that were salvageable, I finally hit a point where I knew it was not going to happen.

What would Thanksgiving be without mashed potatoes??? 

The potato situation made me into an instant hypocrite.  Where I was proclaiming only a day before, "Why on earth do stores need to be open on Thanksgiving?", I was now praying that Wal Mart was open! 

John volunteered to take a trip out to Hermitage to check on Wal Mart, and I gladly took him up on the offer.  God bless his heart!  Thankfully, they were open, and he came home loaded down with three bags of taters. 

It was good to spend time with both my girls--them madly peeling and dicing--me, making stuffing, gravy, and rolls.  Those moments together are most precious.

The kids circling the table to load up their plates.
We had a houseful of people that day.  All eight of us were here, as well as my parents, Tony's fiancĂ©e, and Ian's latest girl.  It was a bit crowded and chaotic, but everyone seemed happy with my culinary talents, and there was plenty of laughter shared.

One of the best moments was hearing my mom praise the pumpkin pie I had baked, especially with her in mind.  Mom developed an allergy to cinnamon a several years ago.  She loves pumpkin pie, but normally can't eat it, so I baked a couple and left out the cinnamon.  It made me feel good knowing that she got to enjoy one of her favorite holiday desserts.

That evening, John and I joined my parents in visiting my elderly aunt, who lives alone.  Her house was still and quiet, with the muted light of her tiny TV and one small dull light, it seemed so different than it was when I was a child.  Thanksgivings in the 70's were often spent at this house, where the whole Ryan clan would gather around a large dining room table, and share in a traditional turkey dinner.  My Grandpa, dad, and uncles would have the TV going in the living room with whatever football team was playing.  Every room would be brightly lit, there would be loud chatter, and lots of activity.  The contrast between decades was like night and day.

Back home, after our visit, I sat down with Therese to watch our DVD of Peanuts' Thanksgiving.  Two of my kids were scheduled to go to work soon--Tony at 8:00, and Maria at midnight. 

The snow had been falling for a few hours when it was time for Tony to leave for work.  I took Tony, and it was a white knuckle trip all the way to and from Sheetz.  I did some slipping and sliding, but thankfully got back home in one piece.  I was so glad to just get inside to put on some warm PJ's!

Yesterday I stayed in those pajamas all day, until about 5 or 6 o'clock pm, when I showered and put on fresh pajamas.  I spent most of the morning, cleaning up after the meal from Thursday.  I was too worn out to wash dishes, so I piled them up and let them go that night.  What a fright to wake up and see that job waiting for me first thing in the morning!  "Oh the weather outside is frightful, but my dear, the towering pile of dishes make the weather seem delightful..."

I had a nice visit with my best friend yesterday, she's the yin to my yang.  We've been through so much together, even though she moved to Richmond, VA the week after John and I got married.  That was twenty nine years ago! The true sign of a real friendship is when the relationship gets stronger through the years, even when there are miles of separation.  I can honestly say that is the case with me and Jo Anne!  She is Maria's godmother, and she really plays an essential role in our family.

Last evening, John brought in the boxes of lights and ornaments so we could put up the Christmas tree.  Therese, Johnpaul, and I spent the time together, laughing and playing, while working. 

Therese was in constant motion!

At one point, I began to snap some photos, and the kids abruptly began to avoid me.  I pleaded with them to get back to trimming the tree, and to "act natural" so I could get a picture or two.  At that point, Therese picked up a glass ornament that was suspended by a circle of velvety fabric.  She hung it off her index finger and threw herself into a fake pose, thrusting her arm straight up in the air.  The ornament spun on the tip of her finger, and tore away from the velvet, flying through the air.  SMASH!!!

The ornament met its doom by hurtling into the wall behind her and shattering into a zillion little deadly shards.

JohnPaul, Therese, and I stopped and stood like mannequins, staring at each other.  Our expressions, frozen for a brief instant, were a cross between humor and horror. A moment passed, and then...we broke out into uproarious laughter. 

It was all my fault--after all, I had told her to act natural!  She is a wild ball of twelve year old energy!  She was acting natural!

We got the tree all done, and the broken ornament cleaned up, and even had time to sit and watch a holiday movie together before bed.  I am thankful for my zany life, and for the people I love.


Monday, August 18, 2014

My Meandering Mind

Just a few random things on my mind...

While driving in a semi rural/forested landscape recently, I realized something.  Although there are a lot of things wrong in the world, there is something that continues to live and thrive!  Chlorophyll!  Yay for chlorophyll all around me!!!

Speaking of that, what do you get when you cross Cloris Leachman with Dr. Phil?  Duh...!  CHLOROPHYLL!!!


On to another deep subject.  I live in a little place called Sharpsville.  Would you like to know where the name came from?  Why is Sharpsville named 'Sharpsville'?  DRUMROLL...

Because no one would choose to live in a town called 'Dullsville'. (Be sure to click the big red button!)

^^^Was that cool or what???^^^

Why didn't the chicken cross the road?

Silly, because when he pressed this button:

He only saw this signal:

No matter how long he waited, he never got a signal with a chicken crossing on it.

No need for applause, just throw money!

Until next time...HUGSxxxAnnie

Friday, July 25, 2014


July reminds us that summer runs away at breakneck pace, whether we approve or not.

July is wiping fresh fruit juice from chins, while munching on garden grown sweetness.

July smells like just mown lawns, salty sea air, and grilled hamburgers.

The seventh month tastes like beefsteak tomatoes, ice cream cones, hot dogs, and corn on the cob.

The lush vegetation of July embraces us with the gentlest of hugs; it provides temporary amnesia--dulling us to the bleak memory of winter.

The mid summer month sounds like grass trimmers, humming fans, and birds, singing and conversing.

July rain is sweet and refreshing, a welcome relief from the broiling sun.

July nights are crisp cotton sheets with an open window.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Favorite Place

Can you guess where my favorite place is?

Is it here? 
Nope.  (ONE of my favorite places, for sure, though!)
How about this?
Well, I can't lie and say I wouldn't want to be there, but it's still not my favorite place on Earth...
Okay, these?

...As wonderful as all these places are my favorite place.
The list goes on and on.  Niagara Falls?  A starlit night on an ocean cruise?  The deep South?  The Great Plains?  The Rocky Mountains?
My favorite place is a three minute walk from my house. 
This is my favorite place.  It is where my Lord resides.
Jesus is so good.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Low temperatures this month have broken long standing records.  I've never seen such a cold winter in my life. 

Today the weather is so dangerously bitter that school has been cancelled, including college campuses. 

A phenomenon called 'snow rollers' has been occurring the past day or so.  Several of my Facebook friends have posted photos of these formations on their walls.  They look a bit like a giant white Hostess Ho Ho.

I've been periodically checking my yard to see if any have formed, but so far I have not seen any.

I am grateful to have a warm home.  The furnace has been running non stop for weeks.  I don't think it shuts off at all, and my skin is suffering for it.  Several times a day, I slather myself with cocoa butter or Udderly Smooth moisturizer.  I'm wearing out my tube of lip balm.  Still, just call me Mojave Mama or Sahara Sister!!!

On another note, I have been feeling a little down this week.  It's not related to the weather, but rather, it's all the things in my life that seem to be falling apart.

There are innumerable knots to be undone, and as I tackle one at a time, it's as if some unseen force is creating more knots.  It's kind of like trying to hold water in a sieve. 

When these things get me down, I find myself feeling way down.  It's a terrible feeling.

I know it will pass; the knots will still be there, but these despairing temptations will lessen.  I only know that because I've been down this road before.

Sometimes I see myself as this very broken person--like a cracked mirror.  There is just no way to fix me.  And yet, I realize that we are all in the same boat,  not cracked in all the same ways, but still--broken.

The weight of my misery is crushing.  What have I ever done in my life right?  Who haven't I harmed? 

But...still...a whisper comes from must forge ahead...pick yourself up...try...forgive

Thank God for His grace.  When everything seems so twisted and ruined, He takes it all and turns it into a masterpiece of love. 

I'm so thankful for HIM.

Stay warm, my readers.  Stay safe.  God bless you.