So here we are on the last day of the year.  I don’t know about you, but I can speak for me and my sis: If we could, we’d wipe 2014 off the map…completelyGood riddance 2014, I say.  I’m certain you get the gist of that statement and it’s quite possible many of you haven’t had a stellar year either.  Let’s hope and pray (and eat eye-of-newt if somehow that would help) that 2015 is better, eh?   So, no…it has not been the best year for us but….well…OK….I must be completely honest:  Upon reflection, aided by a brisk (cold) walk this morning with the poodle, there have been many moments of sunshine, levity, and just pure goodness this year. I’ve been holding those moments very close to my heart and in retrospect, this has softened my view of this very difficult year; it’s not been a total wash.  I’m older, perhaps a smidgen wiser, but more importantly, I’m more grateful than ever.  I’ve got a roof over my head, food in my belly and I am loved.

In terms of family, well….a boatload of dysfunction to be sure.  But…hey…who hasn’t got just a bit of craziness (sounds better than insanity, right?) to share about their family?  Luckily, sis and I do have family members whose heads are on pretty straight making us feel mighty blessed (and hopeful too).  I’ve got a beautiful cousin in Alaska that is smart as a whip and has her head on straight, along with her mother (my auntie).  And in Italy, sis and I still have family and they are all quite even-keeled, without a lot of drama.  I honestly don’t know how our mom turned out to be so different, God love her.   I’m sharing here a recent photo from across the ocean of three members of our Italian family, enjoying homemade pie.   These people are beautiful, wonderful, salt-of-the-earth, souls.  Sis and I just wish that we all lived much closer to each other, instead of an ocean and mountains apart. For one, my Italian would be perfect!  Secondly, oh what fun we would all have cooking and eating together!  Of course, I realize that if we all did live closer I’d probably be as big as a barn from enjoying all the wonderfully delicious food we would eat!   From my part, I do wish that I could speak Italian better than my four-year-old level because then I’d be talking to these lovely people on a frequent basis.  It’s a good thing the handsome fellow in the plaid shirt “Big Mac” (remember?) speaks and reads English quite well.  He does an excellent job at keeping the connection going despite the miles that separate us all.  He writes frequent emails to me in Italian, which fortunately I understand (I can read Italian better than I can speak it.  I suppose It helps that he writes it for me at a level that I can understand!  Mille grazie Big Mac!).  The equally handsome fellow in the middle, Nando….he’s Big Mac’s brother.  He’s as much a billy-goat on mountain hikes and climbs as his younger brother.  He’s in fantastic shape for his years and I have no doubt it’s all the physical activity that is keeping him (and his siblings) that way.   The lovely woman is their sister Rinella.   She has a heart of gold and her soul is pure sweetness through and through. She shares their love of hiking in the mountains too.  Since my mother  (their cousin) was never one for physical activity of any sort I’ve often wondered if my love of all things outdoors isn’t because of these three Italian jewels ….to include my departed great-aunt, “Zia Alba,” also a great enthusiast of physical activity in her day.

A few members of my Italian family; beautiful, wonderful souls

A few members of my Italian family; beautiful, wonderful souls

 

Another bright spot in the year was being able to attend the 90th birthday party of my uncle. You wouldn’t know he’s 90 by looking at him, or hearing him talk.  He’s 90 years young and with the twinkle in his eyes, the pep in his step, and the genuine love in his heart for life….you’d swear he’s 60 and not a day over.  I want HIS genes.

Uncle Budd; 90 years young!

Uncle Budd; 90 years young!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, as the year closes I’m thinking a lot about family, and friends:  the good, bad, and the ugly.  I’m over-the-moon grateful to have such a beautiful sister…who is such a dear (especially when she turns into a purple minion) and she’s my best friend too. And how terrific to have a bro-in-law that loves my sis to pieces…and who makes excellent Pomegranate martinis?! Add to that….I’m madly in love with my nephew Alexandre-the-greatest and I’m thoroughly smitten with a physics geek even though he can make my blood boil with his propensity to procrastinate.  My relationship with my daughter is better….with my son, well not so much, but I remain hopeful because the alternative is too much to bear.  And with my mother, although “complicated” best describes my feelings, I’ll do my very best in the new year to block out the negative because the alternative isn’t going to do either one of us any good at all.

And to friends near and far, I’ll do my best to see you (and communicate with you more)  in the new year.  Failing that,  please know that my heart swells with love for each of you even if I am sometimes remiss at showing it.

Now on to the rest of the day.  I’m trying my hand at something new in the kitchen…a new recipe to bring to a soiree that I have been invited to this evening.  I’m making Jalapeno Poppers.  Minutes from  now I’ll be donning gloves to handle the hot chiles, a first for me.  I’ll let you know how they turn out and I promise a photo if all goes well…and one even if it doesn’t.

Peace, love and joy ❤