What the Hell-ebore?

It all started a few years back when I saw a chip of Martha Stewart’s Hellebore paint.  A green tint like I had never seen while I was choosing colors for our new home. I was in love. It was natural, far from garish like some greens can be and it was sweet. I heard that Martha who, whether you like her or not, does have some darn good taste had the color made to match the petal of a Hellebore flower.  Sometimes known as the Lenten Rose, a rose like I have never seen and frankly doesn’t look like a rose at all, is one of the first plants to bloom in late February. I planted them years ago.  Mine are now a hardy plant that I look forward to seeing every year.Rose

The early bloom was a very good thing especially this year.  Once a year, I invite my old neighbors to a special “ladies” lunch at my home. You see eight years ago I moved (one mile away) and my neighbors were very angry at me.  “We will never see you!” they hollered.  “You are moving so far. Our kids grew up on this block, how can you move?” they complained. “We used to hang out all the time, you are a traitor, our relationship will never be the same again!” they threatened. I assured them that once a year I would have them to my new house.  They walked away in disbelief that this rhetoric of good faith would never happen.  Well it did. Hell it did.  For eight years these ten or so ladies have come to my house at the first sign of Spring for a lunch lovingly prepared, for the most part by their Benedict Arnold.  They arrived last weekend with snow still on the ground and no outdoor furniture to sit on and sneak a little sun with our coats still on. We eat, we partake in some wine and we have a great time catching up on our lives. This year while I was setting the table, the tiny Hellebores came to my mind.  I bought some small glass Ball Jars and went out and cut the new growth and centered them on the table with some pine I also cut in the yard. rose 4It worked.  I spent not a dime on flowers and yet these little ones gave just a little special nod to my friends. rose two

It’s not shmootz, it’s paintings


We have always had dogs.  I grew up with a German Shepherd and knew that when my son was very young he should be a boy with a dog.  Dogs teach responsibility, altruism and trust.  They are your first friend, the one that doesn’t talk. The hairy one that follows you around and is dependent on you feeding and taking care of it. Our dogs, like most, love to look out the window.  Any window they can reach, they aren’t particularly picky.  The outside world is filled with sounds, smells, a visual wonderland for dogs.

In the beginning, I would wash the windows after the dogs would snot on them. It happens often and their noses cant’ help it.  They are wet, and pressing that nose against the window seems to help bring the outside closer somehow. Windex is my friend.  Very little time went by when I realized this was a losing battle.  The shmootz took over and I was not strong enough to combat it.

One day I told my children and husband, frankly anybody that would listen, “it’s not dirt, they are paintings—the dogs made paintings.” My “cleanliness is next to Godliness” Mom did not agree.


If you walk through my house today with almost spring shining in the windows, you will see all the beautiful paintings my dogs have done.  The family room and my home office are especially adorned. They are pure perfection at their craft. Now these innocent pups are teaching a new lesson.

Go with it.


Appreciate the art and leave it alone, for now.

The End of 4 Years

Jesse FloridaIt was another cold winter Wednesday night around 7 p.m. I was just finishing up dinner when my cell phone rang.

“Hi Mom,” the voice on the other end said. “What are you up to?”

“Hi Jesse,” I said. “How are you?”

“Great!” he answered.

I waited for the explanation of what he needed, what he lost, how much money it was going to cost me or what class he decided not to attend that day.

I held my breath, looked out the window, took a large sip of wine—waiting for the “I need/lost” clause. But this time, my son just called me to say hello. To see how his Mom was doing, what was new in her life. Could it be true? Could my 19-year-old boy be calling just for that one reason alone with nothing up his sleeve? Could he be—I swallowed hard—maturing?

Our son is finishing his second year of college in Rhode Island. For the first 18 months, most communication was by text. We missed him terribly and wanted to hear his voice—the house was quiet without him making his usual noises and messes—but using text as communication worked for all of us in our busy lives. It was quick, painless and could be given and received at anytime. We needed to know if he was safe, if he got to class, if he was adjusting; we needed to know if we could stop worrying.

For the most part, the only phone calls that transpired were those of panic or dread. Those emotions were mostly coming from us, the parents. The conversation usually started and ended something like this:

“Mom, I have something to tell you. I lost my wallet/can’t find my car keys/broke my nose [yes, that was a real one]/I am out of laundry detergent/coffee/food/toilet paper/cleaning products—can you put some money in my account? And I need money for laundry—can you put money in that account too? My suitemates all have the flu and nobody has cleaned the bathroom in weeks. And that class that I was supposed to switch into, it’s closed and drop/add was yesterday. And there is a smell in our room that we cannot identify. Oh, and Mom—I need a suit, tie and shoes by tomorrow.”

But this time, on this mid-week call, Jesse seemed to be sincerely interested in what I did that day. He asked about my writing, how the dogs were doing with all the snow, about his Dad and his long commute and even how sister was doing in school. It was as if I was speaking to a friend. A dear friend who I really liked—a good guy, a smart, respectful, honest man. One who could see beyond his own needs and ask about the needs of others. (Much like his Dad.)

Parents of adult children often tell me that this phenomenon happens, that around this age our children turn into pretty cool people. People we can be proud of, that we can hang with. “Almost adults” that we can talk to with our voices and not just our thumbs.

Could it be that all those years of parenting paid off? Is this once shy little boy—who for the first few months of pre-school sat on a chair by the door and didn’t move or talk to any classmates—becoming a caring man?

I still hold my breath when Jesse calls not knowing what he will say—but now I am beginning to believe that he is joining the human race. The teenage years will be soon gone and we will be left with a grown man that we can be proud of and that we are delighted to speak with whenever he calls.

About this column: Our team of parenting writers tackles important, controversial and humorous issues in the Nyack-Piermont area.

We All Love a Good Story

story visual

When I was in seventh grade, I won a Scholastic Magazine writing contest.  One of my teachers, a habit-wearing-English-teaching nun asked me to enter the contest.  I don’t remember the details clearly now but I wrote a story, something about calling a boy you liked and asking him out on a date. I couldn’t believe I actually won.

In college, I decided to take a Humanities class called Comedy, Wit and Humor.  Easy “A+” I thought. The class was neither funny, witty nor humorous and it certainly wasn’t an easy “A”.  The Professor, after reading an essay that I pored over, told me that reading it was like, “Roller skating through a museum.” Was that a compliment, my naïve 20 year old self wondered?  What did that mean? My writing was brilliant but he really wanted to go to the Guggenheim?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Long before blogging became popular, journaling and newsletters were all the rage.  I loved listening to people talk, to hear their stories, to find out what made them tick, why they were who they were. I wrote for myself, for fun, for money, writing was my art form. During my first high school job working for a chiropractor, I developed, wrote, designed and edited a newsletter.  Much to the chagrin of my children and they still cringe when I tell them the dragging details, in college I was the editor of my college yearbook. My colleagues and I used to dream of owning our own magazine (that was when print was still relevant) and I actually had a staff of writers and photographers.

My first job out of college was with a small advertising agency in Tarrytown, New York. We were a young creative bunch and had one hell of a time. I then decided, encouraged by a co-worked to work at the Marriott Marquis as a Tour and Travel Manager.  This brand new hotel with 1,500 sleeping rooms was thrilling and magnificent.  That job did not involve writing but it sure racked up some life experience that a writer hopes to attain to use as fodder later. And oh the stories I could tell. My co-workers were awesome, my job was great but I missed the creativity that the ad agency world provided.  So I went back to the suburbs and took a job at another small agency.  I was an Account Executive with a keen eye for copy and wrote most of my own. Those were my days of a big fancy office, expense account, and creativity abounding. We were branding clients back then way before the internet. There was no facebook, twitter, pinterest, tumblr, google+, or YouTube. We produced logos, taglines, brochures, commercials and wrote stories.  We created content.

Then the kids came and so did the unpaid cycle of my life and the most meaningful. I worked at my husband’s publishing company part-time and eventually took over the business of publishing a real estate magazine. I created, wrote and designed pages and placed them in the careful and insightful hands of my graphic artist. Together, we created visual content. Our work captured the attention of a targeted audience.

I have written for print and online publications about authors, artists, activists, rock stars, psychics, singers, brokers, dogs, soup, hot dogs, donuts, cultural arts, street fairs, libraries, organic produce, back to school shopping, chicken, holocaust survivors, film festivals, antique stores and men cooking chili.  I now use facebook, twitter, google+, pinterest and YouTube and can’t imagine how we survived without them. The world is filled with research and information at our fingertips for writing stories. Building content is exciting, fresh, frightening and exhilarating. I wonder where the next several years will take us. Will content still be king?

For now, I will take off my roller skates, put on my shoes and continue to write stories and thank my Humanities Professor for seeing the museum quality in me.