Monday, 25 May 2009

New York Surprise!

The New Yankee Stadium

Before the crowds filled it all in!A wee bit o' Great Britain in Yankee Stadium!

Two weeks ago, Elizabeth surprised me with a ticket to go to New York City to see her graduate last week.
Commencement from New York University, held in Yankee Stadium, in front of thousands of people, with Hillary Clinton speaking, was something I did not want to miss!
So naturally, I was in a state as I rushed about preparing for the trip on one day's notice!

I am not a fan of flying. It is a necessary evil, especially for my family and me, because to see each other, someone must board a plane.
But in this instance, I didn't have much time to dwell on it and get all sorts of worried about it, so I was off in a blink of an eye and headed to New York.

Elizabeth earned her Bachelors' Degree two years ago, so I was not unfamiliar with such ceremonies. But this graduation was a very special one. Elizabeth has not had an easy time of it, earning this degree from the renowned New York University.

To begin with, it was against all odds that she made the short list for acceptance to the university in the first place. Her grades were above average, but she had no ready cash to pay the tuition costs and university fees, and the competition to gain acceptance is fierce.
But she was among a selected few to be invited to her Masters' Degree program, in American Politics, two years ago.
We were excited and thrilled for her when she made it, not realising what the next years were to bring.

As she prepared to leave Buffalo for the big city of New York, she was leaving family, friends, and even her pets behind. And she knew no one in New York City.

Upon arrival she discovered that the university had no available housing, so she was literally homeless.
While she struggled to find a place to live and a job to support herself, she had adjustments in virtually everything in her life, all while beginning her studies and learning to find her way around New York.
Eventually she found a home with a fellow student, and remained there for a bit, but things weren't working out.

She had a car and discovered just how difficult it is to live in New York and own a car, with parking problems, tolls for roads and bridges, etc.
She was working a full time management job at a large supermarket in New Jersey, Wegmans, all while commuting to school in New York, and living in Brooklyn.

Added to her burdens was envy. She was envious of the other students she met at NYU who were enjoying their studies stress-free. They were from privileged backgrounds and mom and dad were paying for them to attend. They had social lives and didn't work to support themselves. It was difficult for her not to be able to join in and have fun at university. For her, school was all work and no play. The contrast between her life and the lives of her peers was another factor in the weakening of her spirit. She wanted their life - if only for a week to take some pressure off of her.

Things were all falling apart and she wanted to quit and return to Buffalo. Elizabeth would call me in tears and wanting nothing but to go 'home'.
Many times it was compassion and a listening ear and a kind word to get her through it.
But sometimes it required 'tough love' and some harsh reminders of what life would be if she gave up and returned to Buffalo.

She would owe thousands of dollars in student loans with no way to pay it back and no degree to show for her money and time spent. Something had to give.
She needed a helping hand - a friend - and someone who believed in her, other than her mom.
And she found him: Joe.

Joe offered compassion, tenderness, his family, friends, and his home to Elizabeth.
His generosity enabled her to remain in New York without rent; just sharing some household expenses. She switched jobs to avoid the cost of commuting, and found a job with her former employer in political advocacy, that she could work from home.
She gave up her costly car and paid off all of her bills.
Elizabeth spoke with her college advisor and cut down the hours of classes she took each semester. She knew it would extend the time it would take to complete her degree program, but it would mean she would have less stress and she would be able to complete the program.

So the New York surprise was really no surprise at all: Elizabeth is a strong, talented, intelligent, and beautiful young woman who has made it through adversity and come out of it the better for it. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

Although battle scars may be in place, she can be proud that she remained constant and completed her program. Her life is forever changed for the better. And she has earned every bit of that degree while securing a better position as her journey through life begins.

She has found a true partner who has shared some of her life, has supported her and loved her, and who will soon become her husband. We love him and welcome him into our little family. And we thank him for helping our daughter during a time she needed a friend and someone to love and support her. Now if only we could get him to be a Buffalo Sabres fan . . .

Congratulations to our beautiful girl!
We couldn't be more proud of you.

Mom, Jim, Jon and Katie

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Handmade in Malvern: The Emerald Grove

Malvern is a gorgeous little town in the Malvern Hills. We often visit there to go to the antique market and car boot sale held at the Three Counties Showground.

One day, when checking my conversations in my Etsy account, there appeared an invitation to become part of a new consignment shop opening in Malvern, called, The Emerald Grove.
The idea behind the shop is to feature handmade items from the UK to support local artists and promote a greener footprint.
I was so excited and honoured, to be asked to be part of this venture!

So Friday, Jim and I made the drive from Birmingham to Malvern to deliver the first of my, Wee Lucky Penny Books, to one of the partners in the shop, Anne.
We got to meet the lovely Anne, had a lovely conversation, got to mooch around the shop to have a look at all of the lovely things, and a short trek about town, too.
All-in-all, a very fine day, indeed!

Anne and her co-founder, Julie have done a fantastic job working on the interior and exterior of their lovely building, as well as all kinds of hours spent there setting it all up, and establishing an organizational system of records and contracts, website initiatives, and on-line accounts.
The interior of the shop spans several levels - (I have pictured only part of the first level below) and is warm with old wooden floors and filled with colour from all of the delightful handmade goods!
If you are in the area, please stop in for a chat and a look at all of the fabulous handmade articles in the store. You won't be disappointed!

I leave you with some images of the shop, the goods, and the proprietor.

MaggieMy wee books are packed and ready for the journey to The Emerald Grove!

Approaching the shop on Church Street

The front of the shop

Left front windowRight front window

Thursday, 7 May 2009

True Love

I'm up really late again tonight, and I wanted to say so much about this book . . . but I guess it really doesn't need that much said about it. It is quite simple really.
Do you believe in love?
Do you believe there can be a lasting, eternal love for one other person here on earth?
Nonbelievers - just read, The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks.
I believe it is probably my favourite book and it is truly the most loving of all love stories.
If you've seen the movie, it is good, but is bereft of the beauty of the words and the full experience of the story.
Get it, read it, love it.


Saturday, 2 May 2009

From the mouths of babes . . .

Have you seen the movie, Nanny McPhee?
The grandchildren were visiting today, and Katie, Libby, and Ethan settled in to watch it.
If you aren't familiar with the movie, the father in the story has a job as the town mortician.

In one scene, his eldest son visits him at work.
The scene is shot low, so that you see only the tagged toe of the corpse with the dad behind them at the head of the body.
So the son is looking towards the dad with the feet in between them.

It is at this point of the film that our darling, inquisitive, five-year-old Libby asks the all-important question:

"Why are the feet on sale?"

Enough said.