Friday, May 30, 2003

I did something sentimental this week. Over the years I had been thinking about the first book I had ever read when I was a child. It was a little book entitled, 'The Mystery of the Great Swamp'. I recalled details about the book all these years and have always wondered what it would be like to read it again. The only problem was that the book, first published in 1967, had been out of print for some time. Then I recalled that on Amazon it's possible to buy not only new but used books and I've done so on several occasions because people are often willing to part with a book for much less than the cost of a new one. It's just about as convenient as buying new books because Amazon handles the financial part of it even though you buy the book from an individual. I did a search and found that there were literally dozens of copies of the book for sale, some for as little as $.30. Imagine that, an out of print book that I had figured I'd never be able to find, available for virtually the cost of shipping it to me! So I ordered a hard cover version in good condition for $1.00 + shipping and handling and was able to experience the pleasure of re-reading my very first book. I credit that book with sparking my initial interest in reading and was gratified to find that it was very well written, even from the perspective of an adult reading a child's book.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Hi Arlene, no need to apologize, we all need to know of these things, even if they seem unpleasant. I recall her name, but I can't place Carol Dempsey's face, even though she was in my homeroom.

The odds of dying in your 40's are about .3% per year on the average, so we've nearly met more than half our quota for the decade in a single year (our class had 175 people and we've lost 3 in this year alone). The average life expectancy of someone our age is another 36.2 years. This number can be comforting or frightening, depending on one's perspective. If there's any lesson to be learned from hearing of a classmate's departure from this life it is to make sure not to delay doing those things that we've been putting off, especially in letting those close to us how much we love and appreciate them.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

It seems like every time I post a message anymore, it is bad news. Does anyone remember Carol Dempsey? I don't remember what year she left O'Reilly, but I'm pretty sure she was still there our Sophomore year. Anyway, she died yesterday. I can't beleive all of the former classmates we are losing lately. Ann Marie, how are things going for you and your godchild? I am still praying for you both.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Of all the topics that get found on the weblog, the discussions about the Victory Pig Pizza recipe generate the most hits on search engines. I once got an email from a couple in Colorado Springs about it. It turned out that the wife was the daughter of our school nurse, Mrs. Ducey. Evidently there are a lot of 'ex pat' Wyoming Valley natives looking for something that reminds them of home. Just this week, I got an email from someone who had referenced my little web page about making VP-style pizza at home. It turned out that there was a discussion raging on a recipe message board about the secret recipe that had pointed them to the my web page and so I chimed in. I found that the woman who runs the recipe discussion board and lives in Las Vegas was actually from Wyoming Valley originally...Swoyersville to be exact. After a few mail exchanges, I realized that I had gone to kindergarten with her son! (Steve Fondo) Small world...

I had to solicit the expertise of Karen Leonardi yesterday to assure I was using proper technique with a metal detector. My co-worker had lost his wedding ring while playing volleyball, or so he thought, so we searched the area with a rented metal detector. Karen is quite proficient in the art and science of metal detecting, so I sent her an email to ask her if we were doing it right. She responded immediately with lots of good advice. (Thanks Karen!) We got lots of 'hits' but none of them were the ring. We even dug a little, in the hopes that we might find something even more valuable, but no luck. It was still a lot of fun, and I can see how people might get 'hooked' on this kind of thing .

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I'm so sorry to hear about another classmate's death. Thanks Jay for sharing the story about Mike. I will keep Mike's wife and family in my prayers. I can only imagine thier loss.
God bless

Monday, May 12, 2003

I've included Mike's senior picture here.

It was great to hear Jay's story about Mike. Thanks for sharing that with us. I didn't know Mike too well, except through Goose, who knew everyone from Plymouth. Showing up at a friend's birthday celebration with some Wild Turkey shows that Mike was a class act . Mike is actually our 8th class member to pass away. Six of them were honored at the last reunion and since then, we've seen Jack Kamus and Mike join them. I know it's always sad to see our class members pass to the next life, but I'm sure they are looking at us, encouraging us, and motivating us to live this life to its fullest.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

I spent most of today thinking about Mike Matuza, and remembering my 17th birthday. He came to my house to spend the night, armed with a bottle of Wild Turkey, and a pint of Cherry Vodka. We spent most of the night wandering around the streets of Swoyersville, running into everyone and sharing our abundance of liquid wealth. The next day, we took the bus over to Wilkes-Barre, and spent the day riding the elevator in the Boston Store. That was where we polished off the vodka. I thought back and thought how crazy and carefree we were. Mike was a good person. He was a lot of fun, and had a great laugh. Just hearing him laugh would get everyone else going. I was never able to keep track of him after we graduated. I wish I had... I hope that he lived his life to the fullest... Rest in peace, buddy... I believe that's 7 classmates gone from us, now. Can we stop for awhile?

I viewed the obituary for Mike Matuza on the Citizen's Voice site, and it appears we've lost another classmate. In the event that the link doesn't work, here is the text:

Michael Matuza, 43, of Keelersburg Road, Tunkhannock, and formerly of Plymouth, died Thursday in West Pittston.

He was born in Wilkes-Barre, son of Dorothy Urganus Matuza and the late Joseph Matuza. He attended Holy Child Elementary School and was a member of Cub Pack 456, Plymouth. He was a 1977 graduate of Bishop O'Reilly High School.

Mr. Matuza was employed as a trimmer operator in the bindery department by Offset Paperback, Dallas. He was a member of St. Vincent de Paul Church, Plymouth.

He was preceded in death by a brother, Joseph, in 1997.

Surviving, in addition to his mother, are wife, Nancy Kane; nieces and nephews.

The funeral will be held Monday at 8:30 from the Kielty-Moran Funeral Home, 87 Washington Ave., Plymouth, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 9 from St. Vincent de Paul Church, Plymouth. Interment will be in St. Casimir's Cemetery, Muhlenburg. Friends may call Sunday, 7 to 9 p.m.

Ann Marie, I hope everything goes well for you and your godchild. You will both be in my prayers. Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there! Jay, thanks for the E-Mails. Everyone does need a laugh or hug sometime. Does anyone know what happened to Mike Matuza? I just saw the paper this morning--he died. I am both shocked and saddened!

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Hi everyone. Hmmm...Ireland, a land of emerland green, rugged beauty, and the most lyrical cussing I have ever heard in my life. I had the opportunity to visit Ireland for a brief fleeting moment a few years ago on business. I flew from Bristol England to Dublin. While waiting for my connecting flight Jerry Adams came through in a flurry of body guards and reporters. He was on his way to the US that weekend as part of the "peace talks" with president Clinton. It was interesting to watch the mixed reaction of the masses while he walked through the airport.
I had a very charming Irish gentleman sitting next to me on the flight from Bristol to Dublin. This Irish lad (he was our age) tried every which way to get me to come home with him, where I would stay with his family for the evening, he would then drive me to to Gallway from Belfast the next morning...stay until I finnished my business and then drive me back to Belfast where his family would welcome me for a long weekend. It was tempting to say the least. But being a leveled headed mother I kindly kept telling him no. Funny enough, I never felt threatened in any way. Had it been anywhere else in the world, I would have thought the guy was a nutter. We departed at Dublin airport, where he waited until I boarded my plane...and still trying to persuade me to stay with he and his family. *laughter*

My next experience was getting off in Gallway at 11:00 PM at night. Guys, this airport is smaller than Forty Fort airport! It was a nerve wracking landing as it was raining with gale force winds blowing the plane like a billowing sheet. (When I got on the connecting plane and saw duct tape on the wing I remember thinking to myself, God please get us to Gallway safely so I could see tomorrow.

Gallway airport was an experience. I had a driver pick me up in a Mercedes white limo. I thought ahhh, as I saw the limo, I could sit back and relax for our 30 min drive to Gallway. Nope, did not happen. This is where I had experienced the most lyrical cussing I had ever heard in my life. I can still laugh. Imagine a elegant Mercedes limo, but the most down to earth driver you could ever imagine. When he started using the word f***in, I was in awe. It just sounded so whimsical and non-offensive. I sat totally amused and chatty for the balance of the trip.

The best bed and breakfast I have ever stayed at in my travels was in Gallway. The ambience was perfect. It was better than being at home. Breakfast was incrediable. Fresh Irish soda bread, amy variety of whole grain cereals or porridage, fruits from Spain and Italy, farm fresh eggs, ham or bacon, strong Irish tea and newspapers from all over the world at my finger tips. I was the only guest and they still gave this treatment. I lingered over breakfast for over an hour just relaxing and being pampered. After my business meeting I spent the day in the city of Gallway. It was great. Cobbled streets and alleyways, shops galore to explore and and an area rich in history. It is a place I am planning to go back to in the very near future.

Both of you enjoy your trip while there. You know I love the English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh lifestyle. We Americans have lost a part of our culture with our fast paced materialistic lives. I loved living in England and travelling in the UK. The English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh have a love for animals and the environment that is second to none. They respect what they have. We tend to forget about the simplicity of life. Picinics or walks in the countryside, walking in the rain, knowing our neighbours, driving an old jalopy that can get us anywhere, anytime, even though it acts up once in awhile. Spontinaity in our fast paced lives. I would love nothing more than to go back and retire in England.

I haven't written for awhile as I have had some personal problems home. While I was in the States on business in March, my husband was in a bad car accident. Thank God he and everyone in the car is alive. We still don't know how they all survived...even with seat belts on. After that I got ill. I am awaiting a final date for surgery in the next day or two. I am a little nervous and my husband and I have weighed the options of having the surgery here or in the US. After weighing our facts we feel confident that it can been done here. It will be easier all the way around. My surgeon is part of a private hospital here that is very well run and has the most modern technology. Now my godchild is in the hospital. It looks like she has bone cancer. Illnesses like this cannot be treated in St. Lucia. The parents are not well-off and of course there is very limited money from other resources. I am watching this bright, active 3 year old deteroiate quickly as the government run hospital does it's best to find out the problem. We are having extreme difficulty finding blood donors. Most people are afraid of needles and wont donate the blood. She needs fresh blood as they are doing platelet transfusions. Imagine having to beg people to donate blood for a child. There have been some wonderful individuals from my company who have donated, but it's just not enough. Other people have come forward, but cannot give due to health reasons. It's a really frustraing situation.
It's been a rough 3 months, but through all of this God is with me. He is my foundation and my rock.
Rose, I want you to know that I still have your email in my inbox waiting for me to reply. I will reply. I just have been bombarded with one thing after another. When I am home after the surgery I will reply.

God bless everyone. You are all always in my prayers.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Hi Rob, Thanks for sharing this story with us. I was really stumped. I think from now on, I'll call you 'blank check'. You have a lot of guts!

I just wrote a short tutorial in the hope of inducing our more reticent readers to offer some postings of their own. You might want to read it if you've been wanting to post, but have forgotten how, or never learned how to post to the weblog in the first place. There is nothing more exciting than to see someone new posting to the group. So, if you've been waiting on the sideline, or just want to add some pizzazz to your postings please check out my "how to" document, which I'll leave permanently linked to the menu on the left of the screen to motivate a few more people to contribute who are reading the weblog but not posting regularly.

Lee- Here is the answer -- I knew I was going to propose to Laura in 1988 at some time - i had no idea how long it took to plan a wedding and ended up asking her in August rather quickly -- i did not have any jewelery. She accepted and we then started the ring thing -- she wanted a custom setting - so we ordered it - it was ready during the time I had a prior planned golfing trip to Ireland planned - before i left - i gave her a "blank" check to pick up the ring. She picked up it up and I saw it about 2 weeks later when I returned from golfing

Our plans -- land in Ireland on 24 June (Dublin) and head straight for Killarney - spend 24 June in Killarney and the 25/26 June in Kinsale. On the 27th return to Dublin and spend the weekend - leaving for the US on Monday morning 30 June --- does any of this synch up with your plans?

Jay -- i do believe that a wee bit of the Irish syrup (Guiness) will be consummed (as an example - when i was golfing in Ireland - we would play at least 36 holes per day -- I gained 8 pounds during the time!)

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Guiness????? Jameson?????? Now, that's not fair, guys. You'll have to invite EVERYBODY along if you're gonna partake in that action (ha ha).

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Rob, your brain teaser is making my head hurt. Did you propose over the phone?

Terri tells me I proposed to her in Pringle, PA, which she reminds me was unromantic, because I was driving the car at the time (I recall it a different way, with a ring and bended knee, pleading ). I don't really think this Pringle proposal story is true, but if it is, it must have been induced by some kind of spiritual intervention on the part of my dear departed paternal relatives who lived in Pringle many years ago (a town that has an absolutely breathtaking view of the valley, BTW).

Terri and I will be in Scotland and in Ireland in June, so don't be surprised if we run into each other. I made my first trip to the Emerald Isle in 1967 at the ripe old age of 7 celebrating my 8th birthday there and still have fond memories of the place. My mom's house in Kilkenny is still in the family and I have quite a few cousins over there. Many of my relatives have migrated to the States, a trend my mother started in 1953, to seek fame and fortune. More than half of my cousins are currently living in the states, spread from New York to Washington state, (and for a while, Alaska). They return to Ireland often, presumably because they miss the 'old sod' so badly. If I catch up with you there, we must tip a Guiness or Jameson's for old times sake and toast to our Irish heritage.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Just wanted to let you know that I am still out here - haven't had much to add lately. Like Jay, it was a First Communion weekend for us - my daughters both sang at for our Church's 2 ceremonies (we get a respite form First Communions, ourselves -- the girls had done theirs the past 2 years and we have 2 years off before the boys go back-to-back). Things are relatively quiet here -- all the spring sports are in full swing - so the taxi service is up and running. Laura and I have planned a trip to Ireland for the end of June. Our neighbors are both from Dublin and the husband is throwing a surprise 50th for the wife -- and invited us to come along. Laura has never been to Ireland and I am looking forward to showing her the Emerald Isle (the last time i was there, which was about 15 years ago, i got engaged - y'all can figure that out since Laura has never been to Ireland -- but it was to Laura I got engaged!)

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Hi Jay, Thanks for the nice comments about the Hog. I love Hogs, and always will. Joe Petrasek has two beautiful Hogs. I will always have fond memories of my Hog, but it's not like we'll be without a bike. We got a BMW R1150RT a few months ago and I am hoping that it will provide us with some more interesting adventures. Terri is a big BMW fan. She's been driving a 328i for the past 4 years, and seems to like working on BMWs, and so she gave me the green light a few months ago to pick up a new bike. I did not hesitate.

Terri's in Germany right now, visiting with the software team that works on her projects at Agilent Technologies. She has daily conference calls with them, usually staring at 7:00 a.m. Colorado time where she uses our phone and broadband connection to interact with them with Netmeeting. She does this in her nightgown (but don't tell them that!). I really miss her when she travels, but she'll be back on Saturday and I'm looking forward to it .

Saturday, May 03, 2003

By the way.... Very nice Hog, Lee. It's a shame you had to part with it! It's like having to get rid of a guitar or banjo that you've played since you were a kid. I feel for ya', man......

What a glorious day! 28 of my little cherubs received their First Communion today. They looked great! They were all dressed to the nines! And ohhhhh, how they sang! It brought back fond memories of my First Communion. Hey Trinity-gang, does anyone still have the First Communion picture by Paul "the clicker" Biely? Better yet, does anyone have our graduation picture? It would be fun to see if our friends could pick us out! Whaddyah think?

Friday, May 02, 2003

Well, we sold the Harley yesterday . It was like seeing a child grow up and go off to school. We've had that bike for 16 years and did a lot of trips on it and it was always a fun time. I remember shortly after we got it taking it out for a Memorial Day weekend trip which resulted in a ride across Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado. The day started out cloudy, and then began to rain, and I thought if we could just get over the pass, then it would be easy going. We headed up the pass in light rain, which then turned to snow and by the time we got to the summit, we had 'white out conditions'. Like most bikers, I had very little experience riding the motorcycle on snow and ice and trying to see over the windshield which was completely covered with snow and ice. I had a hard time keeping the visor on my helmet free of snow and just as we made it over the 11,000' summit, I saw a car in front of me, blocking my lane which was ON ITS ROOF! The car had spun out and overturned in the slick conditions. We carefully passed it, making no sudden movements, and continued on, noticing that the occupants had somehow made it out safely. We got to the other side of the mountain, after decsending about 4,000' and the sun was shining, the snow on the bike was melting and we felt quite relieved to have survived such an ordeal.

We eventually made it to Mesa Verde National Park a few hours later where we had warm 'shirt sleeve' weather and hiked among the Anasazi cliff dwellings. By night fall, we had crossed the 'Million Dollar Highway' into Ouray, a delightful town, known as the 'Switzerland of America'. After a good meal at a nice restaurant, we were ready for a long sleep after many adventurous miles ridden that day.... It was not the last adventure we'd have on the Harley, but it gave me some confidence in the bike that it could get us through some of the most challenging riding conditions.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Hey Lee... Talk about being sore! I blew out my calf muscle the other day. I went for a run, and after logging a mile and a half, I decided to do "lines" on the basketball court. I got to 3/4, and felt a twinge in my calf. I've been like the walking wounded ever since. I sure hope that it doesn't curtail my kick boxing. I've been stretching and resting as much as possible. We'll see how it happens.