So today is the last day of NaBloPoMo November 2012. I missed a few days, but I can say that the last two months were pretty sucessful for me, given that blogging is a new adventure for me.

It was clear from Day one of this month that I enjoy non-November NaBloPoMo better. Last month, there was a managable number of blogs, and I found a handful that I now read regularly (Giggling Truckers Wife, The Modfather, Nested, Wrinkled Mommy, etc). I feel connected with these women, and love coming online every day to see what story they will tell, or advice they will give, or frustrations they will air.

With this month, there were so many participants, that I was overwhelmed. I maybe read four new blogs out of hundreds. I never commented on those new blogs, and didn’t keep up with linking to my new posts.

So with that, I’ve decided to take a break from NaBloPoMo. I want to focus on having quality posts, instead of feeling the need to upload a random picture. I have a lot of things I want to air and to talk about, but it is hard for me to write a well thought out post with the few minutes a day I have free.

Thanks for all the encouragement and for tuning in!

A weekend history lesson

While in Elmira over Thanksgiving weekend, I brought up the possibility of stopping by Woodlawn Cemetery to take in the sights.  Strange, right?  Well, perhaps you don’t know of the historical significance of Woodlawn Cemetery.

First Stop was brilliant American author Samuel L. Clemens, known more commonly by his pen name, Mark Twain.

Samuel Clemens spent many summers in Elmira at Quarry farm.  During his stays, he wrote some of his most famous works, such as  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His wife’s family, the Langdon’s, were apparently Elmira socialites.  Although he lived a number of places (Buffalo and Connecticut) , he was buried in his wife’s family plot at the Woodlawn Cemetery.

Mr. Clemens married Olivia Langdon in 1970 and they had four children.  Their first born, a son, Langdon, died before the age of two.  His daughters  Olivia Susan, Clara, and Jean, each survived to adulthood.

However, in 1896, at age 24, Olivia Susan (“Susy”), died of spinal meningitis. Her gravestone is inscribed with beautiful words, which I discovered was from a poem written by Robert Richardson: “Warm summer sun shine kindly here, Warm southern wind blow softly here, Green sod above, lie light, lie light — Good night, dear heart, Good night, good night.”

A few years later, in 1904, his wife Olivia died while living in Italy.

Finally, in 1909, his youngest daughter Jean died on Christmas Eve by drowning in the bathtub following what was suspected to be a heart attack brought on by an epileptic seizure. Her gravestone features a line from Macbeth (“After life’s fitful fever, she sleeps well”), and a note that her desolate father lay the stone.

The next year, in 1910, Samuel Clemens died of a heart attack at aged 74.  Interestingly, he was born a few weeks after Halley’s comet’s closest approach to the Earth, and died a day after its next appearance.  There were a few pencils left by his grave, as well as a number of coins on the headstone.

(Vivian soaking up some creative juices for her career as a world-famous author.  Note the pencil to the left.)

After his remaining daughter Clara, was widowed, she erected the “Mark Twain monument” in honor of her father and her late husband.

(my father and Viv in front of the monument.  Parenting Rule #1: never wake a sleeping baby, even for photo ops)

(inscription on the Mark Twain monument)

She was also buried in the family plot after her death in 1962, along with her daughter and her second husband.

After soaking up some literary inspiration, we headed over to a newer portion of the Cemetery for some athletic awakening.
Ernie Davis was the first African-American Heisman Trophy recipient. He was awarded the trophy in his senior year playing football for Syracuse University.
A lifelong Elmira resident, he played for Elmira Free Academy (my father’s alma mater). Shortly after he was drafted to the professional league, he was diagnosed with leukemia and died.
On a more personal note, Ernie Davis’ mother, Avis Fleming, was lucky enough to be roommates with my Nanny when they were both hospitalized in St. Joseph’s Hospital!  At the time, it was discussed with her that there was a rumor that a movie about her son would be made.  She replied that it was something that was always floated around, but that she doubted it would ever happen.  The movie, The Express, was released a few months after she passed.
After doing some sleuthing, we were unable to locate the graves of my mother’s aunt and uncle, Betty and Stew Wheeler.  Hopefully we can do some research and come visit them next time.
But by that point, we were feeling ambitious.  So we headed out of the public cemetery  and over to Woodlawn National Cemetery to pay our respects to those who served our country. Tune back for tomorrow’s continued history lesson!

Something tells me I’m into something good.

It was a great summer. In fact, it was dubbed the “summer o’ fun”. But as soon as my junior year of college started, I buckled down. I started an intense internship, had a few tough classes, and started having quiet nights at home with my roommates Bridget and Kristy.

I was coming of a chaotic year, adjusting to a new college and living in an apartment for the first time. But by the close of that summer, I was in a good place. I had cherished friends, was happy with my job, and was starting to plan my future.

And then a hiccup. I was hit with pink eye for the first time in my (adult?) life. I still don’t know how I contracted it, but was house-ridden for several days in November. A lot of wiping down surfaces and warm washclothes and sleeping. A few days after I was cleared was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. My friends from home were back from college for the holiday. So what else was there to do but hit the college town bars. Yes, folks. I went to bars before I was 21. That’s college town Albany for you (at least circa 2002).

Sara, Jen, and I went to Michael’s on Madison Ave on November 26th. Drinks were had. Dancing was done. I was thrilled to be a part of the social world again.

I distinctly remember standing near the bar, and seeing a boy across the room. He was sitting on a barstool at the opposite wall. He had glasses and was oh so handsome. I kept talking to my friends, but was continuously distracted. I tried to make eye contact a few times, but to no avail. He was facing his friend, drinking a beer.

I don’t remember how long it took me, but I finally decided that enough was enough. I realized that his friend was a bartender at a bar in Troy that my friends and I frequented during the college breaks. Sara and I giggled a little about it. Since she knew the friend better than I did, I begged her to approach him. She was reluctant, mostly because she didn’t think that bartender would even know who she was! After some begging, I told her I would pay her $5 to interupt their conversation so she could talk to the friend, and I wouldn’t be perceived as the “rude” one.

Sara, the great friend she was, obliged. While she talked to the friend, I oh so smoothly started talking to the boy with the glasses.

I sat, talked about our jobs, where we went to school, and where we were from. I discovered that he was a good Catholic boy, and divulged that I, too, was Catholic. He told me his birthday, which I assured him I would remember. I have a “thing” with dates, you see.

At the close of the night, Jen and Sara were going home, and came over to fetch me. The Boy offered to walk me home. I felt safe with him. I trusted him. I gave Sara a look which I hoped would convey that. She understood. She trusted him too.

A short time later, we exited the bar. As we turned the corner onto Ontario Ave, he quizzed me. What was his Birthday? May 3rd, I replied. A few steps later, it started to snow lightly. He stopped me on the sidewalk, put his arms around me, and kissed me.

Four years, three months, and five days later, he asked me to be his wife.

Five years, one month, and ten days later, he was my husband.

Nine years, seven months, and five days later, he became the father of our baby girl.

And ten years later today, knowing all the ups and downs we would face, I would still have taken that walk to meet him.

Sleepy Sunday

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend!  We spent Thanksgiving Day at Todd and Michelle’s house with The Man’s family.  Then Viv and I headed to Elmira with my parents to visit family. a LOT of family!

After a long drive and frantic cleaning and laundry when I got home, I’m limited with time to write.  But I have a few great posts planned for the next few days (and the last days of NaBloPoMo November 2012!)


NaBloPoMo November 2012 – Day 25